In the history of the National Football League there have been over 400 different head coaches dating all the way back to the AFL.
There have been many who have looked like they had no idea what was going on, and there have been some that have changed the game forever.
In this article I will countdown the 50 greatest head coaches in NFL history.
I tried to research as much as I could to come up with this list and took into account wins, winning seasons, championships, and how that coach impacted the NFL.
I know that everyone has their own opinions and no one’s list would be the same so I look forward to reading everyone’s input.
Overall Record: 47-50 Playoffs: 0-2
Sam Rutigliano coached the Cleveland Browns for seven seasons and had three winning seasons which included two playoff berths.
Rutigliano’s overall record might not be that impressive but he loved his players and did as much as he could in a time of rampant drug use.
The NFL enacted a drug policy and Rutigliano went above and beyond that policy to help the players who were struggling with their addiction problems.
Sam founded a support group called “the Inner Circle”, which was completely anonymous, and about a dozen Browns players actually attended.
Some argue that Sam Rutigliano should be inducted into the Hall of Fame for his efforts against drugs during his tenure with the Browns.
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans
Overall Record: 136-110 Playoffs: 5-6
Jeff Fisher is in his 16th season with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and is currently the longest tenured coach in the NFL.
In his 16 seasons, Fisher has led the Titans to six playoff appearances and is one of only five coaches to lead his team to back to back 13 win seasons.
His first 13 win season saw Fisher’s Titans lose to the St. Luis Rams in the SuperBowl when wide receiver Kevin Dyson was stopped one yard short of the game tying touchdown as time expired.
Jeff Fisher teams always employ tough, stout defenses and Fisher is currently the co-chairman of the NFL’s competition committee.
New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts
Overall Record: 125-106 Playoffs: 0-6
“We couldn’t do diddly poo offensively”
“You think you know, but you don't know. And you never will”, quotes from Wikipedia.org.
Jim Mora was never one to keep in his feelings at the podium and these are just three of my favorite quotes in his career.
Mora coached the New Orleans Saints to their first winning season and playoff game ever in 1987.
Over his eleven years with the team, Mora led them to four more winning seasons but never managed to win a playoff game.
Many criticized Mora for being too conservative in those playoff games and he finished his career with the Indianapolis Colts, coaching Peyton Manning in his first four seasons to two winning seasons.
Overall Record: 80-64 Playoffs: 5-3
1 SuperBowl Championship: XXXV
Brian Billick became only the second head coach in Baltimore Ravens history in 1999 and led them to their first non-losing season at 8-8.
Even though Billick was hailed as an offensive genius from his time with the Minnesota Vikings, his Ravens teams were always known for dominating defense.
None more dominating than in 2000 where the Ravens defense set records for fewest points allowed during a 16 game season, and fewest rushing yards allowed on route to SuperBowl XXXV where they destroyed the New York Giants 34-7.
Billick was always known as a good motivator and led the Ravens to four playoff appearances in his nine seasons with the team.
New York Giants
Overall Record: 63-59-4 Playoffs: 0-3
In 1961, Allie Sherman was named head coach of the New York Giants and immediately made them winners.
In his first three seasons as coach, Sherman would ensue to lead the Giants to three straight championship games.
The Giants lost all three of those games however, and failed to attain a winning record in each of his last six seasons as coach, due partly to the retirements of hall of fame players such as Y.A. Tittle and Frank Gifford.
Allie Sherman is currently second in Giants history in wins with 63 behind only Steven Owen.
Overall Record: 108-67-1 Playoffs: 10-8
Andy Reid’s head coaching career started a little rocky with relentless boos as he chose to draft Donovan McNabb in the 1999 NFL draft instead of fan favorite Ricky Williams.
After a first season in which the Eagles finished 5-11, Reid ensued to lead the Eagles to five consecutive seasons with at least eleven wins and four consecutive conference championship games.
During Reid’s tenure, the Eagles have never been afraid to cut loose older stars including the likes of Brian Dawkins and the aforementioned Donavon McNabb.
Andy Reid is in his 12th season as the Eagles head coach and has only had two losing seasons and been to the playoffs eight times.
Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Record: 95-81 Playoffs: 5-4
1 SuperBowl Championship: XXXVII
During his coaching tenure, Jon Gruden developed the nickname “Chucky” for his temper and resemblance of the Chucky doll from the movies.
Gruden could always be heard yelling for some reason from the sideline, which may explain why he became known as one of the game’s best motivators.
