After 16 years (and part of a 17th), Jeff Fisher is out as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. He was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL, and the franchise's one holdover (apart from owner Bud Adams) from its days as the Houston Oilers.
But what, exactly, did Fisher do to deserve to be in charge for so long? He never won a Super Bowl, and only even made it to one. He had a whopping six winning seasons in his sixteen years. (According to ESPN.com, he was known locally as "Coacho Ocho" and "Coach 0.500" in honor of these "accomplishments".) This past year, the Titans were off to a 5-2 start before a ongoing dispute between Fisher and quarterback Vince Young finally blew up, leading to a 6-10 finish.
It's pretty clear that Bud Adams and many others overrated Jeff Fisher's talent as a head coach. But he's not the only coach to keep getting work when he clearly doesn't deserve it. Here are Fisher and 25 more of the most overrated coaches in the history of the NFL, ranked in reverse order of career wins.
- New York Jets, 2001-2005 (39-41)
- Kansas City Chiefs, 2006-2008 (15-33)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 2-4
How can a head coach make the playoffs in half of his seasons and still leave two different franchises in shambles? Ask Herm Edwards.
Edwards started out in New York, where he made the playoffs in three of his first four seasons and won the division title in 2002. He was fired, however a 4-12 season in 2005. Not exactly playing to win the game.
But it got even worse in Kansas City. Edwards replaced Dick Vermeil atop a team that had gone 10-6 in 2005 and won the division in 2003. By the end of his tenure, the Chiefs had tumbled to 2-14 and were even more of a laughingstock than the Raiders -- no small feat in the mid-2000s.
Herm, like other former coaches, seems to have enhanced his legacy by going to TV. Since people see him all the time and other talking heads refer to him as "Coach", the assume he must have been a decent coach. If you consider a 0.422 lifetime winning percentage decent, then Edwards is your guy.
- Philadelphia Eagles, 1986-1990 (43-35-1)
- Arizona Cardinals, 1994-1995 (12-20)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-3
Buddy Ryan's name has come up a fair amount in the past couple years after son Rex's success with the Jets (consecutive AFC title games). But just by beating Cincinnati in the 2009 wildcard game, Rex did something that Buddy never could: win a playoff game.
Ryan may have been the classic case of a great coordinator who simply couldn't cut it as a head coach. He was the brainchild behind the great Chicago Bears 46 Defense, and after winning the Super Bowl in 1985, he took it with him to Philadelphia as head man. But Buddy was stubborn enough that he continued to run the defense even when it was clear that his opponents had figured out how to beat it.
The result was 31 regular-season wins from 1988 to 1990 -- and three one-and-done playoff appearances. And these were teams that included Randall Cunningham, Reggie White, Chris Carter and Keith Jackson on their rosters. Philly finally had enough after five seasons and fired Ryan. He popped up for two forgettable years in Arizona, but has been out of coaching since then.
- Los Angeles Raiders, 1989-1994 (54-38)
- Oakland Raiders, 2006 (2-14)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 2-3
Al Davis has said that he later regretted firing Shell after the Raiders moved back to Oakland. Actually, it's one the few correct moves Davis has made in the past two decades.
Yes, the Raiders were more competitive after having fallen into mediocrity in the years before. But it had a lot more to do with players such as running backs Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson and receiver Tim Brown then with his terrible game-day decisions. Oakland only had one division title and one AFC title game appearance in his reign, both in 1990. And in that title game, they were shelled (rim shot) 51-3 by the Buffalo Bills.
For some reason, Davis decided to bring Art Shell back in 2006. Shell responding by guiding the Raiders to a 2-14 record, the franchise's worst since 1963. (And that's saying something, given how bad the Raiders were in the 2000s.) Word of advice for NFL owners: never hire a guy who looks like a corpse on the sidelines.
- Chicago Bears, 1999-2003 (35-45)
- Detroit Lions, 2005 (1-4)
- Buffalo Bills, 2006-2009 (24-33)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-1
The question should not be why Dick Jauron would still get hired despite one winning season in his career. It should be, how does he even have one?
