Does Andy Reid have a case to be ranked No. 1 among NFL coaches heading into the 2020 season?
Reid last year finally won a Super Bowl as a head coach with the Chiefs, a team that is favored to go back-to-back. Reid finally joined the list of active Super Bowl-winning coaches, a group that includes Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Doug Pederson, Pete Carroll and Jon Gruden.
Five teams have new coaches this season, and Sporting News sought to rank those coaches 1-32. We’re starting in a familiar place.
Bill Belichick, Patriots
Last year: 1
Record: 273-127, .683
Playoffs: 31-12, .721
You can make a case for Reid, but Belichick is still No. 1. Heis inching toward the 300-win club with Don Shula (328) and George Halas (318), but the new challenge is obvious. Tom Brady is gone to Tampa Bay, and Belichick is working with a new quarterback after being bounced inthe AFC wild-card round last season.The Patriots have won the AFC East in11 straight seasons. Will that streak end?
All it takes is one Super Bowl run. Reid finally earned that appreciation by leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl victory last year, pushinghis playoff record above .500 in the process. Only five NFL coaches have more postseason wins, and Reid can tie Chuck Noll (16) with the next one. Reid, 62, might just be hitting his coaching prime.
Payton maintains his spot at No. 3 in the rankings. New Orleans has won three straight NFC Southtitles with a 37-11regular-seasonrecord the last three seasons, but the Saints have missed some golden opportunities to get back to the Super Bowl. Payton and Drew Brees get another chance in 2020.
Harbaugh has just one losing season in 12 yearswith the Ravens.Heis building the franchise around Lamar Jackson, and that innovation has led to a 24-8 record in the regular season and consecutive AFC North championships. The Ravens have gone one-and-done in the playoffs the last two years, however, and that might increase the pressurefor2020.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks
Carroll maintains his spot in the top five, and he has led Seattle to double-digit win seasons in seven of the last eight years. The Seahawks are a steady championship contender in the NFC West, and Carroll has guided that evolution with Russell Wilson. He isone of three NFC West coaches ranked in the top 10.
Last year: 8
Playoffs: 8-7, .533
There are two ways to look at Tomlin. On one hand, he nearly took Pittsburgh to the playoffs last season with the quarterback combination of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. On the other hand, the Steelers are 17-14-1 over the last two seasons andhave not missed the playoffs in three straight seasons since 1998-2000.This is an importantyear in Pittsburgh.
Last year: 7
Record: 38-26, .594
Playoffs: 4-2, .667
Pederson hasn’t slowed down since the Super Bowl victory. The Eagles have made three straight playoff appearances, and they won the NFC East last season for the second time in three years. Philadelphia made some risky picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the window for another Super Bowl run is open. Can Carson Wentz lead the way?
Shanahan would be ranked higher had the 49ers closed the deal in the Super Bowl. He hasflipped San Francisco from a pretender to a championship-caliber team in just three seasons, and San Franciscohas enough depth on both sides of the ball to stay atop the NFC. Shanahan, 40, edges our next young coach as a result.
We had McVay ranked No. 2 last year, and this is the market correction for now. Our top seven coaches have Super Bowl rings, and Shanahan won the NFC West last season. The Rams, meanwhile slipped to nine wins and missed the playoffs. McVay will have to re-establish Los Angeles in the toughest division in football to get back into our top five.
Matt LaFleur, Packers
Last year: 21
Record: 13-3, .813
Playoffs: 1-1, .500
LaFleur guided the Packers back to the top of the NFC North last season, and Green Bay made a trip to the NFC championship game before being outclassed by the 49ers. LaFleur is another one of the NFL’s young gun coaches, but how he handles the Aaron Rodgers-Jordan Love dynamic over the next fewseasonscould define his coaching future.
Mike McCarthy, Cowboys
Last year: NR
Record: 125-77-2, .619
Playoffs: 10-8, .556
McCarthy is back after a one-year hiatus, and he inherits a talented roster in Dallas around Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper. McCarthy is a solid coach whose success in Green Bay was overshadowed by the rocky relationship with Rodgers. Don’t be surprised ifMcCarthytakes advantage of hissecond chance.
Last year: 13
Record: 57-38-1, .600
Playoffs: 2-3, .400
Zimmer has alternated playoff appearances the last five seasons, but the Vikings have been .500 or better every year in that stretch.He put together a masterful game plan in the upset of the Saints in last year’sNFC wild-card round.Zimmer continues to lead a tough defensive team, and the offenseopened uplast season. Kevin Stefanski is gone,but Minnesota will be right back in the NFC North race with the Packers and Bears.
Last year: 19
Record: 18-14, .563
Playoffs: 2-1, .667
Vrabel is earning a reputation as a player’s coach, and after back-to-back nine-win seasons, it’s easy to see why. The Titans played with a physical edge through a playoff run that reached the AFC championship game. Vrabel might not generate as many headlines as some of the other 40-something coaches in the league, but he isproducing results.
Bruce Arians, Buccaneers
Last year: 15
Arians returned to coaching last season, and Tampa Bay finished 7-9. The franchise changes, however, with the arrival of Tom Brady.Expectations are higher in Tampa Bay now, and Arians, who turns 68 in October, will be expected to lead apostseason run.
