Who are the best NFL coaches of all time?
The significance of a coach to a team cannot be ignored.
As a body without a head is utterly useless, so is a team without a coach.
They are the soul that ignites the fire in a team, the brains behind stunning victories, the last-minute magicians that turn the tides of the game and bring joy to their fans and cast gloom to the opposition team.
Coaches undoubtedly are an integral part of American football.
In this article, we bring you the top-20 greatest head coaches in the history of the NFL.
Our list was derived largely based on performance, in conjunction with opinions from SportyTell editors and other sports pundits.
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Table of Contents
The Best NFL Coaches of All Time
20. Mike Tomlin
After a long history of serving as an assistant coach in various clubs, he was finally given a wheel to steer.
Tomlin was appointed head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007.
There, he emerged as the youngest coach in the history of the NFL to lay hands on the Super Bowl trophy.
He was named Motorola coach of the year in 2008.
Pittsburgh’s performance and play in general improved upon his appointment.
19. Ray Flaherty
Known for creating the screen pass trick, Flaherty has been privileged to coach four different clubs in his wondrous coaching career.
He won the NFL title twice in his seven years spell as head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Flaherty is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
18. Bill Cowher
Bill Cowher is one of the only two coaches in the history of the NFL to qualify their teams to the playoffs in their very first six seasons.
Cowher, who is evidently one of the best NFL coaches in history, was named NFL coach of the year in his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers; before he inputted 14 seasons as a coach with the Steelers and led them to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one before his retirement in 2007.
He was inducted in 2020 into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bill Cowher currently works as a sports analyst, after his career as an American football linebacker, and NFL coach.
17. Dick Vermeil
You could call him a miracle coach and you wouldn’t be wrong.
He magically resurrected all three teams he coached in the NFL to winnings ways from previous losing streaks.
Dick Vermeil’s coaching career saw him win the Super Bowl XXXIV.
He was also named NFL coach of the year and won a host of other titles and achievements.
16. Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy made his debut as a coach in the NFL when he was first appointed Head coach of Tampa Bays back in 1996.
He is the first black American coach to lay hands on the Super Bowl trophy.
His impact on the team was obvious as he restored back winning glories to the club.
The same was the script in his days with Indianapolis Colts as he achieved playoff qualification ticket for every season he coached the franchise.
He created a record of ten straight playoff appearances, achieved by a head coach in the NFL, recording his name among the best NFL coaches ever.
In 2016 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
15. Andy Reid
If you’re considering significant impacts made on a team upon a coach’s arrival, then you likely would remember Andy Reid.
Andy Reid’s appointment as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013 saw the immediate end of their eight-game playoff losing streak.
He is the reason for the unending reveling joy of celebration in the franchise.
Reid led the Chiefs to the Super Bowl LIV and eventually won it after a 50 years drought.
He became one of five coaches in the history of the NFL to have led two different teams to a Super Bowl appearance.
Reid is undoubtedly one of the greatest NFL coaches of all-time.
14. Bud Grant
One of the most successful football coaches, Bud Grant, is a man who has virtually tasted every bit of hand-played sport, been previously a football player, basketball player as well as a baseball player.
He coached in the NFL and CFL and has a whopping total win of 283 games.
Grant was the first coach to have led a team to the Grey Cup and Super Sowl.
He was named in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
His statue is erected in honor of him outside the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Stadium, the franchise he once played for and coached.
13. John Madden
After serving as a role-playing coach for various franchises, John Madden served as head coach of NFL’s Oakland Raiders throughout his 14 years coaching career.
He led the Raiders to a Super Bowl glory.
Upon his retirement as coach from the Raiders, he became a sports broadcaster.
Madden was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
12. Guy Chamberlin
Late Guy Chamberlin was the coach with the best win percentage in the history of the NFL with at least 50 wins, joining the ranks of the greatest NFL coaches of all-time.
Chamberlin is also the only coach to have led three different clubs to NFL glory.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame far back in 1965.
