Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

14 Jun 2013

The 16 Worst Coaches In Modern NFL History

Deadspin puts together their list. Who did they miss out on? As a Texans fan, coach rankings like this always make me chuckle a bit because three years ago NFL media types were falling all over themselves to can Gary Kubiak and he basically has not changed at all.

I'm surprised Cam Cameron didn't make a formal list appearance. Especially if you give him any credit at all for the 2007 Dolphins draft.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 14 Jun 2013

89 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2013, 1:22am by kavin


by Travis :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 4:19pm

There is no reason Josh McDaniels (as a head coach only) shouldn't be on this list. Ray Handley belongs there as well. Most of the coaches on Deadspin's list took over bad teams; there should be extra credit for turning a good team into a trainwreck, and more when the next coach immediately turns the team back around.

Others: Dick LeBeau (12-33) doesn't even make honorable mention, nor does Art Shell.

by rageon :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:22pm

As a Denver fan, I believe the McDaniels period was an absolute disaster that ruined one of the best young offenses in the NFL. That said, was he a bad coach, or a bad personnel guy?

My thought has always been that he was terrible as choosing his players (aside from somehow turning Brandon Lloyd around), whether terrible draft picks, getting ride of quality existing players, or otherwise. But given the lack of talent left after all that, I think Denver did about as well as could be expected.

by Dennis :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 9:27pm

McDaniels' failure was as a GM much more than as a coach.

by jebmak :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 9:46pm

Agreed, his teams had low expectations due to personnel moves, but outperformed them.

by Independent George :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 9:27am

But his problems with personnel were tied directly into his failures as a coach.

He took over a young, rising offensive powerhouse with a suspect defense, and the first thing he did was gut that offense (thus alienating the young stars driving that offense). Fortunately for him, the defense improved, so he then did the next logical thing and got rid of the defensive coordinator.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 1:17pm

Great post. I find it impossible in McDaniels' case to draw a line between where his stinking as a GM ended and his stinking as a coach began. You're a coach and you jettison your young Pro Bowl QB without ever meeting him face-to-face? Say what you want to about Cutler's immaturity (it would all be true) but that was simply bizarre. He also reportedly took over parts of the defensive game-planning right about the time their 6-0 start ended and the losing began. Best case scenario for him is that he simply had no clue how to win with anything other than his hand-picked personnel, but that also speaks poorly for him as a coach.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 7:04pm

Outperformed expectations how? After his 6-0 start he went 5-17.

And it wasn't all bad personnel moves. His first season they were mathematically alive for the playoffs going into the last week and needed a win against the woeful Chiefs. McDaniels decides that is the week to suspend Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler for things they'd said and done many weeks prior. (Okay, maybe he wanted to send a message, let's give him a pass on that.) But he then proceeded to come out with a pass-happy gameplan against the Chiefs lacking two of his best receivers and ignoring the fact that run defense was the Chiefs greatest weakness. And the Chiefs blew them away. Worst coach I've ever seen.

by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 2:18pm

I remember that game quite well. When the suspensions were announced, I figured that meant they'd just run it down the Chiefs' throats, as that would have been the obvious strategy, even without the suspensions. Then they came out and started passing constantly even early on when the game was still close. McDaniels is the master of out-thinking himself. Probably figured the Chiefs wouldn't be expecting that, or maybe wanted to show that they could pass just as well without Marshall.

by nath :: Thu, 06/20/2013 - 4:29am

I think "McDaniels wanted to show how clever he was" explains 90% of his coaching and personnel moves in Denver,

by JimZipCode :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 2:10am

Art Shell still has a winning record.

by vcs (not verified) :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 3:33am

And that's even including the 2006 "Al can't find anyone else" 2-14 season.

Art Shell was before my time, but it looks like he won a lot of games. Is there any reason he should be considered a bad coach?

