Rankings season continues here at Lineups and we keep it rolling with a brand new edition of head coach rankings. You can find my rankings of offensive lines, secondaries, receiving corps, and quarterbacks on our site. This article will break down the leaders of each of the 32 teams as we enter the upcoming 2023-24 season.
I wanted to note here that I’m putting all first-year head coaches with no prior head coaching experience in their own category at the top – it’s not fair to rank them for a job that they’ve never done. I ranked that group of coaches based on my perception of their skill sets and projections for success this year.
NFL Head Coach Rankings 2023-24
#32: Jonathan Gannon, Arizona Cardinals
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
Jonathan Gannon is ready for a new challenge as the eccentric former Eagles’ defensive coordinator replaces Kliff Kingsbury in the desert after overseeing the NFL’s best pass defense by several metrics. The Cardinals came in dead last in PFF’s recent roster rankings, so it will be difficult to properly judge Gannon right away. The precipitous drop in talent for his defensive scheme to work with is an immediate concern.
#31: Shane Steichen, Indianapolis Colts
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
Highly regarded as one of the best ascending offensive coaches in the NFL, Shane Steichen gets his first shot at being a head coach. Steichen led the Eagles to the third-highest scoring offense last year. His run with the Colts will hinge on his ability to develop Anthony Richardson, the team’s uber athletic first round quarterback. If his time with Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts is any indication, there should be plenty of optimism.
#30: DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
After spending four years as an assistant coach with the 49ers, DeMeco Ryans replaced Robert Saleh as the team’s defensive coordinator two years ago. Last season, his San Francisco defense led the NFL in DVOA. Ryans will get the unique opportunity to instill a new culture surrounding rookies C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, both of whom went in the top three of this year’s draft.
#29: Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints
Career Coaching Record: 15-38 (0-0 playoffs)
The Saints’ 7-10 record last year was an improvement over Dennis Allen’s prior head coaching stint when he compiled an 8-28 record, but Allen has yet to prove that he’s a reliable head coach and not just a stable defensive coordinator. Currently the favorites in a weak NFC South, my lack of confidence in Allen is a reason I’m fading the Saints this year.
#28: Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
Career Coaching Record: 17-28
There was hope among Raiders fans that Josh McDaniels would have improved since his time as the head coach for the Broncos, but that didn’t appear to be the case as they faltered to a 6-11 record last year. It’s tough to expect significant improvements given the holes on this roster and a shaky quarterback room led by the oft-injured Jimmy Garoppolo.
#27: Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
Career Coaching Record: 3-14
We didn’t learn a ton from Matt Eberflus’s first year as the Bears head coach as his team struggled to a 3-14 record, the worst in the NFL. However, the team’s stripped down roster has seen significant improvements on both ends this offseason. That could translate into a big jump in the standings, and Eberflus is one of the favorites to win Coach of the Year this season.
#26: Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career Coaching Record: 34-50 (0-1 playoffs)
Saddled with a debilitating number of offensive line injuries and an ancient Tom Brady, it’s no wonder the Buccaneers’ offense looked worse last year, but Bruce Arians stepping away was another big factor. Bowles now has just one winning season out of five full years as a head coach, and it would be shocking to see that trend reversed this year with the Buccaneers’ current projected win total of 6.5 games.
#25: Robert Saleh, New York Jets
Career Coaching Record: 11-23 (0-0 playoffs)
Could this be a make or break year for Robert Saleh? The former 49ers defensive coordinator has yet to lead the Jets to a winning record in two years as a head coach. To his credit, the Jets had the fourth-best scoring defense last year, but they were held back by putrid quarterback play. Enter Aaron Rodgers. While the 39 year old quarterback is clearly on the decline, Saleh would likely be the scapegoat for a disappointing season.
#24: Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Career Coaching Record: 19-15 (0-0 playoffs)
The Chargers had a massive offseason in 2022 and, in predictable Chargers fashion, proceeded to face injury misfortune and get embarrassingly bounced in the first round of the playoffs. I firmly believe Brandon Staley is an intelligent defensive coach, but he could have one foot out the door if new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can’t help turn things around. Anything short of a playoff win this year will see Staley’s job in jeopardy.
#23: Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Career Coaching Record: 26-24 (1-1 playoffs)
In 2020, when Kevin Stefanski led the Browns to their first playoff berth in almost 20 years, things looked so promising in Cleveland. However, Stefanski has since led the team to a 15-19 record and has put himself on the hot seat entering 2023. For better or worse, Stefanski’s job hinges on his ability to make good on the team’s investment into Deshaun Watson, and that’s a proposition that comes with a wide range of potential outcomes.
#22: Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Career Coaching Record: 98-90-2 (3-5 playoffs)
Ron Rivera has done well to keep his teams consistently relevant in the NFL, but he hasn’t coached to a winning record since 2017. Through his time in Washington, he’s led the Commanders to just a 22-27-1 cumulative record, and a lack of a reliable quarterback has underscored those three seasons. Perhaps Sam Howell, with the added help of offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, can change that calculus.
