With so much emphasis on players when previewing the NFL season, we thought it’d be pertinent to see the 2023 NFL head coaches ranked as part of our preseason preparations.
More times than not, it’s one of the top coaches in the NFL who ends up lifting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. After all, the talent in the NFL is so widespread that the best football head coaches currently end up making the difference in the end.
Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches Ahead of the 2023 Season
Who is the best NFL head coach right now? There is certainly no shortage of great candidates for that title. That’s why we wanted to create a list of the 2023 NFL head coaches ranked from 32 down to one.
Taking into account all of the established veterans, as well as the first-time head coaches, here is our ranking of all 32 NFL head coaches heading into the 2023 season.
32. Jonathan Gannon
After two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Eagles, Jonathan Gannon landed a head coaching job with the Cardinals. Oddly enough, Gannon was criticized for the play of his defense in the Super Bowl.
Of course, that game was after Gannon interviewed with the Cardinals, leading many to think he was distracted heading into the Super Bowl. All of that aside, Gannon has just two years of experience as a coordinator. He’s also stepping into a situation in which the Cardinals are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season.
31. DeMeco Ryans
As a player, DeMeco Ryans has an impressive resume. He was Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 and a two-time Pro Bowler during his 10-year career. Of course, he’s only been a coach since 2017 and has just two years of experience as a defensive coordinator.
In fairness, he coordinated a San Francisco defense that was one of the best in the league last year. The Texans are hoping that a young coach like Ryans can help them to rebuild sooner rather than later. With a six-year contract, Houston is giving him some slack, especially with Ryans being the team’s third coach in as many seasons. But he obviously has a lot to prove as a coach and comes into a tough situation.
30. Matt Eberflus
In his debut as a head coach last year, Matt Eberflus went 3-14. In his defense, he didn’t have much to work with and expectations were quite low.
Then again, the Bears started the season 2-1, including a Week 1 upset over the 49ers. With a 10-game losing streak to end the 2022 season, Eberflus is lucky to be ranked ahead of some of the first-year head coaches in the NFL.
29. Shane Steichen
After helping to develop Jalen Hurts over the last two seasons, Shane Steichen accepted the task of turning the Colts around.
Keep in mind that Steichen was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers in 2020, helping to groom Justin Herbert early in his career. His track record is certainly impressive. But he’s only 38 and has taken on a difficult challenge in Indianapolis.
28. Dennis Allen
Despite having a lot of success as an assistant and coordinator in the league, Dennis Allen has been a failure when given a chance to be a head coach. He was just 8-28 with the Raiders before getting fired early in his third season in Oakland. But after some good years as the defensive coordinator in New Orleans, Allen got a second chance last season, going 7-10 in 2022.
If you’ve done the math, Allen’s record as a head coach is 15-38, a .283 winning percentage. Some people are just better assistants than they are head coaches. If Allen can’t turn things around this season with Derek Carr at quarterback, it might be time to accept that he belongs in that category.
27. Robert Saleh
The 2023 season will be a huge test for Robert Saleh because the Jets have high expectations heading into the season. Also, he’s gone 11-23 over his first two seasons, so after going 7-10 last season, the Jets need to take a big step forward if Saleh hopes to remain away from the hot seat.
The good news is that Saleh coordinated some great defenses during his time with the 49ers. If he can do the same for the Jets in 2023, it’ll serve as a strong foundation that can help Aaron Rodgers succeed during his first year in New York.
26. Josh McDaniels
When he’s been an offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels has always been one of the most sought-after people for head coaching vacancies. But as a head coach, he’s never delivered.
That’s why on our list of 2023 NFL head coaches ranked, he’s far closer to the bottom than the top. In his first season with the Raiders, he took a team that made the playoffs the previous year and went 6-11. The Raiders lost four games that they led by at least 13 points, which doesn’t reflect well on McDaniels. Heading into 2023, his all-time record as a head coach is 17-28, giving him a lot to prove.
