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ESPN celebrates the 100th anniversary of Vince Lombardi's birth with the "Greatest Coaches in NFL History" series, saluting the finest innovators, motivators, tacticians, teachers and champions ever to stalk the sidelines. Follow along as we reveal our list of the top 20 coaches of all time and document the lineage of the league's most influential coaching trees.
The Weeb Ewbank branch of the Paul Brown coaching tree is documented in the chart below, followed by a feature on Ewbank and short biographies of his many disciples.
Weeb Ewbank usually slides just under the radar in discussions about the NFL's greatest coaches. His Baltimore Colts and New York Jets produced a combined regular-season record of 130-129-7, barely a .500 winning percentage.
He didn't make ESPN's list of the 20 greatest coaches of all time -- our panel placed him at No. 23 overall -- but maybe he should have. Ewbank was on the sideline for two of the most important games in the history of the league. And his teams won them both.
Ewbank's Baltimore Colts took the breakthrough 1958 NFL Championship Game from the New York Giants in overtime, and a decade later his New York Jets stunned those same Colts in Super Bowl III.
"Those two games might have meant more to the league than any others," said Raymond Berry, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who played under Ewbank for eight seasons in Baltimore. "If you're going to talk about the greatest coaches in NFL history, when it's all said and done, if you pick just four or five to talk about, Weeb's got to be in that group."
Ewbank, who won another NFL title with the Colts in 1959, is the only coach to win championships in both the AFL and NFL.
Perhaps more than anything, Ewbank had exquisite timing. He played quarterback at Miami (Ohio) and his backup was Paul Brown, who would become one of the greatest coaches of all time. They were reunited during World War II when they coached the football team at Naval Station Great Lakes. Brown hired Ewbank to be an assistant on his Cleveland Browns staff prior to the 1950 season. Four years later, Ewbank parlayed that experience into his first job as a pro head coach, with the Baltimore Colts.
It's probably no coincidence that Don Shula played his first two professional seasons for Brown and later played for Ewbank's Colts.
"I got traded to the Baltimore Colts, and the coach there, Weeb Ewbank, was a Brown guy, too," Shula said. "My 33 years [as an NFL head coach], that was pretty much from the Paul Brown playbook."
This is significant because Shula went on to become the NFL's winningest coach, with 347 total victories.
Berry's father, a longtime high school coach in Texas, used to tell him, "Any fool can make coaching complicated." The key to Ewbank's coaching style, Berry explained, was keeping it simple and sound.
"That came directly from Paul Brown," Berry said from his home in Tennessee. "They had the exact same approach: Don't do too much, but what you do, execute it flawlessly. The system Weeb brought to Baltimore was the one they ran in Cleveland.
"The classic example of how powerful this approach was came in that 1958 championship game. The pass plays we had, there were no more than six different ones. Six! We just knew how to execute them against anything the defense did."
While Brown was famously zealous in calling the plays, Ewbank quickly recognized that quarterback Johnny Unitas was a uniquely intuitive player. Unitas called every play in that 1958 title game, and Ewbank was intelligent enough (and secure enough in his ego) to step aside and let him.
The combination of Unitas and his favorite receiver, Berry, brought the Colts back-to-back championships. Ewbank was fired after the 1962 season when the Colts went 7-7.
The AFL's Jets were happy to hire him the following season, though. To the roster of quarterbacks Ewbank had helped tutor -- Otto Graham, Unitas and even Joe Paterno at Brown University -- Joe Namath was added in '65.
In Super Bowl III -- the first ultimate game to bear that name -- the Jets were one of the biggest underdogs in history. The brash Namath had guaranteed victory before the game, but it was Ewbank's game plan that doomed the Colts at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
"If we run the football successfully," he told the Jets, "we'll win the game."
That's precisely what happened. Namath was the MVP, but he completed only 17 passes; the Jets ran the ball 43 times for 142 yards, including for their only touchdown, by Matt Snell. Three Jim Turner field goals helped give New York a 16-7 victory.
