Well football fans, the 2020 NFL regular season is three-quarters over. There have been a ton of plays, penalties, and scores over the past twelve weeks and there is more to come. Since every professional writer and pundit creates team power rankings, I thought that I would throw my hat into the ring. In today’s article, I will present my “official” head coach and team power rankings heading into the home stretch of the 2020 season.
Note: Interim coaches are identified with an asterisk (*) next to their name.
1.) Andy Reid (Chiefs)
Since you saw the featured image, you already know my top two coaches. There are two reasons why is Andy Reid the best coach in the NFL this season:
- Patrick Mahomes is doing Patrick Mahomes things, and
- The Chiefs are the defending super bowl champions.
Add in a solid defense and you have the makings of another deep playoff, if not super bowl, run.
2.) Sean McDermott (Bills)
Sean McDermott, Buffalo’s favorite coach, has led the Bills to the next level in 2020. They are in the driver’s seat in the AFC East and, arguably, the third best team in the AFC. He can motivate the hell out of players and fans alike. (I know I would jump on a table for him.) Additionally, he should appeal to the hipster demographic because he initiated the “designated survivor” protocol at quarterback before it was cool. However, McDermott is not without his flaws. His loyalty to his players has yielded mixed results this year (i.e. A.J. Klein and Brian Winters). His team also needs to put the coffee down and figure out how to close out opponents as six of their 11 games have come down to one score. (It’s easy as ABC gentlemen: Always Be Closing.)
3.) Mike Vrabel (Titans)
As much as I hate the Titans this year, I have to admit that Mike Vrabel is one of the best coaches in the league. He has a top-ten offense led by Derrick “Soul Crusher” Henry, Ryan Tannehill, and A.J. Brown (aka the real Decaf Metcalf). Vrabel has also surpassed the dark lord in the ability to manipulate rules to his advantage. However, ironically, the defensive-minded coach oversees a mediocre defense. Under his tutelage, the Titans have become real contenders in 2020 and the immediate future.
4.) Mike Tomlin (Steelers)
Mike Tomlin is coaching the greatest junior-varsity football team in NFL history. They have truly dominated the league, beating the lowly Giants by 10 points, squeaking out wins against Jeff Driskel (Broncos) and former AAF MVP Garrett Gilbert (Cowboys), and getting bailed out by officials in both Ravens games (i.e. missed delay of game, poor chain measurement, and failure to reset play clock after injury timeout).
In all seriousness, Tomlin’s Steelers are playing great football; they have a top-ten scoring offense and a top-five defense. He also recognizes that his team is fortunate to be undefeated. (I would have ranked him lower if he ignored their deficiencies.) The Steelers will make the playoffs and the 13-year coach maintains excellent job security (or what I call “super tenure”).
5.) Matt LaFleur (Packers)
Matt LaFleur has truly turned the Packers around. While their win-loss record may end up worse than 2019, their offense is playing significantly better. Aaron Rodgers is tearing it up on the field and should be in the MVP conversation, if not the front-runner. (I guess all he needed was a successor breathing down his neck as opposed to receiver help.) The Packers are a shoo-in to make the playoffs, but will only go as far as their putrid defense can take them.
6.) Frank Reich (Colts)
Legendary Bills backup quarterback Frank Reich has become an excellent head coach in Indy. His offense is statistically comparable to Buffalo, even as Old Man Rivers throws his way into difficult situations. Indy’s defense is legit this year, ranking in the top-ten in every major statistical category. Meanwhile, Reich continues to sprinkle his comeback magic as the Colts overcame deficits against the Titans (the first time), Bengals, and Packers.
7.) Sean Payton (Saints)
The second of five super tenured coaches on this list, Sean Payton has the Saints in the NFC’s one seed with a top-five defense and scoring offense. They have found a way to keep winning in 2020 despite relatively poor offensive production. Speaking of offensive woes, I don’t question his use of Taysom Hill (aka football’s David S. Pumpkins) at quarterback. They paid him big money for his versatility with the option to be Brees’ successor, so it makes sense they give him a shot.
8.) Sean McVay (Rams)
Sean McVay is leading one of the most complete teams in the league this season. The Rams have a solid offense and a lethal defense that can go off on any given Sunday. However, the Rams have only beat two playoff teams this year (Seahawks and Bucs). Additionally, four of their seven wins came against the NFC LEast. (Oh cool, you swept the worst division in football. Do you want a cookie?) They lost one-score affairs to the Bills and 49ers (twice). Another knock against McVay is that he’s becoming a whiner like Pete Carroll. (Complaining about penalties and close calls that didn’t go your way, especially when you benefited from numerous bad calls in week three, does nothing except lower your ranking on this list Sean.)
