Table of Contents

    Introduction

    Football is as much a game of intellect as it is of physical prowess. It’s a strategic dance led by the coach, who shapes the identity and success of the team. The coaches we’re about to dive into have defined eras that revolutionized the game and left indelible marks on the NFL. Buckle up as we journey through the illustrious careers of the top 10 best NFL coaches of all time.

    1. Bill Belichick

    Starting our list is a living legend, Bill Belichick, whose name has become synonymous with success in the modern NFL era. This genius of the gridiron started his head coaching career with the Cleveland Browns in the 90s but truly found his footing when he took the helm of the New England Patriots in 2000.

    Belichick’s coaching philosophy, rooted in adaptability, and his knack for exploiting opponents’ weaknesses have helped transform the Patriots into one of the most dominant franchises in NFL history. With him at the helm, the Patriots have won an astounding six Super Bowl championships and made nine Super Bowl appearances.

    But what makes Belichick stand out is not just the string of victories, but his strategic brilliance. From his famously versatile game plans to his ability to turn overlooked players into key contributors, Belichick’s approach to coaching has been nothing short of revolutionary. His influence permeates the NFL, and his success is a testament to the power of smart, adaptable coaching.

    2. Don Shula

    In the realm of NFL coaching, few names resonate quite like Don Shula. His illustrious career spanned over three decades, during which he served as the head coach of the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins. Shula’s record-breaking 347 career wins remain a high-water mark in NFL history, illustrating his incredible consistency and longevity.

    But perhaps Shula’s greatest accomplishment was crafting the 1972 Dolphins, the only team in NFL history to have a perfect season. Shula’s coaching style was defined by his attention to detail, his ability to adapt to his players’ strengths, and his knack for staying a step ahead of his rivals. These attributes propelled his teams to sustained success and ensured his legacy would endure long after his retirement.

    3. Vince Lombardi

    No list of top NFL coaches would be complete without Vince Lombardi, a man so influential that the Super Bowl trophy bears his name. As the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, Lombardi transformed the team into a dynasty, clinching five NFL Championships in seven years, including victories in the first two Super Bowls.

    Lombardi’s coaching philosophy emphasized mental toughness, discipline, and commitment to the team above individual accolades. His famous adage, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” encapsulates the fiery passion and relentless pursuit of excellence that defined his tenure. Lombardi’s profound impact extends beyond his championship titles, and his teachings continue to inspire players and coaches alike.

    4. Bill Walsh

    The architect of the San Francisco 49ers’ golden era, Bill Walsh, was more than a football coach; he was an innovator. His tenure in the 80s saw the 49ers clinch three Super Bowl championships, transforming the franchise into a powerhouse.

    Walsh’s lasting legacy, however, lies in his tactical innovations. His “West Coast Offense,” which emphasized short, horizontal passing routes to stretch out defenses, revolutionized football. This shift to a more strategic and cerebral style of play broke the mold of the traditionally run-dominant game, setting the stage for the pass-heavy strategies that are commonplace today. Walsh’s innovative spirit and remarkable success secure his spot among the NFL’s all-time greats.

    5. George Halas

    One of the founding fathers of the NFL, George Halas, affectionately known as “Papa Bear,” guided the Chicago Bears for an incredible 40 seasons. His Bears were one of the NFL’s original franchises and under Halas’s stewardship, the team won eight NFL Championships.

    Halas was a visionary whose influence extended far beyond his coaching duties. He was instrumental in the NFL’s early growth and the establishment of a detailed playbook. His coaching philosophy was rooted in the basics: a strong running game, a solid defense, and disciplined execution. His long-lasting impact on the Bears and the NFL at large is undeniable.

    6. Joe Gibbs

    Joe Gibbs’s tenure as the head coach of the Washington Redskins in the 80s and early 90s is marked by consistency, adaptability, and success. Gibbs led the Redskins to three Super Bowl victories, each with a different starting quarterback, showcasing his ability to adapt his strategy to his players’ strengths.

    Gibbs was known for his meticulous preparation, motivational prowess, and offensive strategies. His teams were known for their punishing running game and innovative passing schemes, often leaving their opponents on their heels. Gibbs’s record of sustained success and his contribution to the game’s strategic evolution solidify his spot on this list.

    Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, right, gets a hug from his father Jack Gibbs in the team’s locker room at the Rose Bowl following a win over the Miami Dolphins in NFL football’s Super Bowl XVII in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 30, 1983. Washington beat Miami 27-17. (AP Photo/File)

    7. Paul Brown

    Paul Brown’s name graces the team he founded—the Cleveland Browns. Brown is widely regarded as a football pioneer, credited with numerous innovations that have become standard today, including game film studying, intelligence tests for prospective players, and the establishment of a detailed playbook.

    His Browns dominated the All-America Football Conference and later enjoyed success in the NFL. His teams were characterized by strategic innovation, precision execution, and relentless competitiveness. Brown’s contributions to the sport extend far beyond his team’s on-field successes, and his legacy continues to influence the game today.

    8. Tom Landry

    The Dallas Cowboys’ 29-year tenure under Tom Landry witnessed a paradigm shift in the NFL. Landry was a master tactician, known for his innovative strategies, including the 4-3 defense and the shotgun formation. His reign saw the Cowboys clinch two Super Bowl titles and enjoy an unprecedented 20 consecutive winning seasons—an NFL record.

    Landry’s stoic sideline demeanor belied his strategic acumen. His Cowboys teams were known for their precision execution, tactical diversity, and mental toughness. Landry’s ability to constantly innovate and adapt his strategies left an indelible mark on the game and set a standard for the modern coaches that followed.

    9. Andy Reid

    Andy Reid’s over-two-decade-long coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs is marked by offensive ingenuity, consistent success, and player management. Reid is one of the most respected and well paid active coaches in the NFL, with a coaching philosophy that emphasizes creativity, adaptability, and meticulous preparation.

    The highlight of his coaching career came in 2020 when he led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years. He’s won two Super Bowls with the Chiefs, in 2019 and 2023. Reid’s teams are characterized by their dynamic offenses, strategic innovation, and consistent performance, solidifying his place among the coaching elite.

    10. Bill Parcells

    Bill Parcells, affectionately known as “The Big Tuna,” left an indelible mark on the NFL. His New York Giants teams were known for their resilience, physicality, and strategic acumen, winning two Super Bowl titles under his guidance. Parcells had an incredible ability to turn struggling teams into contenders, and his coaching tree has produced several successful NFL head coaches.

    Parcells’s coaching philosophy emphasized toughness, adaptability, and attention to detail. His ability to inspire his players and maximize their potential set him apart. Parcells’s career is a testament to his coaching prowess and his impact on the game.

    Conclusion

    There you have it—the top 10 best NFL coaches of all time, master tacticians, and leaders whose influence extends beyond the football field. Each one of them left a lasting legacy, revolutionized the game, and set the bar for greatness. Their successes and contributions continue to shape the NFL as we know it. After all, football is not just a game of brute force—it’s a chess match, and these men were the grandmasters.

    From the tactical genius of Belichick to the game-changing innovations of Walsh, these coaches are the true architects of football. Their contributions to the sport have set the foundations upon which modern football is built. They didn’t just coach teams—they molded eras, pioneered strategic revolutions, and left legacies that will be etched in NFL history forever.

    Even as the NFL evolves, these coaches’ principles and philosophies remain timeless, their stories continue to inspire, and their names will forever be associated with greatness. They are the embodiment of what it means to be a coach—leaders, innovators, motivators, and champions. So, here’s to the men who stood on the sidelines but were always at the heart of the action—the best NFL coaches of all time.

    NFL FAQs

    How do you play football survival pool?

    Players pick one team each week they think will win the game outright. They may only pick a team ONCE per season, meaning you can't pick the same team twice in one season. If their pick is correct, the player survives another week and continues to play. An incorrect pick eliminates the player from the contest entirely. This is sometimes called an elimination or suicide pool. The last person standing wins.

    How to make a football pool?

    A football pool generally requires the creation of a shareable spreadsheet (like Google Sheets) so that members may pick teams. Then depending on the game type, creators must use several kinds of formulas (e.g. CountIF), data validation, and conditional formatting. Or, you can just use football pool hosting service like RunYourPool where we do all the work for you!

    How to run a weekly football pool?

    In order to run a football pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like Survivor or Pick'Em. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.

    What is a football survivor pool?

    In a Football Survivor Pool, players choose one team weekly they think will win. Usually, a team can be picked one time per season. Picks are made "straight up," no spreads necessary. If a pick is correct, members survive another week. An incorrect pick eliminates the player, unless a mulligan is used.