Another historic footnote: Earlier that year, Ewbank's Jets lost to the Oakland Raiders in the famous game in which NBC switched to the movie "Heidi" before the game was decided. The Jets were leading at the time of the switch, but Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to win 43-32. The Jets came back to beat the Raiders 27-23 in the AFL Championship Game.
Ewbank, like Brown, never overworked his teams in practice. This was one of the elements Berry implemented when he became a head coach with the New England Patriots in 1984. He was the coach when the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans.
There is another underrated quality to Ewbank's coaching legacy. He had a sharp eye for discovering talent.
"In 1956, Johnny Unitas was a free agent in training camp," Berry remembered. "He had been cut by the Steelers. I was a 20th-round pick myself, and Weeb saw something in us when a lot of people would have sent us on our way."
As it turned out, Berry, Unitas and Ewbank himself were all on their way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
-- Greg Garber
Winner, who was head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Jets, is most notable for his association with Weeb Ewbank.
Winner fought in World War II and survived six weeks in a German prisoner-of-war camp. After returning to the States, he played for Ewbank at Washington University in St. Louis and later married Nancy Ewbank, one of the coach's daughters.
When Ewbank became head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1954, Winner joined his staff. After Ewbank was fired in Baltimore, Winner remained with the Colts as an assistant under Don Shula.
In 1966, the Cardinals hired Winner as head coach, and he led them to three winning seasons in five years. However, they fell short of the playoffs each year, and Winner left after the 1970 season.
He then worked for two years under George Allen with the Washington Redskins before going to the Jets in 1973 as defensive coordinator and appointed successor to Ewbank, who announced he would retire after the season. The Jets went 7-7 in 1974, and Winner was fired after a 2-7 start to the '75 season.
He later worked as a Cincinnati Bengals assistant for four seasons.
-- Shawna Seed
Forzano coached the Detroit Lions from 1974-76, taking over the team after the death of Don McCafferty.
Forzano coached at the high school level in Ohio and held assistant positions at the College of Wooster, Kent State, Navy and Connecticut before landing his first NFL job as an assistant to Charley Winner with the St. Louis Cardinals. After two seasons in St. Louis, he coached for one year under Paul Brown as running backs coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
In 1969, he returned to Annapolis as Navy's head coach. Forzano moved to Detroit in 1973 to join McCafferty, with whom he'd worked at Kent State. His tenure as head coach was brief, as he resigned when the '76 Lions started 1-3.
Bill Belichick and his father, Steve, both worked under Forzano, the father as an assistant at Navy and the son on the staff in Detroit.
-- Shawna Seed
Hudspeth's time in the NFL was a footnote in a coaching career that included high school, college, CFL and World Football League stops.
After playing at Tulsa, Hudspeth coached at the high school level in Oklahoma before returning to his alma mater as an assistant in 1957. He also worked as an assistant in the CFL before becoming BYU's head coach in 1964. The Cougars had winning records in four of Hudspeth's eight seasons and won their first WAC championship in 1965. Hudspeth resigned in 1972 and was replaced by one of his assistants, LaVell Edwards, who would elevate the program to national prominence.
Hudspeth worked as Texas-El Paso's head coach (1972-73) and an assistant for the WFL's Chicago Fire (1974) before joining the Detroit Lions' personnel department. He became the Lions' interim head coach when Rick Forzano resigned following a 1-3 start in 1976. Hudspeth kept the job for 1977, and one of his moves that year was to expand the role of a young assistant named Bill Belichick. Hudspeth was fired after a 6-8 season in 1977 and completed his NFL career with an 11-13 mark.
-- Kevin Stone
Gansz made his reputation as a special-teams guru during a 38-year coaching career that included 24 NFL seasons with eight teams.
He played center and linebacker for the Naval Academy and served as an Air Force pilot. His first coaching job was at Air Force in 1964. He also coached for Navy, under future Detroit Lions coach Rick Forzano, and Army, among other colleges, before joining the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 1978.
