By: Josh Shippen
Say what you will about NFL players, coaches are the most vital pieces of the team. The training and expertise they have is the reason teams develop and mature, and their leadership skills can help teams band together and go on Super Bowl runs. Today, I am presenting these coaches ranked, best to worst, so have fun seeing where your coach lands.
- Bill Belichick
Say what you will about Belichick being a cheater or a liar or even a horrible person, he is the greatest head coach of all time. Belichick has led Brady and the Patriots to 9 Super Bowls over the span of 2000-2019, and Belichick isn’t done with the Patriots anytime soon. Belichick is great at never making emotional decisions, if someone’s not working out on the Patriots, they get shipped away no matter the cost. Belichick is ruthless and wicked smart.
- Andy Reid
Even though it took a while for Reid to get his first Super Bowl title, that does not change that his coaching has been huge for the time he has been with Kansas City. From the word go he took a Chiefs team that was dead last the year before, and turned them into an undefeated operation for the first half of the season with Alex Smith of all people. For the next few years after he turned Alex Smith into a force to be reckoned with, up until Mahomes fell into his lap. From there, the rest of the NFL didn’t (and probably doesn’t) stand a chance.
- Sean McDermott
Sean McDermott is coaching a Bills team that was seen as a laughingstock in years past into one of the few teams that will be able to touch the Chiefs at the top of the AFC. How does he do this? Talent evaluation. Sean McDermott’s team is not top heavy with stars, it is mostly above average players that have been coached up to make an incredibly deep team.
- Kyle Shanahan
With the hand Shanahan has been dealt, he probably would’ve been fired by now if he was an average coach. But Shanahan is not average, not at all. Shanahan took a team that was 4-12 in a previous year, and brought them into a Super Bowl. Now in 2020, with almost every starter out, Shanahan’s 49ers are still performing at a high level. Shanahan is one of the most resourceful coaches in the league, and it shows in the things his personnel perform.
- Pete Carroll
Carroll has paved the way for Russell Wilson to lead the team to many playoff runs, including 2 memorable Super Bowls. If you want consistency, Carroll has got it. I never worry about the Seahawks doing poorly when Carroll is running the ship.
- Sean McVay
McVay came in relief of Jeff Fisher (thank heavens) and has been a great add to the Rams coaching staff. McVay turned a dull offense that had seen the likes of Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemmens, and Shaun Hill, and turned it into a Jared Goff led operation that has made a Super Bowl, and in 2018 was one of the top offenses in the league. McVay has many years to come as the head coach, and will keep this Rams team in contention.
- Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel is doing something in Tennessee that needed to happen desperately. The Titans are interesting. No longer is Marcus Mariota running the show and giving the Titans 9-7 seasons with Wild Card losses, no longer is Derrick Henry just your average running back. Vrabel has made the Titans ridiculously fun to watch, and he has made a play action game that will make history as one of the best ever.
- Matt LeFleur
LaFleur got dealt a sexy hand with Rodgers as the quarterback, and Mike Pettine to run the defense with Preston and Za’Darius Smith, and he has done well with it. The Packers went 13-3 last year, and could very well repeat that feat this year. The offense has been one of the best in the league, and LeFleur is keeping the ship moving nicely.
- John Harbaugh
Harbaugh has coached the Ravens for a good while now, and they have had years where they have been nasty, on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Harbaugh recapped 2019 by sporting the NFL MVP, and having the deepest roster in the NFL. Unfortunately, that deep roster never seems to want to play in big games, which leads to concerns that it might be a coaching issue.
- Mike Tomlin
It seems like Mike Tomlin’s teams have made 5 Super Bowls the way he is talked about in the coaches conversations, but no he has only made one. The dreaded trio of 7-26-84 never made the big game, which is a huge upset. Tomlin has to be complemented for his ability to almost keep the 2019 Steelers alive with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges.