    How does a football pool work?

    Football pools are games of skill played among a group of people. There are a variety of pool types to fit every players needs, from casual to competitive. Pool commissioners can set up pools manually, or use a hosting service like RunYourPool whiel still customizing your own settings. Some examples include NFL Squares, NFL Survivor, NFL Pick 'Em, and Playoff Brackets.

    What is an NFL pickem pool?

    In an NFL pick’em pool, simply pick the outcome of each NFL game throughout the season. You can pick straight up winners or losers, or pick each game against the spread.

    How to play a football pool?

    The way one plays a football pool varies on the game type. For example, in Survivor, you pick one team to win each week and can't pick that team again. Guess wrong and you lose. Another example is Pick'em Pools in which you simply pick every game each week.

    How does a fantasy football pool work?

    Fantasy football pools don’t involve a traditional fantasy football draft. You can have as many members in your pool as you’d like, meaning no more 12 or 14 team limits! You pick a new lineup of players each week, and once you use a player once, you can’t use them again for the rest of the season.

    What is a fantasy football pool?

    A fantasy football pool is similar to a traditional fantasy football league but without the draft. Pick a new lineup each week, and once you use a player, you can’t use them for the rest of the season. Your players will receive points based on their in-game stats, and the member with the most points at the end of the season is the winner.

    What is a football pool?

    "Football Pool" is a broad term for a group of people competitively guessing the outcome of one or more football games. There are many types of formats, each assigning winners differently. They can be played informally between friends or through a more formalized system. They are often considered a great alternative to fantasy football given the ease of playing, although there are fantasy football pools as well.

    How do football pool squares work?

    There are different kinds of football square pools. Most have a 10x10 grid with one team for the rows and columns. In an attempt to win, participants select a square where they believe the last digit number of each team's score will intersect at the end of each quarter, and the game's end.

    How do you play football squares pools?

    To play a football squares pool, you're going to want to pick the squares with the best odds. As winners are determined by the point totals at the end of each quarter, try to consider options where scores are most common. Some of the most popular squares include 7-3, 7-0, 7-7, and 0-0. Numbers divisible by seven are good starting points.

    How many squares in a football pool?

    In a traditional football squares pool, a grid is sectioned off into 100 squares with 10 columns and 10 rows. This accounts for a direct relationship between each possible digit from 0 to 9 on both the X and Y axis. For smaller square grids like 5x5, multiple numbers can be assigned to each column and row.

    How to play squares football pools?

    Football squares are played by creating a grid, in which Team 1 takes the column and Team 2 the rows. In some cases, participants may claim as many squares as they like. In others, commissioners limit them to one. At the quarter times and end of the game, the winner is decided at the point the scores final digit intersect.

    What is a football squares pool?

    Also called Grid, Block, or Box Pools, Football Squares Pools can be played with any single game, but are most popular during the Super Bowl. Pool members claim squares on a 25, 50, or 100-square grid by putting their information in the square. Game scores are matched to the winning square(s), usually with winners being determined every quarter.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    How do you play football credits pool?

    In the credits format, all players start with the same number of credits. Players make picks each week by risking a certain number of credits on games, assigning more credits to the picks with a higher confidence level. Members receive double the credits risked for each win. The member with the most credits at the end of the season wins.

    What is a football credits pool?

    In Football Credits Pools, players start with the same number of credits. They then make picks each week by risking a number of credits on games, assigning more to the picks they have more confidence in getting right. Members double credits risked for each win. The member with the highest credits at the end of the season wins.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    How do you play football confidence pool?

    A football confidence pool is played straight up, not with a point spread. Not only do members pick the winning teams, they must back up their picks by giving them a relative confidence ranking. Your score reflects the number of confidence points given to winning teams. So if your confidence for a team winning is '1', then you can only win one point at most. If your confidence for a team winning is '5', then you can win five points for a win. The member with the most credits at the end wins.

    What is a football confidence pool?

    "Football Confidence Pool" refers to how you rank the teams that you think will win each week. For example, in the NFL, there are often 16 games weekly. In this scenario, you would rank each game from 16 to 1, based on the your confidence in that team winning.

    How do you play football margin pool?

