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Mike Smith, Gary Kubiak: NFL's top underrated coaches


Flip through any phonebook and you'll discover page after page filled with Mike Smiths.

Some are plumbers, others tend bar -- a few of them teach mathematics to young people. But only one Mike Smith has guided an NFL team to a league-best 8-0 mark at the season's midpoint.

The Atlanta Falcons are devoted to their Mike Smith, who came out on top in a recent poll ranking him as the most underrated coach in the league.

Sporting News queried 103 players from 27 teams, and Smith tied with Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak with 15 votes each. Nobody else was close.

It's hard to disagree with either selection, but the lack of notoriety for both men has to do with January. The Falcons have enjoyed regular-season success for years, only to crash and burn hard in the postseason, a dynamic that keeps Smith from being taken seriously as a championship-caliber leader.

Kubiak's Texans are in a similar boat. Houston is a newbie to the AFC's power circle, and the team's success came after years of mediocrity under Kubiak.

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Ravens safety Bernard Pollard stuck up for Kubiak: "(He's) always been underrated, but I've been telling people for years that he has one of the greatest offensive minds in the game."

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin ranked second with 11 votes, but we'd argue he's received plenty of acclaim this season. Mike Tomlin, Pete Carroll and Lovie Smith also netted attention. It pains me to inform you there was very little love for the forlorn Norval Eugene Turner.

Who gets your vote?

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.