#21: Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings
Career Coaching Record: 13-4 (0-1 playoffs)
While virtually no advanced metrics suggested that the Vikings were deserving of their 13-4 record last season, Kevin O’Connell deserves credit for galvanizing this team in many ways. His late game execution was crucial in the team’s record-breaking 11 one-score wins, although that’s hardly sustainable year-to-year. The regression monster is coming for O’Connell in a major way, and while he’s done well to reset the culture in Minnesota, I don’t expect him to be nearly as successful this season.
#20: Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Career Coaching Record: 14-20 (0-0 playoffs)
Arthur Smith has proven to be among the better offensive coaches in the league, and last season’s 15th-ranked scoring offense was a huge accomplishment given the team’s near league-worst quarterback play. Smith is tasked with coaching second-year passer Desmond Ridder to a breakout campaign, and the potential is huge for an offense with three recent first-round picks – Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts.
#19: Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
Career Coaching Record: 28-36-1
Unsurprisingly, Zac Taylor’s coaching record looks drastically different with and without Joe Burrow. In the two years before Burrow landed in Cincinnati, he had a 6-25-1 coaching record. Over the last two years, that has jumped to 22-11. The Bengals landed third in PFF’s recent roster rankings, so it’s tough to ascertain how much credit Taylor deserves for the team’s success, and he’s been very fortunate with his current circumstances.
#18: Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers
Career Coaching Record: 40-33 (0-0 playoffs)
It’s a bit miraculous that Frank Reich ended his Indianapolis tenure with a winning record despite the team having a different starting quarterback in each of his five seasons. Reich’s resume is also boosted by his offensive coordinator stint with the Eagles, including their Super Bowl title in 2017. Joined in Carolina by first overall pick Bryce Young and a superstar coaching staff, Reich’s arrow is pointing up.
#17: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
Career Coaching Record: 17-28-1 (0-0 playoffs)
The Lions hype has reached a fever pitch this offseason and they’re favored to win the NFC North for the first time since 1993. If Dan Campbell delivers on the promise this team has, his name will surely be further up this list next year. As of now, he deserves loads of credit for instilling a fiery new culture in Detroit and leading the team to a 7-2 record to close last season.
#16: Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
In Mike McDaniel’s first year as head coach, the Dolphins’ offense was as good as pundits hoped – they ranked seventh in both DVOA and EPA despite Tua Tagovailoa missing four games. The defense was a bigger issue as it was below average in most metrics. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio should lead to massive improvements on that end, and McDaniel could be leading a dark horse Super Bowl contender in Miami if Tagovailoa can stay healthy.
#15: Brian Daboll, New York Giants
Career Coaching Record: 9-7-1 (1-1 playoffs)
Despite inheriting a Giants team with tons of roster holes and a seemingly untenable quarterback situation with Daniel Jones, Brian Daboll led Big Blue to its first playoff berth since 2016 in his first year in charge. As he completely outperformed expectations, he won the league’s Coach of the Year award. While the season ended in ugly fashion at the hands of the eventual NFC Champion Eagles, Daboll has this franchise in a tremendous position moving forward.
#14: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers
Career Coaching Record: 47-19 (2-3 playoffs)
We’re about to find out just how good of a coach Matt LaFleur is. His 0.712 winning percentage is the best for any active head coach who has been in charge for more than one season, but a 2-3 playoff record has left a lot to be desired. Now, he’ll attempt to replicate that regular season success with the unproven Jordan Love taking the place of future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.
#13: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles
Career Coaching Record: 23-11 (4-2 playoffs)
The Eagles found the right man for the job in Nick Sirianni, and his second year in charge saw massive success with a 14-3 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance. Of course, Sirianni’s coaching led the charge for the Eagles, but he also benefited from the most loaded roster in the NFL. Entering this season with both of his coordinators having taken head coaching jobs elsewhere, Sirianni will face some real challenges to overcome.
#12: Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
Career Coaching Record: 155-97-2 (11-10 playoffs)
There are four active coaches who have won double digit playoff games and have winning records in the postseason. Three of them are inside the top five of these rankings. Mike McCarthy falls a bit further down the list due to perceived shortcomings in recent seasons, but I believe the collective public hatred for the Cowboys tarnishes his reputation more than is deserved. While the headlines suggest McCarthy could be on the hot seat if this season goes awry, it’s tough to argue with two straight 12-win campaigns.
#11: Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
Career Coaching Record: 62-35, (4-5 playoffs)
The Bills just can’t quite seem to get over the hump in the postseason despite being one of the league’s best regular season teams over the past half decade. Sean McDermott has led a top five scoring defense in three straight seasons, but his lack of ability to turn Josh Allen’s MVP-level production into a Super Bowl berth is a knock on his resume. He now enters this season without defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, further complicating his projection.
