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Rushmore Sunday: NFC East Coaches

Rushmore Sunday: NFC East Coaches

It's Sunday, which means it's time for another edition of Rushmore Sunday -- a look at the greatest players in NFC East history, position by position. So far, we've delved into quarterbacks, cornerbacks, talent evaluators, running backs, wide receivers, safeties, offensive linemen and linebackers. This week, let's take a look at the leaders and strategizers: The Coaches.

The Rushmore rules are simple: pick the four who most deserve being part of the division pantheon. No more than four, no fewer than four. They don't necessarily have to be "the best" in the literal sense of the word, but they need to be an important part of the game's lore. The job is tough again this week because there have been so many good ones in the NFC East.

Here's my Rushmore of NFC East coaches:

  • Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins -- Gibbs arrived in Washington as a relatively unknown (and young) offensive coordinator for the pass-happy Air Coryell system. He tried to run a similar system with the Skins, but after an 0-5 start, he retrenched and built the Skins around a stand-out offensive line and the sturdy running of John Riggins. While the Skins remained an effective running team, they also sported a sophisticated and devastating passing attack. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. He's credited with inventing single back sets, as well as two and three tight end formations. And he created the H-back position He won a Super Bowl with a three-WR set featuring Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders.
  • Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys -- If Landry became a head coach for the first time in today's NFL, he'd have been fired long before he could have become an all-time great. He was winless in his first season, and the team had a losing record in each of his first five years. After that? Twenty consecutive winning seasons, five trips to the Super Bowl, and two Super Bowl championships.
  • Bill Parcells, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys (also the Jets and Patriots) -- The "Big Tuna's" coaching career almost died before it began. In 1979, he resigned a position as defensive coordinator for the Giants to take a real estate job in Colorado. Unhappy away from football, he was back the following season, first the with Patriots and then with the Giants. He became the Giants head coach in 1983, taking over a team that had one winning record in the previous decade. The team was dreadful his first season, but improved steadily, winning two Super Bowls. Parcells annoyed his players to the point that they doused him with Gatorade after beating the 49ers in Super Bowl XXI. The now ubiquitous Gatorade bath was almost enough to keep him off the NFC East coaching Rushmore.
  • Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys (also the Dolphins) -- Johnson succeeded Landry in Dallas, taking over a bad team, which promptly got even worse. That 1-15 opening season was the last losing record of Johnson's career, however. Johnson was a master of the draft day trade and had a first-rate eye for talent coupled with the ability to develop that talent into productive players. Johnson's Cowboys made him only the sixth head coach to win back-to-back Super Bowls. 
Commemorative Plaques

These are the guys who were close to the pantheon, but not quite in it. While they don't get their likeness dynamited into the side of a cliff, they at least rate a high-quality commemorative plaque hung at a popular viewing area. The plaques go to:

  • George Allen, Washington Redskins (also Los Angeles Rams)
  • Ray Flaherty, Boston/Washington Redskins
  • Earle "Greasy" Neale, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles (also St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs)
  • Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (also Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Allie Sherman, New York Giants

So, that's the Rushmore List of NFC East coaches. Who should move from the "commemorative plaques" section and who should come down from the cliff? Who's not on the list that should be there? Post your list in the comments. Just remember, you get only four selections, so if you want to add someone, one of the guys I chose needs to come down. There's only room for four.