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 06/21/2013 - 2:58pm

Nope. Was an excellent coach in his mid-40s. Game had passed him by when he came back at age 60, but was quite good earlier.

by Bobman :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 4:19pm

A fun exercise. I saw Rod Dohower and Frank Kush on the dishonorable mention list, but a case could be made for most of the "non-Ted Marchibroda" Colts coaches in the 80s and 90s, before the Polian regime. Some painful seasons there, tho you can't blame it ALL on the coach. And I guess if 4-5 coaches in a row all do poorly, maybe it's not their fault, but something bigger.

by DavidL :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 4:33pm

As an Eagles fan, the fact that there are names on this list other than Rich Kotite strikes me as somehow fundamentally wrong.

by andrew :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 11:52am

and the Jets still hired him after that failure.

by jimbohead :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 4:36pm

Man, how does Singletary not at least make the dis-honorable mention list? I feel like he was gunning for this award since day 1 of his tenure.

Otherwise, very entertaining article.

by RickD :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:07pm

18-22 isn't that bad, and it's better than anybody on the list other than Buddy Ryan.

And, FWIW, Buddy Ryan really doesn't deserve to be on this list, either.

by opticallog :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 6:08pm

He coached one of the most talented rosters in the NFL to a 5-10 record (fired before the last game) in his final season. His successor (albeit one of the best in the league) then coached the same roster to a 13-3 record the following season, despite a lockout that prevented him from contacting any of his players the entire off-season. Yeah, that says a lot about Jim Harbaugh, but it also says a lot about Singletary.

by the cat in the box is dead (not verified) :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 3:26am

If Buddy Ryan had cared about Offense, or in fact known anything about it, Philadelphia might actually have won a playoff game in his tenure. He's one of the best Defensive Co-ordinators of all time and had no business being a head coach.

The killer fact is there in the article: even Rich Kotite won a playoff game with those players.

This rabid Eagles fan is really glad Ryan's on this list.

by Drew P Weiner (not verified) :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 2:51pm

Re: Buddy...he absolutely does belong because he was terrible, terrible head coach. Once he left Chicago and his all-pro-studded defense behind, the real Ryan was exposed as the gassy, bloviating, worthless fraud he was all along. He was never the "architect" of anything except his worthless "coaching style" which consisted of being a crotchety, nasty, hateful old coot who'd stand there looking hopelessly senile and befuddled whenever actual coaches would out-coach him, which was always.

AND he left a legacy too, his two fat gasbag sons, neither of whom know what they're doing either.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:54am

You guys seem like youngsters - Ryan's offenses were a mess, but those defenses were unreal. Better than the 200 Ravens, better than the 2002 Bucs. Just absolute nightmares and they were 100% of Ryan's design. Yes, his was worthless when it came to offense, but a "worst" coach wouldn't have fielded anything resembling those defenses. Look at the Ray Rhoades teams if you want to see a worthless coach - he stumbled along with the help of a decent front office, but was worse than Ryan on BOTH sides of the ball...

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 1:21pm

Ryan's defenses were legit. I know little about the guy personally, but he wasn't a fraud as a defensive coordinator. And, while I find his sons beyond annoying, I'll give them props for one thing: They did their time working up the coaching ranks, including minor colleges and changing jobs ever couple years. That's rather refreshing when I look at the Kyle Shanahans of the world.

by RickD :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:03pm

Bill Simmons has been calling Pete Carroll "Fredo" for so long that I'm not sure the nickname is available for Dave Shula. Of course, given how well the Seahawks are playing, I don't think that it's a good nickname for Carroll any longer, so maybe it is available.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:23pm

It makes a lot more sense for Shula because the implication is that Don Shula is 'Don' Don Shula, the Godfather of the Shula's, while Dave is the blacksheep.

by bernie (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:05pm

Are we pretending Gary Kubiak is a good coach now? Let's face it, take JJ Watt and Arian Foster off that team, and they are back to their regular 9-7 doldrums. You're right he hasn't changed at all....he just got lucky to have 2 outstanding players transcend his mediocrity.

by RickD :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:10pm

The Texans have gone 22-10 in the last two seasons. You're not going to see Kubiak's name on a list like this.

