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Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Best of NFL: AFC East coaches

By Tim Graham

Best of NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

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

Best at telling it like it is, Chan Gailey: Many would expect the Jets' Rex Ryan to be my pick here. But Ryan uses the microphone to talk up his players too often -- even when they don't deserve it. Ryan has fawned over Vernon Gholston and has a tendency to hype up unproven youngsters. But the Bills' Gailey has demonstrated a refreshing candor when evaluating his players. He has no patience for silliness and has publicly criticized outside linebacker Aaron Maybin and cornerback Leodis McKelvin. Before the 2009 draft, Gailey said he wanted to draft a scatback. The Bills selected Clemson running back C.J. Spiller ninth overall.

Rex Ryan
Rex Ryan showed off his sense of humor during a media conference by dressing as his twin brother Rob of the Cleveland Browns.
Best sense of humor, Rex Ryan: He steps to the lectern for news conferences with one-liners jotted down and ready to fire, frequently quotes his favorite comedies and can hold his own with David Letterman. Ryan's rapier wit likely was sharpened by daily debates growing up with twin brother Rob Ryan. Before facing Rob Ryan and the Cleveland Browns last season, Rex Ryan wore a wig to publicly ridicule his brother. What makes Rex Ryan's brand of comedy even more endearing is that his favorite punch line is himself.

Best grinder, Tony Sparano: For these Best of the NFL blog posts, we were provided a list of categories we could choose from. And every time I see the word "grinder," I immediately think of Miami's Sparano because when NFL Network reporter Albert Breer and I get together we have a running joke that's probably humorous only to us and annoying to everyone around us. I do a poor impersonation of Sparano that cracks us up, and in it, Sparano talks about how proud he is that his guys are grinding. I just did a search of "Sparano" and "grind" in my email archives, and it turned up in 19 Sparano interview transcripts dating back to June 2009.

Best coach-GM tandem: Bill Belichick and Bill Belichick: You can't argue with the track record. While the New York Jets' tandem of Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum have been highly successful, reaching the AFC Championship Game back-to-back seasons, no other AFC East coach or GM has won a Super Bowl. Belichick has won three titles while, in effect, handling both roles.

Best ego manager, Rex Ryan: The other three coaches don't have much tolerance for egos. Ryan, on the other hand, welcomes personalities big and small -- just as long as they can play. Ryan encourages players to be themselves and to express their opinions. Ryan has taken on players other teams couldn't handle anymore, namely receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.