Behind every great NFL team is a coach ushering them to victory. There have been many who stepped up to the plate, ready to tackle the team and spotlight but only some have earned the rightful title as great. Take a look at our list of the 21 greatest NFL coaches of all time.
Gary Kubiak led the Denver Broncos to win at Super Bowl 50, which was his first Super Bowl win as a head coach. He also became the fourth head coach to win a Super Bowl in his first season with a team. He is also the third head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with the same team that he once played for. On New Year’s Day of 2017, he announced he was stepping down as head coach due to health reasons.
Don Shula is well known as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, which is the team he led to two Super Bowl victories, and to the only perfect season in the history of the NFL. Yeah, we know, incredible. Currently he holds the NFL record for most career wins as a head coach, with 347. He was also inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Shuld probably didn’t need to worry so much about college loans in that area.
Marv Levy is a former American and Canadian football coach, with a list of successes a mile long. From years of 1988 to 1997, the Buffalo Bills were first in the AFC in winning percentage and second only to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. Levy is also the winningest coach in Bills’ history, recorded a 112–70 regular season record and was 11–8 in the playoffs during his eleven seasons with the Bills. He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1988 and AFC Coach of the Year in 1988, 1993, and 1995.
George Allen is remembered as one of the hardest working coaches in football but he’s also remembered for his odd, paranoid behavior. With that being said, he has the third best winning percentage in the NFL and has never coached an NFL team to a losing season. Impressive to say the least. He was also an early mastermind in the use of sophisticated playbooks, well-organized drafts, the use of special teams, and rather daring trades for veterans over new players.
What hasn’t “Iron Mike” done? Player? Check. Coach? Check. TV commentator? Check. Ditka was an NFL champ with the 1963 Bears, and is also a three-time Super Bowl champ, playing on the Cowboys Super Bowl VI team as well as winning as an assistant coach for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII, and coaching the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX. He was also impressively named to both the NFL’s 50th and 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. Ditka and Tom Flores are the only people to have ever won an NFL title as a player, an assistant coach, and a head coach. With all of that, he has no worries over auto insurance as he’s racked in tons of money.
Mike Tomlin is actually the fifth youngest head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports, nice! He is also the tenth African-American head coach in the history of the NFL, and the first in Steelers history. With the victory in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 in his belt against the Arizona Cardinals, he became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl championship. He also has four division titles to his name and he’s only been in the big leagues since 2007.
As a player and a coach, Ray Flaherty has certainly made a lasting impression, he is a part of the 80 Greatest Redskins, a 3× First-team All-Pro selection (1928, 1929, 1932), his New York Giants #1 shirt is retired, he’s also a 3× NFL Champion. Did we mention he created the screen pass?
Dungy was the very first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl when his Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. He also went on to set a new NFL record for consecutive playoff appearances by a head coach in 2008 after he secured his tenth straight playoff appearance with a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on February 6, 2016 was richly deserved.
At 65 years old, currently Pete Carroll is the oldest head coach working in the NFL. He’s also the head coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks. Carroll is just one of only three football coaches who has won both a Super Bowl and a college football national championship.
Bill Walsh has an extraordinary record of 102–63–1 with the 49ers, winning 10 of his 14 postseason games along with six division titles, three NFC Championship titles, and three Super Bowls. He would go on to be named NFL Coach of the Year in 1981 and 1984. And rightly so, in 1993, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Back then a graduate student loan was pennies.
Please meet ‘The Big Tuna’, love him or hate him, the man is an absolute legend. He is well known for his ability to coach teams that were struggling and turned them into postseason contenders. In his 19 year career he complied a 172 – 130 – 1 record with the Giants, Jets, and Dallas Cowboys. Parcells won 5 Division Titles, went to 3 Super Bowls, and won 2 Super Bowls. When he retired officially in 2007, everyone said he could easily come back any day and pick up right where he left off. He was rightly added to the Hall of Fame in 2013.
As a head coach, Chuck Noll won four Super Bowls, four AFC titles, and nine Central Division championships. In his career, he racked up an impressive 209–156–1 overall record. He coached the Steelers from 1969 to 1991; he was the one who turned them into winners because before him, they had never won a championship. His skills were unmatched when it came to drafting and tutoring his players. In his career, he was notable for the opportunities he gave African Americans. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
John Madden coached the Oakland Raiders in his entire career, racking up a whopping 76% winning percentage, winning a Super Bowl, seven division titles and an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has never had to worry about auto insurance a day in his life as he’s still earning loads as a sports commentator.
Gibbs was the 20th and 26th head coach for the Washington Redskins, under him, the Redskins had eight playoff appearances, four NFC Championship titles, and won Super Bowl XVII, XXII, XXVI. Personally, he’s a two-time NFL Coach of the Year and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 1996. He is a true football legend.
Chamberlin was a player and a coach who went on to win four NFL titles with three different teams in the 1920s. His entire coaching career in the NFL was 58 wins, 16 losses, and 7 ties. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1965.
‘Papa Bear’ is considered to be one of the original co-founders of the NFL in 1920 and in 1963, Halas became one of the first 17 inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His career is one of greatness, 63 years as an owner, 40 as a coach, 324 wins, a 6× NFL champion and a 2× NFL Coach of the Year. In fact, his 324 victories stood as an NFL record for nearly three decades, and are still the most in Bears history.
We could write an entire novel and sequels about the incredible Tom Landry. First off, his 29 consecutive years as the coach of one team are an NFL record, along as are his 20 consecutive winning seasons. In his career, he won two Super Bowl titles (VI, XII), five NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6 record, the third-most wins of all-time for an NFL coach. He created many new formations and methods., including the now popular 4–3 defense, and the “flex defense” system made famous by the “Doomsday Defense” squads.
If you don’t know anything about football (you’re only a little bit forgiven) then you have to know about Curly Lambeau otherwise we could never live with ourselves. First of all, he is seriously one of the greatest coaches to have ever graced the field. Second, Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun founded the Green Bay Packers on August 11, 1919. Third, in the very beginning Lambeau was a player-coach of the Packers. Four, he coached the Packers to win six championships. Lastly, he is still the winningest coach in Packers history; his 209 wins are more than double than anyone else, as are his 104 losses.
Paul Brown was the coach for the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals over the span of 25 years. He won an impressive 14 Division Titles in his career, 4 AAFC Championships and 3 NFL Championships along the way. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He also went on to invent the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
Currently, Bill Belichick has coached the Patriots to six Super Bowl appearances, winning XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, and XLIX, and losing Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He has led the Patriots to 13 AFC East division titles and 10 appearances in the AFC Championship Game. He was also named the AP NFL Coach of the Year for the 2003, 2007, and 2010 seasons. Impressively, he’s also the only head coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowl championships in a four-year span.
Are you really surprised to see Vince Lombardi in the number one slot? Didn’t think so. He will always be remembered as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, and also for winning the first two Super Bowls following the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history, even the NFL’s Super Bowl trophy is named in his honor. Lombardi was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after his death. The man is forever a legend.