In an NFL climate in which head coaches barely get two seasons to find success, the AFC North’s stability at the top is eye-opening.
In late 2015, the trio of Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis surpassed the combined 11,000-day mark on the job.
The AFC North comprises three of the top six spots on the list of longest-tenured coaches. No other division has a trio that’s even close.
The AFC East is the only division that covers more than 55 percent of this ground, and that’s largely because of a Bill Belichick tenure that will surpass 6,000 days by the 2016 season.
NOLA.com recently compared coaching tenures as it relates to Sean Payton, so that story serves as a backdrop here.
As of March 2, here’s a hard count of logged days on the job for the three most tenured coaches in each division.
AFC North – 11,085 days (Lewis 4,795, Tomlin 3,326, Harbaugh 2,964)
AFC East – 6,703 days (Belichick 5,877, Rex Ryan 414, Todd Bowles 412)
NFC South – 5,964 days (Payton 3,695, Ron Rivera 1,876, Dan Quinn 393)
NFC North – 5,254 days (Mike McCarthy 3,701, Jim Caldwell 777, Mike Zimmer 776)
NFC West – 4,889 days (Pete Carroll 2,241, Jeff Fisher 1,509, Bruce Arians 1,139)
AFC South – 3,425 days (Chuck Pagano 1,497, Gus Bradley 1,139, Bill O’Brien 789)
NFC East – 2,768 days (Jason Garrett 1,940, Jay Gruden 782, Ben McAdoo 46)
AFC West – 2,705 days (Andy Reid 1,152, Mike McCoy 1,141, Jack Del Rio 412)
Tom Coughlin coaching a 13th season in New York would have pushed the NFC East higher, but it still wouldn’t have been enough.
Considering 13 of 32 NFL head coaches enter their first or second offseason at their current stops, the combined 29 years in the Lewis-Tomlin-Harbaugh tree should be appreciated. These three beat up on each other yearly and still survive.
The AFC North wouldn't be the same without these familiar faces.
Coaches don't talk much about these things, though Tomlin does give a nod to Lewis for paving the way for minority coaches.
"It’s not something I focus on, I just know as somebody who was coming through the ranks, [Lewis] was somebody you could look to that was groundbreaking," said Tomlin of Lewis. "These are isolated kind of jobs. He and I have had ours for a decent amount of time, so I’m sure we’re comfortable with that."