- Sean Payton
Sean Payton has had quite the tenure with Brees. Make that quite the disappointing tenure. With coaches like Bellichick and Tomlin, and even Andy Reid, their teams are first in the division almost every single year. There have been many years where the Payton Saints aren’t even third. Over the past ten years, the Panthers and Falcons have each made a Super Bowl even with the “gauntlet” in their division in the Saints.
- Bruce Arians
In a world where there are roughly 30 coaches heralded as quarterback gurus, Bruce Arians really is one. In 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals, Arians made the playoffs with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley. Ryan Lindley! That’s absolutely insane. If you give Arians a few years to work his magic, he will not disappoint.
- Frank Reich
Reich has made a lot out of a little, but his teams have never been particularly jaw dropping. The defense has been good with random players like Margus Hunt playing well, and he has produced playmakers on offense like a healthy Parris Campbell, but they lack that last little boost necessary to make a Super Bowl. I think, given what he did as a coordinator in Philly, it is extremely possible they get that explosion very soon.
- Jon Gruden
Gruden has been the most up and down coach to me. On one hand, they have offensive led games where Derek Carr lights up the field and Darren Waller is barreling over the opposing defense like it’s made out of jelly. Other times, the offense stinks, and Derek Carr can’t move the ball. It is impossible to really evaluate the progress of Gruden’s young, spunky team but they seem to be either getting better, or on an upswing, ready to recede.
- Brian Flores
Talking about doing a lot with a little, Flores took a team that the organization was chirping about tanking and said screw that, let’s win some games. And win he did, making Fitzpatrick look good while doing it. The big knock about Flores for me is that while his team looks pretty good, they look directionless. They don’t look ready to get 12 wins in a season to come, but they don’t look like a team ready to go 4-12 either. Dolphins fans would hate to see their team go 8-8 for 5 more years straight.
- Doug Pederson
Pederson would be so much higher if not for this year. In the past, he has always had talent at random positions, making Greg Ward and Boston Scott stars, but this year their team does not seem to have the same Carson Wentz POP that it had before. Wentz drags the team down, and they don’t look like they have a supporting cast that can save him anymore. I do really like what he has shown with the short time we had with Jalen Reagor.
- Anthony Lynn
I believe what has saved Lynn’s job over the past couple years is that his players seem to always be behind him. Other than that, Lynn has been mildly disappointing. The Chargers were my Super Bowl pick last year because of how much talent they were loaded with on offense AND defense, but it seems like every position has been underperforming since that pick was made. At some point, that falls on players AND coaches, and I wonder how much it falls on Lynn.
- Matt Nagy
The defense under the Nagy regime has been, well, spectacular. Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, and Kyle Fuller are only the beginning of a defensive unit that still gives offenses fits. On the other hand, the offense is the definition of average. Boring, but not embarrassing. Not too fast, but not too slow either. Nagy’s team needs to take offensive steps, but if they ever did that he could get them competitive again.
- Matt Rhule
I like what Rhule is starting to develop in Carolina with Teddy Bridgewater. The Panthers seem to get better and better each week, and Rhule has made a defense that was seen as talentless, average which trust me is a big big achievement. Just imagine what Rhule can cook up when he has Christian McCaffrey at his disposal.
- Mike McCarthy
Is anyone else starting to see a pattern? McCarthy’s offense is firing on all cylinders when they have their pieces there, but their defense is awful and gives up games. Now with injuries to Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Zack Martin, and Blake Jarwin, not to add losing Travis Frederick to retirement, the offense is completely dead and the defense is killing them as well. McCarthy needs to spend serious attention to depth and the defense.
- Kliff Kingsbury
We have yet to see the promised “Air Raid Offense” at full strength from Kinsgbury and Kyler Murray. Don’t get me wrong, the offense is good, just not to the level we all wanted and frankly expected. Kingsbury has all the pieces there, he just has to show them how to work together and win games convincingly.
