NFL head coaches are always surrounded by lofty expectations. It comes with the job. They are hired with one goal in mind: win championships.
That’s just the way it is. They wouldn’t be taking those jobs if they didn’t understand that reality. At the same time, certain coaches are given even higher ceilings to meet. Either it’s because of their own reputations or more often due to the great rosters they inherit or construct. Yet for whatever reason many of these guys will have some success but clearly never are able to get the most out of their teams.
It’s something that frustrates fans to no end. If there’s one thing people hate besides outright losers? It’s an underachiever. Every franchise has had them in their history. So which head coaches fit that bill the best?
Charley Winner (Arizona Cardinals)
He certainly didn’t live up to his family name. Keep this in mind when thinking about defending Charley Winner during his five seasons as Cardinals head coach. He had three Hall of Fame players on his roster at one point and failed to make the playoffs. It’s true. By 1969 the Cardinals had secured defensive backs Larry Wilson and Roger Wehrli along with tight end Jackie Smith. All would end up in Canton and the best he managed with them is an 8-5-1 season in 1970.
It’s not like he was in a loaded division either. For most of his time there, Winner only had to deal with the post-Paul Brown Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers before either team was any good. There just aren’t any excuses available to explain away why that team failed to win more games. It certainly did after he left when Don Coryell took over a few years later, but by then it was too late.