Greatest NFL Head Coaches of All Time
The debate over who is the best head coach in NFL history involves many factors. Which statistics should carry the most weight? Most wins or highest winning percentage? Most playoff appearances or Super Bowl titles? Biggest personality or most winning seasons?
The truth lies in some combination of all these factors. Candidates range from league founders and pioneers who never got to compete in a Super Bowl to young guns blasting their way up the coaching leaderboard.
These are the greatest NFL head coaches of all time.
First, many coaching greats fall just short.
Bill Cowher won eight division titles and took a wild-card team to a title in Super Bowl XL, finishing with 149 regular-season wins across 15 years in Pittsburgh.
John Fox and Dick Vermeil are on a short list of head coaches that took two different teams to a Super Bowl.
Jeff Fisher put up 178 wins, but also 171 losses.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints both have Super Bowl wins and winning percentages hovering around the .600 mark.
Note: Statistics are through the 2020 season.
30. George Seifert
Born: Jan. 22, 1940, San Francisco, California
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 11 (1989-2001)
Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers
George Seifert Stats
Winning percentage: .648
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1989, 1994)
Bottom Line: George Seifert
George Seifert was a rookie head coach when he led the San Francisco 49ers to a 55-10 title romp over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV after a 14-2 regular season. Seifert, the Niners’ longtime defensive coordinator, had just taken over from coaching legend Bill Walsh, and he had Joe Montana and Walsh’s signature West Coast offense in place.
But Seifert went on to win at least 10 games in each of his eight seasons in San Francisco, only missing the playoffs in 1991, when 10-6 was good for third in the stacked NFC West. He also oversaw the transition from Montana to Steve Young, and led the 49ers to another championship in Super Bowl XXIX after a 13-3 regular season in 1994.
Seifert was forced out after a 12-4 season in 1996 ended with a second straight playoff loss to the Packers.
He left San Francisco with 98 regular-season wins and a stellar .766 winning percentage.
He didn’t find the same success in his last head coaching stop, a three-year stint with the Carolina Panthers that produced just 16 wins, including a dismal 1-15 campaign in 2001, which started with a win and ended with 15 straight losses.
29. Mike Holmgren
Born: June 15, 1948, San Francisco
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 17 (1992-2008)
Teams: Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks
Mike Holmgren Stats
Winning percentage: .592
Super Bowl titles: 1 (1996)
Bottom Line: Mike Holmgren
Mike Holmgren helped mold NFL champions with the 49ers as Joe Montana’s quarterback coach and then as offensive coordinator for George Seifert’s record-setting Super Bowl XXIV champions.
In 1992, he took the helm in Green Bay and, despite missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record in his first season, led the Packers to six straight postseason appearances, including four straight NFC championship games, including two consecutive Super Bowls.
The Pack followed their 13-3 1996 regular season with a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI and then fell to the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII.
Holmgren left Green Bay for Seattle after the 1998 season. He coached the Seahawks to the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons, including a loss to the Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
28. Chuck Knox
Born: April 27, 1932, Sewickley, Pennsylvania
Died: May 12, 2018, Palm Spring, Florida (age 86)
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 22 (1973-94)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks
Chuck Knox Stats
Winning percentage: .558
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Chuck Knox
A three-time AP Coach of the Year, Chuck Knox won 186 regular-season games. His coaching career started at Juniata College after the two-way lineman led his alma mater to an undefeated season in 1953.
After a healthy career as an assistant at Wake Forest and the University of Kentucky, he moved to professional football as an assistant for Weeb Ewbank’s Jets and then the Detroit Lions.
Known as a blocking technician, "Ground Chuck" took over the Los Angeles Rams in 1973 and led them to five straight NFC West titles, although his success didn’t translate to the postseason, and the Rams lost three straight NFC championship games.
Knox became famous for his groundbreaking rapport with black athletes and promoted James Harris to starting quarterback in 1974, and that season, Harris became the first African-American quarterback to start and win an NFL playoff game.
Knox went on to Buffalo in 1978 and turned around a Bills team that won the AFC East in 1980, then lost to the Bengals in the divisional round after winning a wild-card spot with a 10-6 campaign in 1981.
He then spent nine seasons in Seattle, taking the wild-card Seahawks to the AFC championship game in 1983 and winning the AFC West in 1988.