25. Todd Bowles
For a head coach who took his team to the playoffs and won a division title last year, Todd Bowles isn’t held in high esteem. After all, Tom Brady was his quarterback last year, yet Bowles and the Bucs finished with a losing record.
Bowles also won five games or less in three of his four seasons as head coach of the Jets last decade. He finds himself in a rather precarious position heading into next season, especially with a 34-50 all-time record as a head coach.
24. Arthur Smith
There’s not much to be said about Arthur Smith after a pair of 7-10 teams in Atlanta. Even if he had a couple of good years as the offensive coordinator of the Titans, his strategy in that role was to just give the ball to Derrick Henry.
Obviously, that’s been hard to replicate with the Falcons, especially with multiple starting quarterbacks over the past two seasons. To his credit, the Falcons could have been much worse than 7-10 last season. However, Smith surely has to find a way to rise above mediocrity heading into his third season.
23. Kevin Stefanski
Compared to some of Cleveland’s other head coaches over the last decade or so, Kevin Stefanski might as well be a deity. He brought the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 and nearly upset the Chiefs to reach the AFC Championship Game.
On the other hand, the Browns are just 15-19 over the past two seasons and finished last in the AFC North last season. For the Browns this century, Stefanski might belong on Mount Rushmore. But compared to the best football head coaches currently, Stefasnki doesn’t hold much water.
22. Brandon Staley
Over his two years as coach of the Chargers, Brandon Staley has started to make some progress. He came with a strong track record as an assistant in the years before getting the job, so he can still be considered a young coach who’s on the rise. However, big games have been a problem for Staley.
In 2021, the Chargers lost a win-or-go-home game against the Raiders in the final week of the regular season. A year ago, the Chargers blew a huge lead in the playoffs against the Jaguars. Those two games are surely black marks for Staley’s career and reasons to be skeptical about him.
21. Mike McDaniel
Even with just one season as a coordinator, Mike McDaniel had an impressive rookie season as a head coach in 2022. Despite not having a healthy quarterback all season, he led the Dolphins to a 9-8 record and a playoff berth. But injured quarterback or not, a five-game losing streak in December and January is hard to swallow.
On the other hand, McDaniel has shown signs of being one of the smartest young coaches in the league, perhaps giving him a bright future.
20. Frank Reich
With less than five full seasons as a head coach under his belt, it’s hard to know what to make of Frank Reich. He has a 40-33-1 career record, although that record would have been much worse had the Colts kept him until the end of last season.
He’s never won a division title and won just one playoff game in two trips. That’s not to say other coaches could have done better in Indianapolis. But Reich certainly isn’t among the elite head coaches in the NFL.
19. Dan Campbell
Based on the level of difficulty, Dan Campbell certainly belongs high on a list of NFL head coaches. Nobody gave the Lions much of a chance after going 3-13-1 in 2021. But Campbell got them turned around quickly, going 9-8 last year and nearly making the playoffs in the process.
His career record still leaves a lot to be desired. But Campbell’s teams in Detroit have always played hard and he’s in the process of potentially doing something special.
18. Brian Daboll
Even those high on Brian Daboll probably didn’t think he’d lead the Giants to the playoffs in his first season, much less a playoff win. Keep in mind the G-Men averaged 4.4 wins per season over the five years before Daboll’s arrival, so a 9-7-1 record as a rookie head coach is impressive.
With a good encore in 2023, Daboll could be on the fast track to becoming one of the NFL’s top young head coaches.
17. Kevin O’Connell
As the offensive coordinator of the Rams in 2020, Kevin O’Connell helped Los Angeles win a Super Bowl. He also made a strong first impression during this first season as head coach of the Vikings, going 13-4.
Obviously, a home playoff loss to the Giants stings. But O’Connell still had one of the best seasons of any rookie head coach in NFL history. If he can get the best out of Kirk Cousins, O’Connell and the Vikings will be set up for another good season in 2023.
