The death of Chuck Noll put an end to one of the greatest coaches in sports history. In honor of his memory, who rank as the best NFL coaches of the present?
#10 – John Fox – Denver Broncos
Very few head coaches can make the boast John Fox can which is he’s led two different franchises to the Super Bowl. He did so for the Carolina Panthers in 2003 and again for the Denver Broncos last season. Unfortunately not winning either of them drops him down the list but his teams have collect five division titles and a 107-85 record.
#9 – Andy Reid – Kansas City Chiefs
The mark of a truly great coach is consistent excellence and Andy Reid featured that for over a decade with the Philadelphia Eagles. In total he reached five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl there, winning six division titles. Like Fox though he is down on the list for not getting the ring but his recent revival of the Kansas City Chiefs is another feather is his cap.
#8 – Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers
Some will say he did the job with a team that predecessor Bill Cowher built but Mike Tomlin built his own legacy with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won the title in 2008 and reached the Super Bowl again in 2010. He has never posted a losing record as a head coach but two-straight seasons missing the playoffs has tarnished what was an impressive body of work.
#7 – Jim Harbaugh – San Francisco 49ers
This is a major surprise since Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have a ring like Tomlin but it’s fair to say the success he’s had in three seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers is unmistakable. His team has played in three-straight NFC championship games and came seconds away from winning the Super Bowl in 2012. His team has never lost more than four games in a regular season. That speaks volumes about his consistency.
#6 – Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks
Fittingly it is a ring that vaults Harbaugh’s greatest rival, Pete Carroll ahead of him. The Seattle Seahawks head coach crowned his triumphant return to the NFL by blowing away Denver in the Super Bowl. His style is proven and his coaching techniques are celebrated. There is no reason to think his success will end anytime soon.
#5 – John Harbaugh – Baltimore Ravens
Longevity is what raises John Harbaugh to #5 on this NFL countdown. Up until last season the Baltimore Ravens had never finished a season out of the playoffs under him. His 9-4 record in January is among the best in the league and he culminated one of the greatest tales of triumph over adversity when his team won the championship in 2012.
#4 – Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers
Surviving the Brett Favre soap opera alone should heap praise on Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. Beyond that though he more than most coaches deserves credit for his ability to handle frequent shifts at the quarterback position. Going from Favre to Aaron Rodgers was a tough call and then maximizing Matt Flynn when Rodgers got hurt. McCarthy has his ring and hasn’t lost a division title since 2010.
#3 – Tom Coughlin – New York Giants
Most people only know him as head coach of the New York Giants, but Tom Coughlin has a record of success dating all the way back to the 1990s when he put the Jacksonville Jaguars on the map. The expansion franchise reached the playoffs four times during his tenure and two AFC title games. Still it is his time in the Big Apple that puts him at #3 where he made five playoff appearances and won two Lombardi trophies. If not for missing the playoffs four of the past five seasons, he would be higher.
#2 – Sean Payton – New Orleans Saints
NFL fans didn’t know how much Sean Payton meant to the New Orleans Saints until he returned in 2013 from a year-long suspension due to BountyGate. He took over a team that had gone 7-9 the previous season and fielded perhaps the worst defense ever. Payton’s changes were swift and dramatic. The result? New Orleans went 11-5, won a playoff game and fielded the 4th best defense in the league. In seven seasons under Payton, the Saints have missed the playoffs just twice. Their Super Bowl victory in 2009 remains one of the most celebrated sports triumphs in history.
#1 – Bill Belichick – New England Patriots
Year after year, season after season, and challenger after challenger nothing has altered the course of the New England Patriots from being a perennial contender. That is the Bill Belichick effect. Never mind the fact he has three rings, putting him ahead of the entire active field, but his remarkable consistency for over a decade is something almost no other coach has matched. In total Belichick has won three Super Bowls, played in five, reached eight conference championships, won 11 division titles and holds a 163-61 record in the regular season. That is a .728 winning percentage, trailing only John Madden and Vince Lombardi for the best ever.