The Harbaugh brothers have undoubtedly taken the NFL by storm. And not just this season.
The duo have a combined seven years as head coaches in football’s highest league and every single season they’ve brought their respective teams, not only a playoff appearance, but a postseason victory.
So, who’s the best current coach in the league? Right here we rank who the best of the bunch is based on their resume, current state of the team, and projected success. Onto the list:
1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots. Resume: 187–101 record, 18–8 playoff record, 11 playoff appearances, 5 conference championships, and 3 Super Bowl wins.
Hard to believe that Belichick’s first head coaching gig in Cleveland fizzled out after five seasons and just one postseason appearance. But 11 years ago, in his second season with the Patriots, he made the gutsy Brady-over-Bledsoe call and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. His trio of Super Bowl titles is topped only by Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll and though it’s been eight years since he last hoisted the trophy, the Patriots have missed the playoffs just once (2008) during that time.
2. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens. Resume: 54–26 record, 8–4 playoff record, 5 playoff appearances, 1 conference championship.
Yes, Harbaugh hasn’t won a Super Bowl (yet) like several coaches he’s listed above but if you were wanting a head coach today, he’s a logical number-two pick behind Belichick for several reasons. One, he’s one of the most intimidating coaches out there and clearly has his players’ attention. Two, he’s led the Ravens to a playoff win in each of his five seasons as coach after the previous regime had missed out on the postseason in three of the four seasons prior to his arrival. And three, he’s done it without an elite quarterback, though Joe Flacco is at least good.
3. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers. Resume: 63–33 record, 5–3 playoff record, 4 playoff appearances, 2 conference championships, 1 Super Bowl win.
Tomlin’s stock has dropped a bit after missing the playoffs this past season and seeing his team get ousted in the first round last season by Tebow and the Broncos. Part of that may be his team’s age though as Tomlin has clearly shown he knows how to win with talent, as evidenced by a pair of AFC titles in his first four seasons.
4. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants. Resume: 151–121 record, 11–7 playoff record, 9 playoff appearances, 2 conference championships, 2 Super Bowl wins.
Coughlin has had an interesting coaching career, guiding his team to the playoffs in just roughly half of his seasons and winning it all twice in exciting fashion. A closer look at his career reveals how he took an expansion team (Jacksonville) to the playoffs in just their second season (and each of the next three seasons) before parting ways and eventually teaming with then-rookie Eli Manning for another rebuilding project that’s yielded two Super Bowl wins thus far.
5. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers. Resume: 74–38 record, 6–4 playoff record, 5 playoff appearances, 1 conference championship, 1 Super Bowl win.
McCarthy has had quite a run with Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. If not for his 2011 team flaming out in the divisional round after a 15–1 regular season, McCarthy would certainly find himself a little higher on the list.
6. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers. Resume: 24–8 record, 3–1 playoff record, 2 playoff appearances, 1 conference championship.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that after two seasons, the ringless Harbaugh is already ranked among Super Bowl-winning coaches, but he, like his brother, may have that changed soon. Harbaugh took a once-proud franchise that hadn’t been to the playoffs in eight seasons and turned them into a contender overnight. The development of Alex Smith and then Colin Kaepernick has been most impressive, as Smith was certainly considered a bust long before Harbaugh arrived.
7. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. Resume: 62–34 record, 5–3 playoff record, 4 playoff appearances, 1 conference championship, 1 Super Bowl win.
Now that Payton has been reinstated by the league, he instantly jumps into the top ten. If there was any doubt about how much he meant to the team, with record-breaking quarterback Drew Brees getting his due credit, it was confirmed by this past seasons’ 7–9 mark without him. Payton gambled on Brees in free agency and the duo has led the Saints to the franchise’s only Super Bowl win.
8. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons. Resume: 56–24 record, 1–4 playoff record.
Smith certainly doesn’t have a glowing playoff mark, but getting there four times in five years, including having homefield advantage two times in there, is still impressive. Still, a conference championship would be needed for him to move any higher on the list of best coaches.
9. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins. Resume: 167–125 record, 8–6 playoff record, 8 playoff appearances, 2 conference championships, 2 Super Bowl wins.
Once upon a time, Shanahan looked like a total genius in Denver. The Broncos won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997-98 but with the retirement of John Elway and the injuries to Terrell Davis, suddenly Shanahan and Denver came back to the pack until parting ways after the 2008 season. But Shanahan is back with a star quarterback in D.C., and with a strong running game always part of his repertoire, the future looks good for him.
10. John Fox, Denver Broncos. Resume: 94–82 record, 6–5 playoff record, 5 playoff appearances, 1 conference championship.
Fox may have made a bit of a blunder in decision-making at the end of the Denver/Baltimore game, but is still one of the better coaches in the league. Fox never had a Peyton Manning with Carolina yet led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003 with little-known Jake Delhomme as his signal-caller.
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