The top-10 assistant coaches most likely to become NFL head coaches


Marty Mornhinweg has been a head coach before. Dennis Thurman, unfortunately, has not. Now, though, Rex Ryan actually has his first version of a coaching tree.

Former long-time Ryan assistant, Mike Pettine, is now head coach of the Denver Broncos. It may just have one branch, but the Ryan coaching tree is sprouting. Maybe Thurman is next. Maybe someone else.

Over at the Broncos site, Grant Gunderson went over the top assistant coaches in the country. Did any Jets make the list? Click here to read the whole piece. Here’s an excerpt:

10. Jack Del Rio

Sure, he was a head coach before, and I’ll tell you what, he’ll be one soon again. Despite a so-so head coaching career with the Jaguars, Del Rio has shown he’s capable of being the top dog while serving as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.

While the defensive unit finished in the middle of the pack in 2013, they lost five very important starters to injured reserve—including star linebacker Von Miller who also was absent during the first six games due to suspension. In 2012, not only did the Broncos tie for first in the league in sacks, but they finished in the top five in nearly every defensive category.

While Broncos head coach John Fox was in the hospital undergoing heart surgery, Del Rio led the team to a 3-1 record as the interim head coach in Fox’s absence. In Super Bowl XLVI, the Broncos defense held Marshawn Lynch to just 39 yards and Robert Turbin to 25.

Del Rio will get his shot again, it’s just a matter of when.

9. Dave Taub

You don’t always hear about special team’s coaches all that often, but Dave Taub is the exception.

The former Chicago Bears and current Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator is generating a lot of interest as a head coach. In just a single season, Taub turned around the Chiefs’ special teams unit into one of the top three in the entire league. During his tenure with the Bears, each year, the special teams unit finished in the top five of the NFL, taking the top spot in ’06 and ’07.

Taub also sent five different players to a total of eight Pro Bowls while with the Bears. Also during his time in Chicago, the Bears led the NFL in blocked kicks (24), punt return yards (4,143), punt return touchdowns (15), combined return yardage (punts and kicks – 17, 031) and yards allowed per return (6.8). Don’t forget, special teams coaches don’t get the Megatron’s and Andrew Luck of each position, they get the back-ups and third-stringers.

Taub’s success says a lot about him and how he can get the best out of whoever he has to work with and about his ability to carve out the best bottom half of the roster as possible. And while it’s not common, jumping from special teams coordinator to head coach has been done and with success I might add–see John Harbaugh.

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