NFL Power Rankings: Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches Entering Week 10
The Best and the Worst: Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches
Who is the best coach in the NFL? It’s always an entertaining debate.
What makes a coach the best? Is it having a good record? Is it overachieving? Is it a good coaching job this season, or a track record of success?
On the flip side, what makes a coach stand out as one of the worst in the league? Is it a team underachieving? A team that can’t win a close game?
Some teams have been afforded a deep roster full of talented players, while others haven’t. But a good head coach is the coach who can get the most out of them.
Some head coaches have excellent assistant coaches that perhaps make them look like a better coach than they really are. That certainly rings true in the opposite direction as well.
Some teams have been forced to turn to an interim coach this season, for vastly different reasons, with rather different results.
Some teams have already shaken up their coaching staffs, while others are likely contemplating doing the same.
32 NFL teams, eight division races and 12 playoff spots. Are the 12 teams in playoff position at the midway point the ones with the best 12 coaches in the league?
The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league, as many know.
As we pass the halfway point of the regular season, let’s try to sort out who are the best coaches in the NFL. Right after we sort out who are the worst.
32. Romeo Crennel - Kansas City Chiefs
It would be an understatement to say that the 2012 NFL season hasn't exactly gone the way the Kansas City Chiefs would've hoped.
The 1-7 Chiefs have been outscored by 107 points this season, and they've never led for a single minute of any game this season. Their one win came in overtime, and it feels like ages ago these days.
Head coach Romeo Crennel has tried shaking things up. He benched starting quarterback Matt Cassel for Brady Quinn, only to see Quinn cede the job back to Cassel due to injury.
Finally, Crennel put his foot down, relieving his defensive coordinator of his duties last week. However, Crennel himself had been the DC, so really all he did was delegate those duties elsewhere.
While I respect his accountability, it won't be enough to salvage this dismal season for the Chiefs. Nor will it be enough for Crennel to keep his job very much longer.
31. Chan Gailey - Buffalo Bills
Since Chan Gailey took over the Buffalo Bills in 2010, Buffalo is 13-27, and they could be on their way to their third consecutive last place finish in the AFC East.
If that's not enough to get a coach fired, I don't know what is. Gailey is supposed to be an offensive guru, but the Bills are a mediocre offense, despite the presence of two talented running backs.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are excellent players, but Gailey hasn't used them as effectively as he should. Spiller had just six carries in the Bills' Week 9 loss, a game that was relatively close most of the contest.
The Bills were a trendy pick to end their long playoff drought this year, but these days that seems more like wishful thinking from Buffalo fans.
30. Ken Whisenhunt - Arizona Cardinals
My, how the mighty have fallen.
In 2008, Ken Whisenhunt led the Arizona Cardinals to the cusp of a championship, narrowly losing Super Bowl XLIII.
The following season, the Cardinals won 10 games and their second straight NFC West title, but lost to the eventual champions for the second straight year.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals haven't had a winning season since Kurt Warner retired, and Whisenhunt's offense is among the worst in football. 31st in scoring offense, 31st in yards.
The Cardinals started 4-0 this season, only to drop five straight to fall to 4-5. If they don't turn it around soon, Whisenhunt could find himself out of a job.
29. Mike Mularkey - Jacksonville Jaguars
The 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars have looked awful this season, getting outscored by 119 points in nine games.
Head coach Mike Mularkey is now 15-26 in his head coaching career, and another high draft pick looks likely for the Jags.
Mularkey is an offensive coach, and while I realize it's only his first year in Jacksonville, there's no excuse for being so putrid on offense, like the Jags are. They are dead last in both points and yards per game.
It's going to have to get worse before it gets better. The Jaguars are in need of an identity. Simply wearing black uniforms every week isn't going to win many football games.
28. Mike Munchak - Tennessee Titans
Mike Munchak has been in the Tennessee Titans organization for a long, long time. He was drafted by the franchise back in 1982, back when they were the Houston Oilers, and he's never left.
A Pro Football Hall of Famer, Munchak has played or coached for the Oilers/Titans since his rookie season as a left guard in 1982, and he was promoted to head coach in 2011.
Unfortunately, his first ever draft pick, quarterback Jake Locker, has been unable to stay on the field, and it's been hard for the Titans to evaluate if he's worth building the team around.