11. Curly Lambeau
Curly Lambeau, an honorable and one of the most recognized coaches in the NFL founded the Green Bay Packers in 1919.
He was the franchise’s first coach.
Lambeau led the Packers to over a hundred wins and six NFL trophies.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
10. Bill Parcells
“Big Tuna,” as Bill Parcells is mostly called, is one of the legendary coaches ever in the history of the NFL.
He performed the unremarkable — resurrecting four bottom teams with shattered hopes of winning to the peak of American football, guiding them to winning ways and glories.
His most stunning magic was transforming the losing side, the New York Giants, into Super Bowl champions.
Parcells was named NFL coach of the year twice.
9. Chuck Noll
Late Noll is one of few coaches in the history of the NFL to have served over 20 years in a particular franchise.
As head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he guided what could be referred to as an underdog team with no title to its name since its founding to four Super Bowl glories.
Noll was also known for the opportunities he gave to black African Americans in the game.
He produced the first black quarterback.
In 1993 Chuck Noll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Noll is definitely a contender for the title of the greatest NFL head coach of all time.
8. Tom Landry
Landry is the first and longest-serving coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
He achieved and set the most impressive record that may well stand forever in the NFL, securing a record of 20 sequential winning seasons between 1966 to 1985; thus, joining the ranks of the greatest NFL coaches ever.
He has two Super Bowl titles to his name and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
7. George Halas
Nicknamed “Papa Bear,” Halas is one of the co-founders of the National Football League and owner of the Chicago Bears.
He was named NFL coach of the year twice with 8 NFL titles to his credit.
Halas was among the first 17 elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
6. Joe Gibbs
One of the amazing achievements of Joe Gibbs was emerging Super Bowl champion thrice with three different quarterbacks.
Such feat hasn’t been repeated since the history of the NFL, thus, becoming one of the greatest achievements by a head coach in the league.
He was solely head coach of the Washington Redskins in his coaching career.
He guided the Redskins to eight playoff appearances and three Super Bowl titles.
5. Paul Brown
Brown was the first coach of the two different franchises he partly owned — the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.
A coaching career that lasted 25 years saw him lay hands on seven championship titles.
He is also credited for various tactical gameplay he invented into the sport that is being put into use in the modern era.
After his death, the Bengals renamed their stadium “Paul Brown Stadium,” in his honor.
4. Bill Walsh
In his stint as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he was popularly known for his team’s volatile offense that could melt through almost any defense.
Walsh had a total of 102 wins and three Super Bowl titles in his 9 years spell with the franchise.
He was the NFL coach of the year twice and was included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
3. Don Shula
One memorable feat achieved by the late Don Shula was his recorded perfect pitch season in 1972 which has never been repeated to this day.
Shula is the only head coach with the most career wins in NFL history with a total of 347 wins.
He has to his credit two Super Bowl victories and 4 NFL coach of the year awards.
Don Shula simply made the impossible possible.
2. Vince Lombardi
Vince Lombardi is one of the greatest and most disciplined coaches ever in the NFL.
He he coached the Washington Redskins in the 1969 season.
Lombardi spent most of his coaching career as head coach of the Green Bay Packers and led the franchise to 5 NFL titles and their very first and second Super Bowl trophy.
That makes him a major contender for the title of greatest NFL coach ever.
Many praised him for his abject rejection of racism, which was subtly prevalent in the sport during his days.
“My players are neither black or white, but Packer Green,” he once said.
1. Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick, recognized as one of the greatest and the best coaches in the NFL by the media, players, and fans alike, is one of three coaches with 6 NFL titles.
Currently the head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick has impacted progress to the team.
He has created several records with the franchise, including most Super Bowl wins by a head coach — a recorded six times, most Super Bowl appearances, and most playoff wins.
No doubt, NFL players exhibit marvelous plays on the field to the delight and entertainment of sports fans.
However, there are bodies of individuals whose indirect input plays great importance in the game’s overall outcome and influence.
One of such is the coaching staff.
What are your thoughts on this top-20 best NFL coaches of all-time list?
Please share with us in the comments section below.
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