On June 30, Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports put out an article that tormented many Detroit Lions fans. It was a NFL head coach rankings list, and Detroit’s Dan Campbell was slotted at 30th overall.
Cody’s rankings inspired me to create my own. Here is Part 2 of my NFL Head Coach rankings (in a unique format), along with a quick explanation. Read Part 1 of the rankings if you have not already!
These coaches, some longer tenured – some newer, have already had success in one way or another. They will have their teams ready any given Sunday.
17. Ron Rivera (Commanders)
The Commanders finished 7-10 in 2021 after winning the NFC East the year prior. Rivera is an experienced, well-respected head coach, being honored as NFL Coach of the Year twice during his time with the Carolina Panthers (2013 and 2015). He took the Panthers to the playoffs four times in five years, with their notable 2015 season when they lost in Super Bowl 50. Rivera is past his prime as a head coach, but he is a great leader and steady coach that can help Washington in the immediate future.
16. Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)
Another experienced head coach, McCarthy has a plethora of playoff experience (and a Super Bowl ring) from his days with the Green Bay Packers to help the Cowboys get over the hump. In 2021, his first season as a head coach since 2018, he helped Dallas go 12-5 and win the NFC East, only to lose at home to the 49ers in the wild card round. McCarthy fits the Jerry Jones mold for head coaches, but Jerry’s patience might be wearing thin already. McCarthy will need to keep adjusting to the modern NFL.
15. Kevin Stefanski (Browns)
Stefanski is a savior in Cleveland. In his first season as head coach in 2020, he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff win, the first since 2002. He also won the Coach of the Year award during that season. 2021 was not so fortunate, as they finished 8-9. Stafanski is a proven coordinator and head coach, but he could potentially be in a bad spot in 2022 without QB Deshaun Watson. The offense, Stefanski’s specialty, might be capped with a backup QB. This could be a long season for the Browns.
14. Frank Reich (Colts)
Reich has done a solid job in Indianapolis so far, having an above .500 record in three of the four years he has been head coach. Indy has also been to the playoffs twice under Reich, most recently in 2020 with veteran QB Philip Rivers at the helm. Reich has not had the best of luck with stable QBs, as the Colts will be going into 2022 with a different starting QB for the fifth time in five years. Matt Ryan will lead the Colts this season, and expectations seem relatively high. There should be confidence in Reich to get back to the playoffs this season.
13. Zac Taylor (Bengals)
Let’s call it what it is. Taylor saved his job this past season, winning the AFC North and leading the Bengals on a magical run to the Super Bowl. In totality, however, Taylor’s record as the head coach in Cincy is 16-32-1. QB Joe Burrow, who will be going into his second full season in the NFL, will certainly help change the narrative for Taylor, especially if they can keep competing in the AFC North. Taylor can just keep riding the wave for now, as the future looks very bright in Cincinnati with Burrow and former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase.
12. Doug Pederson (Jaguars)
Pederson had a sour divorce from his last head coaching job with the Eagles. After taking a year off in 2021, he is a head coach once again. Taking over a Jaguars team was drowned in a negative culture, Pederson will look to mend what was torn. QB Trevor Lawrence is the prize of this team. If Pederson can develop him after some rookie struggles, then the Jags will have something special. With a Super Bowl win on his resume, Pederson seemed like the match made in heaven for Jacksonville.
11. Brandon Staley (Chargers)
Staley went 9-8 last season in his first year as a head coach. LA’s playoff hopes were flushed down the drain when they lost to the Raiders in Week 18. It was a game that almost ended in a tie, in which case both teams would have clinched. It is very bullish to put Staley this high, but I believe in what he is doing. The Chargers have underachieved in recent memory, but with young QB Justin Herbert alongside Staley, they can be contenders soon. Staley may be overly aggressive, but he has a smart and analytical football mind. He just needs to walk the walk, and 2022 can be a big year for the Chargers.
Super Bowl Caliber Coaches
These coaches stand out compared to the rest. Many of these guys have championships under their belts, and continue to cement their legacy each year.
10. Mike Vrabel (Titans)
The Titans hired Vrabel in 2018. Since then, he has a regular season record of 41-24, in addition to back-to-back AFC South championships (2020-2021). Vrabel lead the Titans to an 12-5 record in 2021, the best in the AFC. This earned him AP Coach of the Year. The Titans and Vrabel are on the verge of something great, but they have not gotten over the hump in the playoffs. Maybe that comes with a different QB, but Vrabel has remained consistent in his coaching and his character.
9. Pete Carroll (Seahawks)
Super Bowl Champion. 5 NFC West championships. 9 straight seasons with a winning record. These are just a few of many accomplishments of Carroll’s time in Seattle. Despite being one of the oldest coaches in the NFL, Carroll has continued to achieve results. The Seahawks are entering the post-Russell Wilson Era, so this may impact Carroll’s ability to have success without an elite QB. It is currently a QB battle between Geno Smith and Drew Lock, but neither option is appealing. Unless they add a young QB next offseason, Carroll may never get back to the playoffs with Seattle. Carroll still deserves his flowers.