27. Dan Reeves
Born: Jan. 19, 1944, Rome, Georgia
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 23 (1981-2002)
Teams: Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons
Dan Reeves Stats
Winning percentage: .535
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Dan Reeves
Dan Reeves signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1965 as an undrafted safety but quickly moved to halfback, where he flourished as a dual running/receiving threat. In his eight seasons with Dallas, including three years as a player/coach under Tom Landry, the Cowboys made the playoffs every year and twice reached the Super Bowl, beating Miami in Super Bowl VI.
He also threw a touchdown pass in a losing effort in the famed "Ice Bowl" game against Green Bay in 1967.
He joined the Broncos as head coach in 1981. Reeves won 110 games over 12 seasons in Denver, taking the Broncos to three Super Bowls. He lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XXI following the 1986 season, then fell to the Redskins in Super Bowl XXII and the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV two years later.
After a brief, middling tenure with the New York Giants, Reeves signed on with the Atlanta Falcons, leading them to a 14-2 record in 1998 and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIII, where, ironically, the Birds lost to the Broncos.
Reeves is ninth all-time with 201 career wins (including playoffs) over 23 consecutive seasons as a head coach.
26. Marv Levy
Born: Aug. 3, 1925, Chicago, Illinois
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 17 (1978-82, 1986-97)
Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills
Marv Levy Stats
Winning percentage: .561
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Marv Levy
An Army Air Forces veteran who earned a master's degree in English history from Harvard, Marv Levy was an assistant with the Eagles, Rams and Redskins before getting his first head coaching gig with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 1973. In five seasons, he led the Alouettes to two Grey Cup championships before landing his first NFL head coaching job with the Kansas City Chiefs.
After a year coaching the Chicago Blitz of the USFL, he took the Buffalo Bills’ top job in 1986 and quickly built a perennial power around star quarterback Jim Kelly, receiver James Lofton, running back Thurman Thomas and defensive end Bruce Smith. Levy led the high-octane Bills to the playoffs eight times in nine years, including four straight Super Bowls.
The first, a loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV, was the closest he came to an NFL championship, as Scott Norwood’s attempt at a game-winning 47-yard field goal sailed wide right as time expired and the Bills lost, 20-19. A sound defeat by the Redskins and back-to-back Super Bowl losses to the Cowboys followed.
25. Sid Gillman
Born: Oct. 26, 1911, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: Jan. 3, 2003, Carlsbad, California (age 91)
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 18 (1955-71, 1973-74)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, Houston Oilers
Sid Gillman Stats
Winning percentage: .552
AFL championships: 1 (1963)
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Sid Gillman
Sid Gillman is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
His first head coaching opportunity came with the Los Angeles Rams in 1955. The team won the NFL Western Conference but lost the NFL championship game to the Cleveland Browns.
After five years with the Rams, Gillman took over the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, leading the team to back-to-back AFL championship game appearances in 1960 and in 1961 as they moved to San Diego before winning the AFL title in 1963.
His use of motion and a deep downfield passing attack helped modernize the game.
His career ended with a two-year run with the Houston Oilers and 122 regular-season wins.
Gillman is credited with the idea of a Super Bowl, suggesting the AFL-NFL playoff to Commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1963.
The impressive list of future head coaches who worked for him includes Al Davis, Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox, George Allen, Don Coryell, Dick Vermeil, Notre Dame legend Ara Parseghian and University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler,
24. Hank Stram
Born: Jan. 3, 1924, Chicago
Died: July 4, 2005, Covington, Louisiana (age 81)
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 17 (1960-74, 1976-77)
Teams: Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints
Hank Stram Stats
Winning percentage: .574
AFL titles: 2 (1962, 1966)
Super Bowl titles: 1 (1969)
Bottom Line: Hank Stram
Dallas Texans owner Lamar Hunt recruited his former coach at SMU to be the Texans’ first head coach in the brand-new AFL in 1960, and Hank Stram didn’t disappoint. The Texans won the AFL title in their third season, going 11-3 in 1962.
The franchise moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs the following year. They won the AFL again in 1966, but lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I.
Three seasons later, they beat the Minnesotra Vikings to win Super Bowl IV. Stram, notably, was the first head coach to wear a microphone ("Just keep matriculating the ball down the field, boys!") during the big game, and helped introduce Gatorade to NFL sidelines.
His coaching career culminated with a two-year stint in New Orleans. Both seasons, however, ended with losing records after an injury to Saints quarterback Archie Manning, and Stram reportedly burned the game film after a loss to Tampa Bay ended the Buccaneers’ 26-game losing streak.