    Margin pools are an NFL pool format that rewards members for picking a winning team each week. Pool commissioners can decide whether they award points equal to a winning teams margin of victory or the point spread for that game. When a commissioner chooses the point spread option, this format is often referred to as an NFL Underdog Pool.

    What is a football margin pool?

    In a Football Margin Pool, you are awarded points for picking a winning team. Pool commissioners get to decide whether they award points equal to a winning teams margin of victory or the point spread for that game. The player with the most points at the end of the season wins.

    How do you play football 33 point pool?

    The football 33 pool format is a casual pool where members are each assigned an NFL team (these pools are 32 members max, as there are 32 NFL teams). Members win when their team scores 33 points. Options for changing the target score, or having the closest to the target win each week is also available.

    What is a football 33 point pool?

    In the football 33 pool format, each member is assigned a unique NFL team (32 members max). A member will win when their team scores 33 points. This is a casual pool where you can change the target score or the option to have the closest to the target that week win.

    How to run a weekly football pool?

    In order to run a football pool, you must first crown yourself as Pool Commissioner. Begin by picking a game type like Survivor or Pick'Em. You'll want to establish rules before inviting friends, family, and colleagues to join. As commissioner, you make the rules and also need to enforce them equally and fairly.

    What is an NFL Playoff bracket pool?

    NFL Playoff Bracket pools are simple NFL pool formats where members pick every round of the playoffs before they start in an attempt to predict every match up correctly. It's optional to configure a multiplier for each round, or add a tiebreaker option of total points in the Super Bowl.

    How to make a football pool?

    A football pool generally requires the creation of a shareable spreadsheet (like Google Sheets) so that members may pick teams. Then depending on the game type, creators must use several kinds of formulas (e.g. CountIF), data validation, and conditional formatting. Or, you can just use football pool hosting service like RunYourPool where we do all the work for you!

    How to set up a football pool?

    To set up a football pool, you'll need to first choose a pool type like Survivor or Pick'em. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As pool commissioner, you'll enforce these rules and make sure the game runs smoothly throughout the season. Many commissioners use pool hosting sites like RunYourPool to make it easier and more engaging.

    What is a football power ranking playoff pool?

    In a power ranking playoff pool, members rank all 12 NFL teams competing in the playoffs from strongest (12 points) to weakest (1 point). Picks are made only ONCE before any games begin. Members are awarded the number of points assigned to a team when they win. Commissioners can optionally set up a point multiplier for each playoff round.

    What is a football confidence pool?

    "Football Confidence Pool" refers to how you rank the teams that you think will win each week. For example, in the NFL, there are often 16 games weekly. In this scenario, you would rank each game from 16 to 1, based on the your confidence in that team winning. This is similar to the Playoff Pool Power Ranking, just less teams.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    What is a football playoff precision pool?

    In a playoff precision pool, members attempt to pick the winner of every playoff game each week. You can decide if it’s straight up or on a point spread picks, but point totals are also added. Points are awarded for correct picks AND for how close to the correct combined point total they were.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    What is a Super Bowl Prop Bets Pool?

    A Super Bowl Prop Bet Pool is a fun and thrilling way to compete against friends and family during the big game! It's a simple questionaire of prop betting questions revolving around the Super Bowl, and whoever earns the most points based off correct answers wins!

    How does a Super Bowl Prop Bets Pool work?

    Pool members simply fill out a wide range of prop questions, each question worth a different value. Commissioners decide on the point value for each question, along with the amount of questions. Whichever member earns the most points based on corret answers wins the pool.

    What is a football Super Bowl Squares pool?

    Also called Grid, Block, or Box Pools, Football Squares Pools can be played with any single game, but are most popular during the Super Bowl. Pool members claim squares on a 25, 50, or 100-square grid by putting their information in the square. Game scores are matched to the winning square(s), usually with winners being determined every quarter.

    What is a prop bet?

    Prop bets are any sort of pick or wager on a game that has nothing to do with the score or the final score outcome. Props can range from game types, to team types and even player types - such as who will score the game's first and last touchdowns? Other props, such as novelty or exotic, feature bets on things such as the coin flip or the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

    How to read a football pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

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    About Author

    Matt K

    Matt is the Social Media Manager at RYP and currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has experience managing social media accounts with agencies, small brands, and large companies. He’s a diehard New England sports fanatic, and if he’s not watching the Celtics, he can be found roaming around Boston discovering all that the city has to offer.

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