There is no doubt that being an NFL Head Coach is the toughest job in all of sports. Only a few are crowned legendary coaches and I bet you could count the greatest ones on one hand. Nonetheless, ranking head coaches is a tough task because there are many factors to take into consideration. Below you will find my 2021 NFL Head Coach Rankings. There are a few things I took into consideration for these rankings. First, prior experience and success. Next, what the future holds for the team and their quarterback situation.
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2021 NFL Head Coach Rankings
32. David Culley (Texans)
In the history of coaching hires, there may not be a tougher situation than what Culley must deal with in Houston. It seems like a theme for new hires in Houston. Furthermore, it seems like Deshaun Watson’s years in Houston have come to an end. Culley no doubt has the wealth of experience, but his back is against the wall since the front office does not know what they are doing, and fans were not on board with the hire it is a steep climb up to mediocrity.
31. Dan Campbell (Lions)
Just like Robert Salah energy will not be lacking around the Lions building. Campbell is put a in a tough situation with Jared Goff at the quarterback position. The lack of experience will catch up to Campbell, but do we expect anything out of the Lions at all?
30. Nick Sirianni (Eagles)
This coaching hire was off to an interesting start, to say the least after the introductory press conference. Are we off confident the “systems” will work for the Eagles? After being under Frank Reich’s wing will Siranni be able to guide the Eagles to contending in the NFC East? Not sure what exactly will be the expectation for Siranni but developing Jalen Hurts will certainly be #1 on the list.
29. Zac Taylor (Bengals)
If this season is another low single-digit win season for the Bengals, there will be a coaching opening in Cincinnati. If you simply bet against Zac Taylor straight up you’d have a record of 25-6-1 close to 80%. The task will be even tougher for Taylor with Joe Burrow off of an ACL injury.
28. Robert Salah (Jets)
If there ever was a coach to fire up a team it certainly is Robert Salah. He brings the fire and energy that new hire has to a struggling organization. However, Salah has a huge task of turning this program around after the mess with Adam Gase. If there was a man that could do it, Salah’s energy is just what the New York Jets need.
27. Urban Meyer (Jaguars)
There is a new head coaching and quarterback tandem in Jacksonville. Will this be another college coach who struggles early on in his NFL coaching career? Certainly, the hype of the Meyer-Lawrence is there. Furthermore, the only direction for the Jaguars is to go up after only winning one game last season. But we can not ignore the success he has as a college head coach.
26. Brandon Staley (Chargers)
We can all admit that Anthony Lynn’s in-game adjustments and time management were well below par. Staley comes into Los Angeles with no coordinator experience and will be heavily reliant on his coordinators. The hype behind the Chargers coming into this season is at an all-time high behind Justin Herbert.
25. Arthur Smith (Falcons)
Arthur Smith was able to get a lot of Ryan Tannehill when he was with the Titans. How much does Matt Ryan have left in the tank? The Falcons traded away Julio Jones but there is plenty of offensive firepower on this roster. If there was a coach that can revive a quarterback, it is Arthur Smith.
24. Vic Fangio (Broncos)
In another case like Gruden and McCarthy can Fangio innovate the game? Fangio brings the tough defensive mindset for the Broncos and has the players on the defensive side. However, John Elway still has question marks on at quarterback for the Broncos. Last season the Broncos had Drew Lock under the center, now insert Teddy Bridgewater. In addition, the Broncos remain in the rumors to trade for Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers. The offensive firepower is there for the Broncos, they just need stability at the quarterback position.
23. Joe Judge (Giants)
Joe Judge enters his second season with the New York Giants. They made a significant upgrade at the wide receiver position with Kenny Golladay. In addition, the Giants get Saquon Barkley back from injury. Will Joe Judge’s hard nose old-school coaching style be a turn-off to the locker room? Furthermore, the biggest question mark for the Giants is Daniel Jones aka Danny Dimes the answer at quarterback for the New York Football Giants.
22. Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)
Is it fair to say like LeFleur, Mike McCarthy’s coaching record is in large part to having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback for most of his coaching career? There could be a case made that McCarthy’s first year with the Cowboys should be a wash due to the injury to Dak Prescott and the offensive line. But, there are always high expectations from Cowboys every year and every year it’s a disappointment. I certainly get Grudenesque vibes about the fitting with the Cowboys for McCarthy.
21. Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)
When the Cardinals hired Kingsbury maybe they had hopes of him innovating the game as Shanahan and McVay have. To say the least, Kingsbury has underperformed. However, the pressure may be on for Kingsbury. Does the addition of JJ Watt improve the defense? Sure. But Kingsbury and Murray were paired together to create an explosive offense. There has been flashes of it, but it seems like Kingsbury must guide the Cardinals to a playoff appearance before they decide to move in another direction. The talent on offense is there, can Kingsbury put it together is the real question.
