- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s easy to see why Pete Carroll was the runaway choice by players as the coach they’d like to play for the most with 22.5 percent of the 320 votes. He’s vibrant; the players seem to have fun so the season isn’t as much of a grind. He’s also winning.
Trust me on this: If the Seahawks weren’t winning, Carroll would not be so high on this list. Of course, they might be winning in part because of how he coaches. But it’s clear that, for now, Carroll has found a way to win in a game that too often features coaches who feel you must be serious all the time. It’s too tough to survive that way; just ask former Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano.
I’ve always liked Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who is No. 2 on the list. I’m surprised Rex Ryan is so high on the list (fourth) considering that the Jets haven’t done a whole lot lately; he also earned one more vote than Bill Belichick. Just shows you that winning isn’t everything. But if I want to win? It's tough to go against Belichick. He clearly won't win every year, but the Patriots are always in contention.
But it also seems like the coaches who perhaps fared better than anticipated did so because they give the players room to breathe. You can’t be a successful NFL head coach and not know how to work or just be buddy-buddy all the time. However, you can make it a good environment and when you do that, talent knows it can shine. Andy Reid (sixth) is another I like; though he comes across as dry in interviews, his humor occasionally pokes through and his players have always seemed to respect and like playing for him.
Redskins angle: Redskins players were all over the place on this one with seven different coaches named, though no one said Carroll. Three coaches received two votes: Jeff Fisher, Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin. Of course, Dungy is no longer an active coach. One player did say Mike Shanahan and the former Redskins coach did pick up two other votes from this survey. He had his issues, but players liked the way he ran practices and how he kept them fresh for late in the season.