9.) Bill Belichick (Patriots)
The dark lord of football (aka Emperor Palpatine, aka Bill Belichick) has been hit hard by Brady withdrawal. Their has scored less points per game than the Bengals, Eagles, Lions, Cowboys, Panthers, and Ravens. Meanwhile, their defense has shown some weakness this year as well. However, despite the 5-6 record, the Patriots are not out of the playoff race yet. (Here’s a dramatic portrayal of their situation heading into week 13.) The Emperor does, in fact, have clothes and can strike again at any time.
10.) Ron Rivera (Football Team)
There was much talk about the cesspool that was the organizational “culture” of The Football Team in recent years, but Rivera came in and drained it completely. He rallied the troops, built a top-five pass defense, and led his team into playoff contention all while fighting cancer. Add in the emerging running back duo of Gibson and McKissic and “Scary” Terry McLaurin and you have one of the best 4-7 team in the league. It is rare for a (division) contender to either make the playoffs or get a top-ten draft pick in the same season. This is precisely where Rivera and The Football Team are and will make progress either way.
11.) John Harbaugh (Ravens)
There is no question that John Harbaugh is a good coach; he’s just having a rough season. The Ravens are one of the worst 6-5 teams in the NFL, having lost three straight games and four out of their last five. So what has gone wrong? First, they failed to upgrade the receiving core, making their offense one-dimensional and effectively turning Lamar Jackson into the glorified running back Bill Polian foresaw. (Relying on Dez Bryant in 2020 is not going to work out.) Secondly, they mishandled the coronoavirus outbreak, resulting in the worst five-point blowout in NFL history. Thirdly, they seem to have lost that competitive fire that contenders usually have. (How else could you explain Harbaugh’s solo confrontation of Titans players before their week 11 game?) Regardless of how their season ends up, I don’t see the super tenured Harbaugh losing his job. (If anything, Greg Roman would be the one packing his bags.)
12.) Pete Carroll (Seahawks)
Pete Carroll, the newest super tenured coach, once again has the Seahawks in prime playoff position. However, this season is different as the offense is carrying the defense. Their fan-base leads the league lead in cardiac arrests due to the copious amount of one score games Seattle has played in (eight of 11 games). The other reason that Carroll lands just outside the top-ten is his questionable gameplanning (or what George W. Bush would call “strategery”). His public statements regarding the optimal number of offensive touches required to win games and utter astonishment that a team would attack his porous secondary instead of his stout run defense have baffled fans and sports media alike. Nonetheless, the Seahawks are contenders in 2020 and beyond.
13.) Kyle Shanahan (49ers)
Kyle Shanahan and the Niners have been hit the hardest by 2020. They have dealt with a rash of injuries unmatched by any team, yet still remain in contention for a wild card spot. They are one of the best 5-6 team in the NFL this year and are that “trap opponent” contenders and bubble teams should not overlook (*cough, Bills*).
14.) Brian Flores (Dolphins)
As a Bills fan, I want to say that the Dolphins suck and that we’ll squish ’em twice a year for the immediate future. However, I cannot say that because of Brian Flores. His team has not only won seven of their last nine games, but is in contention for the division title IN A REBUILD YEAR!! They have a solid defense and a middle-of-the-pack offense like the 2019 Titans. The only thing Flores screwed up this year was the quarterback situation. It is fine to bench Fitzpatrick for Tua after six games; Fitzy is a savvy vet who’s prone to streaky play. However, you NEVER EVER reverse course and bench the rookie for competitive reasons, especially after only three (and three-quarter) starts!! When the Bills made the switch to Josh Allen in 2018, they stuck with it through good, bad, and a whole lot of ugly. (The Dolphins are fortunate that Tua had an actual injury to justify Fitzy starting last week.) Regardless, they are playing with house money this year (just like the 2019 Titans) and should be a legit contender in the AFC East for the foreseeable future.
15.) Mike Zimmer (Vikings)
Mike Zimmer went from my top candidate for the Dallas Cowboys job to contending for a wild card spot. The Vikings have won four of their last five games. (Coinciding with the Yannick Ngakoue trade, hmm…interesting.) At this point, I do not see Minnesota getting rid of him, though that could change if they melt in the last five games of the season.
16.) Bruce Arians (Buccaneers)
Bruce Arians has completely ruined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!! I mean, they’re ONLY 7-5 with Tom “one senior moment away from being put into a home in Boca Raton” Brady and a star-studded cast of offensive weapons including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, the new and improved AB, the shell of Gronk, Ronald Jones, Lenny Four Yards [per carry], and 2016 Reggie Bush (sorry I meant Shady McCoy)? UNACCEPTABLE!!
