With nine weeks of action in the books, let’s take a look at how the AFC North’s coaches have fared thus far.
Mike Tomlin: A-
Tomlin was and is still regarded as one of the premier head coaches in the NFL. He has his Steelers playing very good football while boasting a good but not great record of 5-3. He lost some points for getting beat by Titans and Raiders, but going into New York and beating the Giants gave him a boost.
You also must consider the staggering number of injuries to key and superstar players that the Steelers have had to overcome. Almost every running back on the roster has been injured, and All-Pro safety Troy Polalmalu has been forced to the sidelines for more than half the season so far. Overall, Mike Tomlin has done a commendable job with his team.
John Harbaugh: B-
Right now Harbaugh’s Ravens are not playing very well. However, they have put together a division best 6-2 record despite their poor play. Somehow, Harbaugh has found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat several times this season. He gets some points for that, but he also gets some points taken off just for the fact that the Ravens should be better. The always great Baltimore defense is anything but right now. Some key injuries on defense have worsened the cause, but it isn’t an excuse for playing so poorly. Harbaugh is holding on to this B grade by the skin of his teeth.
Marvin Lewis: D
The Bengals have not been good this year. Following a stellar rookie season Andy Dalton has regressed dramatically. After adding Benjarvius Green-Ellis the Bengals thought they would have a sufficient running game; they were wrong. The Bengals rank 26th in the NFL in rushing yards and 11th in passing yards. The defense has also struggled. Lewis has allowed a team that had legitimate playoff hopes to slip into irrelevancy.
Pat Shurmur: F
Shurmur has failed. In his sophomore season as a head coach he has driven the Browns to the bottom of the NFL yet again. No one expected this team to be in the playoffs, but it is far too talented to boast a 2-7 record. The young defense hasn’t progressed much at all and the combination of rookies Weeden and Richardson has been less than stellar so far. Shurmur will be lucky if he’s still around to get a grade for much longer.