The Titans have the worst point differential in the NFL, getting outscored by a whopping 126 points through 9 games. Their defense is terrible, and the offense has been underwhelming as well.
Things need to change fast for the Titans, who are trending the wrong way after a 9-7 season in 2011.
27. Andy Reid - Philadelphia Eagles
The longest tenured coach in the NFL has been skating on thin ice for some time now, and it's beginning to look like 2012 will be Andy Reid's swan song as Philadelphia Eagles head coach.
They have an ugly -50 point differential, and at 3-5, they're in danger of being all-but-mathematically-eliminated before Thanksgiving if they lose again in Week 10.
Reid fired his defensive coordinator, but it's been Reid's offense that's been the biggest culprit in their rocky start. Their offensive line has been decimated by injuries, and they turn the ball over way too much.
Reid's been there long enough to realize that it's his job to keep everything from spiraling out of control. If he can't do that, the Eagles will be moving in a new direction in 2013, with a new head coach.
26. Pat Shurmur - Cleveland Browns
Pat Shurmur, who coached under Andy Reid from 1999 to 2008, before being hired as the Cleveland Browns head coach in 2011.
Unfortunately for Shurmur, the Browns are 6-19 since he took over, and they look like they're headed for another last place finish in the AFC North.
The Browns haven't exactly assembled a strong cast of characters for Shurmur to coach, so I can't fault him entirely for the Browns' struggles.
His success as a head coach will ultimately be tied to the development of 29-year-old rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. If Weeden fails, Shurmur will likely go down with him.
25. Jason Garrett - Dallas Cowboys
When the Dallas Cowboys promoted Jason Garrett to head coach, they hoped he would take them to new heights.
Instead, the Cowboys seem to be stuck in neutral. In 32 games since Garrett took over, Dallas is 16-16. At 3-5 this season, their playoff hopes are essentially on the line this week.
The Cowboys' biggest problem has been their inability to score points when it matters most. They are 6th in the NFL in total yards, but just 26th in points scored.
Garrett needs to find a way to get the Cowboys back on track. Rob Ryan has done a good job with the defense. It's Garrett's offense that needs tweaking.
24. Dennis Allen - Oakland Raiders
If you weren't exactly sure who the head coach of the Oakland Raiders was, don't worry. If you blink, you might miss it.
Rookie head coach Dennis Allen took over the reins as the Raiders coach this season, and he is their seventh head coach in the last ten years.
Allen burst onto the coaching scene with a breakout 2011 season as the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator, and he turned that into his first NFL head coaching gig.
However, the Raiders are still pretty awful, and halfway through Allen's rookie season as coach, not much has changed in that regard.
23. Norv Turner - San Diego Chargers
If there's one thing Norv Turner deserves some credit for, it's his longevity. Turner has coached the most games in NFL history for a coach with a losing record. Congrats, Norval.
The San Diego Chargers have been perennial underachievers for most of Turner's tenure, yet the Chargers have the luxury of playing in a weak division, although it looks much improved at the top this year.
Unfortunately for San Diego, the "top" of the AFC West is a one-team operation, and it does not include Turner's Chargers, who are underachieving again with a 4-4 record.
Philip Rivers has been trending the wrong way the past few seasons, and Turner needs to find a way to make that 26th-ranked offense more productive. If he doesn't do it soon, he might be on his way out.
22. Marvin Lewis - Cincinnati Bengals
Believe it or not, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is the third-longest tenured coach in the NFL.
The past few seasons, the Bengals have alternated good years and bad years, making the playoffs in 2009 and 2011, with a 4-12 season in between. This year, they're 3-5, after losing four in a row following a 3-1 start.
Lewis is seven games under .500 overall in his head coaching career, and the Bengals are 0-3 postseason games under his watch. Nevertheless, it doesn't seem like his tenure in Cincinnati is going to end any time soon.
The Bengals still have slim playoff hopes, but they don't exactly have the easiest of remaining schedules in the league. If Lewis can find a way to get them to nine wins, that would be mighty impressive.
21. Jim Schwartz - Detroit Lions
Under the guidance of head coach Jim Schwartz, the Detroit Lions returned to the NFL postseason in 2011 for the first time in over a decade.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they haven't exactly shown the ability to sustain that success here in 2012.
