11 Most Overrated Coaches in NFL History
A head coach's ranking on a list of greats in NFL history can be determined many different ways. Playoff appearances, Super Bowl wins, even whether the players on his team had respect for the coach all can play a factor.
This list is comprised of head coaches that either don't deserve the great reputation that has followed them or guys that had coaching jobs way longer than their performances should have allowed.
While some of these men may hold a special place in fan's hearts, they all are overrated and somewhat underwhelming as head coaches.
Playoff Record: 4-4
Teams: Washington Redskins 1994-2000, Oakland Raiders 2004-2005, San Diego Chargers 2007-present
Norv Turner isn't necessarily on this list because he is deemed overrated. In fact, most people don't rate him very high as a head coach at all these days.
Turner is included in this article because he still has a head coaching job in the NFL.
The San Diego Chargers have been stocked to the brim with talent in a mediocre division for years and have not translated that talent to success on the field. The Chargers have either missed the playoffs completely or gone one-and-done in the post-season.
One would have to think that this season is Norv Turner's last opportunity to make something happen for the Chargers. It would be such a shame to have such talent and athleticism on one squad and not reap the benefits in the post-season.
Playoff Record: 2-4
Teams: New York Jets 2001-2005, Kansas City Chiefs 2006-2008
Herm Edwards is a big talker. He is well known for those motivational speeches and great sound bites from press conferences. Edwards had many fans believing in him and buying into his coaching style.
During his five years as the Jets head coach, he had a few decent seasons but always seemed to come up short.
Edwards' conservative play and poor clock management skills translated to his departure in 2005.
In an unusual controversial move, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round draft pick.
Edwards didn't fare any better as a head coach in Kansas City either.
People seem to rank him as a better coach than he was due to his character. His ability to talk a big game has raised his stock as a head coach in the memories of many NFL fans.
Playoff Record: 5-6
Teams: Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers, Tennessee Titians 1994-2010, St. Louis Rams 2012-present
After 17 seasons, Jeff Fisher was the longest-tenured head coach with one franchise when he was let go in January of 2011.
Why was he there for so long?
It certainly wasn't because the Titans went one-and-done twice in the playoffs with the best record in their division. How about the 0-6 start in 2009 or even the five 8-8 seasons of mediocrity during his tenure?
It's highly doubtful that any of those reasons are enough to keep a coaching job for as long as he did.
The unlikely Super Bowl run in 1999 allowed Fisher to rest on his laurels and stay employed as the Titans head coach for as long as he did.
Jeff Fisher has been given another chance at the helm of the St. Louis Rams. It will be interesting to see if he can break this stigma and be able to build a team and succeed in the post-season.
Playoff Record: 6-6
Teams: Chicago Bears 1982-1992, New Orleans Saints 1997-1999
Bears fans are probably not thrilled to see their beloved Ditka on this list. Yes, he coached Chicago to a Super Bowl victory in 1985. However, being as dominant a regular season team as Chicago was in the late 1980s there should have been more post-season success.
In the Ditka years following the 1985 Super Bowl victory, the Bears had excellent records, dominated their division and fell short in the post-season; very short. They lost at home in the playoffs, including three one-and-done appearances.
Let's not forget about New Orleans.
Ditka's term as head coach of the Saints was not exactly a positive one. He basically traded away the 1999 draft for the rights to Ricky Williams putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the young running back. After a pathetic 3-13 season, Ditka was fired as the Saints head coach.
Playoff Record: 1-5
Teams: New Orleans Saints 1985, Denver Broncos 1993-1994, Buffalo Bills 1998-2000, Atlanta Falcons 2003, Dallas Cowboys 2007-2010
Wade Phillips is the mediocre head coach that just won't go away.
Like fellow list-maker Norv Turner, he is on this list because owners keept giving him a head coaching job. He is currently the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, a job that suits his coaching style.
He is too passive and not exactly a great motivator—qualities that don't fit the description for a stellar head coach.
While behind the helm in Dallas, Phillips failed to win in the playoffs and was fired mid-season in 2010 after the second worst start in franchise history with only one win in their first eight games.