16. Ron Rivera
Unfortunately for Ron Rivera, his time in Washington hasn’t been as fruitful as his years in Carolina. He once led the Panthers to the playoffs four times in five seasons. However, he’s yet to lead Washington to a winning record despite going to the playoffs as a 7-9 NFC East winner in 2020.
To make matters worse, the rest of the NFC East seems to have passed the Commanders, giving Rivera a tall task in 2023. But with over a decade of head-coaching experience under his belt, don’t underestimate Riverboat Ron.
15. Mike Vrabel
Just two years ago, Mike Vrabel was the NFL Coach of the Year, guiding the Titans to a 12-5 record and a second straight division title. Granted, Tennessee has been the top team in the AFC South by default in recent years. But Vrabel nearly took the Titans to the Super Bowl in 2019.
Over five seasons, he’s 48-34, doing so mostly with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. With all due respect to Tannehill, that has to count for something, which is why Vrabel should be considered an above-average coach.
14. Zac Taylor
Not long ago, Zac Taylor was on the hot seat after going 6-25-1 over his first two seasons. But a healthy Joe Burrow, the arrival of Ja’Marr Chase, and a few other things have changed that.
Taylor is now viewed in a different light after back-to-back AFC Championship Games, including one win. It’s still a little unclear if it’s Taylor’s coaching or if he just has the right players. But 12-win seasons don’t happen by accident, so he deserves some of the credit for Cincinnati’s recent success.
13. Matt LaFleur
Despite a 47-19 record over his first four seasons as a head coach, Matt LaFleur faces his biggest test in 2023. After three straight 13-win seasons, the Packers went 8-9 and missed the playoffs last season.
Nevertheless, LaFleur has a more impressive resume than a lot of NFL coaches, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt heading into the 2023 season.
12. Nick Sirianni
After leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl last season, Nick Sirianni definitely climbed a few spots on the coaching hierarchy. Including the playoffs, he’s 25-13 over two seasons and has already turned two coordinators into head coaches.
Of course, it takes more than two seasons to make someone a great coach. But Sirianni has surely created a foundation for a great career as a head coach.
11. Mike McCarthy
It’s a little hard to understand why Mike McCarthy isn’t given more respect as a coach. In 16 seasons as a coach, he’s won six division titles and a Super Bowl while only having four losing seasons.
Despite a rough first season in Dallas when Dak Prescott only played five games, McCarthy has won 12 games in back-to-back seasons with the Cowboys. Even if he sometimes leaves more to be desired, it’s tough to argue with those results.
10. Sean McDermott
In six seasons, Sean McDermott has already done enough to be something of a legend in Buffalo. He broke the team’s epic playoff drought and has now brought the Bills to the playoffs five times in six seasons.
The Bills have also averaged 11.8 wins per season over the last four years, which isn’t too shabby either. Of course, he still needs to get the Bills over the hump by winning a Super Bowl. But it’s hard to complain about the level of success McDermott has found in Buffalo.
9. Doug Pederson
It’s possible that Doug Pederson is one of the most underrated coaches in the NFL. He won a Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017 but couldn’t survive one bad season a few years later.
However, he quickly turned Jacksonville around during his first season with the Jags, leading them to a 9-8 record, a division title, and a shocking playoff win. Keep in mind that Pederson kept his team mentally in the season despite being 3-7 heading into their bye week. That’s the sign of a good coach.
Pederson also deserves some credit for the progress Trevor Lawrence made in his second season, which also bodes well for Jacksonville’s chances in 2023.
8. Sean Payton
There will be a lot of eyes on Sean Payton as he makes his return to the NFL in 2023. Obviously, the memory of the bounty scandal hangs over his career a little. But his record of 152-89 with New Orleans speaks for itself.
