Nothing affects an NFL team quite like the quarterback position. If you have one of thesignal-callers, you're probably justified in hoping for a Lombardi Trophy. But there's another position that influences just about every other piece of an NFL roster: head coach. The players make the plays, yes, but sometimes the difference between a wild-card bid and a championship run is the man patrolling the sidelines. It's no wonder more teams are active on an annual basis at the start of the offseason, leaping into the hiring cycle with an impatient desire to land the next great innovator.
How do the NFL's current 32 head coaches stack up for the 2022 season? We're glad you asked. Below, you'll find our full assessment, broken up into four tiers and ranked from No. 32 to No. 1 based on how we'd "draft" them for this season. Our criteria? We tried to answer these two questions: who do we trust the most? And who is best positioned to succeed? Obviously the latter can be quite dependent on external circumstances (chiefly a team's talent level), but we did our best to separate coaches from their situations in close calls. Also, this goes without saying, but we mean no disrespect to the lowest-ranked coaches, particularly those in their first top jobs; they will be duly rewarded in 2023 if they prove us wrong!
Without further ado, the full rundown:
Stuck in mud
These coaches aren't necessarily in ideal situations, but it's also hard to envision them elevating their squads.
32. Lovie Smith (Texans)
Season: 1st with Texans, 12th as HC
Career record: 89-87 (.506) | Playoffs: 3-3 (0-1 in Super Bowls)
He's been around the game forever, and he's got the character to restore the culture, and wait a second, are we just describing David Culley again? Yes, Lovie has also been there, done that as a head man. But he hasn't posted a winning record in either college or the NFL since 2012, when Jay Cutler was throwing to Brandon Marshall on the Bears. At 64, coming off a bad year running their defense, he feels like another stopgap, and management saddling him with free agent leftovers doesn't help.
31. Matt Eberflus (Bears)
Season: 1st with Bears and as HC
Career record: N/A | Playoffs: N/A
Good for Eberflus parlaying four solid years with the Colts into a top gig. He should help Chicago's defense remain feisty. But offense is the name of the game today, and he's got neither the pedigree nor the setup to inspire much confidence there. If Eberflus can overcome management's utter refusal to upgrade QB Justin Fields' supporting cast this year, we might rename the 2023 coaching rankings after him.
30. Dan Campbell (Lions)
Season: 2nd with Lions, 3rd as HC*
Career record: 8-20-1 (.268) | Playoffs: N/A
Detroit won't like this, because he took the nickname "Dan the Man" to new heights as a first-timer, invoking archaic humanity with his tearful war cries and knee-cap speeches. But energy doesn't equate to wins, as his 3-13-1 debut confirmed, and not even an influx of speedy weapons may absolve the continued commitment to QB Jared Goff.
*Note: Campbell technically served as interim head coach for the Dolphins in 2015.
29. Arthur Smith (Falcons)
Season: 2nd with Falcons and as HC
Career record: 7-10 (.412) | Playoffs: N/A
The ex-Titans offensive coordinator is one of the toughest to read, mainly because Atlanta was thoroughly mediocre in 2021, an unwitting farewell tour for QB Matt Ryan. His guys didn't quit on him, and he's teased offensive adaptability, but he's essentially starting from scratch for a second year in a row.
28. Matt Rhule (Panthers)
Season: 3rd with Panthers and as HC
Career record: 10-23 (.303) | Playoffs: N/A
Rhule told us his program-building would take time, but Panthers fans probably hoped he'd be picking up the pace by now. This starts and ends with his revolving door of failed QB gambles: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and now ... Sam Darnold? Matt Corral? The defense has foundational pieces, but Rhule badly needs his club to move and take care of the ball.
27. Robert Saleh (Jets)
Season: 2nd with Jets and as HC
Career record: 4-13 (.235) | Playoffs: N/A
Of all the coaches "stuck in mud," Saleh feels like the most likely to break through, if only because the cupboard is much less bare thanks to a busy offseason that prioritized help for QB Zach Wilson. Still, if there isn't also a significant step forward on "D," his area of expertise coming from the 49ers, there will remain cause for concern.