23. Bud Grant
Born: May 29, 1927, Superior, Wisconsin
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 18 (1967-83, 1985)
Teams: Minnesota Vikings
Bud Grant Stats
Winning percentage: .621
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Bud Grant
At 6-foot-3, Bud Grant was a stellar athlete who first played pro basketball with the Minneapolis Lakers, winning the 1950 NBA championship as a reserve, before playing two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, one as a defensive end (he led the team in sacks) and one as a receiver (he pulled in catches for 997 yards and seven touchdowns).
He left the Eagles for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, where he was a star receiver. His stint there led to his first head coaching gig, with the Blue Bombers, where he won 102 games against 56 losses, and coached Winnipeg to four Grey Cup wins.
When he moved to the NFL in 1967, the former Navy man became known as a disciplinarian who kept his Vikings in line — even while they stood at attention during the national anthem.
He was the first NFL coach to take his team to four Super Bowls, though he lost all four: to the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV, the Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII, the Steelers the next year in Super Bowl IX, and the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.
In 18 seasons, Grant won 158 regular-season games while posting only four losing records, and the Vikings won the NFC Central 11 times.
22. Mike Shanahan
Born: Aug. 24, 1952, Oak Park, Illinois
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 20 (1988-89, 1995-2008, 2010-13)
Teams: Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins
Mike Shanahan Stats
Winning percentage: .552
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1997, 1998)
Bottom Line: Mike Shanahan
After a rocky start to his head coaching career with the Los Angeles Raiders, Mike Shanahan moved to San Francisco as offensive coordinator in the early 1990s and helped the 49ers put up historic numbers, including 636 points in 1994.
That performance led to his second chance as a head coach, taking over the Denver Broncos in 1995. After an 8-8 season out of the gate, Shanahan’s Broncos went 13-3 in 1996, then won Denver’s first title by beating the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII the following season.
With John Elway at quarterback team, the Broncos went 14-2 in 1998, and Shanahan led Denver past former Broncos coach Dan Reeves and the Falcons to win a second straight championship in Super Bowl XXXIII.
But Elway’s retirement meant rebuilding, and despite six more winning seasons in the next t10en years, Shanahan only could muster one more postseason win.
Three of his four seasons as head coach in Washington were losing seasons.
Is Shanahan done? Time well tell.
21. Tom Flores
Born: March 21, 1937, Fresno, California
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 12 (1979-87, 1992-94)
Teams: Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
Tom Flores Stats
Winning percentage: .527
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1980, 1983)
Bottom Line: Tom Flores
Tom Flores was a groundbreaking player and coach. With the Oakland Raiders, he became both the first Hispanic starting quarterback in the NFL (in 1960) and the first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl. He also won Super Bowl IV in 1969 as a backup quarterback for the Chiefs.
A former assistant coach for John Madden, the "Ice Man" took over the Raiders in 1979 and one year later made the Raiders the first wild-card team to win a title, swamping the Eagles 27-10 in in Super Bowl XV behind three touchdown passes by Jim Plunkett.
After the franchise moved to Los Angeles, Flores led the Raiders in their 38-9 "Black Sunday" romp over the defending champion Washington Redskins to win Super Bowl XVIII as Marcus Allen ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
20. Jimmy Johnson
Born: July 16, 1943, Port Arthur, Texas
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 9 (1989-93, 1996-99)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins
Jimmy Johnson Stats
Winning percentage: .556
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1992, 1993)
Bottom Line: Jimmy Johnson
After posting a 34-2 record over three seasons and winning a national championship at the University of Miami, Jimmy Johnson moved to the NFL, where he went 1-15 with rookie quarterback Troy Aikman behind center. Just two seasons later, Johnson had his Cowboys in the playoffs, then won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII back-to-back.
But after romping past the Buffalo Bills for that second ring, Johnson walked away when Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that any coach could have led those Dallas teams — stacked with Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith — to a title. (In fact, Barry Switzer coached the Cowboys to another championship two seasons later with the core of Johnson’s team.)
Johnson returned to coaching with the Miami Dolphins in 1996 and took the Fish to the playoffs in three of his four seasons there, before retiring to the broadcast booth, and a quick star turn as a member of the "Survivor" cast.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020.