20. Jon Gruden (Raiders)
By far the most overrated coach in the game today? It’s crazy to think Gruden is approaching the halfway point of the 10-year contract he received from the Raiders. Furthermore, every year there have been significant roster questions surrounding this team. In addition to being in a division with the Chiefs and Chargers, the Broncos are in the conversations of landing Rodgers or Watson. There are significant questions for the Raiders on the defense. But we have to give Gruden credit for coming up with a great offensive game plan.
19. Matt Ruhle (Panthers)
It is always a red flag for me when coaches are part of a quarterback carousel. But will Sam Darnold bring some stability to the quarterback position in Carolina? I am not sold on that. Matt Ruhle is in a rebuild mode for the Panthers and that is starting with trying to rejuvenate Sam Darnold’s short career.
18. Matt Nagy (Bears)
The Bears went through significant quarterback changes this offseason. First, they made the decision to move on from Mitchell Trubisky. Next, they signed Andy Dalton “promising” him to be the starter for the upcoming season. Also, the Bears drafted Justin Fields and the question is when he will become the starter. There is no doubt this will be the biggest season in Nagy’s coaching career. If this season is a failure, we will see a new head coach and general manager in Chicago.
17. Brian Flores (Dolphins)
The biggest question for Flores and the Miami Dolphins will be how effective they will be on the offensive side of the football. We all read the reports that Tua did not fully study the playbook last season. Now, with a full “normal” offseason for Tua, will Flores and the Dolphins be able to live up to the hype. The AFC East teams all made strides to get better this offseason. The Coach of the Year favorite has his work cut out for him as he enters his 3rd season with the Dolphins.
16. Mike Vrabel (Titans)
Mike Vrabel has been one of the more exciting stories around the NFL with his outrageous statements if the Titans won the Super Bowl. But let’s not ignore the fact that Vrabel old school coaching method of ground and pound is working in today’s game especially with a horse like Derrick Henry. The question for Vrabel and the Titans is on the defensive side of the ball. If they can improve on that side, Vrabel and the Titans can enter the conversation as Super Bowl contenders in the AFC. However, having a 29-19 record in four seasons is certainly nothing short of incredible.
15. Ron Rivera (Washington)
There is no reason for me not to have Rivera as an above-average coach in the NFL. Rivera led the Washington Football Team to a 7-9 record and an NFC East title last season while going thru chemotherapy. He gave the Buccaneers all they could handle in the playoffs with quarterback Taylor Heinicke. In fact, Rivera has turned the culture and dynamic of the WFT around. Lastly, Rivera has the journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starting quarterback, which certainly gives them a chance to repeat as the NFC East champs.
14. Kevin Stefanski (Browns)
After the coaching carousel in Cleveland, I believe the Browns have finally found the right man to lead this offense. Stefanski is off to a great start as the head coach of the Browns. In his first year, he led the Browns to 11 wins and only a playoff appearance but a playoff victory. Furthermore, this Browns roster is loaded with talent on both sides of the football. The future finally looks bright for Browns fans in Cleveland. The 2020 NFL Coach of the Year has a lot of hype to live up to surrounding the Browns but he is certainly a sure-fire bet to live up to it.
13. Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
Kyle Shanahan without a doubt can transform an offense when the players are healthy. Shanahan like Reich has dealt injured quarterbacks and different starters throughout his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, with Trey Lance in the fold, how short of a leash does Jimmy Garoppolo have, or may he even be traded? Nonetheless, Shanahan has only one winning season in his four years with the 49ers. However, with a healthy roster will Shanahan be able to lead the 49ers back to another Super Bowl appearance.
12. Frank Reich (Colts)
For a head coach who has dealt with no stability at the quarterback position, Coach Reich has done a great job of keeping the Colts competitive. Last season, with Phillip Rivers, Reich was able to guide the Colts to a wild card spot and into the playoffs. Now, with his fourth different quarterback entering his 5th season, will Reich be able to rejuvenate Wentz’s career as the starting quarterback of the Colts.
11. Matt LeFleur (Packers)
The biggest question surrounding LeFleur is, is his success due to the fact of having the reigning MVP of the NFL as his quarterback? As great as Rodgers is we can not ignore the fact that LeFleur is 26-6 in the regular season. He has led the Packers to the NFC Championship in both seasons in Green Bay. Despite the huge decision to kick a field goal in the NFC Championship game last season, I would have put LeFleur in the top 10 if he were able to guide the Packers to a Super Bowl appearance. Now with the uncertain future of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, the leadership and coaching of LeFleur will be put to the ultimate test.