That was followed by stints coaching special teams and tight ends for the Cincinnati Bengals (1979-80), Kansas City Chiefs (1981-82) and Philadelphia Eagles (1983-85). Gansz returned to Kansas City's staff in 1986, and his special teams scored five touchdowns and blocked or deflected an NFL-record 10 kicks. He was promoted to head coach the following season but was fired after two four-win seasons.
He went on to work as an assistant, mainly on special teams, with the Lions (1989-93), Falcons (1994-96), Rams (1997-99) and Jaguars (2000-01). St. Louis head coach Dick Vermeil said the Rams wouldn't have won Super Bowl XXXIV without Gansz's coaching.
Gansz came out of retirement in 2008, a year before his death, to coach SMU's special teams under June Jones, with whom he had worked on the Lions and Falcons.
-- Kevin Stone
In his first season as a head coach, McCafferty led the Baltimore Colts to victory in Super Bowl V. McCafferty, an end, played at Ohio State for Paul Brown and played one year in the NFL for the New York Giants. After his playing career, he was an assistant coach at Kent State for 11 years.
In 1959, Weeb Ewbank hired McCafferty as an assistant in Baltimore. When Ewbank was fired after the 1962 season, McCafferty remained on staff, working under Don Shula.
McCafferty was promoted to head coach in 1970 when Shula went to Miami and became the first rookie head coach to win the Super Bowl. The '71 Colts returned to the playoffs, but McCafferty was fired the following season after a slow start.
After serving as the Lions' head coach in 1973, McCafferty died of a heart attack in July 1974.
-- Shawna Seed
Bullough didn't make much of an impact as a head coach, but as an assistant he left his mark as a pioneer in the 3-4 defense. He started a season as head coach only once, compiling a 4-18 record over parts of three seasons with New England and Buffalo.
He played guard for two seasons with the Packers before starting his coaching career in 1959 as an assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State. After 11 years with the Spartans, he became linebackers coach for the Baltimore Colts under Don McCafferty (1970-72). His NFL coaching road also consisted of roles as an assistant in New England, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Buffalo and Detroit.
While a defensive assistant to Chuck Fairbanks with the Patriots, Bullough suggested using the 3-4 prior to the 1974 season to make better use of the team's front-seven personnel. As the Bengals' defensive coordinator, he was an influence on defensive backs coach Dick LeBeau, who would develop the 3-4 zone-blitz scheme and become one of the NFL's most celebrated defensive minds.
-- Kevin Stone
In his 22 seasons as an NFL head coach, Knox guided teams to the playoffs 11 times and was the first coach to win division titles with three franchises.
Knox played at Juniata College in Pennsylvania and coached at the high school level after graduation. In 1959, he was hired as an assistant at Wake Forest, where he stayed for two years. He then joined the staff of Blanton Collier at Kentucky.
In 1963, Knox landed his first NFL job, coaching the offensive line for the New York Jets under Weeb Ewbank, a former Collier colleague. In 1967, Knox moved to the Detroit Lions to work for Joe Schmidt.
The Los Angeles Rams hired Knox as head coach in 1973, and his teams won the NFC West five consecutive years. Midway through the 1974 season, Knox named James Harris as his starting quarterback, making him the first African-American to start full time at the position in the NFL.
The Rams went 3-5 in the playoffs under Knox, frustrating owner Carroll Rosenbloom. After the 1977 season, Knox accepted an offer to coach the Buffalo Bills.
Knox, nicknamed "Ground Chuck" for his team's propensity to run the ball, led the Bills to the playoffs twice but left after the '82 season to accept the head-coaching job in Seattle. Knox coached nine seasons in Seattle, taking the team to the playoffs four times, including the 1983 Seahawks' run to the AFC title game.
In 1992, Knox returned to the Rams but went 15-33 in three seasons. He retired after the 1994 season.
-- Shawna Seed
In six seasons as head coach, Bennett led the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs three times. He also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two seasons.