19. Andy Reid
Born: March 19, 1958, Los Angeles, California
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 23 (1999-present)
Teams: Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid Stats
Winning percentage: .629
Super Bowl titles: 1 (2019)
Bottom Line: Andy Reid
In 22-plus seasons as a head coach, Andy Reid only has missed the playoffs six times, and he’s fielded just three losing teams. He’s put up double-digit win totals 15 times during his stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, and his 221 regular-season wins are second among active coaches.
He took the Eagles to five NFC championship games (including four straight) and once to the Super Bowl. He's taken the Kansas City Chiefs to two AFC championship games and won one Super Bowl.
"Big Red" has proven adept at grooming young, mobile quarterbacks. He replaced Eagles quarterback Doug Peterson (who, ironically, returned to Philly to lead the Birds to a title in Super Bowl LII) with Donovan McNabb to put together five straight seasons with 11 or more wins, and in Kansas City, he shipped Alex Smith to Washington to pave the way for phenom Patrick Mahomes, who threw 50 touchdown passes in his first full season.
With a little more postseason success, Reid vaults up this list.
18. Tom Coughlin
Born: Aug. 31, 1946, Waterloo, New York
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 20 (1995-2002, 2004-15)
Teams: Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants
Tom Coughlin Stats
Winning percentage: .531
Super Bowl titles: 2 (2007, 2011)
Bottom Line: Tom Coughlin
Tom Coughlin took over as the first head coach of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995, and willed his team to the AFC championship game in 1996, the organization’s second season.
In 1999, he guided them to an NFL-best 14-2 record and a second AFC title game. It was a bizarre season in that the Jags lost three times, but to just one team, the Tennessee Titans.
He left Jacksonville with a 68-60 record after eight years and took over the New York Giants in 2004. He turned Eli Manning into the franchise quarterback and fixed running back Tiki Barber’s notorious fumbling problem, but after a playoff loss to the Eagles ended their 2006 season, Barber quit football for the TV booth, criticizing Coughlin’s leadership on the way out the door.
The Giants responded for Coughlin by winning Super Bowl XLII, stunning the undefeated New England Patriots as Manning led a two-minute drive that featured David Tyree’s famed "helmet catch" and a touchdown toss to star receiver Plaxico Burress.
Coughlin led the Giants to a second ring in Super Bowl XLVI, again beating Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
17. Marty Schottenheimer
Born: Sept. 23, 1943, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 21 (1984-98, 2001-06)
Teams: Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers
Marty Schottenheimer Stats
Winning percentage: .613
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Marty Schottenheimer
Marty Schottenheimer posted 200 career wins and 15 winning seasons across stints with the Browns, Chargers, Redskins, Chiefs.
He led the Browns to three straight AFC Central Division-winning seasons, though his tenure in Cleveland was marred by two playoff losses to the Broncos, one featuring John Elway leading "The Drive" in 1986 and the next featuring "The Fumble" just before Earnest Byner could cross the goal line with a minute left in 1987.
Schottenheimer went on to win more than 100 games and three AFC West titles with the Chiefs, but again met with futility in the playoffs.
His winningest season was his last, a 14-2 campaign with the Chargers in 2006.
He did enjoy a pro championship five years later in the short-lived UFL, coaching the Virginia Destroyers to a win over the Las Vegas Locomotives in the 2011 UFL Championship Game.
16. Don Coryell
Born: Oct. 17, 1924, Seattle, Washington
Died: July 1, 2010, La Mesa, California (age 85)
Seasons as an NFL head coach: 14 (1973-86)
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Chargers
Don Coryell Stats
Winning percentage: .572
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Don Coryell
A former Army paratrooper, Don Coryell is the father of the aptly named "Air Coryell" passing attack and author of 111 regular-season wins with the Cardinals and Chargers organizations.
He was the first man to record more than 100 coaching wins in both college and professional football, although he was only 3-6 in the NFL playoffs.
His Chargers won three straight division titles and led the league in passing for six years in a row, utilizing the tight end and all-purpose running backs.
Coryell’s notable "coaching tree" includes John Madden, Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh.
15. George Allen
Born: April 29, 1918, Grosse Point Woods, Michigan
Died: Dec. 31, 1990, Rancho Palos Verdes, California (age 72)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 12 (1966-77)
Teams: Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins
George Allen Stats
Winning percentage: .712
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: George Allen
George Allen’s .712 regular-season winning percentage is third among NFL coaches. He led the Rams and Redskins to 116 regular-season victories in 12 winning seasons, and never posted a losing season.