I don't think you're giving the team enough credit, esp. the defense.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 1:55pm

Kubiak's an outstanding offensive co-ordinator, a fine evaluator of offensive talent, a competent organizer and motivator, and unlike many other coaches who excel at one side of the ball and fail utterly at the other, sufficiently ego-free to just turn the defense over to someone else. The guy took over an atrocious 2-14 team with perhaps 3 legitimate NFL players on the roster (albeit one of them a probably Hall of Famer) and has a winning record in the regular season, more winning seasons than losing (and none worse than 6-10), and a 2-2 playoff record. And that makes him a reasonable candidate for inclusion on a "worst coaches of all time list?" I mean, seriously, he's not the best coach in the league - he's not even in the top 5 - but he's definitely above average.

by Brad M (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 4:05pm

Take the two best players off the team and they still have a winning record?

That's amazing coaching if he can keep a winning record with 30 mil of dead space on the cap.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 06/18/2013 - 7:22pm

Arian Foster: great player - far better than his per play numbers the last couple of years might suggest - but definitely not one of the two best players on the Texans, given how Johnson played in the second half of last year, once he got fully healthy. But your point stands.

by Tomlin_Is_Infalllible (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:28pm

list fails without Mike the Caretaker of SB winning roster Tomlin

by Olbermann For President (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:29pm

Jerry Glanville should be given an honorable mention. A survey of 49ers players around 1990 thought that he was the worst coach in the NFL.

Bill Walsh noted that Glanville knew a lot about football that wasn't reflected in the games he coached. He was just too inflexible.

He was perhaps the dirtiest coach in NFL history. Players like Merill Hoge were glad that the Houston Oilers fired him.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 7:49pm

I'm sure the Niner players still thought he was that bad when his team swept the Niners and made the playoffs on a tiebreaker, beating out the Niners. I'm sure a majority of the Patriots players would dismiss Rex Ryan if allowed to answer a poll like that. That doesn't make it true.
Glanville did tank at Portland State though.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 10:59am

"Most disliked coach" or "dirtiest coach" does not always equate to "worst coach". Like the post above me intimated, I'm sure those same 49er players didn't have much to say after the '91 season, when Glanville's Falcons swept the Niners to take the wildcard spot, thus knocking the Niners out of the playoffs.

Of course a lot of those 49er players have superbowl rings, which Glanville doesn't have. I'm not arguing that Jerry Glanville is a great coach, I'm just saying he's not the worst coach. 4 playoff appearances in 8 years should be enough to keep you off any lists of worst coaches of all time.

Now the Most Hated Coaches of all time list is a different matter.

by jdiko :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 5:42pm

Big time omission of Norv Turner and possibly Jim Caldwell for honorable mention.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 7:30am

Norv isn't a terrible coach. He's the epitome of mediocre. If there were a "16 Most Mediocre Coaches in Modern NFL History", I'd probably put Norv #1.

by nat :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 9:43am

If there were a "16 Most Mediocre Coaches in Modern NFL History", I'd probably put Norv #1.
I'd put him about #8 or #9.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:42pm


by vrao (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 7:48pm

Surprised Eric Mangini didn't make this list. Also expected to see Lindy Infante, Dom Capers, and Rick Venturi (2-17 career record).

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 9:03pm

A lot of Browns fans preferred Mangini over the Holmgren/Heckert/Shurmur leadership group (and I am a bit surprised to not see Shurmur there, but he's only had two seasons.) They point to the Pats/Saints wins, and that he had enough success with the Jets to make sense as a hire.

I'm not sure I agree with Butch there (he brought Tim Couch of all people to the playoffs!) but I do agree with Romeo (the thing about hiring a "nice guy" for an NFL coach is that your players will walk all over him.)

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 8:50am

I think Dom Capers making it to the NFC championship in the 2nd year of an expansion team is a bit of get out of jail free. He is still the 2nd (of 4) best coach the Panthers ever had by winning percentage. Now what he did in Texas... Though he did get a David Carr lead team to 7-9. He's only ever been the first head coach of expansion teams, he's never been head coach for an established team so judging him is a bit odd. Though a .375 winning percentage, even with all those caveats is unpleasant.

I agree with Lindy Infante, though again I think I understand why he got left off.