Bennett played quarterback and defensive back for Blanton Collier at Kentucky and coached at the collegiate level at his alma mater, Pitt, Cincinnati and Navy. In 1970, he began his NFL coaching career under Charley Winner with the St. Louis Cardinals.
After two seasons in St. Louis, Bennett worked a year for the Detroit Lions and then joined Chuck Knox's staff with the Los Angeles Rams. Bennett spent four seasons with the Rams before the Falcons hired him as head coach on Feb. 3, 1977, a day after Cowboys assistant Dan Reeves reportedly turned down the job.
Bennett's best season in Atlanta was 1980, when the team went 12-4. Although the team was 5-4 and made the playoffs in the strike-shortened 1982 season, Bennett was fired. The Buccaneers hired him 1985, but Bennett lasted only two seasons, compiling a 4-28 record.
-- Shawna Seed
In eight full seasons as an NFL head coach -- first with the Houston Oilers and then the Atlanta Falcons -- Glanville took teams to the playoffs four times. He was known for leaving tickets at the box office for Elvis Presley and dressing in black.
Glanville played at Northern Michigan and coached at the college level before beginning his NFL career on Rick Forzano's staff with the Detroit Lions in 1974. His next stop was Atlanta, where he rose to the position of defensive coordinator.
He spent one season with the Buffalo Bills then joined the Houston Oilers in 1984 as defensive coordinator. He became head coach of the Oilers with two games remaining in the 1985 season.
Glanville took the 1987, '88 and '89 Oilers to the playoffs with future Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon and a punishing defense that led to the Astrodome being nicknamed the "House of Pain." He then resigned to become head coach in Atlanta. The 1991 Falcons made the playoffs, but Glanville's tenure in Atlanta ended in 1993 after two consecutive 6-10 seasons.
June Jones made his NFL coaching debut under Glanville as the Oilers' quarterbacks coach in 1987 and rejoined him in Atlanta as offensive coordinator using the run 'n' shoot scheme. Nick Saban also made his NFL coaching debut with the Oilers under Glanville, in 1989.
After leaving the NFL, Glanville coached at the college level again, worked in the broadcasting booth and became a NASCAR driver and owner.
-- Shawna Seed
Jones, a disciple of Mouse Davis' run 'n' shoot offense, took the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs once in three seasons (1994-96) as their head coach, although he made a bigger mark rebuilding college programs at Hawaii and SMU.
As a college quarterback, Jones moved from Oregon to Hawaii to Portland State. In the last stop, he threw for more than 5,700 yards in two seasons in Davis' pass-happy scheme. He was a backup for the Falcons and played in the CFL before becoming a coach and bringing Davis' philosophy with him.
He began as Jerry Glanville's quarterbacks coach with the Houston Oilers in 1987 and '88. He then worked two seasons as the Detroit Lions' quarterbacks and wide receivers coach under Wayne Fontes before reuniting with Glanville in 1991 as the Falcons' offensive coordinator. Jones succeeded Glanville as head coach after Glanville was fired in 1994. During Jones' tenure as coordinator and head coach, the Falcons regularly ranked among the league leaders in passing attempts and yards.
Jones worked as the Chargers' quarterbacks coach in 1998 and became interim head coach for the final 10 games after Kevin Gilbride was fired. That was Jones' final NFL job before moving on to Hawaii in 1999 and SMU in 2008.
-- Kevin Stone
Malavasi coached the Los Angeles Rams for five seasons, leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl appearance.
He played football at Army under legendary coach Red Blaik and assistant Vince Lombardi but left after an academic scandal and graduated from Mississippi State.
Malavasi served in the military after college, coaching the base team at Fort Belvoir, Va., before taking assistant coaching positions at Minnesota, Memphis State and finally Wake Forest, where he worked alongside Chuck Knox.
He joined the Denver Broncos organization in 1962 and became interim head coach after Mac Speedie was fired in 1966. He then became an assistant in the CFL and with the Buffalo Bills before joining John Madden's Oakland Raiders staff as linebackers coach in 1971.
