Who is the greatest NFL coach of all time?


Photo courtesy of San Francisco 49ers

BelichickPodium

Talk of Fame Network

Great teams are a product of great talent and great coaching.

That’s the  subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll –who’s the greatest coach of all time? Is it someone from the present — Bill Belichick — or someone from the past — George Halas, one of the cofounders of the NFL? There have been a lot of championships won in between by Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula and Bill Walsh. And that’s the slate of six candidates we’re offering up to our listeners and readers in this week’s poll. Who do you like? Here are the resumes:

Bill Belichick. Now in his 22nd season as a head coach, Belichick has won 67 percent of his career games. He spent his first five seasons with the Browns and the last 17 with the Patriots. His run in New England has been remarkable. He has won four Super Bowls and has an NFL-record streak of 14 consecutive seasons with double-digit victories. His Patriots have appeared in the last five AFC title games and 10 in all. He even took the Browns to the playoffs once (1994). Belichick has won six AFC titles and 14 division titles with the Patriots. His winning percentage with New England alone is 73.6, and his 2007 Patriots authored the only 16-0 regular season in NFL history. Belichick also won two Super Bowls as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants (1986, 1990).

Belichick Crop

(Belichick photos courtesy of the New England Patriots)

Paul Brown. Coached the Cleveland Browns for 17 seasons, first in the old All-America Football Conference and then in the NFL. He won all four championships in the AAFC then, when the Browns were absorbed by the NFL, won three more titles in that league. Brown took the Browns to 10 consecutive championship games from 1946-55. Brown was fired by Art Modell after the 1962 season and resurfaced with another start-up franchise in 1968, the Cincinnati Bengals. He coached them from 1968-75 before retiring with a 170-108-6 career record for a winning percentage of 61.2. Brown became the first coach to win both a national college championship (at Ohio State) and an NFL title. Only Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer have done it since.

BrownPaulSideline

(Brown photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals)

George Halas. One of the co-founders of the NFL and also one of the 17 charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Papa Bear” coached the Bears for 40 seasons and won six championships, the first in 1921 and the last in 1963. His teams lost four other championship games. Halas posted a 318-148-31 record for a winning percentage of 68.2. He was the first coach to hold daily practices and also introduced film study to football. The NFC championship trophy is named after him. As a player-coach in the 1920s, Halas was named to the NFL’s all-decade team as a two-way end. He also played baseball in 1919 for the New York Yankees.

halasgeorge

(Halas photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

Vince Lombardi. Coached only 10 seasons but appeared in six NFL title games and won five championships. He spent his first nine seasons as a head coach with the Packers and won the first two Super Bowls in the 1966 and 1967 seasons. He retired after the 1967 season to become general manager of the Packers, then returned to the field in 1969 as general manager and coach of the Washington Redskins. He posted an 89-29-4 record with the Packers for a winning percentage of 75.4, then went 7-5-2 with the Redskins before succumbing to cancer in 1970 at the age of 57. He coined the phrase, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” The Super Bowl trophy is named after Lombardi.

LombardiVince

(Lombardi photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers)

Don Shula. The NFL’s all-time winningest coach and the author of the league’s only perfect season, that 17-0 run by his Miami Dolphins in 1972. Shula coached 33 seasons and posted a 328-156-5 record for a winning percentage of 67.8. He began his career coaching the Baltimore Colts and took them to two NFL titles games in seven seasons, winning the championship in 1968. He coached his final 26 seasons with the Dolphins, winning back-to-back Super Bowls in the 1972-73 seasons. He also lost four other Super Bowls to the Jets in 1968, the Cowboys in 1971, the Redskins in 1982 and the 49ers in 1984. His teams won 14 division titles and suffered only two losing seasons.

Don Shula

(Shula photos courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)

Bill Walsh. Has the fewest victories of any coach in the Hall of Fame with 92. But Walsh coached only 10 seasons and won three Super Bowls. He inherited a 2-14 team and went 2-14 in his first season as coach. But inside of three seasons Walsh coached the 49ers to their first Super Bowl championship. Even with that 2-14 start, Walsh won 60.9 percent of his career games (92-59-1). Walsh is considered the father of the West Coast Offense, a horizontal strike passing scheme that made Hall of Fame quarterbacks out of Joe Montana and Steve Young. Walsh also served as an assistant coach under two of pro football’s most brilliant football minds, Al Davis and Paul Brown.

billwalsh

(Walsh photos courtesy of the  San Francisco 49ers)

Vote now!

 

 

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22 Comments

  1. James
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Lombardi stands Alone at the top!!

  2. December 28, 2016
    Reply

    I’m going with Belichick who is on his way to his fifth SB title. And if not for two separate miracle plays in Super Bowls vs Giants, he’d be on his way to his seventh! Incredible!

  3. Rob
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Why isn’t Chuck Noll not on the list?

    • John
      December 29, 2016
      Reply

      Because the author of this article, probably never heard of Noll. After all the Steeler dynasty teams assembled themselves, and had so much talent they coached themselves.

