AFC North: Best of the NFL summer 2011 coaches

Best of NFL: AFC North coaches

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
2:00
PM ET
Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC North:

Best ego manager: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin runs away with this category. Managing people and egos are among Tomlin's greatest strengths. The Steelers are not a team with many locker room problems, but the few times it's been an issue -- such as Willie Parker demanding more carries in 2008 -- Tomlin was masterful in handling the situation. Every Steeler knows his role and there is great chemistry in the locker room. It's part of the reason Pittsburgh has been to two Super Bowls the past three years under Tomlin.

[+] EnlargeTomlin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireSteelers coach Mike Tomlin has proven to be skilled at handling the egos of his players among other things.
Best grinder: Cincinnati Bengals fans have been hot and cold on head coach Marvin Lewis, but one thing you can't deny is his work ethic. Because of the way the Bengals are set up as an organization, Lewis has to grind and deal with more than most head coaches. He has to combat heavy-handed ownership. Cincinnati's scouting staff also is very thin, which puts extra pressure on the coaching staff to examine college players. The Bengals also do not sign big-name free agents or devote the same resources to other areas -- such as hiring a general manager or building an indoor practice facility -- as many other teams. Despite several things being stacked against him, Lewis has produced two playoff teams in his eight seasons in Cincinnati. Before Lewis arrived in 2003, the Bengals went 12 consecutive years without making the postseason.

Best hair: Considering the stress and long hours, coaching is a profession where you can quickly lose your hair. But Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has found a way to avoid that. Harbaugh, 48, still has an impressive full head of hair that most coaches would be envious of. He's coached playoff teams in each of his three seasons, which probably helps keep the stress level down.

Best coach-GM tandem: Although Harbaugh and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome are very good, the slight edge goes to Tomlin and Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert. Both teams do a tremendous job, but the Steelers have had Baltimore's number lately. Tomlin and Colbert have a healthy respect for one another and don't overstep each other's boundaries. Colbert rarely does interviews during the season, leaving that up to Tomlin. The coach avoids the spotlight in the offseason and gives way to his general manager. Both are among the best in the business.

Best postgame interview: Tomlin has the edge here, as well. He has the charisma and swagger to carry a news conference, and his are usually refreshing, energetic and honest. Tomlin calls it how he sees it, which isn't always the case with head coaches. The few times I can recall Tomlin dodging a question have come when the subject veers to officiating, because he doesn't enjoy getting fined by the NFL.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

AFC NORTH SCOREBOARD