The bloggers on ESPN.com are at it again with their latest power rankings. They are running out of things to rank and have resorted to ranking the rising assistant coaches around the NFL now.
Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Cowboys new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan topped the rankings of rising assistant coaches and Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler finished tied for last among coaches that received at least one vote. It is no surprise that the lone vote for Butler came from AFC North blogger James Walker.
The purpose of this latest power ranking reportedly was to develop a list that focused on the “next wave” of coaching candidates according to NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert. If that indeed is the case then it is no wonder that Fewell finished first as his name has surfaced quite a bit in the last round of head coach searches for the most recent job openings around the league.
Although Butler is not a candidate to be a head coach any time soon, he has been in demand as a defensive coordinator around the league as both the Cardinals and Dolphins have had interest in him taking over their respective defenses. Butler turned down the offer from the Dolphins a few years ago and the Steelers denied a recent request from the Cardinals to interview Butler for their defensive coordinator position back in February. The Cardinals ended up giving the job to Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton instead.
Butler has long been believed to be the heir apparent to Dick LeBeau whenever he retires and is about to begin his ninth season coaching the Steelers linebackers. Prior to that, Butler coached the Browns linebackers from 1999-2002.
Former Steelers offensive line coach and current Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach, Russ Grimm, finished 4th in the power rankings while former Steelers player and assistant coach Darren Perry finished 10th in the rankings. Perry was drafted by the Steelers in the 1992 and has coached with the Bengals, Steelers and Raiders and is currently on the Packers staff.
Also not receiving votes in the power rankings was Steelers quarterback coach Randy Fichtner. Fichtner is rumored to be the one to replace Bruce Arians as the Steelers offensive coordinator in 2012 as Arians may retire after this upcoming season according to reports. Fichtner was promoted to the quarterback coach position after coaching the wide receivers for the Steelers when Ken Anderson retired following the 2010 season. He has been on the Steelers coaching staff since Mike Tomlin took over in 2007.
The coach most overrated on the list in my opinion is Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer finished 3rd and I share the same opinion of NFC East blogger Dan Graziano that if the Jets offense struggles once again in 2011, he could end up out of job and might go backwards in the coaching ranks.