After leading the Oakland Raiders in 2000 to their first division title since 1990, Gruden was actually traded to the Buccaneers two years later and then proceeded to demolish the Raiders that same year in SuperBowl XXXVII.
Since the SuperBowl, Gruden and the Buccaneers only made the playoffs twice, however he only had three losing seasons in his eleven years with the team.
Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants
Overall Record: 123-101 Playoffs: 8-7
1 SuperBowl Championship: XLII
Tom Coughlin was charged the dubious task of leading an expansion team as a first time head coach and indeed led them to becoming the most successful expansion team in league history, going to the playoffs four consecutive years and averaging ten wins a season.
However, three losing seasons followed and Coughlin was fired in 2002 and out of football until hired as the Giants head coach in 2004.
Tom has always been known as a disciplinarian and whipped the Giants to four straight playoff seasons and beat the previously undefeated New England Patriots in SuperBowl XLII.
Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall Record: 110-81-9 Playoffs: 3-1
2 League Championships: 1952, 1953
Buddy Parker coached three teams as a pro head coach and resigned from all three of them eventually.
After a first season in which the Cardinals seemed to improve under Parker, he suddenly resigned, citing the fact that he just could not handle the job anymore.
However Parker resurfaced the next season as the head coach of the Detroit Lions and led his team to three straight league championship games, winning the first two.
During this time Buddy and quarterback Bobby Layne popularized the two minute offense, yet after a 9-3 season, Parker resigned again, this time stating that he could not control his players as his reason.
His tenure with the Steelers was up and down and was more known for some lopsided trades that he made which left Pittsburgh without top draft choices for years.
After eight seasons with the Steelers, Parker made his final resignation from football and never coached again.
Rock Island Independents, Milwaukee Badgers, Detroit Panthers, Providence Steam Roller, Chicago Cardinals
Overall Record: 87-63-18 Playoffs: 1-1
1 League Championship: 1928, 1947
The owner of the Independents liked Conzelman’s leadership skills so much that he sent someone onto the field during a timeout to pull him, who was quarterbacking at the time, aside and inform him that he was the new coach.
After a short coaching stint with the Milwaukee Badgers, Conzelman resigned to begin his own franchise and created the Detroit Panthers in 1925.
Poor attendance however forced Conzelman to sell the team back to the league after only two seasons and Jimmy signed with the Providence Steam Rollers, leading them to a championship in 1928.
Conzelman then resigned in 1930 and after a ten year hiatus, returned to coach a couple of stints with the Chicago Cardinals, the second of which resulting in a championship season in 1947.
Jimmy Conzelman brought his sense of humor, excitement, and leadership to every team he coached or played for and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Overall Record: 84-107 Playoffs: 3-2
Sam Wyche may not have the record that other coaches have on this list, however he was always known for being one of the best motivators in the game.
Wyche was also an innovator and was the first to introduce having more than eleven players in the huddle and then having some leave to confuse the defense.
The Bengals were also the first team to use the no huddle offense as a base offense under Wyche.
His best year was 1988 with the Cincinnati Bengals when he led them to a 12-4 record and to their second SuperBowl in franchise history where they lost to the 49ers 20-16.
Even though his tenure with the Buccaneers yielded no winning seasons, Wyche drafted the core of what would be a SuperBowl defense down the road in Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp.
Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers
Overall Record: 200-126-1 Playoffs: 5-13
Marty Schottenheimer coached five NFL franchises in his 21 years and went to the playoffs in 13 of those years, including four straight appearances with the Browns and six straight with the Chiefs.
In his 10 year’s with the Chiefs, Schottenheimer accumulated over 100 victories and after a short stop in Washington, was hired as the coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Marty Schottenheimer won a lot of games in the NFL and his players loved him, but his conservative ways or “Marty Ball”, in the playoffs never allowed him to even get to a SuperBowl, let alone win one.
He will always be known for his motivation skills and for his great speeches he made such as “There’s a gleam”, and “Those two little letters w-e we, those two little letters u-s us, they’re powerful.”, quotes from
Portsmouth Spartans, Detroit Lions, Brooklyn Dodgers
Overall Record: 64-42-12 Playoffs: 1-0
1 NFL Championship: 1935
Potsy Clark started his NFL coaching career in 1931 when he took over a bad Portsmouth Spartans team and ensued to lead them to three straight winning seasons.
However due to the depression, the Spartans were relocated and became the Detroit Lions.
Clark led the Lions to seven straight shut outs and a 10-3 record in the first season and then beat the New York Giants 26-7 the next season in the 1935 championship game.
