Patriots top NFL's most stable franchises
Which NFL franchises have the most stability? We asked our experts and came up with ESPN.com's Top 10.
This week, our season preview will look at the key characteristics of championship contenders. What sets them apart? We'll examine five key issues -- efficiency, stability, chemistry, strategy and talent.
We polled a number of our experts at ESPN.com (Len Pasquarelli, John Clayton, Michael Smith, Jeremy Green and Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.) to come up with our top 10 for each category.
Tuesday we are looking at stability. Teams that keep their coaching staffs and key players together for a long time, running the same schemes and establishing continuity, have a distinct advantage in the NFL.
Here's how we ranked the top 10:
|NFL's Most Stable Franchises|
1. New England Patriots: For the first time in a long while, the Patriots had multiple voids to fill on their coaching staff for this season. Will it be an issue? There will be a few growing pains, but for the most part it will be a nonissue, and this is why: The system is already in place. It's not the job of new coaches to come in and tinker with the system. The system has been established by Bill Belichick, and it is the job of new coaches to follow that script. This is why even when things change in Patriot land, they always seem to stay the same.
-- Jeremy Green
|2. Philadelphia Eagles: One of the first moves head coach Andy Reid made when he took the job in 1999 was to hire defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Brad Childress was franchise QB Donovan McNabb's quarterback coach before Reid named him his offensive coordinator in 2002. This coaching staff has been together for a long time. -- Steve Muench|
|3. Pittsburgh Steelers: While there has been turnover at both coordinator positions (hired in 2004), Bill Cowher is (incredibly) entering his 14th season as Pittsburgh's head coach. His scowl has become the face of Steelers football. -- S.M.|
|4. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts have had little to no turnover on their coaching staff or in their personnel department since Tony Dungy took over three years ago. They also have done a good job of keeping the most important element of their success intact -- and that's the offense. As long as QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James and WR Marvin Harrison are on the field together on Sundays, this team has a chance to win (and win big). -- J.G.|
|5. Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan is entering his 11th season as Denver's head coach. Gary Kubiak, who played quarterback for the Broncos for nine seasons, has been his offensive coordinator since the first day. In addition, Ted Sundquist is entering his 14th season with Denver, his fourth as the team's general manager. -- S.M.|
|6. Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have done a very good job of keeping their coaching staff and core players together. They seem to have finally established what they are offensively (a run-oriented team) and have tried to develop and find players who fit with that philosophy. They know they will win with defense and have done a good job of keeping that side of the ball intact. -- J.G.|
|7. Green Bay Packers: For the most part, the Packers have been able to keep their core coaches and players together. But this is the season when things could get more interesting. The center of everything this organization is built upon is QB Brett Favre, and this could be his last season in the NFL. -- J.G.|
|8. Seattle Seahawks: Mike Holmgren is entering his seventh season as Seattle's head coach, and offensive coordinator Gil Haskell is entering his fifth season with the team. In addition, RB Shaun Alexander has been a Seahawk his entire career and QB Matt Hasselbeck, who has been with Seattle since the 2001 season, signed a six-year deal during the offseason. -- S.M.|
|9. Kansas City Chiefs: Change isn't something that needlessly happens in Kansas City. Lamar Hunt is one of the more stable owners in football. He gives Carl Peterson the complete authority to run the football operations. Peterson doesn't like changing coaches, so the Chiefs always have a good base to build on for personnel. He brought in his close friend, Dick Vermeil, to build a Super Bowl team. The Chiefs have great fans and a stadium that rocks during home games. -- John Clayton|
|10. Carolina Panthers: Credit owner Jerry Richardson for giving his coaches and general managers anything they want. The Panthers' owner played in the league and knows football. But he doesn't dabble in the day-to-day operation. Richardson can be demanding, but not in a bad way. He established one of the most successful expansion teams . Now, it is one of the best organizations in football. -- J.C.|
|Also receiving votes: New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans.|
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