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 2022-23 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 bottom – 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 2022-23
#1: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Career Coaching Record: 154-85-2 (8-8 playoffs)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – Mike Tomlin has never gone under .500 in his 15 seasons as a head coach in Pittsburgh. Not with the pitiful combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019, not with a rapidly declining Ben Roethlisberger in recent years, and likely not with Mitchell Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett this season. Tomlin hasn’t been able to add another Super Bowl since winning in 2008, but only one active coach has multiple rings. Tomlin has been Mr. Consistency in the NFL, and his ability to field a top-notch team every season in spite of roster turnover, injuries, and changing competition is incredibly impressive.
#2: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Career Coaching Record: 233-135-1 (17-15 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.
#3: Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Career Coaching Record: 55-26 (3-3 playoffs)
Sean McVay hasn’t been coaching for as long as the coaches ahead of him on this list, but his success thus far has been outstanding – he has a higher career winning percentage than Don Shula and Bill Belichick. McVay earned his first Super Bowl last season, and at just 36 years old, it likely won’t be his only ring. If he wanted to, he could have a 30-year coaching career in the NFL, but rumors have already swirled about him switching to media at some point. For now, Rams fans will cherish having one of the best coaches in the league, who also happens to be the youngest.
#4: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Career Coaching Record: 137-88 (11-8 playoffs)
While he’s coming off his first losing season since 2015, John Harbaugh can be forgiven due to the immense number of injuries Baltimore dealt with in 2021. Harbaugh has a career 60.9% win rate and an impressive 57.9% rate in the playoffs. For much of Harbaugh’s career, he was winning double-digit regular-season games and making playoff runs, including a Super Bowl championship in 2012, with the unspectacular Joe Flacco as his starting quarterback. The Ravens should be much healthier in 2022 than last year, and Harbaugh should have them back in Super Bowl contention.
#5: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Career Coaching Record: 290-143 (31-13 playoffs)
I’m going to get backlash for not putting arguably the best coach of all time at #1 on this list, but he is coming off objectively his worst season. Belichick had a series of ill-advised decisions that cost the Patriots late in games, including a 56-yard field goal attempt against Tampa Bay, a puzzling challenge flag against the Chargers, and an overtime punt on fourth-and-3 around midfield against the Cowboys. The Pats also uncharacteristically allowed rookie Davis Mills to carve up their defense and gave up the first “perfect game” in NFL history in the playoffs against the Bills. I’m more on the Tom Brady side of things in what will become an immortalized debate, and while Belichick is a future Hall of Famer, he hasn’t been the same coach without Brady by his side.
#6: Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
Career Coaching Record: 41-24 (2-3 playoffs)
Despite a regular season-ending injury to Derrick Henry halfway through last season, the Titans earned the #1 seed in the AFC. They had a five-week stretch where they beat the Bills, Chiefs, Colts, Rams, and Saints, and they came close to beating the eventual AFC Champion Bengals in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Titans have been one-and-done in the playoffs in the last two years, and a Super Bowl appearance might be far off in the loaded AFC, but there aren’t many coaches I’d rather have leading my franchise than Vrabel.
#7: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Career Coaching Record: 39-42 (4-2 playoffs)
A 48.1% career record through five seasons as a head coach is far from stellar for Shanahan, and that’s including a 13-3 season – without that 2019 year, he’s 26-39 overall (40%). However, Shanahan’s 49ers have been a constant threat in the playoffs, with two NFC Championship appearances and one trip to the Super Bowl. That level of postseason success has been all the more impressive given the lack of consistent quarterback play. Now, the microscope turns to Shanahan’s ability to develop Trey Lance as he enters his second season.
#8: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Career Coaching Record: 152-104-1
Before last season’s 7-10 record that resulted from Russell Wilson’s injury, Pete Carroll and Wilson had led the Seahawks to nine straight winning seasons, including a Super Bowl in 2013. Carroll’s offense has consistently ranked in or near the top ten in scoring. At 70 years old, Carroll is currently the oldest active head coach in the NFL, and he’s set for perhaps his biggest challenge in his coaching career as Seattle adapts to life without Wilson. Carroll’s status is beginning to fade, but the extended success and Super Bowl victory make it difficult to rank him any lower than this.