8. Matt LaFleur (Packers)
In three seasons as head coach with the Packers, LaFleur has an impressive regular season record of 39-10 in addition to three-straight NFC North championships. However, he has not done what he was brought in to do – win a Super Bowl. The Packers have faltered in the playoffs each of the past three years under LaFleur, including losing back-to-back NFC Championship Games (2019-2020). His relationship with QB Aaron Rodgers has been rocky, but they have seemed to come to a mutual respect for one another. LaFleur will need to prove himself in the big moments, but Green Bay will continue to be contenders with Rodgers.
7. Sean McDermott (Bills)
McDermott has led the Bills to the playoffs four of the five years he has been head coach. He helped “overthrow” the New England Patriots in the AFC East, winning back-to-back division crowns the past two seasons. Expectations will not change, as they will be a certified Super Bowl contender every year. Being a defensive-minded guy, McDermott has fostered a tough, well-respected defense. On the other side of the ball, QB Josh Allen continues to be a superstar with his MVP-caliber play. McDermott will be another one of those coaches that will have consistent success and longevity in his role.
6. Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
Another up-and-coming offensive mastermind, Shanahan’s offenses are always complex and hard to stop. Shanahan, similarly to LaFleur, lacks consistent postseason success. The Niners had a great season in 2019, going 13-3 in the regular season but ultimately losing in the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs. SF made it back to the NFC Championship Game in 2021 but lost to division-rival LA Rams. Shanahan may have had to overcompensate with QB Jimmy Garoppolo, but with Trey Lance set to potentially take over in 2022, the upside for their offense is through the roof.
5. John Harbaugh (Ravens)
Harbaugh deserves a lot of credit. He had to renovate and reinvent the offense during their transition from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson. Harbaugh has put Jackson in a position to succeed, helping the young QB earn MVP in 2019. For Harbaugh, he has a Super Bowl championship on his resume, but that was in 2012. The Ravens have not gotten past the Divisional Round under Lamar Jackson, so they will need to figure it out. They have a superstar on their hands.
4. Mike Tomlin (Steelers)
Similarly to Harbaugh, it has been a while sense Tomlin has had deep postseason success. Despite that, Tomlin has been very impressive in Pittsburgh, never having a losing record in 15 years as head coach. During his tenure, the Steelers have seven AFC North crowns and a Super Bowl championship (2008). Pittsburgh was bounced in the Wild Card round in back-to-back seasons, but they will be entering 2022 with a new starting QB. With Ben Roethlisberger in retirement, they will roll out with either Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett. Tomlin will have the Steelers ready no matter who starts.
3. Sean McVay (Rams)
Sean McVay has been a trailblazer for young, innovative coaches to have success in the NFL. When he was hired in 2017 at the age of 30, he became the youngest head coach in the NFL’s modern era. Since then, he has not finished with a losing record. McVay is also 7-3 in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl victory last season. At 36 years old, McVay became the youngest head coach to win the Lombardi Trophy. He took a gamble wanting to trade for QB Matthew Stafford, but the two had an unbreakable bond that carried the offense to new heights. Before 2021, both were criticized for not showing up big games. They proved everyone wrong, and they are now set up for continual success for the years to come.
2. Andy Reid (Chiefs)
After 14 seasons as head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid revitalized his coaching career in Kansas City. Notably with QB Alex Smith and then Patrick Mahomes, Reid never finished a season with a losing record after joining KC in 2013. The Chiefs have won the AFC West for the last six seasons, and Reid finally won his first Super Bowl as a HC in 2019. Reid and the Chiefs never die, which is a testament to the coaching and their close-knit group. Mahomes and Reid needed each other, and they have become a dynamic duo. They will continue to find themselves in deep postseason runs for as long as they want to be. The Chiefs dynasty is here and strong.
1. Bill Belichick (Patriots)
It would have felt wrong to rank BB anywhere other than 1. He holds so many coaching records: most Super Bowl wins (6), most Super Bowl appearances (9), and most playoff wins (31). Yes, Tom Brady was a staple to the Patriots dynasty just as much as Bill was. This is not that debate. They are both the GOATs. They won 11 straight AFC East divisions. Belichick’s defense was unmatched and seemingly impossible to defeat. Today’s NFL is an offensive game, so Belichick has to adapt, but no one can tarnish his legacy for what he has accomplished.
The story is yet to be completed either, as his new QB apprentice, Mac Jones, helped lead the Pats to a wild card birth as a rookie in 2021. Is there some magic left in the tank? We shall see, but it should not even be an argument that Bill Belichick is #1.