Then after an 8-4 record, Potsy was inexplicably fired and was immediately hired to coach the horrible Brooklyn Dodgers.
After making the Dodgers at least respectable for three years and then returning to the Detroit Lions for one more season, Clark retired from the NFL.
When Potsy Clark retired, only Curly Lambeau, George Halas, and Steve Owen had more wins than he did.
Philadelphia Eagles, St. Luis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs
Overall Record: 120-109 Playoffs: 5-6
1 SuperBowl Championship: XXXIV
When Dick Vermeil went to the Eagles he worked his players hard in training camp and practice and in 1980 went all the way to the SuperBowl, losing 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders.
Two seasons later, Vermeil retired from the Eagles, citing “burnout” to be the reasoning and left football for 15 years.
He returned in 1997 with the St. Luis Rams and his first two seasons were horrible going a combined 9-23.
Then in 1999, Vermeil led the Rams as the “greatest show on turf” all the way to being SuperBowl Champions, despite losing starting quarterback Trent Green in preseason.
Vermeil walked away after that season and returned again to the Chiefs in 2001.
His tenure with the Chiefs was up and down and overall Dick Vermeil will always be known as an emotional coach who loved his players and didn’t hesitate to cry if he needed to.
Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Bulldogs, Frankford Yellow Jackets, Chicago Cardinals
Overall Record: 58-16-7
4 League Championships: 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926
Guy Chamberlin only coached for six seasons in pro football, however five of them were winning seasons.
Chamberlin started his coaching career with the Canton Bulldogs in 1922 and led them to back to back undefeated/championship seasons which had never been done in the NFL until that point.
The Bulldogs were then sold to Cleveland in 1924 and Chamberlin again led them to a championship in his third straight season.
The winning did not stop for Guy when he went to the Frankfurt Yellow Jackets in 1925 and won his fourth NFL championship in 1926.
Guy Chamberlin ended his coaching career with a lackluster season with the Chicago Cardinals in 1927, yet was still one of the greatest “winners” in NFL history.
Houston Oilers, New Orleans Saints
Overall Record: 82-77 Playoffs: 4-3
You could not really find a perfect fit between team and coach when Bum Phillips became the head coach of the Oilers in 1975.
Phillips was Texas personified, exemplified by his cowboy hat that he wore to every game, except for ones played indoors.
Bum led the Oilers to three straight playoff appearances with a bruising rushing attack, however, in one of the most controversial decisions in team history, was fired after a playoff loss to the Raiders.
In his next five years with the Saints, Bum never had near the success he attained with the Oilers and resigned in 1985.
Bum Phillips to this day is one of the most beloved coaches in Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titan History.
Overall Record: 73-51-7 Playoffs: 3-1
2 League Championships: 1948, 1949
It took Greasy Neale a while to turn the Philadelphia Eagles into winners, but turn them into winners he did.
From 1947-1949, Neale led the Eagles to three straight playoff appearances and two straight league championships in 1948 and 1949.
The Eagles became the first team to win two straight championships while shutting out their opponents in both games when they defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 and the Los Angeles Rams 14-0.
Neale developed a dominating Eagles defense, which was a core for the team during his tenure, and his defensive set eventually generated the 4-3 defense that teams use today in the NFL.
Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals
Overall Record: 113-94 Playoffs: 4-8
Dennis Green became only the third African American head coach in league history in 1992 when he was hired by the Minnesota Vikings.
Before finishing his career with the Arizona Cardinals and four consecutive losing seasons, one with Vikings and three with Cardinals, Green went nine straight seasons without a losing record.
The highlight of Green’s career is 1998 when the Vikings set the record for most points scored in a season, went 15-1 and ended up losing to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game becoming one of the best teams in NFL history to not win the SuperBowl.
Green was one of the most successful coaches of the 90’s, however, more people probably remember him for his now infamous postgame speech after losing a 20 point lead to the Chicago Bears in 2006.
Overall Record: 76-34 Playoffs: 3-4
1 League Championship: 1964
Blanton Collier was offered the job with the Cleveland Browns after owner Art Modell fired Paul Brown when he felt Brown was losing standing with the players.
Collier earned his players respect quickly by giving them more freedom in areas both on and off the field including letting his quarterback change plays.
Blanton led the Browns to the league championship in his second year and had seven straight winning seasons in total.
Over his eight seasons with the Browns, Collier led them to four league championship games but only won the one.
