The coaching carousel is always turning and there's no way around it: It's hard to be a coach in the NFL. The biggest challenge is having a plan for your team and sticking to that plan -- even when things start to go wrong. I always said that you need to give players a roadmap of where you want to go -- you can shine the light as a coach, but they have to walk down that path. If you're consistent and protect the players in the media, they'll play for you. Some young coaches grasp this faster than others. And it doesn't hurt if you can win some games along the way.
I was asked to provide the names of five current coaches or coordinators who I thought were rising stars, to go along with ESPN Insider's Future Power Rankings project.
Here is my list:
Chuck Pagano, head coach, Indianapolis Colts
I've known Chuck forever and nothing more needs to be said about the challenge that he faced last season. He's a fighter and a leader.
On the field, Chuck is great at getting his players to play up to their potential. That sounds simple, but it's crucial for any head coach. Chuck is a people person, a players' coach and a great motivator. He was able to get a young team to come together emotionally and chemistry-wise, though the key is going to be keeping up that same energy for this season. Once he gets a couple more pieces for his 3-4 defense, this team is going to be very good. Chuck has 11 years of NFL experience on the defensive side of the football, and another 14 at the college level. The Colts are going to be set for the future with Chuck on the sideline and Andrew Luck under center.