26. Dennis Allen (Saints)
Season: 1st with Saints, 4th as HC
Career record: 8-28 (.222) | Playoffs: N/A
Allen is certainly respected in the building, having spent 12 of his last 16 NFL seasons in New Orleans, most recently as Sean Payton's right-hand man. Like Lovie Smith and Matt Eberflus, however, he's an old-school defensive leader for a team that really needs an offensive facelift. The last time he was totally removed from Payton, his Raiders couldn't muster a fight.
25. Josh McDaniels (Raiders)
Season: 1st with Raiders, 3rd as HC
Career record: 11-17 (.393) | Playoffs: N/A
Which is the taller task for McDaniels: bucking the trend of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, rewriting his infamous history as a head coach (and candidate), or surviving the AFC West? He's got the Patriot Way embedded in his blood, and his sour Broncos days are long behind him, but we still need to see him properly run an entire organization as opposed to an offense.
The new kids on the block
With the exception of Matt Eberflus (listed in a separate category), these are the fresh faces of the 2022 coaching cycle. Each offers promise, but until we see them man the sidelines, it's anyone's guess as to their true value.
24. Kevin O'Connell (Vikings)
Season: 1st with Vikings and as HC
Career record: N/A | Playoffs: N/A
At 37, he's the youngest of the new hires, and the second-youngest NFL head coach behind only Sean McVay, his mentor in Los Angeles. Two of O'Connell's three seasons as a coordinator came under McVay, so it's hard to know whether he's more Doug Pederson or Pat Shurmur as an ex-disciple of an offensive wizard. He'll at least have the toys to be competitive early, and conceivably his more pass-friendly approach will capitalize on the Kirk Cousins-Justin Jefferson connection.
23. Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos)
Season: 1st with Broncos and as HC
Career record: N/A | Playoffs: N/A
With Hackett, the questions are similar to O'Connell: how much of his offensive success stems from the QB and/or head coach with whom he worked? Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur are a mighty pair, after all. Still, he's been around the block a bit more, once coaxing an AFC title bid out of Blake Bortles. And now he's got another trusty QB at his side in Russell Wilson.
22. Brian Daboll (Giants)
Season: 1st with Giants and as HC
Career record: N/A | Playoffs: N/A
Until settling in as QB Josh Allen's top tutor in Buffalo, Daboll never lasted more than two seasons as an offensive coordinator, anywhere. But you can't overlook the way he helped tailor the Bills' attack to Allen's dual-threat strengths, and his history with Alabama and the Patriots at least hints at head-coaching-level resolve. Now, how quickly can he find or groom star power at QB in New York, where the lineup is closer to rebuilding than contending?
21. Mike McDaniel (Dolphins)
Season: 1st with Dolphins and as HC
Career record: N/A | Playoffs: N/A
He's certainly raw, coming in at 39 with a whopping one year of coordinator experience. But this man speaks the language, not only as a player-friendly personality but as a schemer, emerging as one of Kyle Shanahan's top run-game assistants. Whether it's with or without QB Tua Tagovailoa for the long haul, he talks the talk as a potential innovator for their improved roster.
Some of these coaches are past their prime. Some of them are approaching it. At the end of the day, they represent the majority of head coaches and the middle tier -- proven or respected as competitors but not necessarily title contenders.
20. Todd Bowles (Buccaneers)
Season: 1st with Buccaneers, 6th as HC*
Career record: 26-41 (.388) | Playoffs: N/A
Bowles may well belong with the Dennis Allens and Lovie Smiths of the world. His only other head job, with the Jets, produced one season with more than five wins. But he's run Tampa Bay's defense with such authority, and conceivably learned on the job under Bruce Arians, that we're giving him the benefit of the doubt. It helps he's got a championship-level roster headlined by Tom Brady, the most influential player in the sport.
Note: Bowles technically served as an interim head coach with the Dolphins in 2011.