After a 7-7 season in 1970, Blanton Collier was forced to retire from his position as head coach due to becoming almost completely deaf.
Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins
Overall Record: 146-98 Playoffs: 8-5
2 SuperBowl Championships: XXXII, XXXIII
I am going to skip right over Shanahan’s stint with the Raiders and go right to his 14 seasons with the Denver Broncos.
In those 14 years, Shanahan had nine winning seasons, and seven playoff appearances.
In 1997 and 1998, the Broncos won the SuperBowl, becoming the first team to win back to back since the Cowboys in the 1992-1993 seasons.
Shanahan was most known for having one of the best rushing attacks every season and for being able to pick up unknown running backs and have them rush for 1000 yards.
However Shanahan went seven years without a playoff win and even though that streak ended in the 2005 playoffs, Shanahan was fired three seasons later.
Mike Shanahan is currently with the Washington Redskins and will surely add to an already remarkable legacy.
Boston Redskins, Washington Redskins
Overall Record: 54-21-3 Playoffs: 2-2
2 League Championships: 1937, 1942
Ray Flaherty had his first winning season with the Redskins in his rookie year with the team in 1936, and never stopped winning.
In fact, Flaherty only coached for seven seasons in the NFL and never had a losing season.
The Redskins won two league championships under Flaherty, in 1937 and 1942, and beat the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears in those games.
In those games, Flaherty unveiled two innovations, including the screen pass, and a platoon system in which he had two offensive personal groupings that were good at both rushing and passing respectively.
Flaherty would have won more games in the NFL if not for leaving in 1943 to fight in World War II.
Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons
Overall Record: 190-165 Playoffs: 11-9
When Dan Reeves became the head coach of the Broncos in 1981 he became the youngest coach in the NFL at the time.
Reeves ensued to lead the Broncos to eight winning seasons and six playoff appearances in his twelve seasons with the team.
This included a stretch of four straight seasons of at least ten wins and two straight SuperBowls in 1986 and 1987, losing both.
During his tenure as coach of the Giants, Reeves had two winning seasons and actually had the best first season for a Giants head coach in history with an 11-5 record.
Reeves ended his long coaching career with the Falcons and led them to their best season in franchise history with a berth in SuperBowl XXXIII even though they lost that game.
Dan Reeves amassed almost 200 victories in the NFL and went to four SuperBowls as a head coach in the NFL although he lost all four games.
Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
Overall Record: 97-87 Playoffs: 8-3
2 SuperBowl Championships: XV, XVIII
Tom Flores was named head coach of the Raiders in 1979 following the retirement of John Madden.
In his nine seasons as head coach, Flores led the Raiders to six playoff appearances, and two SuperBowl victories.
The first victory being in only his second season as head coach over the Eagles, and the second over the Redskins, and both were won by more than two touchdowns.
I believe Flores has not gotten the respect that he deserves and is one of four head coaches to win two SuperBowl championships and not be in the Hall of Fame, the others being Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, and Bill Parcells.
Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks
Overall Record: 161-111 Playoffs: 12-11
1 SuperBowl Championship: XXXI
After coaching under Bill Walsh in San Francisco for five seasons, Mike Holmgren was hired as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers and proceeded to have one of the most successful coaching stints in NFL history.
Holmgren never had a losing season with Green Bay and went to two straight SuperBowls in 1996 and 1997, winning in 1996, 35-21 over the Patriots and losing in 1997, 31-24 to the Broncos.
In 1998, Holmgren resigned from the Packers and accepted an eight year contract with the Seahawks, immediately making them a better team.
The Seahawks hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1988 and Mike Holmgren led them to six appearances, one in his first season and then five straight from 2003 to 2007.
In 2005, he led the Seahawks to the SuperBowl, losing 21-10 to the Steelers, however he became only the fifth coach in history to lead two different teams to the SuperBowl.
Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills
Overall Record: 143-112 Playoffs: 11-8
Marv Levy is the all time winningest coach of the Buffalo Bills, had nine winning seasons overall, eight playoff appearances, and yes, went to the SuperBowl in four consecutive seasons.
Four consecutive SuperBowls should be enough for any coach to be higher on this list, however, Levy failed to win even one of those games.
His best shot was in his first appearance in 1990, where the Bills came within a missed field goal of winning the game and bypassing their dubious place in history.
In the SuperBowls that followed, the Bills did not really compete and lost by at least thirteen points in all three.
If Levy had won even just one of those SuperBowls, he would have been much higher on this list and probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as it is.