The 2001 season, in which Jauron went 13-3 with Chicago and won the AP Coach of the Year award, may be the biggest aberration/fluke in NFL history. After all, this was a team quarterbacked by the immortal Jim Miller. If you take 2001 away, Jauron's career winning percentage is 0.373 -- the equivalent of a 6-10 season.
Buffalo fans know the feeling. Jauron's one ray of hope in the city was in 2008, when the Bills got off to a 5-1 start. Of course, they then lost eight of 10 to finish 7-9 for the third straight season. Finally, after one too many parody songs, billboards and games involving Trent "Captain Checkdown" Edwards, Jauron was fired midway through the 2009 season. He now works as the defensive backs coach for the Eagles.
- Cincinnati Bengals, 2003-present
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-2
Only in Cincinnati can two winning seasons and no playoff wins in eight years be enough to get a contract extension. Admittedly, that's two more winning seasons than the Bengals had in the 12 years prior to Lewis' reign. But this is a team founded by the legendary Paul Brown, and that played in two Super Bowls in the 1980s; when did mediocrity (three 8-8 seasons under Lewis) become an accomplishment?
Lewis is one those people who was hired because of their coordinating abilities, and then proceeded to do none of what they were good at. Marvin was the brainchild behind Baltimore's Super Bowl-winning defense in 2000, but Cincinnati has only finished in the top half of the league in points allowed only once under his stewardship. More often, he's trying to be an offensive genius by doing things like the T.Ocho pairing. That didn't work either.
His clueless can be summed up by the fact that, after his extension was announced, he wanted Carson Palmer back at quarterback next year. This despite the fact that Palmer was never the same after blowing out his knee in the 2005 playoffs, and was beyond washed up last year (82.4 passer rating, worst in a full year since his rookie season). Good luck with that, Marv.
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 2003-present
PLAYOFF RECORD: 1-2
Jaguars team owner Wayne Weaver recently announced that Jack Of The River (his name translated from Spanish) would return in 2011, but that he would likely need to make the playoffs to stay longer. Given Del Rio's record, it seems rather unlikely that will happen. Here's a little by-the-numbers of his eight year tenure:
65 - Number of wins
63 - Number of losses
5-11 - Record against the Indianapolis Colts
3 - Winning seasons
3 - Times Jaguars have lost at least three straight games to end the season
2 - Playoff appearances
1 - Playoff wins
0 - Division titles
- Carolina Panthers, 2002-2010 (73-71)
- Denver Broncos, 2011-present (no games yet)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-3
Congratulations, Denver fans. Your franchise has been mediocre at best for the past five years. By bringing in John Fox as head coach, they've ensured that they'll stay mediocre for a few years longer.
The sad part is that Fox used to be pretty good. In his second year in Carolina, he took a team that should have been 0.500 at best (they were 16th in scoring differential) and led them to and 11-5 and a Super Bowl trip. Two years later, he took much the same team to another 11-5 record and an appearance in the NFC title game.
Fox's downfall, however, can be traced to one name: Jake Delhomme. After Carolina went 12-4 and earn the No. 2 seed in 2008, Delhomme submitted one of the all-time playoff meltdowns against Arizona, throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble. Yet Fox kept him in the game, when even a back-up quarterback handing off would have given the Panthers a better shot.
What did Fox do after the season? He helped sign Delhomme, who was never a great quarterback to begin with (career passer rating of 81.2), to a five-year, $42.5 million extension. He then stuck with Delhomme as the starter for 11 games, even though it was clear after six games (and 13 interceptions) that Jake just didn't have it anymore. To top it all off, he decided in 2010 to back up a relativity unproven QB (Matt Moore) with an even more unproven QB (Jimmy Clausen). Some people call all of that loyalty. Stupid is a better word for it.
- Baltimore Ravens, 1999-2007
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-3
Brian Billick put himself on the NFL head coaching map thanks to his run as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings for seven years (1992-1998). In his final season there, the Vikings set a then-record with 556 points. Baltimore, recently relocated from Cleveland, promptly snapped him up to turn around a perpetually bad offense and get them to a Super Bowl.
And Billick did lead them to a Super Bowl win in 2000...with a shutdown defense. The offense never finished higher than eighth in scoring in Billick's nine years with the team, and ranked in the bottom half of the league five times. Not exactly a glittering accomplishment for a supposed offensive guru.