#9: Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
Career Coaching Record: 49-32, (3-4 playoffs)
In 2017, his first season as the Buffalo head coach, Sean McDermott led his team to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, snapping the longest active playoff drought in the four major North American sports leagues. With his defensive background, McDermott hasn’t drawn nearly as much credit for Josh Allen’s development as former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, but he deserves more praise on that front. He’s also helped orchestrate the second and first-ranked scoring defenses over the past three years. A Super Bowl win would elevate him even further up this list.
#10: Doug Pederson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Career Coaching Record: 42-37-1 (4-2 playoffs)
After a horrendous year under Urban Meyer, the arrival of Doug Pederson in Duval County will be a welcome sight. In his five years in Philadelphia, Pederson made the playoffs three times, won two division titles, and won the Super Bowl against Bill Belichick’s Patriots with his backup quarterback starting in place of the injured Carson Wentz. Pederson’s 4-11 season saw his quick exit from Philly, but his ability to coax stretches of high-level play out of Carson Wentz and Nick Foles bodes well for Trevor Lawrence’s future in Jacksonville.
#11: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers
Career Coaching Record: 39-10 (2-3 playoffs)
It’s challenging to separate Matt LaFleur’s coaching acumen from the MVP-level play of Aaron Rodgers over the past two seasons. Still, it’s hardly a coincidence that some of the best play of Rodgers’ career has come with LaFleur as his head coach. That will be tested this year following the departure of Davante Adams. LaFleur’s lack of success in the playoffs over the last three years holds back his ranking, but he’s just 42 years old, and there’s plenty of time for that to change depending on Aaron Rodgers’ future.
#12: Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
Career Coaching Record: 16-32-1
At the risk of undervaluing a 6-23 start to his coaching career, Zac Taylor deserves a ton of credit for taking a team to the Super Bowl that had the first and fifth picks in the draft in back-to-back seasons. Of course, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase keyed the Bengals’ turnaround, but Taylor helped consistently put them in positions to succeed. Taylor selected an excellent defensive coordinator in Lou Anarumo, who had just as much to do with their run to the Super Bowl. Taylor has his wagon hitched to arguably the best QB-WR duo in the NFL for the foreseeable future.
#13: Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals
Career Coaching Record: 24-24-1 (0-1 playoffs)
For the first 12 weeks last season, it had finally all come together for Kingsbury as the Cardinals were off to a 10-2 start that included divisional road wins over the Rams and 49ers. However, things fell apart down the stretch as they lost five of their last six games, including an embarrassing 34-11 loss to the Rams in Kingsbury’s playoff debut. Kyler Murray is set for a contract extension, and this team’s failure to succeed with an elite quarterback on a rookie contract is a significant knock on Kingsbury’s resume.
#14: Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
Career Coaching Record: 19-14 (1-1 playoffs)
In 2020, Kevin Stefanski’s first year as the Browns’ head coach, Cleveland won 11 games for the first time this century and made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. That season included a bludgeoning of the rival Steelers in the playoffs and a narrow loss to the eventual AFC Champion Chiefs in the second round. Last year wasn’t as successful for Stefanski, primarily due to injuries on both sides of the ball. Now, Stefanski’s attention turns to managing the distractions of the ongoing Deshaun Watson saga and turning the franchise’s investment into a Super Bowl.
#15: Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
Career Coaching Record: 37-28 (1-2 playoffs)
Despite having four different starting quarterbacks in his four seasons as head coach, Frank Reich has led the Colts to a winning record in three of four seasons. His team fell just short of the playoffs last year, and now Matt Ryan replaces Carson Wentz as arguably the team’s best quarterback since Andrew Luck. Reich will also contend with losing Matt Eberflus, his former defensive coordinator. The early odds show Reich as a leader in the “first coach to get fired” market, but I see him having success with Ryan this season.
#16: Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
Career Coaching Record: 143-92-2 (10-9 playoffs)
The Cowboys’ clunky loss to the 49ers in the playoffs last year puts some stink on McCarthy, but he ranks fifth among active coaches in all-time wins and has a Super Bowl win. McCarthy has arguably the best duo of coordinators in Kellen Moore (OC) and Dan Quinn (DC) in the league and a franchise quarterback in Dak Prescott, so this team should be a Super Bowl contender. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the hot seat if his underwhelming start to his Dallas tenure continues this year.