To quote Trey Wingo, the national media and Bucs fans can “just shut up”!! Tampa Bay has not had a playoff team since 2007, be grateful. I understand that signing Brady elevated expectations and Arians runs a system that doesn’t match his skill set. However, playing the philosophical (chicken-egg) blame game doesn’t take into account that they are getting better. If the 2020 Bills defense has taught me anything, it’s that it may take time for players to figure things out.
17.) Raheem Morris* (Falcons)
Raheem Morris has been a sneaky good coach in Atlanta. The Falcons are 4-2 in the six games since he took over and have only choked once. (The tragic Todd Gurley butt touchdown.) They even beat two playoff contenders, the Vikings and Raiders. Despite being a long-shot to make the playoffs, the players are rallying around him which should bode well for his chances when he interviews for the full-time job this off-season.
18.) Kevin Stefanski (Browns)
Kevin Stefanski has accomplished something in his first year in Cleveland that hasn’t been done in over a decade, secure a non-losing record. Some, including myself, would argue that the Browns are the worst 8-3 team in the league this year. However, they are nonetheless a wild card contender. They have been able to win games with a lethal rushing duo (Chubb and Hunt), mediocre passing attack, and inconsistent defense. If they don’t pull a Cleveland and miss the playoffs, they will only get as far as Baker Mayfield can take them.
19.) Joe Judge (Giants)
Like many first-year coaches, Joe Judge had a rocky start to his tenure in New Jersey. Fortunately, the Giants are in the worst division in football, so they are in contention for a playoff spot. The team seems to be buying into his system and it shows as they have won three straight games after a rough 1-7 start. Furthermore, their defense is actually good this year, ranking in the top ten overall. As with rival Ron Rivera in Washington, Judge has his team in prime position to contend in the division both now and in the future.
20.) Matt Rhule (Panthers)
Raise your hand if you expected the Panthers to do this well, given what they went through in the off-season? (Put them down you liars!!) No, but seriously, Matt Rhule rebuilt the defense from the studs and found two in this year’s draft (Derrick Brown and Jeremy Chinn). During the season, the team overcame the loss of Christian McCaffrey (nine games) and Teddy Bridgewater (one game) to post a respectable 4-8 record. I say “respectable” because six of their eight losses were one-score games. Panther fans should be excited because their team has a promising future in Matt’s Rhule (*bah-dum-tss*).
21.) Romeo Crennel* (Texans)
Romeo Crennel, the oldest coach in NFL history, has righted the ship admiral-bly after Bill O’Brien was mutinied in week four. (I can’t promise that’ll be the last bad word play in this piece.) While he 4-3 as interim coach, Deshaun Watson is cooking again and the players are rallying around him. I think that he could be a solid candidate for the full-time job, though ownership will likely want to go in a different direction.
22.) Jon Gruden (Raiders)
I don’t know what to make of Jon Gruden and the Raiders. Just two weeks ago, everyone was praising him for being competitive with the best team in the league (Kansas City) and splitting the season series. Then, they played Atlanta. I don’t get it. They contend with some of the best teams in the league (i.e. the Chiefs, Bills, Saints, and Browns), but get swirlied and purple nurpled by a team that was only playing for draft position? (Yuck!!) Barring a full on meltdown, they will likely make the playoffs, but don’t count on them going far.
23.) Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)
Speaking of football enigmas, can someone tell me what’s up with the Cardinals? One week, they lose to Detroit. Another week, they upset Seattle. Then they follow that up with a loss to Miami before beating Buffalo on a fluke. They were literally a batted ball away from a four-game losing streak. (If you look up inconsistent in the dictionary, you would see the 2020 Arizona Cardinals.) Ultimately, the blame falls on head coach Kliff Kingsbury. He’s the one who makes the in-game decisions, especially on offense. News flash Kliff, this isn’t the Big 12; you need a complete team to win in the NFL. Arizona’s offense, defense, and special teams have all been inconsistent this year, which does not bode well for a contested wild card race.
24.) Zac Taylor (Bengals)
No one expected Zac Taylor’s Cincinnati Bengals to do anything this year, not even their own fans. They just wanted to see hometown hero, and cigar enthusiast, Joe Burrow do Joe Burrow things on the field. Even with a plethora of offensive weapons, they still found a way to under-perform. Why? because Coach Taylor couldn’t game plan around abysmal, offensive line play. (I told you I couldn’t guarantee an end to the word play.) While they did sign Quinton Spain, it wasn’t good enough to save Burrow’s season as he tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee week 11. (Seriously, that o-line is an insult to Swiss cheese.) Nevertheless, he will likely be retained for next season.