After the Super Bowl run, the Ravens didn't do much as a team with Billick at the helm either. In the seven years that he rode his title wave, Baltimore had three playoff appearances and a 1-3 playoff record; this includes going one-and-done in 2006 after a 13-3 regular season. Billick was finally let go after a 5-11 2007 season; while his name is still mentioned for head coaching vacancies, he seems to have settled into his new role as an analyst for FOX Sports and the NFL Network.
- New Orleans Saints, 1985 (1-3)
- Denver Broncos, 1993-1994 (16-16)
- Buffalo Bills, 1998-2000 (29-19)
- Atlanta Falcons, 2003 (2-1)
- Dallas Cowboys, 2007-2010 (34-30)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 1-4
Every fan knows that Wade Phillips is overrated as a head coach. Owners, however, seem to have trouble getting the message; why else would they keep hiring him?
By all accounts, Phillips is a great X's-and-O's coach who relies on the players to motivate themselves. There's a place for that kind of person -- as a coordinator. When these people become the head man, they do things like go 1-4 in the playoffs. Those losses often happen by committing dumb mistakes (five turnovers by Buffalo against Miami in in the 1998 playoffs), being unprepared for an obvious trick play situation (the Music City Miracle), or simply getting blown off the field (Dallas losing to Minnesota 34-3 last spring).
In spite of Phillip's flameouts his first three years in Dallas - 1-2 in the playoffs, as well as losing a win-and-in Week 17 game in 2008 - Jerry Jones brought him back for another season. Dallas players, lip service notwithstanding, finally stopped trying for Phillip, resulting in his firing after a 1-7 start. He's now the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. Which means he's sure to get another undeserved head coaching job once Gary Kubiak finally gets fired.
- Oakland Raiders, 1998-2001 (38-26)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002-2008 (57-55)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-4
Did any team ever bet its future on a coach like Tampa Bay did on Jon Gruden? After a promising start to Gruden's head coaching career in Oakland, winning the franchise's first division titles since 1990, the Buccaneers decided that they had to have him. And they were willing to give up two first-round draft picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in the process.
The move certainly looked brilliant for one year, as Gruden led Tampa Bay to a win in the Gruden Bowl (known to some as Super Bowl XXXVII). But then he went into Brian Billick Mode; Tampa Bay went 45-51 over the next six years and never won another playoff game. Maybe they would have been better if they hadn't given up so many high draft picks to get an overrated coach.
The final straw came in 2008. After a 9-3 start, Tampa Bay lost four straight and missed the playoffs (again). Gruden's name still comes up for almost every major NFL and college coaching vacancy; if he's smart, he'll stay in TV and leave his reputation intact.
- Washington Redskins, 1994-2000 (49-59-1)
- Oakland Raiders, 2004-2005 (9-23)
- San Diego Chargers, 2007-present (41-23)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 4-4
Taking over the San Diego Chargers was the best and worst thing ever to happen to Norv Turner. It was the best because the Chargers' roster is so loaded that they're guaranteed to win some games. It was the worst because, when they keep coming up short year after year, it's only a matter of time before the fingers point at the coach.
If you want to sum up Norv Turner in a nutshell, forget about 2009, when the Chargers went 13-3 and lost their first playoff game. Ignore his two years (and nine wins) in Oakland. Pass over his various "accomplishments" in Washington, such as losing seven straight to start 1998, or starting 7-1 and missing the playoffs in 1996. You don't even need the famous Bill Simmons story about Turner consistently staying on 16 at the blackjack table.
Just look at last season. The Chargers ranked first in total offense and total defense...and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Five of those seven losses came against teams that finished 8-8 or worse. Even his predecessor Marty Schottenheimer would have gotten at least 12 wins out of that team. They would have gone one-and-done in the playoffs, of course, but at least they would have gotten there.
- Minnesota Vikings, 1992-2001 (97-62)
- Arizona Cardinals, 2004-2006 (16-32)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 4-8
To put it simply, Dennis Green is not who we thought he was. As Vikings fans will tell you, he would probably get your team to the playoffs -- Minnesota made eight trips in his nine full seasons there, including four division titles. But that was likely to be the highlight of the season. It took five tries for Green to win his first playoff game, and he never won multiple playoff games in a season.
