March 07, 2022
Which team in the NFL has the best head coach right now? Who is currently operating with the most clout, respect and admiration in a league that runs its coaching carousel with a "what have you done for me lately" mantra?
Our staff decided to try and hand out power rankings as the league prepares for another exciting offseason and draft season. Jimmy Kempski, our Eagles beat writer, Evan Macy, the managing sports editor and Shamus Clancy, our deputy sports editor ranked all 32 head coaches independently. We then averaged them out to come up with the order we present to you below.
We'll share our thinking as to why we felt one coach was better than another as we meander through the NFL's top minds.
Evan: McVay is a little annoying but it's hard not to give the Super Bowl champ the glory, at least for now. He's taken two teams to the big game by age 36, and has found a way to manage some big egos and personalities en route to a world title.
Shamus: It feels sacrilegious for me to have McVay at the top, but he put Matthew Stafford on the path to being a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and turned Cooper Kupp into the most prolific slot receiver of this era.
Jimmy: I would like to distance myself from McVay's placement in the top spot. I had him fifth. He's a good coach, but has a long way to go before he's in the same category as guys like Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.
Evan: I have always been a big Reid fan. How much of the blame does he deserve for the Chiefs falling short back in January? You can't win them all — and he's won a lot of them.
Shamus: The playoff warts are there, but he's still one of two or three greatest offensive minds in league history.
Evan: Belichick is the GOAT, and took a team with really no one worth mentioning on offense to a playoff berth. Not bad.
Shamus: GOAT. Don't bother trying to find the "Next Belichick." There will never be one.
Jimmy: If there was one positive to Tom Brady winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, it's perhaps that the Patri*ts' success over the last two decades will be credited to the quarterback more than this recidivist cheater.
Evan: Shanahan's roster was not particularly impressive this past season but he was able to ride Jimmy G to an NFC title appearance. And his choice to make Deebo Samuel his team's ultimate weapon will surely have copycats.
Shamus: Shanahan almost took a team that has Jimmy G as its starting quarterback to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons. No one is more qualified to utilize the NFL's most dynamic weapon in Deebo Samuel.
Jimmy: Kyle Shanahan fourth?!? 🤢. His career record is 39-42, and he is at least partly responsible for two of the biggest Super Bowl choke jobs in NFL history.
Evan: Vrabel is kind of like Shanahan in that he was able to overcome a ridiculous amount of offensive injuries (Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown and more) and setbacks to earn a No. 1 seed.
Shamus: The Titans secured the top seed in the AFC this past season despite an egregious amount of injuries because of Vrabel's leadership and ability to maximize a haphazard roster. I'd rank him No. 1 in the future if he actually goes through with what he once claimed he'd do to win a Super Bowl as a head coach.
Jimmy: Vrabel will be a good coach in the NFL for a long time.
Shamus: Long gone are the days where McDermott was run out of Philly as the Eagles' defensive coordinator. 2022 will be the ultimate litmus test for McDermott as a head coach to me. With offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who unlocked Josh Allen, gone for a head coaching job with New York, let's see if he can still keep the Bills as one of the premier teams in the AFC.
Jimmy: I remember way back in the day, one of my huge pet peeves of McDermott was that his cornerbacks never switched sides. In the Eagles' playoff loss to the Packers after the 2010 season, the Packers ran a lot of 22 personnel (2 RBs, 2 TEs, 1 WR), with the WR lined up to the side opposite Asante Samuel, against Dimitri Patterson. Samuel was basically playing linebacker, while Patterson was lined up all day against whoever the Packers wanted. McDermott spoke with reporters briefly after that game, and I asked him if he planned on finally letting Samuel play either side next season. He looked at me like he wanted to murder me, but was able to calmly reply, "We'll see."
That actually wound up being his last game with the Eagles, but he has since become a legitimately good head coach.
Evan: I don't like this guy. Is he the reason Aaron Rodgers can't make a deep playoff run?
Shamus: Yes, he has one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Still. He's gone 39-10 in his first three seasons as a head coach. That doesn't happen by accident.
Evan: Tomlin might be underrated. He's a playoff staple and he seems to always find a way to post a winning record. I am curious to see what Pittsburgh does at QB with Ben Roethlisberger retiring.
Shamus: He's been a head coach for 15 seasons, has never had a losing record, and has nine seasons where his teams had double-digit wins. Now that I think about it, I might not have ranked him high enough!
Jimmy: Pittsburgh has had some pretty bad rosters over the last few years, and yet they're always competitive under Tomlin.
Evan: He has a Temple connection so that's enough for me to put him in the top 10. In all seriousness, he's been able to get some great performances out of some veteran talents and is a year removed from a title.
Shamus: Having the greatest player in NFL history is certainly going to make you look good, but I look at that way Arians was able to resurrect Carson Palmer's career in Arizona and still believe in him to lead a very good NFL offense. I'm intrigued to see who will replace Tom Brady in Tampa.