Record: 76-63-1, .547
Playoffs: 3-4, .429
Rivera’s tenure in Carolina came to an end, but he quickly found work in Washington, whichshould benefit from his old-school approach. Riveraturned the Panthers from one of the league’s worst teams into a playoffregular. Can he do the same in D.C.?
Anthony Lynn, Chargers
Last year: 9
Record: 26-23, .531
Playoffs: 1-1, .500
The Chargers suffered through an injury-riddled 2019 season and dropped to 5-11. Now life after Philip Rivers begins. The Chargersstill have plenty oftalent, and Lynn is the right coach to unlock another postseason run.Expect Los Angeles to bounce back.
Last year: 17
Record: 52-44, .542
Playoffs: 2-4. .333
O’Brienis in the same spot as last year, whichis a reflection ofthe good and bad with his tenure. Houston did reach the AFC divisional playoffs last season and has won the AFC Souththe last two years with a combined record of 21-11. O’Brien, however, has made some questionable managementmoves. The pressure to break through is mounting.
The Bears slipped down the NFC North standings after Nagy’s opening act, but the team still finished .500. The quarterback competition between NickFolesand Mitchell Trubisky is the turning point for Nagy’s third season. He should be able to make the move back up the ranking.
Sean McDermott, Bills
McDermott led the Bills to the postseason in two of the last three seasons,an accomplishment that should earn him time to continue to buildaround Josh Allen at quarterback. With Tom Brady gone from New England, Buffalo is being picked by some to take over the AFC East. That would bump McDermott up this list for 2021.
Gruden is the last Super Bowl-winning coach on this list. The Raiders improved their win total by three in 2019, and Gruden and general manager MikeMayockteamed to create a more talented roster that is ready for the move to Las Vegas.The Raiders have had one winning season in the last 17 years.Gruden has this team a little closer.
Playoffs: 1-1, .500
The Colts’season changed with Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement during the preseason, and Reich did his best in a 7-9 season thatwas better than it looked. Indianapolis grabbed Philip Rivers this offseason, and Reich should be able to work with what could be a Super Bowl sleeper team in 2020.Expect Reich to creep back toward the top 10 as a result.
This is a big year for Quinn, who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 2016. Atlanta is 24-24 since, and after back-to-back losing seasons, there is a little more pressure in the NFC South. Quinn will see Tom Brady twice this season, and that’s going to bring back some bad memories.
Doug Marrone, Jaguars
Last year: 27
Record: 39-46, .459
Playoffs: 2-1, .667
The Jaguars have slipped the last two seasons after making arun to the AFC championship game. Marrone has a 22-28 record since taking over, but it’s been more difficult to keep pace with the other teams inthe AFC South.
Last year: 24
Record: 30-34, .469
The Jets finished 7-9 in Gase’s first season, buta 6-2 record in the second half of the yearshowed promise around the coachand quarterback Sam Darnold. Gase’s last teams have hovered around .500, and there is the chance to break through in the AFC East.
Last year: 28
Record: 7-9, .438
Fangio waited a long time forhis first NFL head coaching opportunity, and Denver closed strong in his first season by winning four of its last five games. Drew Lock appears to be the quarterback of the future, and Fangio’s background as a defensive coordinator could lead to a turnaround.
Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals
Last year: 32
Record: 5-10-1, .333
Kingsbury was the gamble of last offseason’s coaching hires, but the Cardinals paired the former Texas Tech coach with No. 1 pick Kyler Murray. A six-game losing streak doomed Kingsbury’s first year,but the Cardinals drafted well in 2020 and should be improved. This experiment needs more time.
Last year: 27
Record: 9-22-1, .290
Patricia has endured a rough two seasons in Detroit, but the Lions drafted well and at least have some momentum heading into his third year.The Lions lost six division games by an average offewerthan seven points per game last year, but close doesn’t cut it.
Brian Flores, Dolphins
Last year: 30
Record: 5-11, .313
Flores is yet another former Belichick assistant, and Miami struggled on offense in his first season. The good news:First-round pick TuaTagovailoagives the Dolphins the franchise quarterback they’ve been seeking.Theyshould progress in Flores’ second season.
Last year: 31
Record: 2-14, .125
The Bengals were 2-14 in Taylor’s first season. The former McVay assistant, however, should benefit from more free-agency spending and the addition of No. 1 pick Joe Burrow,who has enough skill-position talent around him to get Cincinnati’s offense going again. Consider Taylor’s first season a mulligan.
Judge rose through the coaching ranks through specialteamsstints at Alabama and with thePatriots,so he haslearned from two of the best in NickSabanand Belichick. We’ll see how he puts those lessons to work in one of the toughest NFL markets.
Kevin Stefanski, Browns
The Browns were a disaster under Freddie Kitchens last season, and Stefanski was brought in to bring balance to a talented roster thatis capable of makinga playoff run. Stefanski’s influence on third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield will be the key to a real turnaround in Cleveland.
The Panthers made asurprise hire by going with Rhule, who beat expectations at the college level with Temple and Baylor. Rhule is a high-energy coach and could be the right hire at the right time for the Panthers, but he will have to prove it in one of the league’stoughest divisions. There will be growing pains.