19. Ron Rivera (Commanders)
Season: 3rd with Commanders, 12th as HC
Career record: 90-82-1 (.523) | Playoffs: 3-5 (0-1 in Super Bowls)
Rivera's had a heck of a career, taking the Panthers to the playoffs four times in a five-year span, but those days are gone. Since 2015, when he advanced to the Super Bowl, he's eclipsed seven wins exactly one time. The consistency is there, both in his conduct and defensive prowess. But it's hard to expect much more than scrappiness from his teams anymore, unless his latest QB gamble, Carson Wentz, suddenly returns to MVP form.
18. Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)
Season: 3rd with Cowboys, 16th as HC
Career record: 143-92-2 (.608) | Playoffs: 10-9 (1-0 in Super Bowls)
The pendulum has probably swung a little too far in terms of criticizing McCarthy; even if he did have Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, he's now compiled nine different double-digit-win seasons, including 2021 with Dallas. He's also wisely given plenty of control to play-caller Kellen Moore. And yet, with so much talent at his disposal, ill-timed, old-school decisions have too often doomed him. Maybe that's why team owner Jerry Jones publicly ponders about canning him for his own defensive coordinator.
17. Brandon Staley (Chargers)
Season: 2nd with Chargers and as HC
Career record: 9-8 (.529) | Playoffs: N/A
His analytically informed hyper-aggressiveness on fourth downs gets all the pub, but he's gotta be a better decision-maker as a whole, incorporating common sense into key spots. Still, his pass "D" was good and should only improve in 2022, he remains a respected up-and-comer with X's and O's, and he should have an opportunity to taste the postseason now that QB Justin Herbert has even more help on both sides of the ball.
16. Nick Sirianni (Eagles)
Season: 2nd with Eagles and as HC
Career record: 9-8 (.529) | Playoffs: 0-1
As soon as Sirianni stopped trying to make Jalen Hurts a traditional QB in 2021, he found results. More than that, he rekindled a happy-go-lucky vibe after the sudden dissolution of the Doug Pederson era. The key to a big step forward is whether he and Hurts can craft a more sustainable passing offense together, but Sirianni at least offers the requisite humility to adapt his strategy and own duties (like play-calling) for the betterment of the squad. It helps that his roster is much more filled out this time around.
15. Zac Taylor (Bengals)
Season: 4th with Bengals and as HC
Career record: 16-32-1 (.337) | Playoffs: 3-1 (0-1 in Super Bowls)
He might be the biggest wild card of the entire group. Cincinnati will keep buying him beers for the way he oversaw the 2021 underdog run to the Super Bowl, but it's hard to fully overlook the tepid big-game play-calling and, more so, the ghastly record he racked up prior to Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase's emergence. The good news for Taylor is that as long as his offense keeps Burrow upright and on schedule, he'll keep rising up the ranks.
14. Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)
Season: 4th with Cardinals and as HC
Career record: 24-24-1 (.500) | Playoffs: 0-1
A perfectly .500 record through three seasons is so fitting, for Kingsbury's Arizona tenure has always been split in half. His teams tend to start strong, and he's improved as the schemer behind QB Kyler Murray's flirtation with MVP candidacy, but how can anyone trust him with his extensive track record of late-year crumbles? The "idea" of Kingsbury is still intact, but he and Murray alone have yet to prove capable of overcoming the rest of the team's shortcomings.
13. Kevin Stefanski (Browns)
Season: 3rd with Browns and as HC
Career record: 19-14 (.576) | Playoffs: 1-1
After one year in Cleveland, Stefanski looked like a sure bet to steady a long-shaky line of Browns coaches. After two years, the picture is cloudier, largely because of Baker Mayfield's physical deterioration and Stefanski's odd insistence on milking the QB anyway. Now, his offensive designs will really be tested, with polarizing new QB Deshaun Watson on the verge of a potentially unprecedented suspension, leaving journeyman backup Jacoby Brissett as the point guard.
