Power Rankings: Rating each team’s greatest coach in franchise historyBy cover32 StaffJune 17, 2014 11:14 pm EDT ??This past weekend, Chuck Noll – the legendary coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who won four Super Bowl championships during his tenure with the team – passed away at the age of 82. In honor of the all-time great, NFL Network spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday running programming that focused on Noll’s title-winning teams.In watching shows like America’s Game, it was impossible not to be struck by the way in which the head coach turned a one-time doormat into what is arguably the greatest franchise in league history. He transformed pro football in the Steel City.That puts Noll atop the list of Steelers head coaches, although that group is stacked with other Super Bowl winners. Which got the editors at cover32 thinking about who is the greatest coach in the history of each franchise.But that’s just step one in the process. Once the greatest coach was determined, it was time to rank each of the coaches who were selected from 1-32.The results make up this week’s Power Rankings: The greatest coaches in each franchise’s history:***1. Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers) – Curly Lambeau won more games (209 to 89) and more titles (six to five), but one coach has the stadium named after him while the other one has his name etched on the NFL’s championship trophy every year. Lombardi won five NFL titles, including the first two Super Bowls, during a seven-year stretch; he’s the epitome of championship football.2. Bill Walsh (San Francisco 49ers) – Yes, George Seifert has a gaudy .766 winning percentage during his eight years at the helm in San Francisco, a stretch that included a pair of Super Bowl titles, but it was Walsh who laid the groundwork for his success. One of the greatest offensive minds in league history, Walsh turned a losing franchise into a dynasty, winning three championships of his own in the ’80s.3. Paul Brown (Cleveland Browns) – Why are Browns fans frustrated? Because the greatest coach in franchise history retired 52 years ago, only to be followed by 17 men who couldn’t escape his legend. During his 17 years at the helm in Cleveland, Brown posted a .767 winning percentage, won four AAFC titles, captured three NFL championships and named the franchise after himself. That’s pretty darn good.4. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) – People may not like Belichick’s tactics, but it’s impossible to argue with the results. During his time in New England, the Patriots have won 11 AFC East titles in 14 seasons, made five Super Bowl appearances and hoisted three Lombardi Trophies; that’s a staggering level of success. And Belichick isn’t done yet, as the book is still being written.5. Tom Landry (Dallas Cowboys) – Jimmy Johnson gets some serious consideration for this spot, given that he won two Super Bowls in the 1990s with the Cowboys and left a team in place that won another two years after he left. But Landry’s résumé is just too good; the legendary coach won 250 games during his time in Dallas, led the team to five Super Bowls and won two titles; longevity wins out on this one.6. Don Shula (Miami Dolphins) – The accolades for Shula are astounding, as his résumé is stacked with accomplished, most of which occurred during his time in south Florida. He’s the NFL’s all-time winningest coach with 347 victories, 257 of which came in Miami. He also led the Dolphins to 12 AFC East titles, five Super Bowl appearances and two NFL championships.7. George Halas (Chicago Bears) – It’s like comparing apples and oranges, trying to measure one of the founders of the league (Halas) against the other great coach in Bears history (Mike Ditka); they simply had the job in eras that were too vastly different. But Halas won six NFL championships across his four stints as the team’s head coach and he helped create the game; that’s almost impossible to beat.8. Chuck Noll (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Winning four Super Bowl titles puts Noll in an elite group, as he’s the only head coach in NFL history to accomplish that feat. Considering he did it in a six-year span, after taking over one of the most-hapless franchises in the league just five years before the first title, it’s evident that he was one of the greatest coaches in the history of the league.9. Joe Gibbs (Washington Redskins) – Gibbs is underappreciated in terms of the greatest coaches in NFL history, especially for a guy who won three Super Bowls; his name rarely comes up in conversations about the all-time best, but it should. Not only did he win three titles, but each one was captured with a different starting quarterback; he never had a Hall-of-Fame signal caller to ride.10. Bill Parcells (New York Giants) – Given that the team’s early success seemed to be with a different coach each time (Earl Potteiger, Steve Owen, etc.), this ultimately came down to two guys who won a pair of Super Bowls with the G-Men – Parcells and Tom Coughlin. Ultimately, Parcells won out because his first championship team (1986) was dominant. The other three Super Bowl winners weren’t.11. John Madden (Oakland Raiders) – An entire generation knows Madden only for his colorful work in the broadcast booth, while yet another simply is aware of him as the guy from the video games. But before any of that, he was a great coach for a decade with the Raiders. In 10 years, his Oakland teams made eight playoff appearance, won seven division titles, played in two Super Bowls and won a title.12. Mike Shanahan (Denver Broncos) – Red Miller has the highest winning percentage (.645) in franchise history. Dan Reeves led the Broncos to three Super Bowl appearances in the 1980s. But ultimately, it was Shanahan who got them over the hump, bringing the first championship in franchise history to Denver in 1997, something he was able to repeat the next year.13. Hank Stram (Kansas City Chiefs) – There was a lot of support for Marty Schottenheimer in this spot, as he won three division titles and made seven playoff appearances during his decade in Kansas City. But ultimately, Stram’s ability to win the big game – two AFL titles and one Super Bowl during his time with the Texans/Chiefs – put the Hall of Fame coach at the top of the list.14. