Who’s the best head coach in NFL history? That’s almost not up for debate any more after what Bill Belichick has done the past two decades in New England. Regardless, he’s certainly among the top NFL head coaches of all time.
Who else is on this list? Let’s dive in.
20. Marv Levy, Buffalo Bills
The only thing Levy didn’t do was win the big game. His Bills teams in the 1990s went to four straight Super Bowls, unfortunately never sealing the deal. During that four-year stretch, Buffalo went 58-19 and featured one of the most-explosive offenses in the NFL.
19. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
Like Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher before him, Tomlin has been instrumental in the Steelers being among the most consistent winners in the NFL. It’s been a bit rocky the past couple of years. But in 13 seasons at the helm, Tomlin has led Pittsburgh to 133 victories, six division titles, two Super Bowl appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.
18. Hank Stram, Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
The first head coach to ever let NFL Films put a mic on him during a game, Stram broke the mold. He also was one of the most successful coaches to ever walk the sideline. He won three AFL championships before the Texans became the Chiefs, then took Kansas City to the top with a victory in Super Bowl IV.
17. Tony Dungy, Indianapolis Colts
Before landing in Indianapolis, Dungy took over a broken Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and turned it around. In fact, his foundation was a big reason Jon Gruden was able to win Super Bowl XXXVI. Once he took over with the Colts, Dungy continued winning with Peyton Manning and reached the pinnacle after the 2006 season with a Super Bowl win over Chicago.
16. Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers
Cowher took over for the legendary Chuck Noll in 1992 and continued the winning tradition in Pittsburgh. In 15 seasons, his Steelers won 149 games, eight division titles and got to two Super Bowls. Finally, after more than a decade of near-misses, Cowher won a Super Bowl after the 2005 NFL season.
15. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
When Reid is finally done with football, he’ll almost certainly be ranked even higher thanks to his budding relationship with superstar Patrick Mahomes. He was highly successful as the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and has only improved his stock since joining the Chiefs in 2013. Reid finally got his Super Bowl ring at the end of the 2019 campaign and could be in line for many more.
14. Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings
Grant won four championships in the CFL before becoming the head coach of the Vikings in 1967. At the NFL level, his prowess continued to shine through. The Vikings got to four Super Bowls and won the championship in 1969. Grant’s Purple People Eaters defense also remains one of the best in league history.
13. John Madden, Oakland Raiders
What a run Madden had with the Raiders. He led the franchise for just 10 seasons, averaging more than 10 wins per campaign, and his .759 winning percentage is second-best in NFL history. The Raiders won seven division titles under his guidance, and Madden was carried off the field by his players after winning Super Bowl XI.
12. Joe Gibbs, Washington
In 16 years at the helm in Washington, Gibbs won 154 games, took his team to the Super Bowl four times and won three championships. He surrounded himself with elite coaching talent, facilitated the first African-American Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and was a class act all the way. Washington has done nothing of consequence since he retired for the second time in 2008.
11. Bill Parcells, New York Giants
Wherever he went, Parcells was a winner — taking all four of his teams to the playoffs. One of the greatest defensive coaches around, he’s best known for his tenure with the Giants. In New York, “The Big Tuna” led the G-Men to two Super Bowls and won the Lombardi Trophy both times. He also led the New England Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI but lost that game.
10. Curly Lambeau, Green Bay Packers
Curly Lambeau is one of the most famous names in football and was the founder of one of the NFL’s most celebrated franchises. He won an incredible 226 games, eight division titles and six championship games as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
9. Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t be known as “America’s Team” if it weren’t for Landry, who was the franchise’s first head coach. He took the ‘Boys to five Super Bowls, winning two. Before his head coaching career took off, Landry also developed the famous 4-3 defense as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants.
8. Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steel Curtain emerged with Noll as its mastermind. Once he took over in Pittsburgh the Steelers became an NFL powerhouse that won four Super Bowls in six seasons. All told, he won nine division championships as he cemented himself as one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history.
7. Paul Brown, Cleveland Browns
For a quarter century, Paul Brown dominated pro football. He founded the Browns and the franchise is named after him. Brown’s Browns went to 10 straight championship games, won 14 division titles and three championships. He also helped found the Cincinnati Bengals and is one of the cornerstones of the modern NFL.
6. Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys
Imagine if Jerry Jones hadn’t booted Johnson out of town after the 1993 campaign. His five-year run as the head coach in Dallas was one of the best in NFL history. Johnson went from winning just one game in 1989 to building a powerhouse nobody could contend with just three years later. The ‘Boys won back-to-back Super Bowls, and then Jones and Johnson parted ways.
5. Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers
Many of the best NFL offenses around today implement the “West Coast” offensive philosophies developed by Walsh. He helped mold two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and destroyed NFL defenses for years. Known as the most innovative offensive mind of his generation, Walsh won three Super Bowls and changed the game of football forever.
4. George Halas, Chicago Bears
The Monsters of the Midway thrived under the guidance of Halas, who led the franchise for a stunning four decades. “Papa Bear” Halas was the NFL’s winningest coach until Don Shula passed him by, and he won six championships throughout his legendary career. The NFC Championship Trophy bears his name.
3. Don Shula, Miami Dolphins
Shula is the only head coach in NFL history with a perfect season on record. His Miami Dolphins won every game during the famous 1972 season. Shula also went to six Super Bowls, winning two of them. To cap it off, no coach has won more games than the late, great Shula.
2. Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers
The NFL championship trophy is named after Lombardi, which should tell you all you need to know about his legacy. Under his guidance, the Green Bay Packers won five championships in nine seasons — including the first two Super Bowls.
1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Nobody remembers his tenure in Cleveland. Instead, Belichick will forever be remembered for his legendary run as the head coach of the New England Patriots. Nine Super Bowl appearances and six Lombardi Trophies to his credit. He has also won an incredible 17 division titles along with 31 postseason games. Absolute legend.