#17: Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders
Career Coaching Record: 90-82-1 (3-5 playoffs)
Like McCarthy, Ron Rivera has an impressive all-time resume but has had a disappointing start to his tenure with his new team. Rivera has had two different starting quarterbacks in Washington and a 14-19 record over those two seasons. McCarthy led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015 but has just one winning season since then. For better or worse, Rivera’s future likely hinges on Carson Wentz’s ability to succeed and get this team back to the postseason.
#18: Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles
Career Coaching Record: 9-8 (0-1 playoffs)
In his first season with the Eagles, Nick Sirianni built a rushing juggernaut that led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns behind the dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts and an elite offensive line. This season will be interesting for Sirianni as the Eagles acquired A.J. Brown and will hope to build more of a balanced offense after having the fewest pass attempts last year. So far, so good for Sirianni with a playoff appearance in his first season, and the future looks bright for the young coach.
#19: Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers
Career Coaching Record: 9-8 (0-0 playoffs)
Detractors will point to Brandon Staley’s questionable fourth-down decision-making and lack of a playoff berth with the elite Justin Herbert by his side. However, that ambitious strategy also saw the Chargers convert six fourth-down plays while facing elimination in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Raiders in Week 18 with a combined probability of about 0.01%. The Chargers spent this offseason revamping their defense with the additions of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, and it’s time for Staley to help Herbert vie for a Super Bowl.
#20: Lovie Smith, Houston Texans
Career Coaching Record: 89-87 (3-3 playoffs)
The current situation with the Texans is far from an ideal with one of the worst rosters in football, and Lovie Smith will be hard-pressed to find significant success. However, it won’t be for lack of trying, as the veteran coach has had a long career with some elite defenses over the years. Smith is a players’ coach who gets the most out of the talent at his disposal. If he has staying power in Houston, Davis Mills will need to prove his surprisingly solid rookie season wasn’t a fluke.
#21: Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Career Coaching Record: 7-10 (0-0 playoffs)
The Falcons were among the most over-performing teams in the 2021 season as they ranked just 30th in DVOA but finished 7-10. All seven of their wins came in one-score games, so they’re primed for regression, which also speaks to Smith’s game management abilities. This year, the Falcons enter a rebuild after trading away Matt Ryan, and it could be a long season with one of the worst rosters in the league. However, Smith will likely get a long leash to see out the development of rising stars in Kyle Pitts, A.J. Terrell, and Drake London.
#22: Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career Coaching Record: 26-41 (0-0 playoffs)
With the Jets, Todd Bowles’s job was unfortunately tied to the success of Sam Darnold, and we all know how that turned out. Ready for a fresh start, Bowles now takes over as the head coach for Bruce Arians after leading the Buccaneers to a top-notch defense in recent years – they ranked fifth in scoring defense last season. Tampa’s players have raved about Bowles since he became their defensive coordinator, and there’s no question Tom Brady approved this promotion as the pair reportedly have a strong relationship.
#23: Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
Career Coaching Record: 8-20-1 (0-0 playoffs)
It’s rare for a coach to be highly praised for leading a team to a 3-13-1 record. However, Dan Campbell’s Lions had one of the worst rosters in the league. They were still highly competitive throughout the season, with one-score losses against the 49ers, Ravens, and Vikings, an early lead against the Rams that was ultimately squandered, and a late-season upset win over the Cardinals. The roster has improved this offseason significantly, particularly following an impressive draft. Lions fans should be excited that this team is headed in the right direction with Campbell leading the way.
#24: Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas Raiders
Career Coaching Record: 11-17 (0-0 playoffs)
After a disappointing couple of seasons as the Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010, Josh McDaniels is finally getting another chance to run his own team. Of course, Tom Brady deserves a significant amount of credit for the Patriots’ offensive successes over the years, but McDaniels has proven himself an excellent play-caller. Last year, his offense ranked sixth in scoring despite starting a rookie Mac Jones. McDaniels has plenty of offensive talent at his disposal in Las Vegas, but his tenure will be dependent on turning around a defense that has ranked in the bottom twelve for points allowed since 2006.