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) – Considering that two of the three coaches in franchise history – Harbaugh and Brian Billick – have won Super Bowl titles, this was essentially a coin flip. But Harbaugh ultimately got the nod because of the fact that he made the playoffs in each of his first five seasons as head coach and has never had a losing season (Billick had two).15. Sid Gillman (San Diego Chargers) – Don Coryell helped change the game with his revolutionary passing attack, but he couldn’t get to a Super Bowl. Bobby Ross got the Chargers to their only appearance in the big game, but couldn’t win a title. And Marty Schottenheimer won a lot of games, but flopped in the playoffs. Thus, the coach who got to five AFL title matches and won one gets the top spot in San Diego.16. Marv Levy (Buffalo Bills) – After a less-than-successful stint in Kanas City, people wondered why Ralph Wilson tabbed the then-61-year-old Levy to take over the Bills in 1986. But he proved the doubters wrong, leading Buffalo to the playoffs eight times during his 12-year career with the team. But he earned a spot in Canton because he guided the franchise to a record four consecutive Super Bowls.17. Bud Grant (Minnesota Vikings) – Much like Marv Levy in Buffalo, Grant is saddled with the fact that his Vikings teams lost all four Super Bowls in which they appeared. But that doesn’t diminish from the accomplishment of getting there, something Grant did in just his third season after taking over in Minnesota. A lifetime .635 winning percentage is pretty darn impressive, too.18. Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts) – Don Shula certainly got some consideration for this spot, having gone 71-23 during his time with the franchise in Baltimore. And Don McCafferty won Super Bowl V, but that was mostly with Shula’s team. So Dungy gets the nod for winning the most games in franchise history (85), having the highest winning percentage of any Colts coach (.759) and winning a Super Bowl.19. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints) – Jim Mora gets an honorable mention for proving that a head coach could win in New Orleans, something that legends like Bum Phillips and Hank Stram couldn’t do. But in the end, Payton’s ability to win big (.652 lifetime winning percentage and a Super Bowl title) made this a runaway decision. Plus, there’s plenty of chances for Payton to accomplish even more.20. Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles) – Greasy Neale won two championships in the late 1940s, something Buck Shaw did again in 1960, and Dick Vermeil got the Eagles to their first Super Bowl. But none of those three were as accomplished in Philadelphia as Reid; he won 130 games, captured six NFC East titles, played in six NFC Championship Games (including five in a row) and reached a Super Bowl.21. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks) – Chuck Knox showed the Seahawks how to win, something they didn’t do much of prior to his arrival in 1983. And Mike Holmgren led the franchise to their first Super Bowl, where they lost to the Steelers. But it was Carroll, the high-energy coach who had only previously enjoyed success on the college level, who finally brought a championship to Seattle.22. Buddy Parker (Detroit Lions) – The list of 26 head coaches in Detroit history is fairly comical, to everyone but Lions fans; it’s a rundown of ineptitude for the most part. The fact that a guy who led the team from 1951-56 is still the best in franchise history shows how ugly it’s been in the Motor City. Parker coached his team to four NFL Championship Games, winning three, including Detroit’s last title (1957).23. Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – In perhaps the most-controversial decision on the list, Dungy edges the only coach to ever lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl title – Jon Gruden. But that’s for two reasons: One, Dungy had to transform the culture in Tampa, where the team had been losing for decades; two, Gruden essentially won with Dungy’s team, capturing a title in his first season.24. Bum Phillips (Tennessee Titans) – Another one of the toughest decisions on this list to make, Phillips edged out Jeff Fisher as to the top guy in the history of the Oilers/Titans. Fisher did lead the team to a Super Bowl, something Phillips couldn’t quite do in the 1970s. But those “Luv Ya Blue” teams that had the city of Houston rocking were special; a career .611 winning percentage ain’t bad, either.25. Bill Parcells (New York Jets) – Weeb Ewbank was in consideration, given that he led the Jets to their only Super Bowl appearance and championship; but his 71-77-6 career record just didn’t cut it. Parcells, on the other hand, has the highest winning percentage in franchise history at .604, which is staggering considering the team he took over. Two years after going 1-15, he had New York in the AFC title game.26. Tom Coughlin (Jacksonville Jaguars) – The first coach in a franchise’s history normally doesn’t fare very well; it’s just too difficult to build a team from scratch, as Coughlin had to do when he took over the expansion Jaguars prior to their inception in 1995. But the fiery coach avoided the standard pitfalls, going 68-60 during his eight seasons in Jacksonville and leading the Jags to the playoffs four times.27. John Fox (Carolina Panthers) – Only four coaches have led the Panthers since their inception in 1995, three of which have had some success. Dom Capers got them to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, while Ron Rivera is in the midst of building an NFC South contender. But Fox won 73 games during his nine years in Carolina and led them to their only Super Bowl appearance.28. George Allen (St. Louis Rams) – Chuck Knox has the highest winning percentage (.775) in franchise history, Ray Malavasi and Mike Martz led the team to the Super Bowl, and Adam Walsh, Joe Stydahar and Dick Vermeil led them to a title, but Allen was the most consistent coach in franchise history. He led them to a winning season in all five of his years in Los Angeles, going 49-17-4 with the club.29. Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals) – Given that he’s 0-5 all-time in the playoffs, many Bengals fans are starting to get restless with Lewis, who will be entering his 12th season as the head coach in Cincinnati. But since no other coach in franchise history led the team to the postseason more than twice (Forrest Gregg and Sam Wyche both did), Lewis was an easy selection.30. Dan Reeves (Atlanta Falcons) – Leeman Bennett got them to the playoffs for the first time. Jerry Glanville brought a swagger to franchise. And Mike Smith has led them to the postseason more times than any coach in franchise history. Yet ultimately, a head coach who has a losing record during his tenure in Atlanta (.454) gets the nod as Dan Reeves took the Falcons to their only Super Bowl.31. Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals) – For a team that dates back to 1920 and has seen a whopping total of 40 head coaches during their history, there isn’t much to choose from for this list. Yes, Jimmy Conzelman led them to back-to-back NFL title games in 1947 and ’48, but he’s no legend. So Whisenhunt was the choice, given that he took perhaps the worst franchise in NFL history to their first Super Bowl.32. Gary Kubiak (Houston Texans) – Given that the franchise has only been around since 2002, and just introduced their fourth head coach in team history this offseason, there wasn’t a lot to choose from for this list. But despite the way things ended, Kubiak did have a solid run in Houston. He finished below .500 (61-64) all-time, but he did lead the Texans to the playoffs for the first time ever.link
Gruden won with Dungys team, blah, blah, blah…Odd that Dungy could never win it with his own team, he had to go and win it with Moras team in Indy but oddly you never hear him walking onto a team that had Manning being held against St. Tony.I'm so sick of hearing that crap as a way to lessen what Gruden did, if somebody want to know him there's plenty of other stuff from 2003-2008 that can be used but "Dungys team" is just straight up stupidity, laziness or outright bias on the part of the person saying it.Sapp, Lynch, Brooks, Pittman, Dilger, McCardell, Oben, Jenkins, Jurevicius, Spires, Dudley, I'd love to hear it expalined how it was "Dungys team anyway when he added none of those guys (and more) to the roster during his time as coach.
A double standard for sure; I’d agree on Dungy here, as he built more of the team than Gruden. Gotta go with Shula over Dungy with the Colts (Baltimore). At least I’m consistant. ;D Too bad Chuck Knox got edged out; great coach often overlooked. Another was Tom Flores of the Raiders. Everyone loves Madden, but Flores was very good there too. And Buck Shaw of the Eagles, just like Lombardi, took over a last place team and in 3 years was hoisting the NFL championship trophy. And his was in 1960 AGAINST Lombardi, who'd taken over the last place Packers in 1959, and is the only playoff loss handed Lombardi. I like Andy Reid, but that one is a tough call...
Pretty much.I remember seeing a Colts game where Manning completely disregarded Dungys call and told the punt team to get off the field because they were going for it, the camera switched to Dungy and he that look of "But wait, I thought (mistakenly) that I was meant to be in charge."I think the only way you can give him credit for any type of real success is by saying he hired Kiffin, our D carried all those Bucs teams while Dungy was here and carried on after Tony left, right up until the day Monte said he was leaving, we became jokes to this day from that point on.Hell you can't even credit him with creating the Tampa 2 because the man himself says he took from Bud Carson & Chuck Noll.
23. Tony Dungy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – In perhaps the most-controversial decision on the list, Dungy edges the only coach to ever lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl title – Jon Gruden. But that’s for two reasons: One, Dungy had to transform the culture in Tampa, where the team had been losing for decades; two, Gruden essentially won with Dungy’s team, capturing a title in his first season.link
Lazy journalism at its finest!!!Gruden brought in key pieces to the offense that enabled us to win the SB...Joe Jurevicius, Kennan McCardell, Roman Oban, Michael Pittman and Ken Dilger just off the top of my head.Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks have both said on numerous occasions that Tony was never going to win a SB in Tampa...he held the defense to a higher standard and he was resented for that
And of course where the lines of responsibility for greatness get blury is between drafting future stars and developing them. Who is the “genius”, the one who picks the player (GM), or the one developing him (HC)? Or the one building a “good” team from the basement, or the one taking a “good” team that can’t win the big one, to Greatness by winning that elusive championship?
Tony for sure. Gruden gave me the best memory I’ll ever have as a Buccaneer fan, seeing the Bucs win the Lombardi, but Tony built this team into a power. He did it with class, respect and belief in his players and his abilities. I only hope we've recaptured some of that with Lovie.
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