The two conference title games he managed to reach both illustrated his shortcomings as a coach. Everyone remembers the 15-1 season, when Gary Anderson missed his first field goal of the season. What they don't remember is Green sitting on the ball after Atlanta tied the game, when he likely had the time (and the record-setting offense) to drive for a field goal attempt. Way to have confidence in your kicker, Dennis.
Two years later, the Vikings got to the AFC title game again -- and were blown off the field 41-0 by the New York Giants. Early in the game, the Giants recovered a fumbled kickoff and subsequently scored to make it 14-0. Afterward, there was a television shot of Green staring at the field in disbelief. Would you trust that guy to fire your team up for a comeback?
Then, of course, there was his run in Arizona. Besides his famous post-game rant, his best work there may have been helping to wreck Matt Leinart's confidence, and thus his career. The UFL may have been the appropriate place for him to end up.
- San Francisco 49ers, 1989-1996 (98-30)
- Carolina Panthers, 1999-2001 (16-32)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 10-5
This choice probably seems strange at first. George Seifert, the guy who won a Super Bowl in his first season? Who later won another, and had at least 10 regular season wins every year in San Francisco? And a career 0.648 winning percentage?
Yes, him. Just look at the situation he came into. Almost every important player and football concept in San Francisco -- Joe Montana/Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Bill Romanowski, Ronnie Lott, Brent Jones, John Taylor, Charles Haley, the West Coast Offense -- were brought in and developed by predecessor Bill Walsh. Three monkey with typewriters could have gone 10-6 with those teams.
Seifert's true colors showed in Carolina. The Panthers had fallen on hard times after reaching the NFC title game in their second year of existence, and wanted Seifert to lead them to the promised land. Instead, he led them from 8-8 his first year to 1-15 in his third season. Two years later, the previously-discussed John Fox led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
- Philadelphia Eagles, 1999-present
PLAYOFF RECORD: 10-9
It probably seems hypocritical to call Andy Reid overrated a few weeks after naming him as a potential Coach of the Year candidate. But this is about the body of work. And Andy Reid's body of work is like your second choice to go the the senior prom; you'll have a nice enough time, but you probably won't get lucky at the end.
Reid's Eagles went to five conference title games in the 2000s, more than any other team in the decade. They went 1-4 in those games -- and that's despite hosting the game on three occasions. He has proven over and over again to be completely helpless with clock management. He did some good things this past year, like getting full trade value for a washed-up Donovan McNabb and developing Michael Vick on the fly. But the final few weeks and wildcard playoff loss showed Reid clearly didn't have a Plan B for if teams figured out Plan A.
The second choice for the senior prom often knows that she's living on borrowed time for if something better comes along. Andy Reid has been living on borrowed time in Philadelphia for years. When will the time bank go bankrupt on him?
- Chicago Bears, 1982-1992 (106-62)
- New Orleans Saints, 1997-1999 (15-33)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 6-6
Bears fans are a forgiving lot, in that they'll remember the good times and forget the bad ones. Mike Ditka can probably still eat free in any Chicago restaurant thanks to his Super Bowl win in 1985 -- since fans forget he easily could have won two or three more.
Ditka's Bears were one of the most dominant regular season teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. They won six division titles, and had six seasons with at least 11 wins. And what did they have to show for it? Not much. The year after the Super Bowl Shuffle, Chicago went 14-2 and seemed a new dynasty in the making...until they lost their opening playoff game, one of three one-and-dones under Ditka.
Apart from the championship season, Ditka made it to two other NFC title games, in 1984 and 1988, both against the 49ers. His Bears lost both games by a combined score of 51-3. In fact, four of his six playoff losses were by at least 14 points; a great coach would have at least kept it close.
And then there was New Orleans. The biggest two things Ditka did for the Saints were 1) Trade away their entire draft in 1999 for the rights to Ricky Williams, and 2) Pose for a magazine cover with Williams in a wedding dress. Williams eventually did develop into an All-Pro running back and marijuana smoker -- after Ditka had been run out of town following a 3-13 season.