In 1973, Knox hired Malavasi as Rams defensive coordinator. Knox left to become the Buffalo Bills' head coach after the '77 season, and George Allen was hired to replace him. However, Allen was fired after two exhibition games in '78, and Malavasi was named head coach.
The 1979 Rams finished the regular season 9-7 but reached the Super Bowl, losing 31-19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Malavasi was fired after the strike-shortened 1982 season.
-- Shawna Seed
Stephenson became head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 1983 and left four games into the 1985 season after an 0-4 start.
As a quarterback, Stephenson was Steve Spurrier's backup at Florida. He played two seasons in the NFL -- one for the San Diego Chargers and one for the Bills. He also played for Jacksonville in the World Football League.
In 1977, he became quarterbacks coach of the Los Angeles Rams under Chuck Knox. When Knox took the Bills job in 1978, Stephenson followed him to Buffalo. He was promoted to head coach in 1983 after Knox left for Seattle. Stephenson memorably had the Bills change from white helmets to red ones in '84, believing the move would help his quarterbacks locate receivers and cut down on interceptions. The number of picks, however, increased in each of the two subsequent seasons. Also in '84, Stephenson gave Pete Carroll his first NFL coaching job, as defensive backs coach.
Stephenson later coached in the WLAF and CFL.
-- Shawna Seed
In six seasons as head coach of the St. Louis Rams, Martz led the team to the playoffs four times, including a trip to Super Bowl XXXVI. He is perhaps best known as the offensive coordinator behind the 1999 Super Bowl champion Rams, the offense known as the "Greatest Show on Turf."
Martz coached for nearly two decades at the collegiate level before being hired by the Los Angeles Rams under Chuck Knox in 1992. He was with the Rams through 1996 and then worked two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Washington Redskins. He returned to the Rams as offensive coordinator in 1999.
Dick Vermeil retired after winning Super Bowl XXXIV, and Martz was named head coach in 2000. The 2001 Rams returned to the Super Bowl, losing to New England. Martz left the team midway through the 2005 season for medical reasons and was fired at the end of the year.
Martz later worked as offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears.
-- Shawna Seed
Rush worked under several coaching legends and beat out Chuck Noll to become Boston's head coach in 1969, a move that didn't work out too well for the Patriots.
He was the Green Bay Packers' punter in 1953 before holding a string of college jobs under the likes of Hugh Devore at Dayton, Woody Hayes at Ohio State and Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma.
Rush joined the New York Jets as an offensive assistant under Weeb Ewbank in 1963. He was offensive coordinator for the Jets in 1968 when they shocked the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. That helped Rush become a finalist for the Patriots' head-coaching job along with Noll, who was defensive coordinator of the Colts. Boston owner Billy Sullivan thought he would be criticized for hiring someone from the Super Bowl losers, so he opted for Rush.
The Patriots went 5-16 under Rush, firing him after a 1-6 start in 1970. Noll, meanwhile, went on to win four Super Bowls in a Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
-- Kevin Stone
Meyer was one of the four head coaches the San Francisco 49ers went through in the three seasons prior to Bill Walsh's arrival.
Meyer joined the Air Force out of high school and flew missions in World War II. After the war, he played for Woody Hayes at Denison University and held several college coaching jobs, including one under Bear Bryant at Alabama. As the Crimson Tide's quarterbacks coach, Meyer worked with future Super Bowl champions Joe Namath and Ken Stabler.
Meyer's first NFL job was with the 49ers under Dick Nolan in 1969. He left after a year to join Weeb Ewbank's staff with the New York Jets. He worked as Chuck Knox's offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams from 1973-76 and was hired in 1977 by the 49ers to replace Monte Clark, who was fired after an 8-6 season. Meyer also lasted just one season, going 5-9. Pete McCulley and Fred O'Connor would combine on a 2-14 season in 1978 before Walsh took over in 1979 and began building San Francisco's 1980s dynasty.
Meyer continued his career as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator (1978-80) and the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach (1983-91).