Payton took the Saints to the playoffs in nine of his 15 seasons and never had a record worse than 7-9. That’s an impressive amount of consistency over an extended period. The only question is whether he can have similar success with Russell Wilson or if he just had the fortune to hitch his wagon to Drew Brees.
7. John Harbaugh
Let’s face it, John Harbaugh hasn’t had an easy time over the last couple of years with Lamar Jackson’s injuries and contract negotiations. But he’s still managed to take the Ravens to the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.
Even with a couple of losing seasons during his tenure, Harbaugh has a Super Bowl win and a winning record in the playoffs. He’s one of those coaches who’s easy to take for granted. But when looking at the 2023 NFL head coaches ranked, Harbaugh needs to be near the top.
6. Kyle Shanahan
Among NFL coaches who haven’t won a Super Bowl, Kyle Shanahan surely ranks as the best. After a couple of rough seasons early in his tenure, he’s taken the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game three times in the last four years thanks to a 6-3 playoff record.
He’s won 13 games during the regular season twice in the last four seasons as well. Shanahan, the son of a legendary coach, has done this while starting six different quarterbacks in six years and without a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Even though Jimmy Garoppolo has provided some stability, he’s only started more than 10 games for the 49ers twice in the last six years. San Fransisco’s sustained success during that time is a testament to Shanahan’s coaching, which is why he’s one of the NFL’s best right now.
5. Sean McVay
Surely, Sean McVay deserves a pass for last season. It’s not easy to repeat as Super Bowl champs, and McVay shouldn’t be blamed for all of the injuries the Rams had in 2022. It’s crazy to think that the Rams even considered firing him.
If you erase last season, McVay is 55-26 with a 7-3 postseason record. He’s the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl and is still among the youngest head coaches in the league. Plus, he’s had five assistants become head coaches in the last four years. In other words, it’d be foolish to bet against McVay bouncing back from a poor 2022 season.
4. Pete Carroll
There’s no way Pete Carroll gets nearly as much credit as he deserves. In his 13 seasons with the Seahawks, he’s had just two losing seasons and been to the playoffs 10 times. Just a year ago, he turned the Seahawks into one of the biggest surprises in the league.
There aren’t a lot of coaches who can get to the playoffs with Geno Smith and a mediocre defense the way Carroll did last year. On top of that, his consistency over the long run has been impressive to watch, which is why he still belongs among the best coaches in the league.
3. Mike Tomlin
After 16 seasons, one has to wonder if Mike Tomlin’s tenure with the Steelers is approaching its end. Pittsburgh hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016, which is a long time for a franchise with such a rich tradition.
On the other hand, the Steelers have never finished with a losing record under Tomlin’s watch. It’s also worth pointing out that if the Steelers let him go, teams would be lining up to hire him. Even if his team isn’t one of the best, Tomlin is still one of the best coaches in the league.
2. Bill Belichick
When all is said and done, Bill Belichick is going to be one of the greatest head coaches in NFL history. As a head coach, he’s been to the Super Bowl nine times, winning six of those nine games.
He also owns the NFL record for 31 playoff wins. His track record alone puts him higher than virtually every other coach in the league. Obviously, two losing seasons in the past three years during the post-Brady era have caused his reputation to take a little bit of a hit.
But the Patriots haven’t exactly had elite talent in recent years and Belichick still has them in the playoff hunt, so he’s still one of the top coaches in the NFL.
1. Andy Reid
In a historical sense, Belichick is still the top active coach, but in terms of the best football head coaches currently, Andy Reid belongs at the top.
Granted, his job is a little easier because he has Patrick Mahomes. But he’s still won two of the last four Super Bowls, doing so last season with a hobbled Mahomes late in the playoffs. He’s also had an average defense to work with throughout his time in Kansas City, which helps to balance out the parts of his job that are easier because of Mahomes.
There’s also the matter of nine division titles during his 10 years with the Chiefs and five straight trips to the AFC Championship Game, including three Super Bowl appearances. At the moment, nobody is coaching his team better than Reid.