The Packers were at the end of the long slide that started after Lombardi left. Bengtson (.488) and Devine (.481) both managed one winning season each in their 3 and 4 year tenures.

Starr (.406), who admits he never should have taken the job, was given 9 years and his best season was 5-3-1 in the 82 strike season that was followed by 8-8, in his last season the only years he didn't have losing records.

Then Forrest Greg (.403) comes in and gets 4 years. The first two continuing the 8-8 records Starr started before losing again.

Then you get Infante (.375). Four season, three of them with 10+ losses, but he had that 10-6 "Cardiac Pack" year; nine games that were decided by 3 points or less and one by 4 points or less and was 7-3 in those 10 games with a +6 point differential. People still remember Rodgers first season as a starter in 08 where they had 7 losses by 4 or fewer points but that 89 season under Infante, Majkowski's only healthy season, was something else. They really probably should have been 6-10 that year. Infante was really awful. He carried his .375 ways with him to Indy for two years there too, but did manage a playoff appearance with them though he kinda lucked into that too. That +6 point differential was the best he ever managed. So he was at the end of a long (24 years) slide of awfulness with the Packers and he hopped on the end of a fairly long streak of bad to mediocre Indy teams too.

Infante was a special kind of awful. He was a master of the losing the streak, managing to string together 5 - 7 game streaks seemingly at will. The media loved him, but he was just bad.

The fun thing about Infante though, is that he was the herald of QB greatness to come. Last year in Green Bay was 91. In 92 some kid named Favre takes over for an injured Majkowski in game three (though he played about half of game 2 as well) he starts game 4 and doesn't stop starting games for them until 2008 when some kid named Rodgers is giving the starting job. Last year in Indy was 97. In 98 some kid named Manning starts for them and doesn't stop starting till 2011.

So it seems that if you want to find a quarterback who is going to give you 13+ years of uninterrupted quality starts you should hire Lindy Infante for a couple of years then fire him and start some young kid the next season.

by ammek :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 11:08am

Starr also had non-losing seasons of 8-7-1 in 1978 and 8-8 in 1981.

Infante did lead the Colts to the playoffs in his first season. That team finished 22nd (out of 30) in DVOA, which makes it the highest ranking of the three Colts teams that made the postseason in the early/mid-90s. They were 23rd in 1995, and 27th (out of 28) in 1992.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:09am

Infante deserves at least a dishonorable mention for going 2-6 against Wayne Fontes.

by MJK :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 10:52pm

I think it's because I have an irrational hatred for him (or perhaps not so irrational), but I would put Pete Carroll on this list. He was terrible with the Jets. He took over a SB-appearing Patriots team and got worse every year...eventually leaving the team in a shambles, when he darted off to USC...where he won year in and year out by cheating. Then, just before the cheating scandal caught up to him and burned him, he ran off to the Seahawks and put up two bad seasons (yes, I know he made the playoffs in one of them, but being the first NFL team to ever make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record should never be a badge of honor) before he squeaked in this year partly because replacement refs don't understand the concept of "interception".

Yes, I know my post is irrational. I still hate Pete Carroll.

by allybhoy :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 9:08am

irrational. yes, but i agree with every goddam' word you say!!

by theslothook :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 11:44pm

Personally, saying Dennis erickson was a top 10 worst head coach tells me this list absolutely makes no pretense in trying to incorporate circumstance. The 2003 49ers were 7-9, but featured a ton of losses in close games. The 2004 49ers were gutted because they were in cap hell and Erickson was saddled with a horrible defense, no veterans, and a circus of qbs ranging from Tim Rattay to Cody Pickette. Not sure even Lombardi would've have won with that roster. I still maintain the 2004 49ers were the weakest roster from a talent perspective that I've ever seen.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:22am

Leave Cody Pickett alone. I saw him play the Bears once, fine player. Even completed a pass (yes, one pass completed all game long).

by Led :: Fri, 06/14/2013 - 11:51pm

Dave Wannstedt deserves to be there somewhere.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 11:01am

Wannested was bad, but not among the worst of all time. Cam Cameron or the Alabama dude deserve it way more than he does, from the Miami side.