Allen’s eye for football talent became obvious in the 1950s when, as a Chicago Bears assistant, he drafted future Hall of Famers Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus. Allen left the Bears to coach the Los Angeles Rams in 1966, finishing with the Rams’ first winning record since 1958.
He was named Coach of the Year after the Rams improved to 11-1-2 in 1967, but lost to the Packers in the Western Conference championship game. He was let go in 1970 after a rift with Rams owner Dan Reeves and went on to coach the Redskins for seven seasons, losing Super Bowl VII to the perfect Dolphins squad of 1972. The Rams tried to bring him back in 1978, but ownership fired him after the second preseason game.
Allen also saw action as a head coach in the short-lived USFL, notching a record of 22-14 with the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers in 1983 and 1984, respectively. He went out a winner after coaching Long Beach State to a 6-5 record shortly before his death on New Year’s Eve in 1990.
He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
14. Mike Tomlin
Born: March 15, 1972, Hampton, Virginia
Seasons as NFL head coach: 15 (2007-present)
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin Stats
Winning percentage: .650
Super Bowl titles: 1 (2008)
Bottom Line: Mike Tomlin
Mike Tomlin has won a lot in his 14-season stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting with two straight division titles after he was hired to replace Bill Cowher in 2007. Tomlin's impressive resume includes 145 wins, a .650 winning percentage and a Super Bowl title to go with 11 winning seasons and no losing campaigns.
At 36, he was the youngest man to be named Coach of the Year and led the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
Still active, the Steelers give Tomlin, who has shown tremendous mettle to keep winning while dealing with no-show superstars, a chance to move up this list.
13. Bill Parcells
Born: Aug. 22, 1941, Englewood, New Jersey
Seasons as NFL head coach: 19 (1983-90, 1993-96, 1997-99, 2003-06)
Teams: New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys
Bill Parcells Stats
Winning percentage: .569
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1986, 1990)
Bottom Line: Bill Parcells
When Bill Parcells took over as the New York Giants head coach in 1983, he turned around a franchise that had been to the playoffs once in the previous decade, leading them to a 14-2 regular season record in 1986 and their first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XXI.
The "Big Tuna" (whose first name is Duane) brought New York a second title in Super Bowl XXV, then promptly "retired" — for all of three years — before he returned with the New England Patriots. In his fourth season, the Patriots were AFC champions but lost Super Bowl XXIX.
Parcells moved on to coach the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys, amassing 172 regular-season wins and a .569 winning percentage.
Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, Parcells was a turnaround artist with an impressive "coaching tree." Former Parcells assistants who have been or currently are NFL head coaches include Todd Haley, Romeo Crennel, Tony Sparano, Eric Mangini, Al Groh, Chris Palmer, Ray Handley, Anthony Lynn, Todd Bowles, Mike Zimmer, and Super Bowl winners Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton and Bill Belichick.
12. Bill Walsh
Born: Nov. 30, 1931, Los Angeles
Died: July 30, 2007, Woodside, California (age 75)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 10 (1979-88)
Teams: San Francisco 49ers
Bill Walsh Stats
Winning percentage: .609
Super Bowl titles: 3 (1981, 1984, 1988)
Bottom Line: Bill Walsh
With 92 regular-season wins, Bill Walsh has the lowest total on this list, but his .609 winning percentage and three Super Bowl titles in 10 years prove that he belongs.
The two-time Coach of the Year led the San Francisco 49ers to their first title over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XVI, just two years after the Niners went 2-14 in his first season in 1979. But the 1979 draft brought two key players to San Francisco — quarterback Joe Montana and wide receiver Dwight Clark.
Walsh and Montana led the Niners past Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins in a Super Bowl XIX win three years later, and Walsh retired after beating the Bengals, 20-16, with Montana and Super Bowl MVP Jerry Rice in Super Bowl XXIII after the 1988 season.
Known for scripting the first 10-15 plays of a game, Walsh was nicknamed "The Genius" and perfected the "West Coast Offense."
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993.
11. Tom Landry
Born: Sept. 11, 1924, Mission, Texas
Died: Feb. 12, 2000, Dallas, Texas (age 75)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 29 (1960-88)
Teams: Dallas Cowboys
Tom Landry Stats
Winning percentage: .607
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1971, 1977)
Bottom Line: Tom Landry
Tom Landry coached the Dallas Cowboys for 29 seasons, racking up 250 regular-season wins with a .607 winning percentage, including 20 consecutive winning seasons that saw the Cowboys miss out on the playoffs just twice between 1966 and 1985.