- New Orleans Saints, 1986-1996 (93-74)
- Indianapolis Colts, 1998-2001 (32-32)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-6
Jim Mora sure could give you a great quote after a bad loss, couldn't he? And there were a lot of bad losses to give quotes after. The underlying subtext of his famous "Playoffs?!" rant is that Mora is the owner of a dubious distinction: he has the most wins of any NFL head coach never to win a playoff game.
It's not like he never had any really good teams. He won 13 games with Indianapolis in 1999, and 12 with New Orleans in 1987 and 1992. But for a decade and a half, there were three certainties in life: death, taxes, and Jim Mora losing in the playoffs. It did matter whether they were home or away, in the wildcard round or off a bye, the favorite or the underdog; if a Jim Mora-led team made the playoffs, you could bet the house on them losing.
It's easy to pinpoint the problem too. Mora's team ranked in the top-10 in scoring offense in five of the six years they made the postseason (the exception was 1990, when the Saints snuck in at 8-8), but never put up more than 20 points in a playoff game. On average, his teams were outscored 27.5-14.8 with the season on the line. No wonder he didn't want to talk about the playoffs.
- Baltimore Colts, 1954-1962 (59-52-1)
- New York Jets, 1963-1973 (71-77-6)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 4-1
Weeb Ewbank may have been the ultimate feast-or-famine coach. He won three championships, and was the victor in two of the most famous football game: The Greatest Game Ever Played, when his Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants for the 1958 championship, in the first overtime game in professional football history; and The Guarantee, when his New York Jets beat the Colts in Super Bowl III and legitimized the AFL.
With those memories, it's easy to forget that he led some pretty bad teams too. Ewbank actually had more losing seasons (nine) than winning seasons (seven) as a head coach (he finished 0.500 four times). As a result, he has the worst winning percentage (0.502) of any NFL coach with at least 100 wins. (Though Norv Turner will "overtake" him with his next win.)
He also had a habit of winning big, then resting on his laurels. In Baltimore, he won back-to-back NFL titles in 1958 and 1959, then went 21-19 over his final three seasons, wasting a big chuck of Johnny Unitas' prime. After winning the Super Bowl in New York, the Jets lost their opening playoff game in 1969, then went 21-35 in his final four years. He was Brian Billick before Brian Billick.
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 1995-2002 (68-60)
- New York Giants, 2004-present (65-47)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 8-7
Give Tom Coughlin credit for one thing: he knows how to do something spectacular to avoid getting sacked. He very nearly didn't make it through two seasons in Jacksonville. After a 4-12 inaugural season, the Jaguars were 4-7 and were alive for the playoffs in spirit only. But Coughlin led them to five straight wins to steal a spot, then two straight upsets to reach the AFC title game.
Then Coughlin reverted to Schottenheimer mode. Jacksonville won 36 regular season games over the next three years, but had only a 2-3 playoff record to show for it. He was finally run out of Florida after putting up three straight losing seasons.
But, you ask, didn't he win the Super Bowl in 2007 with the New York Giants, and pull off one of the greatest upsets in NFL history? Why yes, he did. And as a result, everyone forgets how much the Giants have underachieved before and after. In his other six seasons in charge of the Giants, Coughlin has zero playoff wins. That's right, zero.
He's also become known for late season collapses. In 2008, the Giants started 11-1, then finished 1-3 and went one-and-done as the NFC's No. 1 seed. In 2009, they finished 8-8 after a 5-0 start. This past year, they allowed the Miracle At The New Meadowlands, then laid down the following week against Green Bay and missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. Can Coughlin pull another rabbit out of his hat to hang on?
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1996-2001 (54-42)
- Indianapolis Colts, 2002-2008 (85-27)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 9-10
Peyton Manning is given a lot of the blame for the Colts' constant postseason shortcomings. Did anyone ever consider pointing a finger at the coaching? Look at the three head coaches he's had in his career: Jim Mora, the ultimate paper tiger; Jim Caldell, whose most memorable decision in two years was calling time-out to give the Jets a better chance at a game-winning kick; and Tony Dungy, whose record of playoff failure was strong even before coming to Indy.