25.) Vic Fangio (Broncos)
Vic Fangio is struggling in Denver. The Broncos are a lowly 4-7 this year due to a lackluster offense and underperforming defense. While they have endured a rash of bad luck this year, the impact could have been minimized. First, he released starting linebacker Todd Davis before the season who could’ve replaced Von Miller in the lineup. Second, while the four quarterbacks should have worn their masks in that meeting, Fangio should have followed the Bills model and isolated a “designated survivor” to avoid what happened last week. They have had a couple of bright spots, upsetting the Dolphins and Patriots. (In case any Bronco fans read this, I would like to thank you on behalf of Bills Mafia!!) I believe that the chances Fangio retains his job are 50-50 at this point.
26.) Matt Nagy (Bears)
Wow Chicago, just wow! I mean you went from 5-1 and in the NFC North race to 5-6 to barely contending for the wild card. Matt Nagy deserves all the flak he is getting from fans and media alike. Not only has he squandered one of the best defenses in the league, but he also found ways to botch the quarterback controversy. (I know that Foles got injured, but he likely would’ve been benched anyways.) To be honest, the only reason he’s ranked ahead of Darrell Bevell on this list is because the Bears will probably beat the Lions this week. If I were in charge of the Bears, I would fire him on the spot and start searching for a new coach and quarterback.
27.) Darrell Bevell* (Lions)
Darrell Bevell was named Interim Head Coach for the Lions two days after Thanksgiving. (I’m sure Detroit fans are very thankful the Fords gave Matt Patricia the Vaudevillian hook.) Now, you may be thinking “why is he ranked #27 when he hasn’t coached a game yet”? Well, I put him here precisely because he hasn’t coached a game yet. He hasn’t made any boneheaded personnel/game management decisions that have cost his team.
Now, this is just an initial ranking and can certainly go down based on his performance through the last quarter of the season. (It could theoretically go up, but that’s highly unlikely.)
28.) Anthony Lynn (Chargers)
Anthony Lynn seems like a good leader, but can’t manage a fourth quarter if his life depended on it. He has a good offense and solid defense. Hell, every Chargers game has come down to 10 or less points. The problem is that they are 3-8. I would say that he has a 65% chance of being fired after the season.
29.) Doug Pederson (Eagles)
Doug Pederson has been one of the worst coaches in the league this year. He has made too many questionable decisions to count across every possible scenario. He has called run plays on two-point attemps, punted in overtime to avoid a loss, and (like Taylor in Cincy) failed to adequately scheme around a pourous o-line. His incompetence has completly broken Carson Wentz; “taking away his stinger” as Dan Orlovsky astutely pointed out. He should be fired for football malpractice. Unfortunately, winning a super bowl ring artificially extends a coach’s expiration date.
30.) Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)
How bout them Cowboys?!! Based on Dallas’ 2020 season, it’s clear that Mike McCarthy mistook analytics to mean “do whatever you want, when you want”. I mean, why the hell are you calling a gunner-reverse fake punt on fourth and ten, down by four, with 12 and a half minutes left against Washington AT YOUR OWN 24-YARD LINE?!!! That play literally turned the tide of the game, leading top a very unhappy Thanksgiving for the Cowboys. (If you want to see real analytics in action, watch the Army-Navy game next Saturday.) Let’s be honest, even if Dak didn’t get injured, Dallas would still suck this year. Jerry Jones should fire McCarthy, but won’t because he sees shades of the Jimmy Johnson years. (*Vigerously hits face with palm repeatedly*)
31.) Doug Marrone (Jaguars)
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Doug Marrone, the savior of Syracuse and Buffalo football in the early 2010s, has finally hit rock bottom. (As you can tell, I am currently drinking a tall glass of schadenfreude tea, steeped in the tears of Sacksonville fans.) Their offense is trash, their defense is trash; even their kicker situation is trash. Of all the fireable offenses he committed with the Jaguars, the most appaling has to be starting Mike Glennon in 2020. This team is clearly tanking and Marrone will soon be hoping on the lifeboat, cutting off women and children along the way, to a division one coordinator job.
As an aside, I would like to congratulate Stephen Hauschka on his retirement. You were one of a kind Hauschmoney and I wish you all the best on your future endeavors.
32.) Adam Gase (Jets)
I do not view Adam Gase as the worst coach in the NFL, but as the best according to golf rules. As BF contributor Jeramy Allen wrote earlier this week, Adam Gase has revolutionized offensive play calling in an unprecedented manner. (Is anyone really surprised though? I mean he did call Peyton Manning’s plays, get his coffee, and massage his back that one season.) He has also changed the game of team building. By intentionally tanking for Trevor Lawrence, he has all but guaranteed that the Jets will receive the optimal trade value when they move down to draft a kicker in the first round of the 2021 draft. (I believe a lifetime extension is in order for this mastermind!!)
What do you think? Who are the best (and worst) coaches in the NFL this year? Let me know on Twitter (@zvaughn2712).