  4. Rasputin
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Travesty that Tom Landry isn’t even an option here. He should have gotten in instead of Don Shula or Bill Walsh at least. Apart from his NFL record 20 consecutive winning seasons, Landry was a legitimate football genius and a huge innovator on both sides of the ball, while Walsh was only an innovator on one side and Shula was just a competent guy who coached a long time and won a lot rather than a big innovator (though he had his rear handed to him by Landry in a 24-3 Super Bowl drubbing, as Landry remains the only coach in Super Bowl history to hold his opponent out of the end zone). Landry was his own defensive and offensive coordinator.
    Among countless other contributions Landry invented the 4-3 defense (at least as important as the west coast offense), revived, perfected, and popularized the defunct shotgun formation (now used by every team), developed the concepts of weak side/strong side linebackers (LB shifting), developed the concept of free and strong safeties, invented the third down back specialist (used a higher percentage of his roster than anyone else), and was the most advanced pioneer of his era in pre-snap shifting to confuse a defense. He helped elevate scouting (e.g. use of computers) and detailed film analysis to new levels. He had the vision and coaching ability to change players’ positions, something most coaches would be too cautious to do, turning defensive linemen Mark Tuinei, Blaine Nye, and Pat Donovan into Pro Bowl offensive linemen, TE Rayfield Wright into a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, and basketball player Cornell Green, who didn’t play football in college, into an All Pro defensive back.
    Landry’s Cowboys played in 12 conference championship games in 17 years and played in literally half the Super Bowls of the 1970s. He set a record in consecutive winning seasons, but sometimes winning is largely a function of getting (or lucking into) the right group of players (e.g. Belichick and Tom Brady, Chuck Noll’s one streak of success with pretty much the same roster).
    By contrast Landry’s 20 consecutive winning seasons saw overlapping waves of players and four different franchise quarterbacks. His coaching tree included assistants and future great coaches Mike Ditka and Dan Reeves, both of whom had also played for him and who got their coaching starts from him, but the constant throughout the winning was Landry himself. That said, Landry shined even more brightly when it came to innovation. No one on this list apart from Paul Brown is even in the ballpark of Landry when it comes to contribution to the game itself. He was also always the epitome of class in how he conducted himself.
    Tom Landry is legitimately in the argument for greatest NFL coach of all time, largely shaped modern pro football, and certainly belongs on a list like this.

  5. bachslunch
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Agreed, really tough to justify leaving off Noll and Landry. Given the choice, I’d expand the choices by two.

    • Rick Gosselin
      December 28, 2016
      Reply

      Joe Gibbs isn’t there, either. He won championships with three different quarterbacks. Most of the coaches on this slate were one-QB champions. Gibbs, Landry and Noll all have solid cases. But there were only six slots in this poll.

      • Rasputin
        December 29, 2016
        Reply

        Great coach, but Gibbs didn’t have the innovative coaching impact Landry did. He didn’t reshape the game itself.

  6. W. E.
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Instead of the Lombardi trophy it should be the Landry trophy. Coach Landry’s legacy impacted the game through innovation and his character.

  7. Peyton
    December 28, 2016
    Reply

    Tom Landry. If not for 2 plays at the end of losses to to Green Bay and Cleveland, the Lombardi Trophy would be named the Landry Trophy. All the innovations and winning seasons. Stability. Class. Leadership. The reason the Cowboys are America’s Team today? Because every man in America wanted to be Tom Landry and every boy wanted to be Roger. He was the greatest!

  8. Anonymous
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Tom Landry.

  9. tony
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Don Shula without a doubt!! The man won super bowls with 2 different teams. And did it with back up quarterback’s. What did belicheck do in Cleveland. That’s what I thought. But I do think he’s a great coach, but I have to go with the Don!!!!

  10. bachslunch
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Rick, all I can say is that I’m glad I don’t have to make the cutdown from eight to six among Halas, Brown, Belichick, Lombardi, Shula, Walsh, Landry, and Nola.

  11. bachslunch
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Meant “Noll,” not “Nola.” Damn autocorrect.

  12. Jim
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    The Emperor (Noll) isn’t on the list? Makes the list kind of useless,no?

  13. KDYounger
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Chuck Noll should be on this list.

  14. December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Chuck Molly should be in the conversation.

  15. December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Chuck Noll should be in this conversation.

  16. Bear fan Bob
    December 29, 2016
    Reply

    Maybe they are all the greatest coaches but agreed where is Landry or Noll. Every 1 of them either set the standards, rose the bar changed the game for their respected era.

  17. Gus
    December 30, 2016
    Reply

    Goose!!! How could a Dallas man leave Landry off this list? He’s my vote. And we really miss you covering the NFL full time. Especially your pre-draft reporting.

  18. Mark
    December 31, 2016
    Reply

    Vince Lombardi won Championships everywhere he went. High school, Nat’l Champs at Army, NFL Championships with NY Giants and ALL THOSE WITH THE GREEN BAY PACKERS. Top 3 STRAIGHT–ANYONE??

  19. Tom K
    January 2, 2017
    Reply

    Tough one here.
    I’ll go
    1. Lombardi
    2. Brown (has a solid argument for #1)
    3. Belichick (I expect him to end up #2 but #1 is not out of the question)
    4. Halas.

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