The Detroit Lions' Aaron Glenn, the Miami Dolphins' Frank Smith and the Dallas Cowboys' John Fassel are the top-ranked defensive, offensive and special teams coordinators in the NFL, according to a survey of players conducted by the NFL Players Association during the 2023 season.

The survey is part of the union's broader report card project it launched last year, surveying players throughout the league on various topics related to their teams. Last year's survey asked players to rate their teams on a number of factors, including ownership, practice facilities, coaching, etc. This year, the union wanted to broaden the survey and include more topics, and one of them was coordinators.

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"We got really great participation in last year's report card survey, but we wanted to think about what other areas matter to guys day to day," NFLPA president J.C. Tretter told ESPN in a phone interview Thursday morning. "So, the idea of evaluating the coordinators was brought up. They're a major factor in your day-to-day life as a player, and we wanted to make sure players had a voice in promoting the good ones."

Tretter said more than 1,700 players responded to this report card survey, which will be released, as it was last year, around the scouting combine in late February/early March. But the union wanted to put out the lists of top five coordinators now, ahead of the annual head-coach hiring cycle, to generate positive attention for some of the coaches who will be candidates.

"We hope it will help these really qualified leaders get the chance to move on in the next cycle and have a chance to become head coaches," Tretter said.

The survey was specific about who it asked -- offensive players were asked to rate their offensive coordinators, defensive players to rate their defensive coordinators, etc., on a scale of 1 to 10. The NFLPA says 864 offensive players rated their offensive coordinators, 774 defensive players rated their defensive coordinators and 1,025 players who participate on special teams rated their special teams coordinators. The survey ran from late August through mid-November.

"Just about every player, when asked publicly, is trained not to give a negative answer," Tretter said. "So, we feel, because the responses are protected, this is a barometer of how players feel about their coaches."

Tretter said one of the things that impressed him was the diversity of the names on the lists. Some are from winning teams, some from losing teams. Example: All three of the 11-5 Dallas Cowboys' coordinators made their respective top 5s, but two of the 2-14 Carolina Panthers' coordinators also made their top 5.

Some of the names in the top 5s are former head coaches, including four of the top five defensive coordinators in the survey. Some are former players. Some are sons of former coaches.

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was the No. 1 overall rated coordinator in the survey, according to NFLPA president J.C. Tretter. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tretter said Glenn, who has not yet had the chance to be a head coach but tops the defensive list ahead of four guys who have, was rated the No. 1 coordinator overall in the survey across all three categories.

The NFLPA had its reasons for releasing only the top 5s at this point and not full lists. One was, as mentioned, to highlight and help strong head-coach candidates in the interview cycle. Another was to avoid playoff-bound teams whose coordinators might have rated poorly from having to deal with that as an issue ahead of postseason games.

"Sometimes, the negative gets too much of the headlines," Tretter said. "We didn't want to muddy the waters by also having people talk about the low-scoring coordinators.

The top five offensive coordinators in the NFL, according to the NFLPA player survey:

Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins

Thomas Brown, Carolina Panthers

Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys

Brian Callahan, Cincinnati Bengals

Kellen Moore, Los Angeles Chargers

The top five defensive coordinators in the NFL, according to the NFLPA player survey:

Aaron Glenn, Detroit Lions

Steve Wilks, San Francisco 49ers

Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys

Brian Flores, Minnesota Vikings

Raheem Morris, Los Angeles Rams

The top five special teams coordinators in the NFL, according to the NFLPA player survey:

John Fassel, Dallas Cowboys

Chris Tabor, Carolina Panthers (currently interim head coach)

Matt Daniels, Minnesota Vikings

Dave Fipp, Detroit Lions

Darren Rizzi, New Orleans Saints