As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in pie. And there's an "i" in meat pie. Meat is the anagram of team... I don't know what he's talking about

by Led :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 8:41am

Maybe you're right if you just look at his Miamia HC stint in isolation. But he should get some kind of lifetime disachievement award for failing at every position at every level since he hopped off Jimmy Johnson's coat tails in Dallas.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:10pm

He has a .485 winning percentage. Much like Norv Turner he is the poster boy for replacement level head coach. Dave doesn't do anything great but if you give him talent he can get them 9-7 or 11-5.

by JimZipCode :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 2:14am

Rick Venturi, FTW. I mean, FTL.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:36pm

Has Rick Venturi ever even been a head coach in his own right? I think he's only ever been an "interim" head coach. Almost by definition, that means you're stepping into a bad situation. 2-17 is obvious bad, but it comes with an asterisk.

by Jerry :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 5:41pm

The thing about the genuine "worst coaches" is that they were so bad in a short period of time that they never got the chance to coach again. But because they had such short-lived careers, most people don't remember them the way they do guys who coached their favorite team disappointingly.

by James-London :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 7:01am

The Wannstache is a glaring ommission

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 7:35am

Peterson, Willaismkn, Kush shoudk be in top 16 but weotier put them in honorable mention section.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 11:11am

I know Dave Shula is #2, but he's too low. The man had no strengths whatsoever. Most of the other coaches had something going for them, they were good Xs and Os guys, or they had had success somewhere, or they were strong leaders. Shula had none of this. His players didn't respect him. Before he was the Bengal coach he used to call the plays in Miami and he was one of the worst ever at that, too. He was so predictable. With Marino at QB, he used to call runs on 2nd and long that gained one or two yards about 90% of the time. Hey, if you're going to be predictable, can you at least be predictable toward the strength of your effing team? Moron.

As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in pie. And there's an "i" in meat pie. Meat is the anagram of team... I don't know what he's talking about

by andrew :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 1:12pm

He could cook a mean steak. Oh, wait that was also his dad.

Of David Shula, Wade Philips once said:

""He can take his'n and get beat by your'n and take your'n and get beat by his'n."

by Jerry :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 12:22am

Nicely done.

by jebmak :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 10:26pm

Yep, it's times like these that I want a 'rec' button.

by shah8 (not verified) :: Sat, 06/15/2013 - 1:20pm

There are a lot of bad coaches who've won more than they should have because of talented roster and soft schedule. Thinking of Jim Mora, Jr, who should have been put with the Buddy Ryans of the world--essentially the same behavior.

It would be a better list if roster talent was equaled out a bit.

by nath :: Thu, 06/20/2013 - 4:35am

Mora Jr. was terrible. I don't understand his UCLA success.

by Cro-Mags :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 12:10am

Buddy Ryan's Eagles had one of the most dominating defenses ever, at a time when they were in a division cohabited by insanely talented teams like Gibbs' 'skins, Parcells' Giants, and JJ's Cowboys that won multiple championships. Even considering his tenure in 'zona, he's not even in the top 100 worst NFL coaches.

Drew Magary is a clown.

by No_Buddy_of_mine (not verified) :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 8:27pm

Yes the East was pretty tough (though the Cowboys were falling). But 0 playoff wins with who he had is awful.

Anyone wanting to know why Buddy is on that list, go watch the Steve Bono run against Arizona. This held the record for QB runs until Slash broke it, and Bono was no one's idea of a running QB. A classic example of the coaching equivalent of "thinking with your #@$%", and his kids look to have similar issues.

Fact is, we measure success in football by wins (championships preferably), not how "tough" you are. Buddy never got that into his head, that's why he's on the list (albeit far away from the top).

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 11:38pm

Not sure what record poster disucssing here. QB runs by Bono vs Cardinals but thibg broken vt K. Stewart? What teclrd did he set? Plesse elaborate. Rhabk you in advance

by No_Buddy_of_mine (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:46pm

Cardinals vs Chiefs. 3rd and 1 for the Chiefs on their own 25. The Cardinals completely sell-out, Bono runs a bootleg and goes 75 yards. Either of us could have scored it, no one within 30 yards. Later did the same sell-out when the Chiefs were on the Cardinal's 1 and they hit a tackle-eligible.

