1 Ray Horton (Cardinals defensive coordinator)
Self-proclaimed “Dick LeBeau devotee” would provide instant credibility to an underachieving defense. Horton, 52, runs the 3-4 and is known for his aggressive, blitzing style. As a former cornerback and Super Bowl champion he also has a reputation as a players’ coach.
Intangibles: Learned under Hall of Fame coach Dick LeBeau
Who he reminds us of: Mike Tomlin
2. Vic Fangio (49ers defensive coordinator)
In two seasons on the job, the 54-year-old has turned the 49ers into the NFL’s defensive gold standard. He knows talent and he knows how to use that talent, like when to blitz and how to blitz. Give Fangio complete control on personnel decisions and let him install the 3-4.
Intangibles: Local ties (Lackawanna, East Stroudsburg)
Who he reminds us of: Pete Carroll
3. Dirk Koetter (Falcons offensive coordinator)
If there is one name out there that gets the juices flowing, it’s Koetter. In one year, he has revitalized Atlanta’s passing attack. Koetter would be the best bet to develop Nick Foles or start from scratch in the draft.
Intangibles: Son of football coach; former quarterback himself
Who he reminds us of: Dick Vermeil
4. Mike McCoy (Broncos offensive coordinator)
Yes, McCoy has Peyton Manning now. But McCoy is the same guy that won a playoff game with Tim Tebow. He completely changed his entire philosophy in less than a calendar year and Denver is once again elite.
At 40, he is arguably the brightest offensive mind in the game.
Intangibles: Respected by John Elway and Peyton Manning
Who he reminds us of: Brian Billick
5. Mike Zimmer (Bengals defensive coordinator)
The one constant in Cincinnati over the past five seasons has been its
defense. They have consistently been ranked in the Top 15 in total defense, thanks to Zimmer’s hard-nosed and disciplined style.
For proof, go back and watch HBO’s “Hard Knocks” (2009).
Intangibles: Prefers 4-3 defense, but knows how to run 3-4
Who he reminds us of: Jim Johnson
6. Gary Patterson (Texas Christian head coach)
To some Patterson is an innovator. To others, he is a sideshow. His 4-2-5 defense, which subs an extra safety for a linebacker, would create buzz. It’s worked in college. Whether it would work in the NFL is debatable.
Intangibles: Knows how to put a franchise back on the map
Who he reminds us of: Buddy Ryan