12. Frank Reich (Colts)
Season: 5th with Colts and as HC
Career record: 37-28 (.569) | Playoffs: 1-2
Almost. That's been the operative word of Reich's tenure. Andrew Luck almost looked like he'd stick around as his QB. Philip Rivers almost led a surprise playoff run two years later. Carson Wentz almost led a playoff run under his watch. The common thread, of course, is the QB shuffle, which he's navigated as gracefully as possible. Now linked up with Matt Ryan, the floor once again feels relatively high. The question is whether Reich and his occasionally conservative tendencies can get over the hump with a team built on older-school staples like the ground game and defense.
The head of the pack
Just consider them the proven commodities. If they haven't won it all already, they've shown the grit or smarts to do so.
11. Doug Pederson (Jaguars)
Season: 1st with Jaguars, 6th as HC
Career record: 42-37-1 (.531) | Playoffs: 4-2 (1-0 in Super Bowls)
The end of his Eagles tenure wasn't pretty, as his offense lost all rhythm and creativity. But his teams never quit, his late-season record is strong, and he's a proven culture changer, making him the perfect on- and off-field remedy for Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. The hope is he doesn't become too reliant on old staffers and ideas, and that his new front-office friends learn to better allocate their resources in order to keep Lawrence moving forward.
10. Mike Vrabel (Titans)
Season: 5th with Titans and as HC
Career record: 41-24 (.631) | Playoffs: 2-3
Is he a football-guy stereotype, sporting the tough-guy image while leaning on the physicality of a heavy run game and front-loaded defense? Yes. Does it work? Yes. Vrabel is still chasing true postseason results (and may keep chasing them until a higher-upside playmaker emerges under center), but his squad is basically a lock to beat you up and be in the playoff picture by year's end. He's matched or improved his win total every year since taking the job.
9. Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
Season: 6th with 49ers and as HC
Career record: 39-42 (.481) | Playoffs: 4-2 (0-1 in Super Bowls)
Go big or go home. That's how the 49ers roll under Shanahan, who's posted three losing records in five years but also boasts a pair of NFC Championship appearances. It's incredible how seamlessly he makes the ground game work, regardless of who's under center or in the backfield, but the real X factor moving forward is what happens at QB, where he's finally set to turn the reins to Trey Lance, a far more athletic but far less polished alternative to Jimmy Garoppolo.
8. Pete Carroll (Seahawks)
Season: 13th with Seahawks, 17th as HC
Career record: 154-104-1 (.593) | Playoffs: 11-10 (1-1 in Super Bowls)
He's not so unlike Mike Vrabel in terms of style -- tough and old-school, but in a player-friendly way. He's just done it longer and already reached the mountaintop. You worry about stubbornness here, especially as he looks to prove his run-first approach doesn't need Russell Wilson to work. But the guy's been around for so long, with such a sway on team culture, that even a holey roster has yet to totally torpedo his record. The disappointing 2021 finish was his first losing season in 10 years.
7. Matt LaFleur (Packers)
Season: 4th with Packers and as HC
Career record: 39-10 (.796) | Playoffs: 2-3
But he has Aaron Rodgers, you're yelling! Yeah, well, so did Mike McCarthy, who went 11-16-1 in his final two years in green and yellow. LaFleur still has to prove himself as a big-game planner and decision-maker, but you don't win 13 games in three straight seasons by accident. It's possible he'll need to flex his muscles even more in 2022, when Rodgers could require additional support from the ground game and revamped defense after Davante Adams' departure out wide.
6. Sean McDermott (Bills)
Season: 6th with Bills and as HC
Career record: 49-32 (.605) | Playoffs: 3-4
If anyone has the makings of the next Andy Reid, just in terms of steady-handedness year in and year out, it might be McDermott, one of his top disciples. More than just overseeing Josh Allen's growing stardom at QB, and Buffalo's aggressive offensive approach, he's kept his signature unit, the Bills defense, hungry in key games. Crazy things happen, but it feels like a matter of when, not if, McDermott will be contending for a Lombardi Trophy thanks to the well-rounded roster he shepherds.