The Lions have stumbled to a 4-4 start, and they've got a pretty tough second half schedule on the horizon. For a team that won 10 games last year, they've looked pretty mediocre so far.
Schwartz is a good coach, but he hasn't coached this Lions team as well as he's shown he's capable of. He's got time to turn it around, but so far, the 2012 season has been a disappointment for Detroit.
20. Rex Ryan - New York Jets
Things have certainly taken a turn for the worse for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.
After roaring success in his first two years as Jets head coach, culminating in back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances, the Jets have been trending the wrong way lately.
Dating back to Week 15 of the 2011 season, Ryan's Jets are 3-8 in their last 11 games. That's not going to cut it, and if Ryan doesn't find a way to turn it around soon, there will be major changes for the Jets next year.
Ryan's job, however, looks safe. He's well liked by the owner and front office, not to mention the fans. With eight games left, the Jets have a chance to show what they're made of. They can either flourish, or fold. What will it be?
19. Mike Shanahan - Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins traded a small fortune to acquire the draft rights to rookie sensation Robert Griffin III, and he's been as good as advertised.
Unfortunately for Mike Shanahan and company, the Redskins find themselves with a 3-6 record, and they're dead last in the NFC East entering their Week 10 bye.
Griffin has done a great job leading the Redskins offense, but Shanahan's been criticized lately for not opening up the playbook enough. Nevertheless, they're still 10th in points scored, and 7th in total yards.
Shanahan may very well finish under .500 for the third straight season in Washington, but with Robert Griffin III, they look like they've got a franchise quarterback for years to come.
18. Ron Rivera - Carolina Panthers
Ron Rivera was a well-respected assistant coach in the NFL for a long time before finally getting a chance to be a head coach in 2011, when he was hired by the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers finished 6-10 that season, but the future looked bright with quarterback Cam Newton looking like the real deal.
Rivera has done a nice job improving Carolina's defense, but their offense has had trouble getting in the endzone. They're scoring just 18.6 points per game, which is 27th in the league.
Eventually, the Panthers will be expected to contend for a playoff spot, and then maybe the pressure will be turned up on Rivera if they continue to lose games. But his job is safe for now.
17. Jeff Fisher - St. Louis Rams
After 17 years as head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans franchise, Jeff Fisher sat out the 2011 season before accepting the St. Louis Rams job this year.
The Rams have been awful the last few years, to the point that a 3-5 start this year is considered a success. They've hung tough in most of their games, but they've struggled to find an identity so far.
The offense may never be very good under the direction of Brian Schottenheimer, but the defense is improving this year, and Fisher deserves a lot of credit for that.
The Rams have a tough second half schedule this year, but there's still plenty of opportunity for young players to show what they can do. Fisher is a solid coach, and his stability is exactly what the Rams need.
16. Joe Vitt - New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints lost head coach Sean Payton to a season-long suspension, something never before seen in the NFL. Payton has been banned from interacting with his team, which means it's all Joe Vitt in 2012.
Vitt, who himself just recently finished a suspension, is being asked to fix a Saints defense that is dead last in yards allowed, at a whopping 471.2 yards per game.
The Saints have rebounded from an 0-4 start to get to 3-5, but it's going to be tough sledding for them to get back in the playoff hunt in a deep NFC.
Joe Vitt has done an admirable job, under unusual circumstances. But it's nothing compared to the interim coaching that another team has been forced into.
15. Leslie Frazier - Minnesota Vikings
The upstart Minnesota Vikings have surprised many with a 5-4 start, especially with their impressive win over the San Francisco 49ers back in Week 3.
The Vikings are 4-1 at home, and head coach Leslie Frazier has done a nice job turning Minnesota into surprise contenders in a deep NFC.
It still remains to be seen if Christian Ponder is the long-term answer at quarterback, but the Vikings are lucky to have two of the best skill position players in football in Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin.
Frazier's defense has been solid, and he deserves a lot of credit for the Vikings' turnaround. With seven games left, it'll be interesting to see just how far they can go.
14. Greg Schiano - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookie head coach Greg Schiano has certainly made his mark on the 4-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay has played hard every snap, even the kneel downs. They are 5th in the NFL in points scored, and 9th in total yards, thanks to rookie sensation Doug Martin, and the improved play of Josh Freeman.