Evan: Harbaugh is sort of becoming a Mike Tomlin-like figure, but he was bitten badly by the injury bug last year and a playoff caliber roster fell short.
Shamus: It's hilarious in retrospect that Harbaugh was on the hot seat during the 2018 season. Harbaugh has bridged two vastly different eras of Ravens football and has a Super Bowl title to his name.
Evan: Should he be ranked higher because he took a team picking one overall two years ago to the Super Bowl?
Shamus: I'm not the biggest believer in Taylor and he did showcase some shortcomings in the playoffs, especially with how frequently he was running the ball on early downs. Nevertheless, I can't have a coach who just brought a young team to the Super Bowl too low on my rankings.
Evan: Someone asked Pederson the other day what he wanted to do differently this time, his second as a head coach.
“Besides win another championship?” was his answer. Long live Big Balls Doug.
Shamus: Pederson's second only to Connie Mack in terms of the greatest coaches/managers in the history of Philadelphia. I expect him to succeed immediately in a weak AFC South with Jacksonville.
Jimmy: I hope for the best for Doug in Jacksonville, but I worry that it's not going to go well there for him. No matter what, he is a legend for life in Philly.
Shamus: A defensive innovator whose Legion of Boom squads terrorized offenses, Carroll has had tons of success during his second stint as an NFL coach. The organizational philosophy he puts out that leads to a more run-heavy scheme for his offensive play-callers hampers him a bit here though, especially as the Seahawks have tailed off in the post-LOB era.
Jimmy: I can't look at Pete Carroll and not think of this.
Evan: Reich had a loaded roster and missed the playoffs because he couldn't get Carson Wentz to play smart football. He will be ranked higher without Wentz on his roster.
Shamus: I'd like an apology from the "Frank Reich was the mastermind of the 2017 Eagles" people.
Jimmy: The shine is wearing off of Reich a bit after the Colts' disastrous 2021 season. I always thought it was weird when some fans went out of their way to discredit Pederson for the Eagles' Super Bowl win and instead award it to Reich.
Evan: Sirianni is Ted Lasso if Ted Lasso wore Sixers gear to press conferences and was a little more into rock paper scissors. I was dubious when he was hired last year. I think he has potential now.
Shamus: He's pandered his way right into Eagles fans' hearts. I give him majors props for sucking it up and completely revamping his offensive gameplan midway through the 2021 season, creating an elite rushing attack and leading a team that was a preseason afterthought to the playoffs.
Jimmy: Shameless plug: I reviewed Sirianni's rookie season in detail here.
Evan: Everything I know about Stefanski — who's dad was a former Sixers exec — came from this article written by our Joe Santiloquito.
Shamus: I can't knock a guy who was a graduate of both Saint Joe's Prep and Penn too much, right? This is a bit of a TBD ranking from me, as I expect him to have way more success when he has a quarterback other than Baker Mayfield under center.
Evan: You could probably say this of every coach in the middle of the ranking here, but if things had gone just a little differently for Staley he'd be way higher. He has a loaded roster and one of the five best quarterbacks in football. No more excuses for the other L.A. team.
Shamus: If he didn't call that timeout in overtime in Week 18, he'd be higher on my list.
Jimmy: Staley was immediately crowned the next genius coach prematurely.
Evan: How low can we rank a Super Bowl winning head coach? 18th? Got it.
Shamus: "The worst coach to ever win the Super Bowl" is a backhanded compliment that almost every coach ever would take, but I stand by it when it comes to McCarthy.
Jimmy: The Dak Prescott quarterback draw against the 49ers in the playoffs was the highlight of the season for many Eagles fans.
Evan: I actually don't think Rivera is doing an awful job considering where he is the head coach.
Shamus: Being able to bring even an ounce of respectability to a franchise like Washington deserves major kudos.
Jimmy: Rivera is an adult doing his best to guide a reprehensible franchise, and has been fine for them, I guess. But ultimately, he has 11 seasons as an NFL head coach, and only three winning seasons.
Evan: J-McD is the first rookie head coach on our list and his achievements as Belichick's offensive coordinator kind of earn him that honor. He also has a decent roster in Vegas.
Shamus: I don't have McDaniels particularly high here given how awful he was during his time as the Broncos' head coach, resulting in him getting fired in the middle of his second season in Denver. The track record of Belichick disciples as head coaches elsewhere isn't too great.
Jimmy: The apple doesn't fall far from the Belichick cheating tree.
Evan: Kingsbury is kind of like Staley. Talented QB. Star-studded roster. Underachieved. And now his quarterback is causing drama. Ut Oh.
Shamus: I can't believe Arizona gave Kingsbury a contract extension.
Jimmy: Piggybacking off of Shamus' disbelief... through 2027! Lol.
Evan: McDaniel has been credited for the emergence as Deebo Samuel as a do-it-all offensive player in San Francisco. I guess future fantasy owners of Jaylen Waddle should get excited?
Shamus: It remains to be seen how he'll do as a first-time head coach at any level, but coaches coming from that Shanahan lineage are having tons of success across the league.