5. John Harbaugh (Ravens)
Season: 15th with Ravens and as HC
Career record: 137-88 (.609) | Playoffs: 11-8 (1-0 in Super Bowls)
The big notch on Harbaugh's belt, besides his 2012 Super Bowl title and 64% hit rate for playoff seasons, is reinvention. He's led pass-happy teams. He's led run-heavy teams. He's led defensive teams. Injuries really rocked the boat in 2021, so he's due for a rebound. You just wonder if and when the next reinvention may come, considering the Ravens haven't advanced past the Divisional Round in a decade and QB Lamar Jackson is looking to prove he's more than just an electric regular-season star.
4. Mike Tomlin (Steelers)
Season: 16th with Steelers and as HC
Career record: 154-85-2 (.643) | Playoffs: 8-9 (1-1 in Super Bowls)
The lack of recent deep-playoff success is a concern, as the Steelers are a combined 3-7 in the postseason since losing the Super Bowl in 2010. Tomlin's teams are also good for at least one annual clunker, and his in-game decision-making occasionally gets wonky. But man would other organizations love to have such a consistent, attentive leader. Even when crises strike on and off the field, he never lets the ship sink. You've heard the stat aplenty: in 15 years, he's never once had a losing record. The question is, can he elevate their structure, with all-around physicality trumping QB certainty, to big-game success?
3. Bill Belichick (Patriots)
Season: 23rd with Patriots, 28th as HC
Career record: 290-143 (.670) | Playoffs: 31-13 (6-3 in Super Bowls)
Blasphemy, right? Look, BB is a clear-cut No. 1 if we're ranking based on all-time achievements. Six rings and 20 winning seasons in 22 years with the Patriots is absolutely nuts. But we'd be lying if we said we didn't prefer the offensive upside of a few counterparts in today's NFL. Belichick at least had New England back in the playoff conversation in 2021, proving Tom Brady wasn't the only reason for his dynasty. As long as he's on the sidelines, the Pats will be stingy and disciplined. He's now gone three years without a playoff win, however, and is seemingly banking on young QB Mac Jones working through his running backs and tight ends to take a leap forward. You can't replicate Belichick's aura, preparation and career resume, but it's not outlandish to suggest his formula isn't ideal for this moment, when speed, star QBs and big plays run the show.
2. Sean McVay (Rams)
Season: 6th with Rams and as HC
Career record: 55-26 (.679) | Playoffs: 7-3 (1-1 in Super Bowls)
Boy Wonder officially went from phenom to contemporary great by getting over the hump and turning his bet on Matthew Stafford into a Super Bowl ring. He may be more conservative than most think, and he's occasionally a streaky play-caller, but what else can you ask of him at 36? Players easily gravitate toward his devoted but fun-loving approach, and while he's been blessed with star-studded lineups courtesy of Les Snead, he consistently capitalizes on his starters' skill sets (think Stafford, Jared Goff, Odell Beckham Jr.). The only reason you wouldn't "draft" McVay as both your short- and long-term leader is because his instant ascent has afforded him the flexibility to consider an early retirement.
1. Andy Reid (Chiefs)
Season: 10th with Chiefs, 24th as HC
Career record: 233-135-1 (.633) | Playoffs: 19-16 (1-2 in Super Bowls)
Almost 25 years into the job, Reid still isn't immune to clock miscues or slow starts, and his post-Philadelphia renaissance certainly has something to do with Patrick Mahomes. But he always gets the best out of his QBs, and that's never been more apparent than with No. 15, whose backyard style blends perfectly with Reid's fancy for trickery. He could stand to put the pedal to the metal earlier (both in games and on the schedule), but it's astounding how unfazed his entire team has become as he's extended his stay in K.C. Even while churning out coveted assistants, Reid oversees machine-like production both on the stat sheet and the win column, logging at least 11 wins in seven of his last nine seasons. Everyone wants to score at will, let alone host annual home playoff games, and until Big Red's teams stop doing that, it's hard to crown anyone else.