Landry’s Cowboys were one of the dominant teams of the 1970s, with five NFC titles between 1970 and 1978, including wins in Super Bowl VI against Miami and Super Bowl XII over the Denver Broncos. His 20 playoff wins are second in NFL history.
Landry — the best-dressed coach in the game with his trademark suit, tie and fedora — also is credited with developing the 4-3 defense. He retired after suffering a 3-13 campaign in 1988, his worst season since the Cowboys went 0-11 in 1960, his first year on the job.
10. Paul Brown
Born: Sept. 7, 1908, Norwalk, Ohio
Died: Aug. 5, 1991, Cincinnati, Ohio (age 82)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 25 (1946-62, 1968-75)
Teams: Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stats
Winning percentage: .672
All-America Football Conference championships: 4 (1946, 1947, 1948, 1949)
NFL championships: 3 (1950, 1954, 1955)
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: Paul Brown
The co-founder and first coach of the Cleveland Browns, Paul Brown amassed 213 regular-season wins and a .672 winning percentage. His Browns (yes, named after him) captured seven early titles, five straight in the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949, then with the NFL in 1950, and two back-to-back titles in 1954 and '55.
Brown posted 16 winning seasons with his namesake team before team owner Art Modell fired him in 1963.
Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1967, then invested in the Cincinnati Bengals franchise and took over as head coach in 1968, adding four more winning seasons in eight years before retiring from coaching in 1975, although he remained the Bengals’ president until his death in 1991.
A true football innovator, Brown brought organization to every level of the game and is credited with inventing the face mask, grading game film and modifying playbooks for each opponent.
9. Curly Lambeau
Born: April 9, 1898, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Died: June 1, 1965, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (age 67)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 33 (1921-53)
Teams: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins
Curly Lambeau Stats
Winning percentage: .631
NFL championships: 6 (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944)
Bottom Line: Curly Lambeau
Curly Lambeau was born in Green Bay and played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and left an indelible mark on the game.
Lambeau was the Packers’ player-coach and star halfback from 1921 to 1929, when Green Bay won its first NFL title. In his career, he amassed 226 regular season wins and a .631 winning percentage. His six NFL titles all came with the Pack, winning three straight from 1929 to 1931 (including a perfect 12-0 season in his last year as a player-coach in 1929) and three more in 1936, 1939 and 1944.
He coached the Packers until 1949, then spent two years with the Chicago Cardinals and two with the Washington Redskins. He posted 27 winning seasons and the "frozen tundra" of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field is named for him.
He was a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 1963.
8. Tony Dungy
Born: Oct. 6, 1955, Jackson, Mississippi
Seasons as NFL head coach: 13 (1996-2008)
Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts
Tony Dungy Stats
Winning percentage: .668
Super Bowl titles: 1 (2006)
Bottom Line: Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy had just one losing season in 13 years as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts — his first.
He installed what became known as the "Tampa 2" defense and later set a record of 10 straight playoff appearances by a head coach spanning two teams, finishing his career with 139 regular-season wins and a .668 winning percentage.
Dungy played quarterback in college, and as a rookie safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1977, he was forced into emergency action as the third-string quarterback, becoming the only player to make an interception and then throw one himself in the same game. A year later, he won a Super Bowl back on defense with the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII.
After the 2006 season, he coached the Colts to victory over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, becoming the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl.
Dungy retired to the broadcast booth in 2009 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
7. John Madden
Born: April 10, 1936, Daly City, California
Seasons as NFL head coach: 10 (1969-1978)
Teams: Oakland Raiders
John Madden Stats
Winning percentage: .759
Super Bowl titles: 1 (1976)
Bottom Line: John Madden
John Madden put up 103 wins in 10 winning seasons with the Oakland Raiders, never posting a losing season and finishing with an incredible .759 regular-season winning percentage.
Madden, an offensive tackle in college, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958, but suffered a knee injury in training camp and turned to coaching college ball in 1960, including a stint under Don Coryell at San Diego State University. Madden was working as an assistant coach with the Raiders when he was promoted to head coach at 32 in 1969.
While he was on the wrong side of Franco Harris’ "Immaculate Reception" in a 1972 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Madden’s outsized personality meshed with a physical Raiders defense, and his Raiders teams won nine playoff games, including Super Bowl XI after the 1976 season.
