Ranking Every NFL Head Coach

Being an NFL Head Coach is not an easy feat, as those who hold one of the 32 existing positions can attest. Coaches often have little-to-no job security and work incredibly long hours. That said, some coaches have proven themselves to be wonderful at the job, while others seem to have trouble keeping up with the rigors of the day-to-day operations being a head coach takes. With that said, here is an updated look at the complete NFL Head Coach rankings as things stand right now.

32. Anthony Lynn, San Diego Chargers

A running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills just a year ago, Anthony Lynn has enjoyed a meteoric rise to head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Although he coached Buffalo’s final game last season, Lynn lacks real experience running an entire offense, let alone an entire team. Lynn is a bright offensive mind, but he comes in last in these rankings mainly due to his inexperience as anything other than long-time coach of running backs.

31. Todd Bowles, New York Jets

As of right now, it seems Todd Bowles’ days as the head coach of the New York Jets are numbered. A fine defensive coordinator, Bowles enjoyed some success his first season in New York before the team once again devolved into the circus they were before under Rex Ryan. It’s not impossible for Bowles to surprise us but it seems highly improbable.

30. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills

Like Bowles, Sean McDermott is a very good defensive mind; however, the Bills are hoping for much better results out of their new head coach than what the Jets have gotten. From 2012-15, McDermott had the Carolina Panthers defense consistently near the top of the league before a rather large slip last season. McDermott may rise up these rankings, but until we see how he handles running a team, he remains near the bottom.

29. Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos

Despite spending just one season as defensive coordinator of a Miami Dolphins defense that wasn’t that particularly great, the Denver Broncos tabbed Vance Joseph as its newest head coach. Well respected in league circles, Joseph seems to be earning respect inside the locker room, but it is worrisome that once he finally became a coordinator he failed to really improve his unit. Hopefully for the Broncos Joseph proves he can indeed improve the talent he is given.

28.Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

The youngest head coach in NFL history, Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams are hopeful that the new coach’s youth won’t be a deterrent to success. As a coach, McVay has risen to become one of the league’s brightest offensive minds, leading Kirk Cousins and co. to top ten rankings in both of his years as offensive coordinator. Young head coaches haven’t done well historically, will McVay be able to break through?

27. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars

After leaving the Bills in unceremonious fashion following the 2015 season, Doug Marrone spent most of the past two years in relative obscurity coaching the Jaguars offensive line. With Gus Bradley out the door however, Marrone takes over duties as the team’s head coach. The Bills started to make strides with Marrone at the helm before his messy ending with the team, but with less talent at his disposal, it’s unclear if Marrone will be able to thrive in Jacksonville.

26. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

After a 2015 season that ended just shy of the Super Bowl, Chuck Pagano looked to be the Indianapolis Colts long-term solution at head coach. However, after back-to-back 8-8 seasons Pagano’s job security seems to be shaky. It certainly doesn’t help that quarterback Andrew Luck hasn’t been 100% for much of the last two years, but the fact of the matter is there have been numerous stories detailing the problems Pagano has caused in the locker room and the team remains talented in key areas. Pagano needs to turn it around this season or he could be looking for another job when it’s all said and done.

25. Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

It seems that everywhere Kyle Shanahan goes he is able to develop a dynamic offense, and the San Francisco 49ers hired him this offseason looking for more of the same. Shanahan obviously knows the ins and outs of head coaching from his father, but he will need to show he can handle coaching the defensive side of the ball as well if he is going to replicate his dad’s success in the profession. The 49ers are a long way away from truly competing, but if Shanahan can prove to be a solid hire then they will have a solid head start.

24. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles

Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles got off to a quick start last season before eventually finishing 7-9 after Carson Wentz regressed and the defense struggled. That said, year two is full of hope for Pederson and his team as Wentz showed a lot of promise and the team has taken steps to improve some of the worse areas on the team. It would be nice to see Pederson adjust an at-times vanilla offense, but he has a great opportunity to prove his worth as a head coach this season.