By all accounts, Tony Dungy is a nice guy. And he wins a lot of regular season games; his 0.668 winning percentage is sixth-best among coaches with at least 100 wins. But that can be said about a lot of people on this list. In 11 postseason appearances, Dungy went one-and-done six times, including twice after a first-round bye.
After flaming out two years in a row in Tampa Bay, he was replaced by fellow overrated coach Jon Gruden -- who promptly lead the team to a Super Bowl win. Doesn't that tell you something? It's only appropriate that in Dungy's final game, his 12-4 Colts lost in overtime to the 8-8 Chargers, after winning nine straight to finish the 2008 regular season.
- Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Tennessee Titans, 1994-2010
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-6
There are plenty of reasons beyond those in the introduction why Jeff Fisher didn't deserve to last so long in Tennessee. You can talk about the two times the Titans went one-and-done with the NFL's best record, and the two playoff wins in the last 11 years. There's the 9-23 run in 2004-2005, the 0-6 start in 2009, or the five 8-8 seasons. (Being mediocre is even more frustrating then just being bad.) What about the fact that he basically had to be forced to play Vince Young, even though Tennessee was 30-17 when he started and 15-18 when he didn't?
And then there's the one thing that overrides everything else: Jeff Fisher owes his career to a trick play. Think about what happens if not for the Music City Miracle. Tennessee goes one-and-done after a 13-3 season, Fisher's first winning record with the team. He probably lasts another two years, three at most. Wade Phillips may not be on this list.
But the Miracle happened. Tennessee then beat the top two teams in the AFC (Indianapolis and Jacksonville), then came within a yard of tying Super Bowl XXXIV on the final play. Steve McNair becomes a Tennessee legend, and Fisher gets to stay in charge another 11 years. Did any coach ever get more mileage out of a trick play?
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 1992-2006
PLAYOFF RECORD: 12-9
The Rooney family is a loyal bunch. Once they hire a head coach, the job is theirs for pretty much as long as they want it. That's why Bill Cowher was allowed to stick around and finally win an NFL title in his 14th season; in any other NFL city (well, except for maybe Tennessee), he would have been run out of town long before then.
Cowher had plenty of regular season success in Pittsburgh, he averaged 10 wins a season, made the playoffs 10 times (including six straight to begin his tenure), and won eight division titles. But that rarely translated into postseason success. If you discard his Super Bowl-winning season, Cowher posted an 8-9 playoff record, including 1-4 in the AFC title game - all five of which were played in Pittsburgh. (Their Super Bowl win came from winning three straight road playoff games.)
Of course, it simply could be a case of the coach only being as good as his quarterback. Cowher's postseason shortcomings came with such "legends" as Neil O'Donnell, Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox leading the offense. It wasn't until Ben Roethlisberger arrived that the Steelers finally broke through. Congratulations, Ben; you ensured that your first head coach will be remembered as one the greats when he probably shouldn't be.
- Los Angeles Raiders, 1988-1989 (8-12)
- Denver Broncos, 1995-2008 (138-86)
- Washington Redskins, (6-10)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 8-5
Do you think Mike Shanahan misses John Elway yet? Since Elway retired after back-to-back Super Bowl wins, Shanahan has a 1-4 playoff record, and that one came in a game where his opponent (New England) committed five turnovers. (And the year before the first Super Bowl, Denver went one-and-done as the AFC's top seed.)
In his last few years in Denver, Shahanan's legacy as a two-time champion became tarnished by his teams' late-season collapses. There was 2006, when Denver missed the playoffs after starting 7-2, and he benched his starting quarterback (Jake Plummer) for an untested rookie (Jay Cutler) along the way. And 2008, when the Broncos had a three game AFC West lead with three games to play -- and missed the playoffs. You can even go back to 2002, when Denver finished 9-7 after starting out 7-3.
Now Shanahan is on the ultimate power trip in Washington. In his first year in charge, he seemingly went out of his way to embarrass Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, the teams' two biggest stars. (Really, Rex Grossman had a better understanding of the two-minute drill?) In the process, he managed to make the team even more dysfunctional than before he arrived, even though they had a two-game improvement.