He retired from coaching after the 1978 season at just 42, finding a new home in the broadcast booth, where he worked as a color analyst for all four major networks. Madden, who was not fond of flying, often traveled by bus.
He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2006 but may be most recognized by younger generations for the 30-year-old Madden NFL video game franchise.
6. Joe Gibbs
Born: Nov. 25, 1940, Mocksville, North Carolina
Seasons as NFL head coach: 16 (1981-92, 2004-07)
Teams: Washington Redskins
Joe Gibbs Stats
Winning percentage: .621
Super Bowl titles: 3 (1982, 1987, 1991)
Bottom Line: Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs spent 16 seasons as the head coach of the Washington Redskins, with 154 regular-season wins and a .621 winning percentage. His 12 winning seasons (against just one losing campaign) included four trips to the Super Bowl and three championships.
The first title came in Super Bowl XVII, a win over Miami after the strike-shortened 1982 season. After a 14-2 regular season in 1983, Gibbs suffered his only Super Bowl loss, to the Los Angeles Raiders, 38-9. In 1985, Gibbs had the Redskins rolling again, but Joe Theismann suffered a grisly broken leg, and Washington just missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. The Redskins pounded the Denver Broncos, 42-10, behind Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams to win Super Bowl XXII after the 1987 season, and, four years later, they blew out the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI.
Gibbs retired after the following season and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Gibbs has other interests to keep him busy. He formed his NASCAR team, Joe Gibbs Racing, in 1992, and the team now boasts seven NASCAR championships, and has included notable drivers Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.
5. Chuck Noll
Born: Jan. 5, 1932, Cleveland, Ohio
Died: June 13, 2014, Sewickley, Pennsylvania (age 82)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 23 (1969-91)
Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers
Chuck Noll Stats
Winning percentage: .566
Super Bowl titles: 4 (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979)
Bottom Line: Chuck Noll
After nine seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Colts, Chuck Noll got off to a rocky 1-13 start as head coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 (after Penn State’s Joe Paterno turned down the job). But four years later, he had transformed the Steelers into a contender.
Noll helmed the Steelers sidelines for 23 seasons, bringing the powerhouse Steel Curtain teams of the 1970s an unprecedented four Super Bowl titles in six years on his way to 193 career regular-season wins. His key draft picks included Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Lynn Swan, Jack Lambert and Mike Webster.
Noll, who also won two championships during his playing days with his hometown Cleveland Browns, retired from the Steelers after the 1991 season and was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1993.
4. Vince Lombardi
Born: June 11, 1913, Brooklyn, New York
Died: Sept. 3, 1970, Washington, D.C. (age 57)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 10 (1959-67, 1969)
Teams: Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins
Vince Lombardi Stats
Winning percentage: .738
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1966, 1967; NFL champions in 1961, 1962, 1965)
Bottom Line: Vince Lombardi
Vince Lombardi’s coaching career started as an assistant with the New York Giants alongside future Cowboys coach Tom Landry. After taking the reins of the Packers in 1959, Lombardi coached Green Bay to 89 regular-season wins, three NFL championship titles and the first two Super Bowl titles after the 1966 and ’67 seasons.
He stepped down after winning Super Bowl II, but served the Packers as general manager for a year before taking the head coach’s job with the Washington Redskins, where he led the team to its first winning record in more than a decade.
Lombardi was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the summer of 1970 and died Sept. 3.
He had an astounding .738 regular-season winning percentage and a 9-1 playoff record, boasting 10 winning seasons in 10 years. Lombardi’s career also was noted for his strong stances against discrimination, both against black players and against gay players.
In 1970, after his death, the NFL officially named the Super Bowl trophy the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
3. George Halas
Born: Feb. 2, 1895, Chicago
Died: Oct. 31, 1983, Chicago (age 88)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 40 (1920-29, 1933-42, 1946-55, 1958-67)
Teams: Decatur Staleys, Chicago Bears
George Halas Stats
Winning percentage: .682
NFL championships: 6 (1921, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1946, 1963)
Super Bowl titles: 0
Bottom Line: George Halas
One of the co-founders of the NFL, George Halas had a coaching career that spanned 40 seasons, with 318 regular-season wins, a .667 winning percentage and six NFL titles across five decades.
He put up a 10-1 mark as a player-coach in the inaugural 1920 season with the Decatur Staleys, which would become the NFL champion Chicago Staleys in 1921, then do business as the Chicago Bears starting in 1922.