10. Mike Tomlin (Steelers)
There is certainly doubt to the in-game decisions by Mike Tomlin. But the guy flat out wins games in the regular season. Coach Tomlin is entering his 15th season with the Steelers and the previous 14 have all been winning records during the regular season. The biggest obstacle for the Steelers finding consistency in finishing the season and finding playoff success. However, you can not ignore Tomlin’s 65% career-winning percentage. Lastly, this season is going to be the ultimate test for Tomlin with huge questions on the offensive line and how much Big Ben has left in the tank.
9. Mike Zimmer (Vikings)
I am higher on Mike Zimmer than most. Zimmer has dealt with injuries and quarterback turnover in Minnesota. But now what Kirk Cousins under center and a healthy roster the Vikings led by Zimmer may be in a prime position to win the division. More so, Zimmer is one of the best coaches against the spread. Prior to last season, Zimmer is tied with Belichick against the spread at 62%. In addition, following a loss, Zimmer was 75.7%! This is one head coach I am wagering on to win Coach of the Year at 34/1.
8. Bruce Arians (Buccaneers)
Fresh off a Super Bowl win, Arians finds ways to win. Bruce Arians is another head coach who has a career-winning percentage of over 60%. Arians is also 5-2 in his playoff career but most of those wins came last season with the Bucs. When you have Tom Brady as your quarterback it makes your job that much easier. But give credit to Arians for putting together a great coaching staff and keeps the ship steered in the right direction.
7. Sean McDermott (Bills)
If there was ever a coach who took on the personality of a city, it is without a question Sean McDermott in Buffalo. Despite changes within the team’s roster and front office, McDermott has quietly built a contender in the AFC. There is no doubt that McDermott can enter the conversation as a top-5 coach in this league. Furthermore, McDermott led the Bills to an AFC East title last season, next is making noise in the playoffs and trying to reach the Conference championship led by their MVP-caliber quarterback Josh Allen.
6. Sean McVay (Rams)
The 2021-2022 season is more than likely going to be the biggest coaching year in McVay’s short coaching career. The Rams have built a win-now roster and will McVay be able to guide the Rams to a championship? If the Rams would have won against the Patriots in Super Bowl 53, we would be having a different conversation about McVay. Nonetheless, McVay is emerging as one of the best offensive minds in the game. The question is will he be able to put it all together with Matthew Stafford under center.
5. Pete Carroll (Seahawks)
Over the last nine seasons, Carroll has guided the Seahawks to double-digit regular-season wins in eight of them. Furthermore, the Seahawks have reached the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons with one Super Bowl win. The question for Carroll is always “When is he going to let Wilson cook?” Despite some questionable calls on the field and personnel decisions, Carroll is a winner. If you bet on the Seahawks’ regular-season win totals when they were in single digits over the last 9 years and bet the Over, you would have some serious cash in your pockets.
4. John Harbaugh (Ravens)
If I pegged one head coach in the NFL to be opened to changing their approach and game plan year to year it is Coach Harbaugh. Since they drafted Lamar Jackson, Harbaugh has changed the offensive approach of their team philosophy to suit Jackson’s style of play. Despite not having an AFC conference title appearance since 2012, coach Harbaugh still has a winning percentage of more than 60%.
3. Sean Payton (Saints)
The biggest question for Sean Payton and the Saints will be how they will adjust to football life without Drew Brees. There is no question in my mind that Payton is the best offensive-minded and innovator of offenses in the game. Will Payton be able to rely on Winston to continue the dominance in the NFC South and reaching the playoffs? If there is one coach you would risk your life for this task, it would be Sean Payton. Finally, in his head coaching career, Payton has a 143-81 record straight up, good for 63.8%.
2. Andy Reid (Chiefs)
Everyone loves Andy Reid and why not? From his days in Philadelphia, he guided the Eagles to five NFC title appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. Now, with the Chiefs and having a generational quarterback talent like Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and winning lifting the Lombardi trophy two seasons ago. As a matter of fact, Mahomes and Reid together are 27-13-1 ATS when they are not double-digit favorites.
1. Bill Belichick (Patriots)
In my eyes, Belichick is the greatest coach of all time. The resume speaks for itself. However, the debate for many is: Was his success a result of having Tom Brady as his quarterback for over a decade? Nonetheless, Belichick is the most profitable NFL coach in the history of the game. If you bet on Belichick-coached teams blindly, you would be cashing at a 60+% rate.