To be among the 10 best coaches in the NFL ever, a coach has to have won a championship and established a consistent winning track record. There have been plenty of good coaches who got their teams to the big game but failed to win, and that is often the difference between being merely good and being considered elite.
- John Madden. The youngest coach to reach 100 wins, Madden accomplished this feat in only ten years. Leading the Oakland Raiders in the late ‘60s and most of the ‘70s, Madden’s Raiders were ousted from the playoffs three times by then-rival Pittsburgh before defeating them in the ’76 AFC Championship. Madden won his only Super Bowl one game later.
- Bill Parcells. Was there ever another coach who knew how to turn around a football franchise? Nicknamed “The Tuna,” Parcells won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and then led the New England Patriots out of the dumps and into a Super Bowl. Parcells would invigorate two more franchises (the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys) before retiring in 2007 with 14 winning seasons in 19 years.
- Don Shula. Shula is one of the best coaches in the NFL ever because he plain knew how to win. Coaching the Colts and Dolphins for a total of 33 years, Shula had only two losing seasons and racked up the most wins of any NFL coach in history (347). He took his teams to six Super Bowls, winning back-to-back titles in ’72 and ’73. Shula is also the only coach to ever achieve an undefeated season.
- Bill Walsh. Undeniably the best coach in the NFL during the 1980s, Walsh perfected the West Coast offensive scheme he prototyped with Paul Brown. Another coach who had an excellent eye for good players, he drafted Hall-of-Famers Joe Montana and Jerry Rice while trading for Steve Young. His ten years as head coach seems paltry compared to others on the list, but Walsh made the most of it, finishing with seven winning seasons and three Super Bowls.
- Tom Landry. Any man who coaches his team for 28 seasons, compiles twenty straight winning seasons, thirteen NFC East titles, five NFC championships, five Super Bowl appearances and two Bowl wins deserves to be ranked among the best coaches in the NFL ever.
- Chuck Noll. When he took over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, Chuck Noll turned around one of the worst franchises in football. An incredible eye for talent, Noll drafted four Hall-of-Famers in the ’74 draft, won four Super Bowls in six years (the only couch to win four), and endured only six losing seasons in 23 seasons as coach.
- George Halas. Having coached the Chicago Bears for an unbelievable 40 straight years, Halas finished with a 321-142-31 record. Most remarkable in Halas’ tenure as one of the best coaches in the NFL was leading the Bears to six NFL championships.
- Joe Gibbs. Gibbs makes the list of best coaches in the NFL for leading the Washington Redskins to four Super Bowls and pulling out three wins, each with a different quarterback. He was also the creator of the two tight end offense, a system which found many copycats in the league through the years.
- Paul Brown. Brown was responsible for resuscitating two NFL franchises, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. He won three NFL championships, all with the Browns, and bucked NFL trends by drafting two African-American players. He was also the grandfather of the West Coast offense, which would later gain prominence under Bill Walsh, and has one of the most extensive and impressive coaching trees of any NFL coach.
- Vince Lombardi. In eight seasons as an NFL head coach, Vince Lombardi showed why he was the best coach in the NFL ever. His teams always had a winning record and made an amazing seven appearances in NFL championship games. Of the seven, Lombardi lost only his first, going on to win two straight championships before topping it off with another NFL title and victories in Super Bowls I and II. As a testament to his greatness, winning Super Bowl teams have hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy every year since Super Bowl III.
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