Halas posted 34 winning seasons as a coach, though his career was interrupted for three years when he retired as a player in 1930. After his return, Halas helped perfect the "T formation" and led the Bears to a 73-0 pasting of the Washington Redskins in the 1940 championship game, which still is the most lopsided win in NFL history.
His career was interrupted again from 1942 to 1945 by a stint in the Navy during World War II, but he returned to lead the "Monsters of the Midway" to an 8-2 record in 1946, beating the Giants for the title. His last big season came in 1963, when Halas ran the Bears to an 11-1-2 regular-season record and his final title, again defeating the Giants to win it all.
He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1963, four years before his retirement in 1967. He remained the Bears’ principal owner and was the last surviving NFL founder at the time of his death in 1983.
2. Don Shula
Born: Jan. 4, 1930, Grand River, Ohio
Died: May 4, 2020, Indian Creek, Florida (age 90)
Seasons as NFL head coach: 33 (1963-95)
Teams: Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins
Don Shula Stats
Winning percentage: .677
Super Bowl titles: 2 (1972, 1973)
Bottom Line: Don Shula
Don Shula’s 328 regular-season wins sit atop the coaches’ leaderboard, and his .677 winning percentage and two Super Bowl titles back him up. In 33 years, Shula put up 27 winning seasons and just two losing campaigns. His teams made the playoffs 19 times, and he reached six Super Bowls with five different quarterbacks.
Shula, a former pro defensive back, got his coaching start at 33 as the NFL’s then-youngest head coach with the Baltimore Colts in 1963, building them into a contender that won the NFL championship in 1968 with a 13-1 record but fell short in Super Bowl III to Joe Namath’s Jets, 16-7.
Shula moved to the AFC and the Miami Dolphins in 1970, where he coached the Fish for 26 seasons. Shula’s 1972 Dolphins team remains the only undefeated team in the NFL’s Super Bowl era, going 14-0 in the regular season and beating the Redskins in Super Bowl VII. They followed it up with a back-to-back win against the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII. After a strike-shortened 1982 season, the Redskins beat the Dolphins, 14-7, in Super Bowl XVII, and the 49ers crushed them two years later in Super Bowl XIX.
Shula was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.
1. Bill Belichick
Born: April 16, 1952, Nashville, Tennessee
Seasons as NFL head coach: 27 (1991-95, 2000-present)
Teams: Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick Stats
Winning percentage: .673
Super Bowl titles: 6 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018)
Bottom Line: Bill Belichick
With six Super Bowl wins, Bill Belichick stands alone.
His first head coaching gig, with the Cleveland Browns, ended after five years with 36 regular-season victories and a lone playoff win, ironically, against the New England Patriots. But after famously ditching the New York Jets one day into his tenure as coach and taking the reins of the Patriots in 2000, Belichick hasn’t looked back.
After his first season with the Patriots ended at 5-11, Belichick replaced quarterback Drew Bledsoe with Tom Brady in 2001 and beat the St. Louis Rams in an emotional Super Bowl XXXVI, the first played after the 2001 World Trade Center terror attacks, with Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 48-yard field goal as time ran out. A dynasty was born.
Belichick put together 19 consecutive winning seasons. He has amassed a .673 winning percentage and 280 regular-season wins.
The Patriots won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX in back-to-back seasons. Belichick and the Patriots authored a perfect 16-0 regular season in 2007, and only lost Super Bowl XLII after Eli Manning and David Tyree connected on the miraculous "Helmet Catch" during the Giants’ final drive. They fell to the Giants again in Super Bowl XLVI four seasons later when the Giants scored with less than a minute to play.
Belichick led the Pats to a dramatic comeback win over the Seattle Seahawks as the Pats scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX after the 2014 season. That set the stage for Super Bowl LI and the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. The Patriots, trailing by as many as 25 points to the Atlanta Falcons, rallied to tie the game at 28 with 19 points in the fourth quarter, then won everything on a James White touchdown run in overtime.
The Patriots returned to the big game again after the 2017 season and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. It was a record eighth trip for a head coach. The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl after the 2018 season and beat the Los Angeles Rams, giving Belichick a record sixth Super Bowl title.
Belichick, known for wearing sleeveless Patriots hoodies on the sideline, has a record 43 playoff appearances and a record 31 playoff wins. He is the epitome of a football coach, and his bust in Canton is secure whenever he decides to hang up his whistle.
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