- New York Giants, 1983-1990 (77-49-1)
- New England Patriots, 1993-1996 (32-32)
- New York Jets, 1997-1999 (29-19)
- Dallas Cowboys, 2003-2006 (34-30)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 11-8
The modern knock on Bill Parcells is that he never won a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick as his defensive coordinator. That's an entirely unfair argument; Belichick was under Parcells for seven years after his last championship. No, the problem with Parcells is that he has accomplished less at each successive NFL stop -- and usually managed to alienate everyone on the way out. Consider:
- New York Giants: Wins two Super Bowls and five division titles in eight years. He then retires due to health reasons -- after the April draft, when all the top coaching candidates have already been signed.
- New England: Wins one AFC title and two division titles in four seasons. Spends week leading up to Super Bowl XXXI secretly negotiating to become head coach of the Jets.
- New York Jets: Wins one division title and one playoff game in three years. After year three, reads a poem to everyone in the locker room and retires again.
- Dallas: Gets to playoffs twice as a wildcard with no division titles. Goes one-and-done both times.
- Los Angeles Rams, 1973-1977 (54-15-1)
- Buffalo Bills, 1978-1982 (37-36)
- Seattle Seahawks, 1983-1991 (80-63)
- Los Angeles Rams, 1992-1994 (15-33)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 7-11
On a list littered with dubious honors, Chuck Knox may hold the most dubious of all: he has coached more games than anyone else (334) without appearing in a title game. Not winning a title game, mind you -- appearing in one. And that includes the pre-Super Bowl era.
Oh sure, he won a lot of games. Knox won five straight division titles with the Rams to start his career, averaging 11 wins a season -- a big deal when the schedule was only 14 games. And those were dominant teams two; in four of those seasons, the Rams outscored their opponents by at least 11 points a game. He went on to win division titles in Buffalo and Seattle as well.
But Knox never could get over the hump. His Rams lost three straight NFC title games from 1974 to 1976, then he lost another with Seattle in 1983. Five times, he couldn't even win a playoff game. It figures that, two years after he left Los Angeles for the first time, the Rams made it to the Super Bowl. (With a 9-7 record, no less.)
- Denver Broncos, 1981-1992 (110-73-1)
- New York Giants, 1993-1996 (31-33)
- Atlanta Falcons, 1997-2003 (49-59-1)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 11-9
Here's another record that no one wants: No head coach has lost more Super Bowls than Dan Reeves. He's lost a total of four -- three with the Broncos, one with the Falcons -- with no victories (though he did get a ring as a running back for Dallas).
But doesn't the fact that he kept getting his teams there count for something? Not if you look at how they lost. Reeve's Broncos were on the wrong end of two of the three biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history. Denver lost Super Bowl XXII to Washington 42-10 (No. 3, a game they led 10-0 after one quarter), then were humiliated 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV by San Francisco (No. 1). The closest game was when Atlanta lost to Denver 34-19 in XXXIII.
Reeves is another coach whose occasional successes have masked his numerous failures. He had just four winning seasons in his last 12 as a coach, and after his last two Super Bowl losses, his team fell to 5-11 the following year.
- Cleveland Browns, 1984-1988 (44-27)
- Kansas City Chiefs, 1989-1998 (101-58-1)
- Washington Redskins, 2001 (8-8)
- San Diego Chargers, 2002-2006 (47-33)
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-13
And here we have it: the poster boy for putting together a great regular season and then gagging out in the playoffs. Only two coaches have lost more playoff games then Schottenheimer -- Tom Landry and Don Shula. The difference is that they had a little success to go with it.
Schottenheimer introduced the offensive concept of Marty Ball, also known as "Run, Run, Pass, Punt." The style of play got him to sixth place on the all-time wins list. The problem was that he stubbornly continued to use it in playoff games while trying hold a slim lead or come from behind. In short, it didn't work.
The ways you can measure his ineptitude are staggering. Three one-and-dones with the NFL's best record. Six one-and-dones when playing at home. Three losses in the conference title game. Only once did he win multiple playoff games in a season -- and that was when he had some guy named Joe Montana at quarterback.
With the Jets' recent success, it's only a matter of time before son Brian (New York's offensive coordinator) gets a head coaching job. It will be exciting to see whether Schottenheimer Disease is hereditary.