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2023/24 NFL season: Ranking the top five head coaches

Coach hirings and firings in the NFL are at an all-time high these days, with most every team in the league in ‘win-now’ mode. 

It’s a cut-throat business that sees head coaches and their staffs relieved of their duties if they don’t win football games.

These five head coaches sit in a category of their own when it comes to football knowledge, leadership, longevity, and most importantly, winning.

What2023/24 NFL season
WhenThursday, September 7th, 2023 - Sunday, February 11th. 2024
Super Bowl LVIII OddsKansas City Chiefs +600, Philadelphia Eagles +800, Buffalo Bills +850, San Francisco 49ers +900

1. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs)

Regular season record: 247-139-1
2x Super Bowl wins as HC
1x Coach of the Year

Andy Reid being top of this list has nothing to do with recency bias and everything to do with a remarkable 24-year coaching career during which time his teams have rarely been out of the Super Bowl conversation. 

He may not have as many Super Bowls as other names on this list, but while certain coach's stock has risen and fallen, Reid remains at the very top of his game.

He won a Super Bowl as an assistant before getting his big break in Philadelphia - taking the Eagles to the playoffs in nine out of 14 seasons and winning the NFC East six times.

But the Eagles lost four NFC Championship games and an epic battle for the Lombardi Trophy with the New England Patriots at the culmination of the 2005 season and his time in Philly came to an end.

The Chiefs immediately gave him another shot and he has over delivered on his mission statement - making the playoffs nine times, winning seven successive division titles, three AFC Championships, and two Super Bowls.

He came back to haunt the Eagles in last year's Super Bowl when scheming an excellent gameplan that befuddled Philadelphia's vaunted defence. 

Going back-to-back in the NFL is hard, but if anyone can achieve that goal, it's Kansas City under Reid.

2. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) 

Regular season record: 298-152 
6x Super Bowl wins as HC 
3x Coach of the Year

Bill Belichick is starting to get used to missing out on the top prize after some recent down years in charge of the New England Patriots. 

But, approaching 50 years in the league and with 28 of them spent as a head coach, Belichick remains a class operator, one that’s tough to beat when it comes to seniority or success.

The Patriots pulled a swift one on the New York Jets when they poached him in 2000 as Belichick has long since paid off the debt of a first-round draft pick. Simply put, he's the most successful head coach in the business and no one can take that away from him.

Tom Brady's brilliance certainly helped with the Pats failing to contend since #12 left, while his record as a general manager is certainly more up for debate than his coaching credentials.

But you won't find many of his ex-players ready to bad-mouth him, despite a dour demeanour that led to him being nicknamed 'Doom' as an up-and-coming defensive coordinator with the New York Giants.

3. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers)

Regular season record: 52-46 
1x NFC Championship

The top two on this list have plenty of honors in the bank to help cement them as top five coaches in today's NFL.

San Francisco 49ers chief Kyle Shanahan isn't as highly decorated as either Belichick or Reid, who are at least 22 years his senior, but there shouldn't be too many arguments over him featuring amongst the league's top five coaches. 

Son of famed NFL coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle has picked up the baton from his dad and made the San Francisco 49ers the home of offensive innovation. 

After a string of offensive coordinator positions, Shanahan sat in the big chair for the first time as head coach of the Niners in 2017. 

He made a rough start but the last four years have seen San Fran make the Super Bowl in 2017 and reach the NFC Championship game in each of the past two seasons. 

Were it not for some bad luck with injuries, Shanahan could have had a couple of rings and it certainly feels like the best is yet to come from this offensive innovator.

4. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) 

Regular season record: 163-93-2
1x Super Bowl win as HC

Tomlin's star began to rise when he coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive backs during a four-year cycle when the Bucs led the NFL in total defence (fewest yards allowed per game), never ranking worse than sixth overall. 

His influence was clear to see when the Buccaneers won the Lombardi Trophy in January 2003, recording a Super Bowl-record five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. 

The Steelers snapped him up in 2007, since then he has delivered 10 playoff runs, seven AFC North titles, taken them to three AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls. 

Rounding off his second season in Pittsburgh in style, he became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl at age 36. 

Incredibly, he's never had a losing season during his 16-year run in Pittsburgh - a feat that Belichick couldn't manage in his first 15 years in New England or Reid in Philadelphia - although he is on course to emulate it in KC.

5. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens) 

Regular season record: 147-85
1x Super Bowl wins as HC 
1x Coach of the Year

Harbaugh comes from a family of football coaches and started on the career ladder as soon as he graduated in 1984. He landed his first HC position with the Ravens 24 years later, taking Baltimore to the AFC Championship game in his rookie year.

After another near miss in the AFC title game of 2011, Harbaugh took the Ravens to the Super Bowl in 2012.

Facing a San Francisco 49ers team coached by his younger brother Jim, Harbaugh's Ravens held on to win 34-31 in dramatic fashion as the coach instructed his punter to waste vital seconds before taking an intentional safety in order to deny the Niners one last chance.

Only five playoff appearances in 10 years since that lone Super Bowl win are why he's not higher on the list, but he did lead Baltimore to a 14-2 regular season record in 2019 and with Lamar Jackson now under a long-term contract, the Ravens should remain play-off relevant for a long time to come.

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