Too much testosterone, and predictable to boot.

Try to say "out-coached by Buddy Ryan" (or Rex for that matter) without laughing.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 06/18/2013 - 1:44pm

The Patriots were outcoached in the 2010 playoff loss. That's right, the greatest active coach, Bill Belichick, was outcoached by Rex Ryan. Belichick has gotten his revenge by now though.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 1:08am

Yeah, who Buddy "had" he made them into greats, save Reggie. His offenses were terrible, but look at who he lost to in the playoffs - not exactly a load of chumps: a 12-4 Bears team, a loaded Redskins team that would take the crown the following year and the best pre-1999 Rams team. They were in a brutal division and made the playoffs three years in row. Calling him "the worst" is horseshit. That should be reserved for the Steve Spurrier and Jason Garrets of the world.

by Dean :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 1:30pm

There have been 466 men who have coached at least one game in the NFL. So that would put him at better than 21.5% of his peers, at minimum. Having lived in Philly in the late 80s, I'd say that's reasonable. He's a polarizing figure but he doesn't really belong at either extreme.

by Peregrine :: Sun, 06/16/2013 - 7:38am

Falcons with three coaches on that list. Says it all, huh. And yet if we'd not risen off the mat against the Seahawks, a bunch of fans would have been screaming for the head of Mike Smith.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:24am

No love (hate?) for the guy who coached the only 0-16 team in history. I agree Morninwheg was bad, but he always struck me as a guy who was Peter-principled into a job he wasn't ready for and was in over his head from the word go. Rod Marinelli, on the other hand, was unintelligent, pugnacious, and too stubborn to correct the same mistakes he kept making over and over again.

One thing that the article failed to mention about the "take the wind game" is that Morninwheg's stupid decision almost worked...the Bears were facing a 53 yard field goal into a stiff wind (a challenge even for Paul Edinger), but Morninwheg then ACCEPTED a penalty on the play, giving the Bears an extra down, which they used to gain enough yards to make the winning FG only 40 yards.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 06/20/2013 - 1:03pm

Maybe I'm a Bears homer, but I think Marinelli's success as a defensive coordinator suggests that he's just an example of someone who couldn't handle being a head coach. I certainly wouldn't call him unintelligent. Also, while I agree that it's hard to leave the only head coach to go 0-16 off the list of worst coaches, I think there's a little too much emphasis placed on that record. Almost every year there is a team bad enough to go winless, but they usually pick up a couple of wins anyway. The Lions didn't.

Plus, when it comes to judging the coach, I'd look more at the talent of the team and reasonable expectations than the pure record. I don't know how good that Lions team was exactly (beyond "not very"), but let's say that they "should have" won 3 or 4 games. If that's true, then Marinelli's performance seems better to me than a guy who gets a team that should win 10 games and only wins 4 or 5. It's just that a 4-12 record isn't historically bad.

by JimZipCode :: Fri, 06/21/2013 - 2:51pm

Marinelli had to get Matt Millen's roster to play over their heads, to get to 0-16.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 11:52am

How about Ray Perkins? 23-34 with the Giants, 19-41 with the Bucs. Head coach for eight years, .359 winning percentage. It's easy to suck for a year or two, but eight years of sucking (OK, seven, he made the playoffs once with the Giants) takes work.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:05pm

The thing that helps Dave Shula, Bruce Coslet and Dick Lebeau's case is they coached back to back to back. You look at the rosters of their teams and it isn't like you say wow this team should have won more. When a team goes into that kind of funk for that long people tend to place the majority of the blame at the front office.

by kerouac_9 (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 12:33pm

I know he's not on here because he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but the Bears announced his hiring to the media before he signed his contract, and "Coach Mac" backed out.

He was hired as a Head Coach while consistently coordinating some of the worst defenses in the NFL, and then bravely coached the Cardinals to a meaningless Week 17 win against the Minnesota Vikings to remove them from the Eli Manning Sweepstakes.