23. John Fox, Chicago Bears

There was a point with the Denver Broncos when John Fox was viewed as one of the NFL’s best head coaches, but after a couple years leading a floundering Chicago Bears team, Fox’s reputation has taken a hit. Fox is still a decent-enough head coach, but it’s clear that without top-level talent, Fox will struggle to lead a team. With the Bears possessing one of the NFL’s weaker rosters, it seems Fox could be on the hot seat unless he can maximize the limited talent he has.

22. Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions

Jim Caldwell from a record standpoint has been about as good as you can expect a coach to be for the Detroit Lions, given the team’s history, though closer examination exposes a few problems. Last season the Lions got lucky more than any other team in the league. They pulled out fourth quarter comeback after fourth quarter comeback on their way to a 9-7 record and playoff berth. While it’s certainly nice to finish with a winning record, in a normal season the Lions likely would have finished below .500 for the second straight season. This isn’t to say Caldwell isn’t a solid coach, but luck certainly was on his side last year.

21. Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins

Known as quarterback guru when he was hired, Adam Gase proved last season he is able to handle the rigors of running an entire team when he lead the Miami Dolphins to a 10-6 record after starting the campaign 1-4. Losing Ryan Tannehill for a while will certainly hurt but with Jay Cutler in tow, Gase might just be able to surprise us all again.

20. Ben McAdoo, New York Giants

After leading the New York Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Ben McAdoo proved he was worth hiring to replace Tom Coughlin as New York’s lead man, but it appears bigger things may be on the horizon this season. The team’s defense was dominant at times down the stretch and McAdoo has proven his worth as an offensive mind in the past which certainly helps as the team attempts to prove itself as a Super Bowl contender this upcoming season.

19. Mike Mularkey, Tennessee Titans

Everyone laughed when Mike Mularkey pledged to run an “exotic smashmouth” offense with the Tennessee Titans, but now Mularkey is the one doing the laughing. The Titans where one of the most fun teams in the league to watch last season and though the campaign ended in disappointment with Marcus Mariota’s broken leg, this season is full of hope and potential. One thing is for certain, “exotic smashmouth” has the Titans well set-up to succeed.

18. Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With a classic, no-nonsense coaching style, Dirk Koetter seemed to be an odd choice as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, but after a 9-7 season, Koetter showed he can adapt to the modern NFL while maintaining his old-school principles. Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and a promising defense give Koetter an enviable core to work with, and it seems likely that he leads the group to even more success in 2017-18.

17. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

Say what you will about his playoff success (or lack thereof), Marvin Lewis remains a good head coach in the NFL. His players respect him, and the same can be said for those around the league. Sure, his team is undisciplined and sloppy at times, but when it comes down to it, Lewis has done his best to right what once was a just plain ugly Bengals operation.

16. Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns

It may seem borderline insane to put a coach who just suffered a 1-15 campaign this high on the list, but hear me out. Hue Jackson is one of the most creative offensive play-callers the league has to offer, and while 1-15 is bad, it speaks more to the lack of talent on the roster than to Jackson’s actual coaching ability. Jackson is highly respected in his locker room and he is able to maximize the talent of every player he coaches. The record may not show it yet, but Jackson is a good head coach.

15. Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans

Bill O’Brien can be tough to work with and rather stubborn at times, but there aren’t too many coaches who would be able to win the way O’Brien has with the lackluster quarterbacks at his disposal. With Deshaun Watson in town to hopefully provide a long-term answer at the position, O’Brien should prove to the world this season that he is a top-15 professional coach.

14. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens have struggled a bit the past two seasons while retooling the roster, but make no mistake, John Harbaugh remains a head coach most teams would love to have. He gets the best out of his players and while there are more exciting schemes out there, Harbaugh has shown he can coach with the best with a Super Bowl victory under his belt and several solid seasons in the league. With more talent than they’ve had in years, the Ravens are primed to return to the playoff under Harbaugh this season.

13. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Three straight 7-9 seasons have been tough to swallow for Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints, but the offensive mastermind isn’t even close to finished yet. Offensively, there are few offenses better than New Orleans’, and though the last several seasons have bordered on unwatchable for the team’s defense, they have improved considerably this offseason. Expect Payton to show us this season why he has such a lofty place in these rankings.

12. Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

Mike Zimmer waited a very long time to get his shot to coach an NFL team, and he has done an excellent job of it after two seasons. The team’s season ended in disappointment last season after a 5-0 start, but with no running game and Sam Bradford learning the offense on the fly, they did much better than anyone could have expected. With a nasty defense and an improved offense, Zimmer has a Vikings team that he is a perfect fit for.

11. Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders

After fizzling out as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, it seemed unlikely Jack Del Rio would get another shot in the NFL, but here he is, the fearless leader of the best Raiders team in years. Del Rio takes calculated risks that often work out in his favor and he has a certain swagger that has given this team an identity, and as a result, he finds himself on the fringes of top 10 head coach status.

10. Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins

Starting Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III has proven to be a wise decision that showed Jay Gruden has what it takes to be a great NFL coach. His creative scheme has gotten the most out of the offense, and outside of Cousin’s headache contract negotiations, Gruden has mostly been able to keep the distractions the team faces pretty limited. He has earned his place on this list.

9. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers

Last season was a massive disappointment for the Carolina Panthers and ‘Riverboat’ Ron Rivera, though he remains one of the league’s best coaches. With a well-earned reputation for taking risks, Rivera gives his team an edge that few others can match, and it’s clear that players enjoy playing for their coach. Last season was tough, but this season should once again prove Rivera is the right man for the job in Carolina.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most explosive teams in the NFL, and much of that has to do with Tomlin’s coaching. With a calm demeanor but a disciplined approach, the Steelers have thrived under their lead man. With Tomlin at the helm, the Steelers will always be contenders, and in a league where winning is difficult, Tomlin has proven to be among the best.

7. Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

Truly one of the most fun coaches in the NFL, Bruce Arians has a personality not unlike Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, something that has done him well in his head coaching career. Arians pushes players to be their absolute best selves and it has produced some spectacular results. With a possible retirement looming after this season, look for Arians to pull out all the stops in order to get his team to the top.

6. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

It’s hard to believe that at one point last season many people though Mike McCarthy was on his way out in Green Bay. After finishing the season red-hot however, McCarthy’s job security is no longer in any doubt. He’s not the most fun guy, but there’s no disputing that McCarthy can flat-out coach football.

5. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Andy Reid has enjoyed tremendous success throughout his career, and he’s proven himself time and time again as an excellent head coach. Players absolutely love playing for Reid, and his passion for the game is clear. Clock management hasn’t been a strong-suit for Reid in his career, but his woes there don’t hurt him too much here.

4. Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

In just his second season as head coach Dan Quinn lead his squad to the Super Bowl, where everyone knows what happened against the New England Patriots. Despite the Super Bowl meltdown, Quinn showed us that his attitude and assertiveness rubbed off on his players and he has his team primed to become a perennial contender.

3. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

When Jason Garrett has a capable quarterback at the helm he has shown he can be an elite head coach in the NFL. With Dak Prescott at the position, expect Garrett to put together nearly impossible to stop schemes on offense while the defense remains decent enough to hold up in big moments. Jerry Jones doesn’t always make great decisions, but hiring Garrett seems to be one of them.

2. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

Say what you will about the man, Pete Carroll has proven himself as a top coach in this league since taking over the Seattle Seahawks. With an innovative approach and a willingness to adapt, Carroll has shaped his team into one that nobody wants to face, and he has become the NFL’s second-best coach because of it.

1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

No surprises here as Bill Belichick is widely viewed not only as the best coach in the NFL right now, but arguably of all-time. One thing is for certain, Belichick has easily earned the top spot on out incredibly prestigious NFL head coach rankings.

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About Chris Ross

Chris Ross is the owner of BabbleSports.com. A lifelong sports fan, Chris started sportswriting in 2013 before founding BabbleSports in 2017 with the goal of sharing his passion for sports with people everywhere.
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