Edwards' coach rankings: AFC North style

Former NFL coach Herm Edwards broke down the current 32 coaches in the NFL into five tiers: Hall of Fame-worthy (a.k.a. the Bill Belichick level), Elite, Ascending and Jury is still out.

It's an Insider article, so I can't give you everything in fear of being the next correspondent in ESPNSiberia. Here's a portion of what he said about the AFC North coaches:


Tier: Hall of Fame-worthy

Edwards: Only 40 years old, Mike already has two Super Bowl appearances -- and one victory. The Steelers have won at least nine games in all five of his years as HC.

Hensley: Tomlin went up in my rankings after last season, which was his best coaching job. It didn't result in a championship, but Tomlin somehow guided the Steelers to the playoffs with a limping Ben Roethlisberger and without their two best pass-rushers, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, on the field together for the second half of the season.


Tier: Elite

Edwards: This will be his 10th season in Cincinnati, and even though he hasn't won a playoff game, he's helped turn around the franchise. He has had a tough going with ownership. Cincinnati has a reputation for doing things a little differently, and Marvin has had to deal with some players who maybe weren't his first choice to bring on the roster.

Hensley: The "elite" label will draw criticism because, as Edwards points out, Lewis has yet to win a playoff game. But look at what the Bengals did before him. Cincinnati had six straight losing seasons from 1997 to 2002, including four years when the Bengals failed to win more than four games. In nine seasons with Lewis, the Bengals have gone to the playoffs three times, winning two division titles and have had three losing seasons.


Tier: Elite

Edwards: He's done an excellent job taking over a good football team and not trying to change its identity. Coming from a family of coaches, he understood that the strength of this team was the defense, and his philosophy fits perfectly in Baltimore. He's a tough-minded guy who wants a disciplined football team that plays with an edge.

Hensley: Some might not put Harbaugh in this class because he came into a situation where the Ravens were a year removed from winning the division and being the AFC's No. 2 seed. But Harbaugh doesn't get enough credit for reshaping the culture of the team. By the end of 2007, Brian Billick had lost control of his players. Harbaugh brought discipline and a team attitude. You can't argue with the results: four straight trips to the playoffs including two AFC Championship Game appearances.


Tier: Jury is still out

Edwards: Shurmur is in a difficult situation in Cleveland. He didn't have success last season with second-year QB Colt McCoy, and now he has to start rookie QB Brandon Weeden. The problem is that the Browns have a new owner who will be measuring this season on improvement from last year, but he may hire someone new after the season regardless.

Hensley: No one knows how good or bad of a coach Shurmur is. He didn't have a full offseason in his first year as coach because of the NFL lockout. Now, his top draft pick (running back Trent Richardson) is banged up, his top draft pick from last year (defensive tackle Phil Taylor) is out at least for the first six games and his best cornerback (Joe Haden) could be suspended for the first four games because of failed drug test. The jury will probably be still out on Shurmur next season. That is, if he survives another season.