Over at USA Today, Steven Ruiz ranked all of the NFL head coaches -- and he lumped all of the first-year head coaches together, 31-28 -- with Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans being number 32. That cop-out is pretty common in head coaching rankings: no one knows quite how a first-year head coach will do, so they just refuse to make a ruling.
That leaves us with an actual thought experiment: where would Dirk Koetter rank among the current head coaches? He has a long track record of success as an offensive coordinator, though he's never quite gotten stratospheric there. Early reports are that his players love him and the fact that he was the guy to replace Lovie Smith, so that's good. And so far, he's made the right noises. But then, none of that is all that difficult for most head coaches, even the incompetent ones.
Realistically, I'd probably rank Koetter somewhere in the mid-teens. He's probably ahead of the young guys who've disappointed, like Gus Bradley, Mike McCoy and Dan Quinn. He's definitely ahead of perpetual disappointments like Jeff Fisher, Jack del Rio and Jason Garrett. Jim Caldwell might be a disappointment too, but at least he had a recent Super Bowl appearance, even if he's the most boring coach to ever step onto an NFL field.
But then the tough questions begin. Will he be better than, say, Marvin Lewis, who keeps making the playoffs and then failing? What about Chuck Pagano, whose defenses keep slipping and whose team performances have been ridiculously inconsistent? Hue Jackson, who's done well with what he's been given but hasn't actually won? Or Jay Gruden, who's done similar things? And what about Bill O'Brien, who keeps garnering praise despite...also not winning.
Yeah, the mid to late teens sound about right. Say, eighteenth. Where would you rank Koetter?