Never sniffed even a coordinator position after that, and is officially a lackey of Jeff Fisher.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 1:51pm

Anyone notice P-F-R has AV rankings for kickers now?

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 4:01pm

I hadn't been there in awhile but yeah they have it now http://www.sports-reference.com/blog/2013/06/approximate-value-added-for... explains it and the AV explanation page has the details. It only considers FG/XP for kickers and gross punt distance for punters and the AV scale was determined based on salaries from 2002 - 2009. He didn't fully explain that, but I'm guessing they figured kickers and punters should have the same percentage of AV as their salary percentage. Or at least some factor of that.

I think the valuation is fairly decent. A league average kicker appears to be worth about 3 AV a year ( 6 - 7 for the very best seasons) which is about what you get from a special teams / back-up / spot starter position player. Punters are about 2 AV for an average season ( 4 - 5 for the very best seasons). Those numbers might be a little high, but that happens with other players too, AV doesn't have a ton of granularity, which is understandable. To illustrate, league MVP's tend to be around 20 AV and I like to think the league MVP is more than 6 - 10 times more valuable than an average kicker or punter.

Now folks have more numbers to throw around when the list of the worst front offices in modern NFL history gets made.

by Barn Cat (not verified) :: Mon, 06/17/2013 - 8:47pm

There's no way Marty Mornhinweg belongs on the list. Anywhere. Yes, he wasn't a great coach but he had a terrible team with a terrible GM. Plus, unlike a lot of those guys, he had a very good offensive background. He was a QB coach and an offensive coordinator and that's what he's been for years.

by D :: Tue, 06/18/2013 - 11:57pm

To be honest, I'm not sure it is fair to include any of the coaches from the Millen Era. I mean Mornhinweg and Marinelli (was listed at the bottom) may not have been great (or even good) coaches, but it seems clear they weren't the problem.

by allybhoy :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 9:02am

As a jet fan.....in pains me to see so many Jet HC and assistants. Snake bitten....unlucky....incompetent...or the pact Joe made with the Devil??? Do any of these reasons explain my pain?

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 4:46pm

They were a poorly run organization from the merger until Parcells, with a few breaks with Walt Michaels and Joe Walton, of all people (how Buddy Ryan made this list and Joe didn't, I'll never know); that leads to guys on a worst coaches list. Since Parcells, they have been a much better run organization, even if the New York media can't believe it.

by johnstyz (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:24am

Don Shula Say what you want but he had Dan fior his entire career ans never won a title. That earns him a spot. Regardless of every thing else he's done. Argument OVER!

by Dean :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 2:05pm

17-0. Argument OVER!

by johnstyz (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:24am

Don Shula Say what you want but he had Dan fior his entire career ans never won a title. That earns him a spot. Regardless of every thing else he's done. Argument OVER!

by johnstyz (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 10:26am

my spelling sucks but so does Don's coaching!


by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 12:59pm

As a Panther fan I really expected to see George Seifert.

by Dean :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 1:46pm

466 men have coached at least one game in NFL/AFL history (PFR).

I arbitrarily created a 25 game cutoff. 273 men reached that plateau.

The man who ranks dead last in winning percentage is Harvey Johnson, who coached the Bills in 1968 and 1971 (but not 1969 or 1970). He went 2-23-1 in those 2 seasons. Interestingly, PFR’s profile of him reads “Harvey Paul Johnson (Stud)”

I again arbitrarily created a 1970 cutoff where a coach needed at least 1 post-1970 season. This narrows down the list from 293 to 190. Johnson is still last, of course. The next name on the list is a recent one that nobody has mentioned. He was awful, but he didn’t even have the decency to be spectacularly awful. He went 5-27 in two seasons – the exact same record as Marty Morningwig – and a decade later is a mere footnote. Woe is Chris Palmer; how quickly we forget.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 06/19/2013 - 4:50pm

Also a dreadful OC in Houston.

by kavin (not verified) :: Mon, 09/16/2013 - 1:22am

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