Marv Levy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
St. Luis Cardinals, San Diego Chargers
Overall Record: 111-83-1 Playoffs: 3-6
The St. Luis Cardinals had not been to the playoffs in 26 years before Coryell became coach and led them to two consecutive appearances in 1974 and 1975.
Coryell became the coach of the Chargers in 1978 and led them to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
It was with the Chargers where Coryell’s, “Air Coryell” offense became one of the greatest offenses in NFL history.
Coryell’s team led the NFL in passing yards for six consecutive seasons, which is an NFL record, and seven seasons overall, along with leading the league in total offense in five seasons.
“Air Coryell” allowed quarterback Dan Fouts to set the record for passing yards in a season in both 1980 and 1981, and he still holds the record for yards per game with 320 in 1982.
People criticize Coryell’s defenses however, in 1979 the defense allowed the fewest points in the AFC and in 1980 led the league in sacks.
Don Coryell was as innovative a coach there was in NFL history and I believe he deserves to be in the hall of fame.
San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
Overall Record: 114-62 Playoffs: 10-5
2 SuperBowl Championships: XXIV, XXIX
George Seifert was named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 1989 following the retirement of Bill Walsh.
In his eight seasons as head coach of the 49ers, Seifert led the team to seven playoff appearances, and two SuperBowl victories.
Many criticize Seifert for his wins since most believe he only won because Bill Walsh had already built the team.
I can understand that point because Seifert did win the year after Walsh retired, however I do not believe you can still say that after he won five years later.
Seifert had to deal with the scrutiny behind trading Joe Montana and brushed off all the doubters to become one of four head coaches to win two SuperBowl championships and not be in the Hall of Fame, the others being Jimmy Johnson, Tom Flores, and Bill Parcells.
Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, San Diego Chargers, Houston Oilers
Overall Record: 122-99-7 Playoffs: 1-5
1 League Championship: 1963
Sid Gillman started his career with the Los Angeles Rams and took them to the championship game in his first season.
After five seasons with the Rams, Gillman became the first head coach of the Chargers and led them to the championship game in his first two seasons but did not win until his fourth in 1963.
All in all, Gillman led his teams to six championship games in his eighteen seasons, winning one, and helped the American Football League become more popular.
Gillman was the first to really use motion to his advantage and was one of the true professionals of pro football.
Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins
Overall Record: 80-64 Playoffs: 9-4
2 SuperBowl Championships: XXVII, XXVIII
When Jimmy Johnson took over the Cowboys he went 1-15 in his first year with a rookie quarterback named Troy Aikman, and then 7-9 in his second season.
That was the last losing season of Johnson’s coaching career, mostly due to his ability to draft and develop talent, and he went to the playoffs in his next three seasons with the Cowboys.
The last two of which, Johnson became only the sixth head coach in the history of the NFL to lead his team to back to back SuperBowl wins.
After the second SuperBowl win, Johnson resigned from the Cowboys due to the fact that he and owner Jerry Jones could not work together anymore and he signed with the Dolphins three years later in 1996.
Johnson ended his career on a three season winning streak however was blown out in his last game and referred to burnout as his reason for leaving.
New York Giants
Overall Record: 151-100-17 Playoffs: 2-8
2 League Championships: 1934, 1938
Steve Owen coached the New York Giants for 23 years and had winning seasons in 15 of them with nine playoff appearances.
Eight of those playoff appearances ended in the league championship game and two of those ended with a victory for Owen.
One of Owen’s signature moments as coach was in the 1934 championship game when the Giants were facing icy conditions and a 13-3 deficit at halftime to the Chicago Bears.
The Giants actually had someone run out during halftime and obtain sneakers so that the Giants would have better footing than the Bears in the second half.
The strategy worked and the Giants scored 27 points to win the game 30-13 and forever naming the game as “The Sneakers Game”.
Owen is also given credit for tweaking the defense and creating the “Umbrella Defense” which was pretty much the 4-3 defense that is used today.
Steve Owen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints
Overall Record: 121-95 Playoffs: 6-6
1 SuperBowl Championship: XX
Mike Ditka went into coaching as soon as he retired as a player and was hired by the Chicago Bears as their head coach in 1982.
Ditka ensued to lead them to seven winning seasons in his 11 years after they only had two winning seasons in the previous 19.
The best season under Ditka was 1985, where he led the Bears to a 15-1 record, a SuperBowl championship, and one of the best defenses in league history.