Evan: The Jets actually finished 2021 relatively strong and they have some good pieces like WR Elijah Moore and RB Michael Carter. Can Saleh lead them to make a jump in year 2?
Shamus: Saleh is a defensive-minded head coach, but the Jets have some enticing pieces on offense where they could be closer to competent in 2022. New York should draft Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with the fourth-overall pick in next month's draft and give Saleh a legitimate defensive linchpin to work with.
Jimmy: I saw the Jets up close in joint practices last training camp, and that team stunk. I'm not sure how they won four games in 2021, which I suppose is a credit to Saleh.
Evan: Another NFL head coach who was born in or after 1985. O'Connell was a former NFL QB and he should have some weapons on offense to succeed in his first gig as a skipper.
Shamus: I'm not basing the hire by any means when having O'Connell this low. He's new. I will say that Kirk Cousins had his best statistical season in 2016 when McVay was his offensive coordinator in Washington. O'Connell worked as McVay's offensive coordinator with the Rams the last two years. Is that something to build upon?
Evan: The Texans are a dumpster fire. Smith will have a tough job in 2022.
Shamus: I honestly feel bad for the guy for being in the situation he's in with Houston.
Jimmy: Sweet beard.
Evan: If moral victories counted as much as actual ones, Campbell would be ranked a lot higher. He has passion but not talent on his team.
Shamus: His team stinks. His desire to bite kneecaps and his over-the-top, old-school style, however, is endearing to me.
Jimmy: At the end of the first half in the Eagles' blowout win in Detroit this season, for some insane reason, instead of kicking a field goal Campbell decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Eagles' 22 yard line with 13 seconds to play. They didn't get it, and the Lions turned it over on downs. But what exactly was the reward? If the Lions had converted that, then what? They'd kick a slightly closer field goal?
If I'm being completely honest, that game was my only real exposure to Campbell's coaching in 2021, but it really stood out as an egregiously moronic sequence.
Evan: You know how, it's kind of hard for No. 1 overall pick quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL because they are often drafted into god-awful situations? Daboll could be the head coach version of that going to New York.
Shamus: The fact that the Giants of all teams hired him gives me pause about how good he might be, but the development he put into place with Josh Allen in Buffalo is unprecedented. I'm higher on him than Evan and Jimmy clearly. I thought the Eagles should have pursued him last offseason before they hired Sirianni.
Jimmy: I see some "Peter principle" potential here.
Evan: The NFC South will be wide open next season. Maybe Allen will be the rookie who makes a surprise playoff run in 2022 (assuming he finds a QB)?
Shamus: Allen has had the Saints as one of the game's elite defenses the last few seasons. If he was a first-time head coach, rather than someone who went 8-28 with the Raiders from 2012-2014, I might have him higher.
Evan: I have no opinion here, aside from his name sounding like a key figure in the battle for the Alamo.
Shamus: It remains to be seen what's in store for all of these new head coaches, but I found one noteworthy tidbit when looking deeper into Hackett's pass. When he was the Jaguars' offensive coordinator in 2017, the year Jacksonville reached the AFC Championship Game, he had an offense with Blake Bortles as its quarterback fifth in the league in points and sixth in yards.
Shamus: Nothing personal against the guy having him low. He's a big TBD for me though.
Jimmy: Literally anything is a step up from Matt Nagy.
Evan: The Falcons would probably be wise to tank and start the rebuild next year. That's not a good place to be when you want to keep your head coaching gig.
Shamus: When Sirianni looked lost with the Eagles during the middle of last season, I thought back to how he thoroughly dominated Smith in their respective NFL head coaching debuts in Week 1. I'd imagine Smith's gone come 2023.
Evan: I really like Matt Rhule. I am a Temple grad and loved him in Philly. I had him higher. I guess Shamus and Jimmy really hate him.
Shamus: I'd rather have fired Rhule and promoted Joe Brady to head coach during Carolina's rough 2021 campaign. I'm not sure he will make it through the entire 2022 season.
Jimmy: Rhule hasn't been good as coach in the NFL so far, but it's been his roster decisions that have been even worse. In case you forgot, the Panthers traded away the following to get Sam Darnold last offseason:
Oh, and because the Panthers exercised Darnold's fifth-year option last offseason after making that trade, he still has a fully guaranteed $18,585,000 coming to him from the Panthers in 2022.
Imagine being Rhule (who has final say on roster decisions) and looking at the Panthers' crap roster and thinking, "We're just a sub-mediocre quarterback away from really making some noise. Let's trade three picks for Sam Darnold and guarantee him a boatload of money." Was there a worse offseason acquisition in the NFL?
Beyond the insane decision to trade for Darnold, the Panthers also traded picks for cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and Stephon Gilmore, followed by the signing of Cam Newton for their stretch run. As a result, they don't have second- or third-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. This is why you don't give head coaches final say, by the way. (See: Chip Kelly's drunken 2015 spending spree.)
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