Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who was voted the coach players most want to play for in ESPN's NFL Nation confidential survey, got the same kind of affirmation in the Minnesota Vikings' locker room. Five of the 10 players surveyed said they'd like to play for Carroll, with San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh the only other coach getting more than one vote.
Part of that is probably because of Carroll's player-friendly style; his attempts to break down the stereotypical football practice atmosphere in Seattle have been well-documented. As we discussed earlier this month, NFL coaches have to use a different approach to relate to modern players than they might have in the past. But it's also worth noting that the coaches who got the most respect from players are also getting results; Carroll is coaching in his first Super Bowl on Sunday, and the runner-up (Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin) has been to two Super Bowls in the past six seasons. Next was Denver's John Fox, followed by New England's Bill Belichick and the New York Jets' Rex Ryan, and then by Kansas City's Andy Reid and New Orleans' Sean Payton. All of those coaches have either been to a Super Bowl or made multiple trips to a conference championship game. There are numerous coaching styles represented here, but all of the coaches mentioned are proving they can win.
The survey provides an interesting backdrop for the arrival of new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who will undoubtedly take a different approach than his predecessor, Leslie Frazier. Zimmer will likely be more animated in practice and on the sidelines than Frazier was, but he's won widespread praise from his players over the years, largely for his passion and his directness. If he can find the same kind of success as a head coach that he has as a defensive coordinator, he might receive votes in this survey in future years. The underlying theme for these coaches has been success, and if there's any kind of trend evident from our survey, it's that success begets respect among players.