- Vic Fangio
The Vic Fangio hire in Denver was supposed to be the start of a new era with Drew Lock and a young team. So why am I looking at a team that just beat the Patriots with 6 field goals and no touchdowns? Fangio’s team lacks movement on the offensive side of the ball that is frankly appalling this year, considering how many good things were written about them. Maybe there is room for improvement when pieces of their offense and defense comes back, but you can never rely on your team being healthy (@49ers).
- Mike Zimmer
Zimmer is getting exposed this year for what his team really is. A team that lacks a quarterback that is going to put the team on his back, a quarterback you can trust to be anything more than a game manager. In addition, this defense has not been good for a while, especially when talent like Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen just waltz out the door. Zimmer lacks what it takes to compete in the NFL, and that is being shown this year.
- Kevin Stefanski
I’ll be honest I was puzzled by the Stefanski hire in the first place because the Vikings were never a super dominant offense aside from Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs, but I get that the Browns are desperate. George Clooney’s long lost brother has been doing alright with the Browns, making them look great on offense against bad teams but laying down and taking a beating against good teams. For me, Stefanski is a coach that needs time to show what he’s trying to do.
- Ron Rivera
Riverboat Ron looked like a genius when he beat the Eagles in week 1, and we were all wondering if the Washington Football Team had some kick to it, surprise surprise it doesn’t. To be quite honest there isn’t much Rivera can do except try and showcase players that look like they could be the future of the franchise to boost morale and get people excited (cue Chase Young).
- Romeo Crennell*
Since Bill O’Brien left, Crennell has made the Texans competitive. To sum up, Watson carries the offense, Watt carries the defense, and the rest of the team stinks. So why couldn’t O’Brien do this? To be honest I am not sure, but I don’t think Crennell has enough talent to work with to make the Texans competitive in 2020.
- Raheem Morris*
With Morris as the head coach, the defense doesn’t look bad and the offense looked psyched up to kill. The reason this makes no sense is because Morris was the defensive coordinator before he took over as head coach, and the defense was terrible before then. I am extremely cautious to put any praise on Morris just now, but I want to see if he can save this defense, and show Arthur Blank that blowing up the operation is not necessary.
- Zac Taylor
Taylor has been dealt a nasty hand in his time with Cincinnati, and has failed to lift it up and make it something. I don’t care how impressive Hue Jackson would find 2 wins over two seasons, for everyone else it’s not the way to go for a franchise. Taylor needs to lift his team up and win a few games, in other words he needs to prove that his team is worth a damn, or could be worth one.
- Joe Judge
This team looks like it can’t work together, nothing looks like it fits together at all. Putting it into simple terms, that is a problem. Judge needs to get his pieces, offensive and defensive, to play to their ceiling potential, and not to their floors. I am worried about the Joe Judge experience in New York, and think he could very well be a one and done head coach.
- Adam Gase
Wait, Gase isn’t last? Nope sorry, Adam Gase earned himself the number 30 spot partly due to how close he got last year. I get that this year has been sloppy and terrible and nobody likes him in the building, but he got 7 wins last year and could have got more had their starting quarterback not caught a children’s kissing disease. Gase will probably be gone before the season ends, but he got so close!
- Doug Marrone
Talk about a coach that deserved to be fired a long time ago! Why is Marrone still coaching an NFL team? Marrone’s players are never behind him, there are never two sides of the ball that play well, and often there isn’t even one. Marrone needs to be gone by the end of this year, and this team needs to get blown up start over.
- Matt Patricia
Patricia has been an awful disappointment, there are constant reports of Patricia disrespecting his players, and can we talk about the fact that the Lions suck at closing games. Detroit seemed like they were in almost every game they were in, and guess how many games they won. 3. That’s right, count them, just 3. That is a wild disappointment, this team isn’t a Super Bowl roster, but it definitely deserves more than 3 wins. Get Patricia out of there, he is the worst coach in the NFL and deserves no benefit of the doubt at all!
*Interim Head Coach