A lot of the credit for that defense should be given to defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan however, although Ditka did have five winning seasons after Ryan left to become a head coach himself.
I’m not going to talk much about his tenure with the Saints, since even Ditka refers to those years as a horrible time in his life and understandably so. (15-33 record)
Mike Ditka was enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player in 1988 and is one of the toughest head coaches to ever coach in the NFL.
Overall Record: 103-32-7 Playoffs: 9-7
1 SuperBowl Championship: XI
Nowadays the Madden name is synonymous with video games, however John Madden was a great football coach for the Raiders as well.
Madden became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1969 and never had a losing season with the team.
Furthermore Madden led the Raiders to eight playoff appearances in his ten years and won the SuperBowl in 1976 over the Minnesota Vikings.
Madden retired following the 1978 season as the youngest coach to reach 100 victories.
Under Madden the Raiders had a swagger and were known as one of the dirtiest teams in the NFL, and loved every moment of it.
Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks
Overall Record: 186-147-1 Playoffs: 7-11
In 1973 the Los Angeles Rams made Chuck Knox head coach and he led the team to a winning record in all of his five seasons with the team.
In 1978 Knox left the Rams due to a dispute with the owner and became the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.
Knox had two winning seasons and playoff appearances with the Bills before leaving for the Seattle Seahawks who he led to six winning seasons in nine years.
Knox was also known as “Ground Chuck” because of the amount his teams rushed the ball and he was also the first coach to have an African American as a regular quarterback in James Harris.
In total, Knox had thirteen winning seasons and eleven playoff appearances in his 22 years as a head coach.
Overall Record: 149-90-1 Playoffs: 12-9
1 SuperBowl Championship: XL
Bill Cowher was named the head coach of the Steelers in 1992 and immediately won in Pittsburgh.
In fact, Cowher is one of two coaches in NFL history to lead his team to the playoffs in his first six seasons as coach.
In only his fourth season, Bill Cowher became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a SuperBowl when the Steelers lost to the Cowboys in 1995.
In total with the Steelers, Cowher went to the playoffs ten times, and appeared in two SuperBowls, finally winning in 2005 over the Seahawks.
When teams played Bill Cowher or “The Chin”, they knew they were going to get a heavy dose of the run game and a tough defense waiting for them on the other end.
Baltimore Colts, New York Jets
Overall Record: 130-129-7 Playoffs: 4-1
2 League, 1 SuperBowl Championship: 1958, 1959, V
Weeb Ewbank’s record may not be as impressive as other coaches on this list, however his wins were some of the most important in league history and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
Ewbank was hired as the Colts head coach in 1954 and led them to four winning seasons which included two championships in 1958 and 1959.
In 1958 the Colts faced the New York Giants in the first championship game televised and it promptly became the first game to go into overtime.
After the Colts defeated the Giants the game was deemed “The greatest game ever played”.
After nine seasons with the Colts, Ewbank went to the Jets and after quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed it, became the first AFL team to win a SuperBowl and became the first coach to win championships with both an NFL and AFL team.
This game showed that the AFL was just as good as the NFL and was an extremely important factor in the league becoming as popular as it is today.
Overall Record: 154-94 Playoffs: 17-7
3 SuperBowl Championships: XVII, XIII, XXVI
Joe Gibbs had two stints with the Washington Redskins with the first starting in 1981 and lasting for twelve years.
In those twelve years, Gibbs led the Redskins to eight playoff appearances and three SuperBowl championships.
Gibbs is the only coach in history to win three SuperBowls with three different starting quarterbacks(Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien).
After the 1992 season, Gibbs retired from football to focus on NASCAR and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
Twelve years later Gibbs returned to the Redskins and had two more winning seasons before retiring for good in 2007.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts
Overall Record: 139-69 Playoffs: 9-10
1 SuperBowl Championship: XLI
Dungy took over the Buccaneers in 1996 and had only one losing season with the team, however was deemed inadequate by management and fired following the 2001 season.
In 2002 the Indianapolis Colts hired Dungy and never had a season with less than ten wins in his tenure.
Dungy brought his Tampa 2 style defense he created with the Buccaneers and led the Colts to the playoffs in every one of his seven seasons with the team.
The one criticism of Dungy was his inability to win in the postseason even when having the best record in the regular season year in and year out.
Dungy finally put that to rest in 2006 when he became the first African American coach to win the SuperBowl and he resigned two seasons later.
New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys
Overall Record: 172-130-1 Playoffs: 11-8
2 SuperBowl Championships: XXI, XXV
Bill Parcells, or “The Tuna”, began his coaching career in 1983 and had 13 winning seasons in his 19 years.