The Bucs are also tops in the league defensively in yards per carry allowed and rushing yards allowed per game, although they're also dead last in passing yards allowed per game.
Schiano has come in and helped change the culture in Tampa Bay, and if the Bucs continue to find success, Schiano could find himself in contention for Coach of the Year when it's all said and done.
13. Pete Carroll - Seattle Seahawks
When the Seattle Seahawks hired Pete Carroll as their head coach in 2010, the former USC coach wasted no time putting his mark on the roster.
Carroll made over 200 transactions in his first year at the helm, and the Seahawks won a division title in 2010, and a playoff game to boot.
This year, Carroll has developed a dominant defense, as the Seahawks rank 3rd in points allowed and 7th in yards allowed through nine games.
Carroll also deserves a ton of credit for going with his gut and handing the reins to rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, even after the Seahawks signed free agent Matt Flynn.
Pete Carroll has made the Seahawks a force to be reckoned with. Not bad for a coach who some said would never be able to handle the rigors of the pro game.
12. Joe Philbin - Miami Dolphins
You could make a case that Miami Dolphins rookie head coach Joe Philbin is the current frontrunner for NFL Coach of the Year, and I wouldn't argue with you.
No matter how much of a passing league the NFL becomes, teams that can run the football and stop the run will always be tough teams to face, and the Dolphins are just that, thanks to Philbin.
Miami's roster is full of young players, and with young players comes inconsistency, hence the Dolphins' 4-4 record. But make no mistake, they can go toe to toe with a lot of teams.
Their biggest weakness has been the pass defense, which may be the only thing holding them back from contending for a playoff spot. Hard to believe this is the same team that looked so lost at times last season.
11. John Harbaugh - Baltimore Ravens
Football's current first family of coaching has a lot to smile about these days.
John Harbaugh was a relative unknown when the Baltimore Ravens hired him as head coach in 2008, and the elder Harbaugh brother has made that decision look better and better each year.
Harbaugh has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons, and has won at least one playoff game each of those four years, the first coach in NFL history to do so.
This year, the Ravens are sitting pretty at 6-2, atop the AFC North, and although the defense is not what it used to be, the offense has picked up the slack. It wouldn't surprise anybody to see another deep playoff run for Baltimore.
10. John Fox - Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos will win the AFC West without breaking a sweat, thanks to the combination of head coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Fox did an excellent job adapting his team's playing style to fit the unconventional quarterbacking stylings of Tim Tebow last year, and the Broncos have adjusted well to Manning's style this year.
Fox's defense is fierce, thanks to Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. They can compete with anybody in the NFL, especially with Manning on board.
The sky is the limit for how far the Broncos can go. Fox has been a perfect fit.
9. Bill Belichick - New England Patriots
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Bill Belichick is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, and even though some players think he's overrated, the New England Patriots are still one of the teams to beat in the AFC.
The Patriots are tops in the league in both yards and points per game on offense, and it's helped take pressure off a patchwork pass defense that is in the bottom five of yards allowed per game.
The run defense has been solid, however, and there's no reason to think the Patriots will go away any time soon. Even with a few uncharacteristic early season losses, the Pats are still a formidable foe.
8. Mike McCarthy - Green Bay Packers
During his tenure as Green Bay Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy has made his case as one of the best coaches in the NFL.
McCarthy's offense may be a little pass-heavy, but it's still one of the best offenses in the league, led by triggerman Aaron Rodgers, the Super Bowl XLV MVP and 2011 regular season MVP.
No matter who the Packers put out there at the skill positions, the offense continue to chug along. The defense, much maligned a year ago, has improved back to respectability here in 2012.
McCarthy may never be an iconic coach, but he's one of the best. He's a big reason, along with Rodgers, that the Packers will be perennial Super Bowl contenders for years to come.
7. Mike Tomlin - Pittsburgh Steelers
Every year, the Pittsburgh Steelers get a little older, but somehow never old enough for their veteran players' skills to erode.
Mike Tomlin has been a great fit for Pittsburgh. He's never had a losing season, and of course, there's that Super Bowl ring he's got on his finger.
This year, that veteran Steelers defense is dominant again, best in the NFL in yards allowed per game, even with Troy Polamalu barely able to get healthy enough to get on the field.
The Steelers have the AFC North title in their sights, and they've been firing on all cylinders lately. Expect to see Pittsburgh playing January football again this season. Maybe even February football, if they play their cards right.