#10: Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
Career Coaching Record: 48-34 (2-3 playoffs)
Things went sideways for the Titans last season as they closed the year with an ugly seven-game losing streak. It’s not really Mike Vrabel’s fault as Tennessee had some of the worst injury luck in the NFL, and it was his first season in charge without a winning record. The Titans have consistently outperformed expectations under Vrabel, and I expect them to do so again despite many pegging this as a rebuilding year.
#9: Doug Pederson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Career Coaching Record: 51-45-1 (5-3 playoffs)
Doug Pederson provided a breath of fresh air for the Jaguars last year after the miserable Urban Meyer season, leading them to a 9-8 record and an AFC South title, just their second since the turn of the century. Pederson further added to his cache with an impressive comeback win over the Chargers in the playoffs, and the early returns of his work with Trevor Lawrence should give Duval County plenty of optimism.
#8: Sean Payton, Denver Broncos
Career Coaching Record: 152-89 (9-8 playoffs)
During his 15-year run as the Saints head coach, Sean Payton compiled nine seasons with double digit wins, three trips to the NFC Championship game, and a Super Bowl title. Payton consistently got the most out of his quarterbacks in New Orleans, and he’ll be asked to do the same with Russell Wilson after a deeply troubling season in Denver. Payton’s ability to turn things around for the Broncos would further build his reputation as one of the best coaches in the sport.
#7: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Career Coaching Record: 52-46 (6-3 playoffs)
After an impressive 13-4 campaign in 2022, Kyle Shanahan no longer has a losing record for his career, but he lacks the same resume as the other names in close proximity on this list. Still, he’s led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game in three of the past four seasons. Shanahan faces a lot of pressure this year as the Niners lost DeMeco Ryans, their elite defensive coordinator, and are unsure who their Week 1 starter at quarterback is. Still, Shanahan’s offensive brilliance will put this team in contention yet again.
#6: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Career Coaching Record: 60-38 (7-3 playoffs)
Still the youngest head coach in the NFL, Sean McVay’s longevity isn’t the same as some of the other names around him on this list. However, he has two Super Bowl appearances, tied for the third-most among active coaches, and is one of just nine active coaches to win a championship. It feels weird having McVay ahead of Shanahan given the recent results between the two teams, but McVay has the Super Bowl championship that has thus far eluded his West Coast compadre.
#5: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Career Coaching Record: 161-112-1 (11-11 playoffs)
How quickly things change… This time last year, reports were rampant that Pete Carroll could be entering his final season as a head coach at 71 years old following the trade of Russell Wilson. Instead, he led the Seahawks to a 9-8 record and playoff berth. Seattle added reinforcements during the offseason and could make a push as a dark horse Super Bowl contender this year. Carroll’s energy hasn’t faltered despite his age, and his ability to evolve with the ever changing NFL is commendable.
#4: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Career Coaching Record: 147-95 (11-9 playoffs)
Much like Mike Tomlin, the recent postseason results haven’t been inspiring for John Harbaugh as he’s just 1-5 in his last six playoff games. Still, the longevity speaks for itself as the Ravens have nine seasons of double-digit wins across Harbaugh’s 15-year tenure. Injuries have helped derail each of the last two seasons, but former MVP winner Lamar Jackson is around for the long haul after signing an extension. Don’t be surprised if that QB-coach duo gets back in the Super Bowl conversation in short order.
#3: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Career Coaching Record: 163-93-2 (8-9 playoffs)
In 16 years as a head coach, Mike Tomlin has yet to finish a season with a losing record. That remarkable consistency deserves praise, although it’s been getting dicey lately with 8 or 9 wins in four of the past five seasons. Tomlin is searching for a return to his former postseason glory as he hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016 and has a 3-8 record over his last 11 playoff games. Still, the Steelers will never be an easy out with him on the sidelines and he’s built one of the best cultures in the sport in Pittsburgh.
#2: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Career Coaching Record: 298-152 (31-13 playoffs)
Bill Belichick won’t be leaving the top five for as long as he’s an active head coach, but a 25-26 record in the three post-Tom Brady seasons has left a lot to be desired. Belichick’s staffing decisions have also been questionable – the Matt Patricia and Joe Judge led offense last year was predictably a mess. All that being said, Belichick’s resume speaks for itself. He’s third in all-time wins among NFL head coaches, has the most by far among active coaches, and has the most playoff wins (31), Super Bowl appearances (9), and Super Bowl wins (6) of all time.
#1: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Career Coaching Record: 247-138-1 (20-15 playoffs)
“Big Red” finally got the Super Bowl in 2019 we all knew he had long deserved, and his 23 seasons make him the longest-active NFL head coach. Reid turned 64 years old a few months ago, and it’s fair to wonder how much longer he plans to be the head coach of the Chiefs. For now, he remains one of the best in the business and is working on an impressive streak of a winning record in each of his nine seasons in Kansas City. Reid has the fifth-most wins among head coaches of all time and the second-most among active coaches.