Parcells was known for developing talent and turning teams that were bad before he got there into winners.
He was the first coach to have Gatorade dunked on him after wins and won two SuperBowls with two different quarterbacks.
After leaving the Giants, Parcells led the Patriots to another SuperBowl in 1996, however lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Parcells then had up and down tenures with both the Jets and Cowboys to end his career, yet he led every team he coached to at least one playoff appearance.
Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots
Overall Record: 148-92 Playoffs: 15-5
3 SuperBowl Championships: XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX
Technically Bill Belichick was the head coach of the Browns for five seasons(and Jets for one day), however it is his time with the Patriots that puts him so high on this list.
Nowadays Belichick is known as a sort of genius in the NFL for his gameplans and ability to have amazing drafts.
In his ten years as head coach he has had nine winning seasons, eight seasons of at least ten wins, seven playoff appearances, four SuperBowl appearances, three SuperBowl wins, and one perfect regular season.
He even lost his star quarterback Tom Brady for the entire 2008 season and still won 11 games with an unknown guy, Matt Cassel, who hadn’t started a game since high school.
Bill Belichick will be in the Hall of Fame someday and continues to build on his legacy with the Patriots this season.
Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins
Overall Record: 116-47-5 Playoffs: 2-7
George Allen became head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 1966 and spent five seasons with the team before becoming the coach of the Redskins for seven seasons.
In his twelve total seasons as a head coach, Allen never had a losing season, and made the playoffs in seven seasons, making and losing in the SuperBowl once in 1972.
Other than amassing over a hundred wins in his career, Allen was known for his extreme paranoia and even went as far as to hire a security guy to make sure no one was watching his practices.
Allen was also notoriously against young players and routinely had the oldest team in the NFL and was the first coach to put an emphasis on special teams, going so far as to hire someone to specifically coach them.
George Allen was one of the greatest motivators in the league and helped the NFL gain popularity by fueling the Redskins and Cowboys rivalry.
Overall Record: 158-96-5 Playoffs: 10-12
Bud Grant coached for 18 seasons in the NFL and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.
The Vikings had twelve winning seasons under Grant and won ten division titles in eleven years with twelve playoff appearances.
He would require his players to stand in a straight line during the national anthem and would not allow heaters on the sidelines.
In 1976 Grant became the first head coach to lead his team to four SuperBowls even though he lost every one.
Bud Grant was known for instilling discipline in his teams and for showing no emotion on the sidelines at games in order to lead his team by example.
Dallas Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints
Overall Record: 131-97-10 Playoffs: 5-3
1 League, 1 SuperBowl Championship: 1962, IV
Hank Stram was one of the greatest innovators in the NFL and got his start with the AFL Texans in 1960.
After two winning seasons and winning the league championship in 1962, the Texans became the Kansas City Chiefs.
Stram led the Chiefs to four playoff appearances and won the second SuperBowl by an AFL team in 1969.
This win cemented the fact the AFL was not just a fluke and that they could compete with the NFL on a year to year basis.
During that game Stram became the first coach to wear a microphone and his quotes are some of the most famous in NFL history.
Stram was the first to move the pocket to protect the quarterback and also used two tight ends to create an extra blocker for the offense.
Hank Stram also gave himself the nickname “The Mentor” and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame in 2003.
Decatur Staleys, Chicago Staleys, Chicago Bears
Overall Record: 315-148-31 Playoffs: 6-4
5 League Championships: 1921, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1946, 1963
George Halas was one of the most important figures in NFL history and was there when it came into existence.
Halas was the creator, owner, manager, and player for the Staleys, who became the Bears, and was an integral part of the total NFL ownership.
He coached his team for 41 seasons and had 35 winning seasons with nine playoff appearances and six league championships.
George Halas was the first coach to hold practices daily, to use films to study other teams, to have his games on the radio, and to have a man in motion.
Halas coached his teams with a discipline and did not tolerate any kind of defiance whatsoever.
Under Halas, the Bears were one of the most dominant teams for four decades. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins
Overall Record: 227-133-22 Playoffs: 3-2
6 League Championships: 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944
Curly Lambeau created the Green Bay Packers in 1919 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
The Packers did not join the NFL until the 1921 season and Lambeau was both a player and the coach for the team.
Lambeau’s Packers were the first team to really pass the ball and have an offense based around throwing the football.