-- Kevin Stone
Michaels coached the New York Jets for six seasons, taking them to the playoffs twice. In the strike-shortened season of 1982, he led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.
As a linebacker, Michaels played 12 seasons in the NFL, most of them for Paul Brown in Cleveland. He was named to five Pro Bowls.
In 1962, he began his coaching career as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders. Michaels was dismissed in '63 by new head coach Al Davis and joined the New York Jets staff under Weeb Ewbank. When the Jets defense suffered a rash of injuries that year, Michaels was activated for one game. He then returned to the Jets sideline as an assistant for the next decade.
Michaels left the Jets staff following the 1972 season after being passed over to succeed Ewbank, who announced he would retire after the '73 season. The Jets instead chose Ewbank's son-in-law, former St. Louis Cardinals head coach Charley Winner, and Michaels left to become defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles under Mike McCormack.
In 1976, Michaels again lost out on the Jets' top job when the team instead hired Lou Holtz. Nevertheless, Michaels returned to the Jets as defensive coordinator and became head coach the following season after Holtz resigned to take over the program at Arkansas.
The 1982 Jets lost the AFC title to the Miami Dolphins in a game known as the "Mud Bowl," and Michaels resigned as head coach a few weeks later.
He later coached the USFL's New Jersey Generals.
-- Shawna Seed
Berry, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Baltimore Colts, also tasted success as a coach, leading the 1985 New England Patriots to Super Bowl XX.
He played at SMU and was selected by the Colts in the 20th round of the 1954 draft. Known for his precise patterns and tireless work ethic, he teamed with Johnny Unitas to form one of the best pass-catch tandems in NFL history. He spent his entire playing career with Baltimore, playing eight seasons for Weeb Ewbank and five for Don Shula, before retiring after the 1967 season.
Afterward, he spent two years on the Dallas Cowboys' staff under Tom Landry. He subsequently joined the Detroit Lions to work under his former offensive coordinator with the Colts, Don McCafferty, and later assisted Forrest Gregg with the Cleveland Browns.
He joined the Patriots as an assistant in 1978 and became head coach during the 1984 season, replacing the fired Ron Meyer. The 1985 Patriots were AFC champions, and the '86 team returned to the playoffs. Berry's tenure ended after a 5-11 season in 1989. He served as quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions in 1991 and the Denver Broncos in '92.
-- Shawna Seed
Ryan, who coached the Philadelphia Eagles for five seasons and the Arizona Cardinals for two, is best known as the architect of Chicago Bears' dominating 46 defense of the 1980s.
He played at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) and served in the military during the Korean War before embarking on a coaching career. Ryan was a head coach at the high school level and an assistant at several colleges, including Pacific, Vanderbilt and Buffalo.
In 1968, Ryan became the New York Jets defensive line coach under Weeb Ewbank, a position he held for eight seasons. In 1976, he became defensive line coach of the Minnesota Vikings under Bud Grant.
Two seasons later, Ryan became defensive coordinator in Chicago under Neill Armstrong. When Armstrong was fired after the 1981 season, players lobbied Bears ownership to retain Ryan. He remained as defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Ditka and helped the '85 Bears win Super Bowl XX, but his relationship with Ditka was tumultuous.
Philadelphia hired him as head coach for the 1986 season, and Ryan remained there for five seasons, making the playoffs three times. Future Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who played defensive back for Ryan in Chicago, coached under Ryan for five seasons with the Eagles.
During the '93 season, Ryan served Jack Pardee as defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers, and he infamously threw a punch at offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during a game against the Jets. In 1994, the Cardinals hired him as head coach; he worked two seasons there with his twin sons, Rex and Rob, on the staff.
-- Shawna Seed
The defensive-minded Fisher is in the top 20 in NFL history for coaching wins, mostly on the strength of a long, successful run with the Oilers/Titans franchise that was highlighted by a narrow Super Bowl loss in the 1999 season.
