There are few positions in sports more important than an NFL head coach. While quarterbacks can help a team become a Super Bowl contender, having a great head coach can be the difference between winning it all and disappointment for an organization.
The NFL is in an era with some historically iconic coaches running the sidelines. From future Hall of Famers like Bill Belichick and Andy Reid to younger coaches ascending into greatness such as Kyle Shanahan. Unsurprisingly, some of the NFL’s best coaches reside on the Super Bowl contenders.
Now that football is around the corner, let’s take a look at the five best head coaches entering the 2020 NFL season.
5. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin has never received the appreciation he deserves in Pittsburgh. Even entering the 2020 season, the 48-year-old Tomlin finds himself on the hot seat. While the Steelers might have fallen short of expectations in 2019, Tomlin’s record proves he is more deserving of an extension than a termination.
He enters the year with a 133-74-1 record and the fourth-best winning percentage (.642) among active coaches. Keep in mind, he took a hit because the Steelers fought their way to an 8-8 record in 2019 with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined. Oh, Tomlin has also managed the personalities of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben. He keeps this team together under extreme conditions and the Steelers are just two years removed from a 13-3 season. If the Steelers don’t appreciate him more, another organization will.
4. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints legitimately considered trading Payton in 2017. Fortunately for the organization, it stuck by Payton and the decision keeps paying off. Not only is he one of the more vocal coaches in the league, he is also one of the NFL’s sharpest minds.
Sean Payton’s 131-77 record is remarkable. Even more impressive, his work to help rejuvenate Drew Brees’ career to become one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks. If all of that wasn’t enough to prove his brilliance, just look at what he has done with Taysom Hill. Even when Brees retires, which could be after this season, the Saints will be a legitimate contender under Payton.
3. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
It’s hard to believe Harbaugh has been in Baltimore for more than a decade. The former special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles has proven that teams don’t have to find an offensive or defensive coordinator. There are plenty of accomplishments to appreciate from John Harbaugh’s career, including a 118-74 record and a Super Bowl ring, but his latest work is why the Ravens might win it all in 2020.
Lamar Jackson was about to fall out of the first round in the 208 NFL Draft when the Ravens jumped up to grab him. Harbaugh recognized Jackson’s special talent and secured him, ending Joe Flacco’s run in Baltimore. The decision made the Ravens a perennial contender for years to come. Now with the reigning NFL MVP and one of the league’s best defenses, Harbaugh could add a second Super Bowl ring to his resume this year.
2. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid finally got the monkey off his back. The beloved coach could never quite seal the deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs and his playoff demons always brought the team down in the final minutes. All of that changed with Patrick Mahomes, a pair that already won one Super Bowl and could become the NFL’s next dynasty.
Similar to Baltimore’s move to trade up for Jackson, the Chiefs’ deal for Mahomes changed everything for this franchise. Reid finally had the quarterback he needed to turn his offense into an unstoppable unit with a player who could make the kinds of plays we’ve never seen before. Andy Reid’s 207-128-1 career record is incredible, but even more remarkable is his work revolutionizing NFL offenses. We won’t be surprised if Reid keeps wearing Tommy Bahama shirts and wins a few more rings.
1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick is not just the greatest NFL coach of his generation or the best coach in NFL history. He will go down as one of the best coaches in the history of sports and his track record will likely never be topped. While his personality might be dry, especially for the media covering him, Belichick can smile and flex his six Super Bowl rings.
He will head into the NFL season as the NFL’s record holder among coaches for Super Bowl wins (six), Super Bowl appearances )nine) and playoff wins (31). Even when this team isn’t as successful without Tom Brady, it won’t diminish Belichick’s legacy. Belichick might be one of the NFL’s older coaches, but at the age of 68 and with his competitive fire still burning, he could do this for another decade. Whenever he retires, the NFL must rename the Lombardi Trophy in Belichick’s name.