6. Jim Harbaugh - San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh has been nothing short of brilliant since leaving the college game for the NFL in 2011. Like his older brother John has in Baltimore, Jim Harbaugh has brought immediate success to the San Francisco 49ers.
In his rookie season as head coach, Harbaugh took the 49ers to the cusp of a Super Bowl appearance.
This year, the 6-2 Niners look dominant, outscoring their opponents by 86 points thus far, and they've got their sights set on finishing what they started last year.
The 49ers are 1st in points allowed and 2nd in yards allowed, while also leading the league in rushing offense at 168.6 yards per game. That is a formula that can be extremely successful in this league.
5. Tom Coughlin - New York Giants
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are sitting pretty at 6-3, with a comfortable lead atop the NFC East.
Tom Coughlin has already won two championships in New York, and with Eli Manning in the fold, they'll be able to contend for titles year in and year out.
Coughlin's offense is in the top 10 in passing yards per game, and they're 6th overall in points per game.
Their defense has had a bend-but-don't-break mentality that's helped them eke out some close games, and winning close games has become a staple of what the Giants are all about.
There aren't many coaches in the league better than Tom Coughlin, and the Giants are lucky to have him.
4. Gary Kubiak - Houston Texans
A few years ago, there were some rumblings that the Houston Texans were thinking about firing head coach Gary Kubiak. Those rumblings have died down, and now Kubiak is in the running for NFL Coach of the Year.
The Texans are 7-1 entering Week 10, and over those eight games, they're outscoring their opponents by exactly 100 points. They've been dominant on both sides of the ball. They're a well-oiled machine.
Houston ranks second in points scored, and fourth in points allowed, thanks to a stifling defense that's near the top in every major category.
They've done an excellent job developing talent, and Kubiak has done a nice job molding them into a legitimate contender. Time will tell if they're ready to take the next step, but they'll be a tough team to beat come playoff time.
3. Mike Smith - Atlanta Falcons
The NFL's only remaining undefeated team is easily coasting to a division title, but the Atlanta Falcons have their sights set on something they've never had under fifth-year head coach Mike Smith, and that's a playoff victory.
Despite the fact that Smith's Falcons have never had a losing season since he was hired in 2008, Atlanta is 0-3 in postseason play under Smith, and perhaps that's why they're playing like a team possessed here in 2012.
The Falcons are in the top 10 in total offense, and also fifth in the league in scoring defense, allowing just under 18 points per game.
They've got an easy remaining schedule, and it's even got some thinking that they can run the table and go 16-0. They're certainly a long way away from that, but there's no doubt that they're an elite football team.
2. Lovie Smith - Chicago Bears
The Monsters of the Midway are back. The Chicago Bears are 7-1, and they've got a chance to make a statement when they face the 7-1 Houston Texans in Week 10.
Head coach Lovie Smith has a historically good defense on his hands, a defense that seems to practically score touchdowns at a higher rate than they actually give them up.
Reuniting Jay Cutler with his favorite target, Brandon Marshall, has been exactly what the doctor ordered in the passing game, although it's still a work in progress despite all the success they've had.
The Bears are scary good on defense and special teams, and if the offense can play mistake-free football, they'll be extremely difficult for any team to handle. Mike Ditka would be proud.
1. Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians - Indianapolis Colts
Sometimes, a good coaching job goes far beyond wins and losses, or X's and O's. It's about something more.
When Chuck Pagano was tabbed to take over the Indianapolis Colts, his goal was to bring a smash-mouth defense to a franchise that's been offense-oriented for a long time.
Never mind that the Colts had to learn an entirely new scheme. While Pagano's improved the Colts' defense, his impact on the organization and the entire football world has extended far beyond Indianapolis.
Pagano was diagnosed with Leukemia in September, and interim coach Bruce Arians has done a magnificent job keeping the Colts focused and playing great football as they fight, like Pagano fights, for a brighter tomorrow.
Despite being outscored on the season, the Colts are 6-3, and if the season ended today, they would be playing postseason football just one year after finishing with the worst record in the NFL.
No team is overachieving more than the Colts are. No team is playing more inspired football. For that, I give Pagano and Arians credit for the best coaching job in the NFL this season. Get well soon, Chuck.
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