Chicago drafted Fisher out of USC in 1981 as a defensive back. He was on injured reserve for the Bears' 1985 championship season and spent the time assisting defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. When Ryan became the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach in 1986, he hired Fisher as defensive backs coach.
Fisher's next move was in 1991 to become the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator for a season under his former college coach John Robinson. He then coached the 49ers' defensive backs under George Seifert until the Houston Oilers made him their defensive coordinator in 1994. He was elevated to interim head coach when Jack Pardee was fired after a 1-9 start. Fisher became the permanent coach in 1995 and remained in that position for 16 seasons, including the franchise's move to Tennessee.
Fisher's Titans went to the playoffs six times, including their trip to Super Bowl XXXIV. That game ended when St. Louis linebacker Mike Jones tackled Tennessee receiver Kevin Dyson a yard short of the potential tying touchdown, sealing the Rams' 23-16 victory.
Fisher parted ways with the Titans after the 2010 season and was replaced by longtime assistant Mike Munchak, the third former Fisher assistant to become an NFL head coach, following Gregg Williams and Jim Schwartz.
After a year off, Fisher returned to the sideline as the Rams' head coach in 2012.
-- Kevin Stone
Schwartz took over the Detroit Lions in 2009 after they completed the NFL's first 0-16 campaign and led them to the playoffs in his third season.
He worked four years at the college level (two as a graduate assistant) before joining the Cleveland Browns, then coached by Bill Belichick, in the scouting department in 1993. When the team moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens (and replaced Belichick with Ted Marchibroda) in 1996, Schwartz moved into a coaching role as a defensive assistant.
He joined Jeff Fisher's staff with the Tennessee Titans for their 1999 AFC championship season and became their defensive coordinator in 2001. Schwartz became a hot head-coaching candidate -- interviewing for openings in San Francisco, Washington, Miami and Atlanta in 2008 -- and left Tennessee to take over the Lions in 2009.
The Lions improved their record in each of Schwartz's first three seasons, culminated in 2011 by the team's first playoff berth since 1999 and first 10-win season since 1995.
-- Kevin Stone
Munchak is a Hall of Fame guard with more than 30 years as a player and coach under his belt with the Oilers/Titans franchise.
He was a second-team All-American at Penn State before the Oilers drafted him No. 8 overall in 1982. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler in 11 seasons with Houston. His playing career ended in 1993, and he went straight into coaching as an offensive assistant/quality control coach under Jack Pardee.
Midway through Munchak's first season on the Houston staff, Jeff Fisher replaced Pardee as the Oilers' head coach. Munchak formed a longtime partnership with Fisher -- including 14 seasons as offensive line coach, a franchise relocation and a Super Bowl trip -- before succeeding him as Titans head coach in 2011.
-- Kevin Stone
Ryan comes from a family of brash defensive coaches that includes his father, Buddy, and twin brother, Rob. He made a name for himself with a record of success and a bold, controversial personality.
After coaching at several small colleges, he joined his father's staff with the Arizona Cardinals in 1994. Buddy was known for developing the aggressive 46 defense as Chicago's defensive coordinator in the 1970s and '80s, a scheme that Rex still uses. The Cardinals fired their entire staff after the '95 season, and Ryan returned to the college ranks for stints as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati and Oklahoma.
When Brian Billick became the Baltimore Ravens' head coach in 1999, he brought in Ryan as defensive line coach. In Ryan's 10 seasons with Baltimore, including four as coordinator, the Ravens had one of the league's top defenses on a regular basis. In 2000, the Ravens set NFL records for fewest rushing yards and points allowed in a 16-game season on their way to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV. Baltimore's head coach in Ryan's final season there was John Harbaugh.
The Jets hired Ryan as their head coach in 2009, and he struck up a love-hate relationship with the New York media. The Jets went to the AFC Championship Game in each of Ryan's first two seasons, and he predicted a Super Bowl championship for 2011. But the team finished 8-8, and Ryan later said he regretted making the guarantee.
-- Kevin Stone
Special thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau for research assistance in compiling this project.