He had 27 winning seasons as a coach and won six league championships while with the Packers.
The Packers even named their Lambeau Field after him in 1965 and it is one of the most hallowed grounds in the NFL.
Overall Record: 250-162-6 Playoffs: 20-16
2 SuperBowl Championships: VI, XII
Tom Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 however his coaching career did not start out too well with a winless season in his first season in 1960 and five straight losing seasons.
He would rebound and lead the Cowboys to 20 straight winning seasons and five SuperBowls while winning two of them.
Landry was known for his hat that he wore every Sunday, and for his many innovations in the game such as pre-snap motions to confuse the defense.
A very quiet, religious man, Landry led his teams with a calm demeanor and was the first to hire a coach just to watch film and figure out tendencies of opposing teams.
Tom Landry was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for their first 29 years of existence and only left the team when Jerry Jones became owner.
San Francisco 49ers
Overall Record: 92-59 Playoffs: 10-4
3 SuperBowl Championships: XVI, XIX, XXIII
Bill Walsh was hired in 1979 and only had one winning season in his first four years, but ended his career with six straight winning seasons which included two of his three SuperBowl championships.
In total Walsh had seven winning seasons in his ten years and reached the playoffs in all seven of those seasons.
Walsh was a master at the draft and was one of the greatest evaluators of talent in NFL history.
His version of the west coast offense was run to perfection by quarterback Joe Montana and Walsh was known as a genius for his play calling and play designs.
Bill Walsh was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
Overall Record: 193-148-1 Playoffs: 16-8
4 SuperBowl Championships: IX, X, XIII, XIV
Chuck Noll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and coached the Pittsburgh Steelers for 23 seasons.
Fifteen of those were winning seasons, and twelve of those were playoff appearances, with four SuperBowl championships in six years.
Noll was a genius in the draft and to this day, was responsible for the only draft class to yield four hall of famers from it.
His defenses were one of the best in the league every year and relied heavily on the run game on offense.
He is still the only coach in history to lead his team to two different back to back SuperBowl runs, in 1974-1975 and 1978-1979.
Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins
Overall Record: 328-156-6 Playoffs: 19-17
2 SuperBowl Championships: VII, VIII
Don Shula is the winningest head coach in NFL history with his 328 victories and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
In his 33 years as a head coach, Shula led his teams to 27 winning seasons, 19 playoff appearances, six SuperBowl appearances, and two SuperBowl wins.
He started his career with a thirteen consecutive winning season streak and his 1972 Dolphins team is regarded by many as the greatest team in history for having the only completely perfect season in NFL history.
Shula was one of the greatest pure coaches in history, being able to adapt his coaching style to whatever kind of players he had at the time.
When he first started he won with a powerful running game and ended up with a potent passing offense.
In the end Don Shula was known for one thing, and that was winning.
Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins
Overall Record: 96-34-6 Playoffs: 9-1
5 League, 2 SuperBowl Championships: 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, I, II
Vince Lombardi coached ten years in the NFL and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
Lombardi never had a losing season as a head coach and coached his team to six league championships and two SuperBowls, winning seven of those games.
He just had an ability to motivate and instill what it took to be a winner in his players and Lombardi developed one of the most famous plays in NFL history, the Lombardi Sweep.
One of his many signature moments became the 1967 “Ice Bowl” where the temperature was -13°F and Lombardi’s Packers won the game on a last second quarterback sneak by Bart Starr.
Vince Lombardi demanded excellence from every player on his team and would not accept losing anytime.
Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals
Overall Record: 166-100-6 Playoffs: 4-8
4 AAFC, 3 League Championships: 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954, 1955
Paul Brown created the Cleveland Browns and won four championships before even joining the NFL in 1950 and winning the league championship that same year.
Brown coached for 21 seasons in the NFL and had 16 winning seasons with eleven playoff appearances and three league championships in total.
He was the greatest teacher in the game and turned his meetings into classroom settings to fully be able to teach his players.
Sending plays in from the sidelines was a creation of his by having a player sub in every play and Brown also created the west coast offense, which every NFL team uses a variation of today.
When his tenure with the Browns ended, Paul Brown created the Cincinnati Bengals and they currently play in Paul Brown Stadium.
Paul Brown was also an important part of the integration of the NFL when he signed the first African American players, Marion Motley and Bill Wills, in 1946.
There was no other single coach to have the impact on the game that Paul Brown did between innovations off the field, on the field, and creating 2 of the 32 current NFL teams; Paul Brown was the greatest coach in NFL history.