#25: Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints
Career Coaching Record: 8-28 (0-0 playoffs)
Dennis Allen is another head coach getting a second chance this season, and the departure of Sean Payton should sting less given the continuity of Allen being promoted from the Saints’ defensive coordinator to head coach. Allen’s Raiders tenure was very unsuccessful, but his task is easier with the Saints as he’s preserving a winning DNA rather than building one from scratch. Allen’s defenses had ranked in the top five in scoring for five straight seasons before last year, and he will continue to field an elite defense in his new role. With Pete Carmichael still entrenched as the offensive coordinator, the Saints might not miss much of a beat despite losing Payton.
#26: Robert Saleh, New York Jets
Career Coaching Record: 4-13 (0-0 playoffs)
The Jets’ defense last year was a far cry from Saleh’s Super Bowl 49ers defense from 2020 – that San Francisco defense ranked second in points and fourth in yards allowed while the New York defense last year ranked 28th and 26th, respectively. Saleh’s Jets’ tenure is linked to the success of Zach Wilson, and he’ll be relying on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to coax better play out of the second-year quarterback than he showed in his rookie season. The Jets’ front office has done a great job of building out his roster, and if Saleh doesn’t show progress in Year Two, he might be on the hot seat sooner rather than later.
#27: Matt Rhule, Carolina Panthers
Career Coaching Record: 10-23 (0-0 playoffs)
Matt Rhule hasn’t landed in the best position with Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold, and Cam Newton as his starting quarterbacks, particularly with two season-ending injuries to Christian McCaffrey in his two seasons as head coach. Rhule is the early favorite to be the first coach fired this season, and it’s difficult to imagine him surviving past this season, barring an unforeseen turnaround from Darnold or the addition of Baker Mayfield. Even if Mayfield is on the way, the Panthers will likely be in the coaching market after this season.
#28: Nathaniel Hackett, Denver Broncos
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
While Hackett is a first-year head coach, he has eight years of experience as an offensive coordinator. In 2017, he orchestrated the Jacksonville offense that ranked fifth in the league in scoring and went on to the AFC Championship with Blake Bortles at the helm. Now in Denver, Hackett will be tasked with elevating a roster ready to compete for a Super Bowl. It should be fascinating to see Russell Wilson work with an innovative offensive mind after years of the back-and-forth acquiescence between him and Pete Carroll.
#29: Brian Daboll, New York Giants
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
Like Hackett, Daboll is a first-year head coach with eight years as an offensive coordinator. Daboll’s Bills ranked top-three in scoring in the last two seasons as he coaxed elite play out of Josh Allen. The primary reason Daboll was allowed to be a head coach was Allen’s transformation into a top-notch quarterback, and it remains to be seen if that process is replicable. Daboll’s Giants’ tenure won’t be linked to Daniel Jones as he was drafted by the past regime, but the offense should be fascinating this season.
#30: Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
The Dolphins hired one of the youngest head coaches in the league in McDaniel, who only spent one season as the 49ers’ offensive coordinator before this promotion. While Kyle Shanahan is the mastermind behind the San Francisco offense, McDaniel is also a brilliant mind. Miami has an immense amount of offensive talent, with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Mike Gesicki leading the pass-catching corps. If there is ever a time for Tua Tagovailoa to elevate his game, it will be this season. Tagovailoa’s success or failure won’t determine McDaniel’s tenure, but I wouldn’t bet against him making this offense hum this season.
#31: Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
When you’re the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champions, you can bank on getting some head coaching calls. The Vikings are hoping to modernize their previously antiquated offense with the arrival of O’Connell, and he has plenty to work with in Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. O’Connell led the Rams to the seventh-highest scoring season last year in his first year working with Matthew Stafford, and he will hope to have similar success in his first season working with Cousins.
#32: Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears
Career Coaching Record: 0-0
The Bears made a polarizing decision to bring in Matt Eberflus as their new head coach this offseason. Given his defensive background, there is a valid concern over his ability to develop Justin Fields into the quarterback of the future. Eberflus’s defenses ranked in the top ten for points allowed in three of the last four seasons, and the old-school, hard-nosed coach fits the blue-collar brand the Bears likely want to get back to. Brian Urlacher gave his vote of confidence to Eberflus, and that’s enough for me to have optimism.