• Andy Reid is at the top of his game: Having Patrick Mahomes at quarterback doesn't hurt, but Reid has built his own legacy.
• Belichick, Tomlin round out the top three: While both are leading less-talented teams than in past years, their proven success speaks for itself.
• Brian Daboll claims the No. 10 spot: An impressive first year at the helm in 2022 helps Daboll land in the top 10.
Estimated Reading Time: 7 mins
The 2023 NFL season already has tons of built-in excitement, and the number of good head coaches in the league is a big reason why.
With plenty of good candidates to choose from, here are our top 10 head coaches in the NFL entering the 2023 regular season.
1. ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Reid is the best; there is just no debate. Yes, he has Patrick Mahomes, but Mahomes didn’t make Reid who he is as a head coach — he enhanced him, as all great head coach-quarterback relationships do.
Reid is not perfect, no head coach is, but since he took over in 2013, he is 129-52 including the postseason with a cumulative offensive grade of 93.6 in those 10 years. And he has two Super Bowls to show for it. Since 2018, the Chiefs’ 0.241 expected points added per pass is the highest mark by a country mile, with the Chargers in second at 0.129.
2. BILL BELICHICK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
You could make an argument for Belichick to be anywhere in the top three of a head coach ranking, but you can’t have him any lower than that. Despite some of New England's recent struggles, Belichick was still the head man for the greatest and longest dynasty the league has ever seen.
Sometimes it’s hard to separate Belichick the head coach from Belichick the general manager. He’s been the de facto general manager in New England since he became head coach in 2000. And since then, there have been some head-scratching roster moves, but I say that only makes it even more impressive since he’s won more Super Bowls than had sub-.500 seasons since he arrived with the Patriots. Playoffs included, the Patriots have a 91.3 overall defensive grade over the past 10 years.
3. MIKE TOMLIN, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Tomlin has not had the recent postseason success of some of the other coaches around him on this list (he hasn’t won a playoff game since 2016), but if every coach was available for hire, Tomlin’s name should be one of the first that pops into your mind.
Simply put: The man just knows ball. Since 2007, his Steelers have never finished last in their division (finished third only three times) and have never finished a season with a sub-.500 record. That means unexpected injuries, the struggles of rebuilding a roster, bad luck and anything else this sport throws at teams have not derailed Tomlin from making the Steelers a winner.
4. KYLE SHANAHAN, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
“LOL, SHANAHAN CAN’T WIN THE BIG ONE.”
All right, now that that's out of the way, the truth of the matter is Shanahan has been one of the best offensive minds in the league for more than half a decade — and continues to be. Since 2019, the Niners have the second-highest cumulative offensive grade (91.9), behind only the Kansas City Chiefs. They also rank seventh in the league in EPA per play over that span.
The reason for Shanahan being this high on the list comes down to how easy he makes offense look in the NFL. Nothing demonstrates that more than what he was able to do with Brock Purdy last season, succeeding at a playoff-caliber level with a rookie QB3.
Yes, the Niners have great pieces, but Shanahan is the offensive chef that turns good ingredients into the perfect meal. It is also worth noting how vast and successful his coaching tree is becoming. Robert Saleh, Mike McDaniel, DeMeco Ryans and Mike LaFleur all rose to be top candidates for promotion under Shanahan in San Francisco.
5. JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS
I can’t keep Harbaugh out of the top five. Some may look at his lack of postseason success since winning the Super Bowl in 2014 and argue to push him down further. It’s true, his team is 2-5 in the playoffs since then. But the Ravens have made the playoff in four of the past five seasons.
In a modern NFL world that says can’t run the ball anymore, the Ravens are No. 1 in the league since 2018, staying creative and innovative as they play to their strengths, earning 0.092 expected points added per rush over the span. In second place is the Green Bay Packers at 0.051, which shows the Ravens aren’t just better than everyone else on the ground; they’re far and away better. They also rank sixth in the league in EPA per play allowed on defense at -0.059.
6. SEAN McVAY, LOS ANGELES RAMS
It might be tough to look at the current state of the Rams’ franchise and think McVay should be in this spot over a handful of other worthy coaches, but this is still Sean McVay. In his first two seasons as a head coach, he came into the spotlight and turned a Jared Goff-led offense into a group that ranked in the top 10 in rushing, passing and overall expected points added per play.
Los Angeles lost the Super Bowl in 2018 but won its second crack at it in 2021. It’s been an incredibly impressive six seasons for McVay as a head coach. This year could be a major factor in how much longer he’ll have the headset on after retirement rumors swirled this past offseason.
7. DOUG PEDERSON, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Pederson is a top-10 lock for this coaching list. First, he was the head coach of the legendary Eagles team that won it all in 2017 — with Nick Foles, mind you, who earned an elite 91.9 passing grade for that playoff run and a 62.2 passing grade for his career since then.
Pederson's quarterback guru abilities extend to his current spot, as he helped Trevor Lawrence revive his career from what was thought to be a death sentence under former Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. Lawrence’s PFF passing grade jumped from 61.4 to 76.1 from year one of Meyer to year one of Pederson, which included a run where Lawrence’s 88.5 passing grade from Week 9 on ranked second only to Joe Burrow.
8. NICK SIRIANNI, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
We’ll keep the Eagles conversation going with their current head coach, Nick Sirianni. I was skeptical of Philadelphia's choice to move on from Pederson for Sirianni when they did, but Sirianni has proven, as Pederson did, to be the right man for the job. He has played a role in the ascension of quarterback Jalen Hurts from a fringe starter to a legit MVP candidate now after leading Philadelphia to a Super Bowl in 2022.
Postseason included, the Eagles' 0.113 expected points added per play ranked second only to the Chiefs, and their 0.141 EPA per rush was the best in the NFL. That’s a monster jump from 0.053 EPA per play and 0.089 EPA per rush the previous season, and a testament to Sirianni's prowess.
9. SEAN McDERMOTT, BUFFALO BILLS
McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane recently received contract extensions, keeping them in Buffalo (or at least paid by Buffalo) until 2027. McDermott being the head man amid Josh Allen’s rise to MVP level is a big reason why the team shouldn't want to change its head coach-quarterback relationship anytime soon.
Yes, the Bills have failed to reach the Super Bowl despite having all the requisite talent to do so, but it’s hard to win in this league, especially in the postseason. McDermott gives the Bills that type of realistic goal each season after four straight double-digit winning seasons and four straight playoff appearances.
10. BRIAN DABOLL, NEW YORK GIANTS
Many coaches could be in contention for this final spot in the top 10, but Brian Daboll gets the nod because of an immensely impressive first year as the Giants' head coach in 2022.
New York's overall offensive expected points added per play jumped from -0.169 to 0.015 from 2021 to 2022. The team's EPA per pass went from -0.197 to 0.026, and its EPA per rush went from -0.079 to 0.095. And this was all with mostly the same players from one year to the next. The difference was Daboll, and he has an even more talented team heading into 2023. He is a head coach who can raise both the floor and ceiling of a roster no matter where it is in its rebuild or winning window. Those are characteristics of a great head coach.