Through the years, there has been much argument among NFL fans about who the best NFL coaches of all time are. Most ranked lists are sorted by the number of all-time wins. Logically, the percentage of career wins should be the single most important factor, but the total number of wins needs to be considered as well.
To fairly judge all of the NFL coaches, I created a formula that takes both factors into account: # of career wins(.001)+(career win%)=value. All outliers with less than 50 career wins were not included. I computed a value for all NFL coaches with impressive records to find the top 10 best NFL coaches of all time. Here are the results.
10 of the Best NFL Coaches of All Time
10. George Allen
Coach George Allen, had a reputation for having the ability to transform losing teams into winning teams. With this strategy, he brought honor to the Rams (in the 1960s) and the Redskins (in the 1970s), who had been perpetually losing for years. His record boasts 116 regular-season wins and a career winning percentage of .712.
9. Vince Lombardi
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Vince Lombardi coached 10 seasons in the NFL and became a general manager (in addition to head coach) of the Green Bay Packers when he was 45 years old. It is believed that Coach Lombardi could have continued making moves within the league for many more years had cancer not cut his career short when he began coaching for Washington. His first season as the head coach for the Redskins resulting in a respectable 7-5-2 record. Vince Lombardi left his mark on football with an impressive .738 winning average and 96 career wins.
8. Guy Chamberlin
Guy Chamberlin was both a player and a coach and is often recognized for his profound love for the sport. George Halas, another one of the best NFL coaches of all time, personally recruited Chamberlin, and Guy became a powerful offensive and defensive presence. He played and coached in the beginning years of pro football, and sits on a comfortable record of 58-16-7. His winning percentage is an outstanding value of .784, which comes second only to John Madden.
7. Andy Reid
Coach Andy Reid, who is still active in the NFL today and currently coached the Kansas City Chiefs, has 221 career wins to his name and a winning average of .629. Before joining the Chiefs, Reid worked hard for the Philadelphia Eagles where he mustered an impressive record of 130-93-1. If you include Reid’s time spent as an assistant coach, he has participated in 21 playoffs, 4 Super Bowls, 10 Championship games, and 3 NFL Coach of the Year titles.
6. Earl Lambeau
Coach Earl Lambeau remained in the NFL for 35 seasons between 1921 and 1953. He is well known for founding the pre-NFL Packers in 1919, where he competed and became the coach and general manager until 1949. He is also recognized as the first “pass-minded” coach and is known for his impatient and powerful styles of play. Lambeau was born in Green Bay, where his loyalties and career developed and passed away in 1965 at the age of 67 with a career record of 226 wins, 132 losses, and an average winning percentage of .631.
5. Tom Landry
Tom Landry, an ex NFL player himself, was a head coach for 29 seasons. He led the Dallas Cowboys through successful seasons throughout his entire career until 1988, when Cowboys management had a desire to take their team in a new direction. His regular-season career record sits pretty with 270 wins and 178 losses and a winning percentage of .607. Only Halas and Shula have managed to accrue more career wins than Coach Landry.
4. John Madden
John Madden competed as a head coach in a total of 10 seasons and retired with a regular-season record of 103-32-7. He was one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL ever at the tender age of 32, when he was hired by the Oakland Raiders.
Thanks to Coach Madden, Oakland never experienced a losing record under his reign. Along with Lambeau and Halas, Madden became one of the youngest coaches to ever reach 100 career wins. His career win number of 103 and winning average of .862 land him as number 3 on this list of best NFL coaches of all time.
3. Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick (the only active coach on this list other than Andrew Reid) managed to snag the number 3 position on this list with his stunning career win number of 280 and winning average of .673. He is currently the most highly ranked active coach.
Belichick began his career in 1975 with the Baltimore Colts and was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants by the 80s. After an underwhelming stint with the Browns, the New England Patriots hired Belichick, where he presently holds bragging rights for 6 Super Bowl Victories: the most by any single head coach in the history of the NFL.
2. George Halas
George Halas, commonly known as “Papa Bear,” coached a whopping total of 40 seasons, and emerged from his career with 318 wins and a winning average of .682. Though Halas is best known for his coaching abilities, he is one of the few people associated with the NFL that has been in the shoes of player, coach, promoter, manager, and owner.
During his career, which spanned from 1920 to 1967, he left the league briefly three times to join the military. This military state of mind and undying loyalty to the Chicago Bears contributed to his legacy as one of the best (and toughest) coaches to ever enter the league. Coach Halas died in 1983 at the wise age of 88 years old and is still widely regarded as one of the best coaches to ever join the game.
1. Don Shula
Don Shula participated in 33 NFL seasons, 6 of which ended in super bowl matchups, and 2 of which ended in super bowl titles (Super Bowl VII and VIII). Shula led the Colts to seven straight winning seasons, and only ever had two seasons that were below a 50% season win average.
He successfully completed the only ever NFL “perfect season” (17-0) in 1972 and has the most career wins of any NFL coach. Coach Shula was born in 1930, became the youngest head coach in NFL history in 1963, and passed away in 2020, which marked the 25 year anniversary of his retirement from the NFL. The milestones reached throughout his life hold true to the values used to calculate his standing on this list: 328 career wins and a .677 winning average.
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