He seems to have made a vast improvement in the Texans defense and should stay put as a coordinator. Judging by the past, there will probably be an owner with blinders on that will give him another shot as head coach and inevitably regret their decision.
Playoff Record: 4-1
Teams: Baltimore Colts 1954-1962, New York Jets 1963-1973
Weeb Ewbank is remembered mostly for Championship victories. He was the coach of the New York Jets when Joe Namath issued "The Guarantee" and led his team to beat the Colts in Super Bowl III.
What folks seem to forget is the fact that Ewbanks was responsible for some really poor teams as well. His career consisted of more losing seasons than winning ones for both the Colts and the Jets.
Ewbank's Baltimore team won back-to-back titles in 1958 and 1959. He then proceeded to run an immensely talented Johnny Unitas led team into the ground in the early 1960s. Don Shula was tapped to come in and pick up the pieces of that shattered Colts squad.
Playoff Record: 11-9
Teams: Denver Broncos 1981-1992, New York Giants 1993-1996, Atlanta Falcons 1997-2003
In his time as a head coach, Dan Reeves lost a total of four Super Bowls. Three were with the Broncos and one with the Falcons. That's not exactly an impressive stat to have under your name.
Reeves had incredible talent in John Elway and was unable to orchestrate a Super Bowl win as Denver's head coach.
He was run out of town in 1992 when he decided to draft Tommy Maddox as Elway's successor prematurely. Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen was forced to decide between Elway and Reeves and we all know how that played out.
Playoff Record: 5-4
Teams: Oakland Raiders 1998-2001, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002-2008
When first thinking about him, it doesn't appear that Jon Gruden should be included on this list. After all, he did lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory in 2002 against his former Oakland Raider team.
Tampa Bay had acquired Gruden from the Raiders that very same year, giving up two first and two second-round picks, along with $8 million for the young head coach. Sadly, that first successful season was the pinnacle for Gruden as Tampa Bay's head coach.
In the next six seasons, the Bucs went 45-51 and did not win another playoff game.
At both Oakland and Tampa Bay, Gruden had difficulty developing a team and relied heavily on veterans for each team's success.
Playoff Record: 7-11
Teams: Los Angeles Rams 1973-1977, Buffalo Bills 1978-1982, Seattle Seahawks 1983-1991 Los Angeles Rams 1992-1994
Chuck Knox certainly won his fair share of games, including five straight NFC West titles with the Rams at the beginning of his career. He also won division titles in Buffalo and Seattle as well.
What Knox failed to accomplish was to ever coach a team to the Super Bowl. That's right, not only did he never coach a Super Bowl winning team but none of his team's played in one either.
The talent was there, it just never happened for him. Adding insult to injury, the Rams won the Super Bowl just two seasons after he left his second stint with the team.
Playoff Record: 5-3
Team: Baltimore Ravens 1999-2007
Brian Billick was hired as the head coach for the Ravens coming off a successful run as the offensive coordinator in Minnesota. Ironically, he is best known for the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl victory; won with a stellar defense.
In his time as Baltimore's head coach, the supposed offensive minded Billick ran some lukewarm offenses. In the seven years following their Super Bowl run, the Raven's were underwhelming with a 1-3 playoff record.
Billick's name certainly gets mentioned every year when heading coaching jobs come available. He is currently an NFL analyst and it will be interesting to see if he ever decides to come back to coaching and attempt another shot at a ring.
Playoff Record: 5-13
Teams: Cleveland Browns 1984-1988, Kansas City Chiefs 1989-1998, Washington Redskins 2001, San Diego Chargers 2002-2006
Marty Schottenheimer is another horrible playoff coach. He won plenty of regular season games behind the helm; however seemed to choke when the playoffs rolled around.
Schottenheimer's playoff losses read like a bad dream.
In his career, he managed eight one-and-dones in the post-season. Six of those were even on his home field. He never reached the Super Bowl as an NFL head coach and actually had some squads with legit talent.
Schottenheimer's only football championship came with the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL.
He became their head coach in 2011 and finally won himself a title game.