The Best Super Bowl Coaches Of All-Time

Football | 2/8/24

Being a head coach in the NFL is one the hardest jobs a person can have. There are only 32 in any given season, and only two get to face off in the Super Bowl. Some coaches, like Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, and Vince Lombardi make it look easy. Lombardi was so great at winning they even named the Super Bowl trophy after him! But where do you think he ranks in NFL history? It was a real battle on the goal line to pick the best Super Bowl-winning head coaches, and here they are.

Mike McCarthy - Green Bay Packers

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Mike McCarthy was hired by the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and lasted 13 seasons before being fired. Aaron Rodger under center, McCarty made Green Bay a perennial Super Bowl contender. In 18 postseasons games, he won ten times, beating the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

If there's anything keeping McCarthy from being higher on this list, it's the common criticism that in 13 years with Aaron Rodgers he only won one Super Bowl. What can't be denied is his winning pedigree.

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Hank Stram - Kansas City Chiefs

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Hank Stram is responsible for one of the most famous lines in NFL history. During a blowout victory over Minnesota, NFL Films got him on tape saying, "It's like stealing." That game, was the Super Bowl, where Stram's Chiefs dismantled the Vikings 23-7.

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Before that Super Bowl victory, Stram was forced to taste defeat. He took on the Packers in NFL's first Super Bowl, getting crushed 35-10. From those two outcomes, it's clear that he didn't like close games!

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Mike Tomlin - Pittsburgh Steelers

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One of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL, Mike Tomlin's career will always be tied to Ben Roethlisberger. Having a future Hall of Famer at his disposal has made life nice in the steel city. You know what would be really nice, though? Another ring.

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Since he was hired in 2007, Tomlin has led the Steelers to two Super Bowls, winning one and losing one. The loss was a last minute heartbreaker against the Packers. The win was a last second jaw dropper against the Arizona Cardinals.

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Tom Flores - Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

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Taking over the Raiders from John Madden meant Tom Flores was in the hot seat as soon as he accepted the job. He excelled under pressure, taking the Raiders to two Super Bowls and winning both. Even more impressive, he didn't have a Hall of Fame quarterback.

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Do you remember the name Jim Plunkett? The average at best quarterback had failed his way out of New England before landing with Flores in Oakland. The pair won their first championship there, and another two years later when the team relocated to Los Angeles.

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Andy Reid - Kansas City Chiefs

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The second time was the charm for Andy Reid. After a storied coaching career that included one Super Bowl loss with the Eagles (to the Patriots), Reid finally found glory in 2020 with the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Having 24-year-old wonder quarterback Patrick Mahomes under center made the job a little easier for Reid. The Chiefs were down entering the fourth quarter before Reid's clever playcalling unleashed Mahomes and Kansas City stormed back for the victory.

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Pete Carroll - Seattle Seahawks

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Pete Carroll would be higher on this list if it wasn't for one decision. Sitting on the brink of winning back-to-back Super Bowls, Carroll had Seattle throw instead of run the ball. The pass intercepted, and Seattle lost. The play call still stands as one of the most baffling in Super Bowl history.

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Still, it didn't take long for Carroll to mold the Seattle Seahawks into his defensive image. Having accomplished everything he could at USC, Carroll transitioned smoothly to the NFL. It didn't hurt when he drafted Russell Wilson, who has become elite under Carroll's tutelage.

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Tony Dungy - Indianapolis Colts

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Tony Dungy broke barriers in the NFL. He was the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl, setting the table for Mike Tomlin and others to follow. It wasn't easy in Indy, though, as Dungy found himself having to coach around Peyton Manning's annual playoff meltdowns.

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Four years after being hired, Dungy and Manning got over the hump, making the Super Bowl. The Colts beat the Bears 29-17 to win the organization's second Lombardi trophy, and the first after moving to Indianapolis from Baltimore.

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Mike Holmgren - Green Bay Packers/Seattle Seahawks

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Mike Holmgren split Super Bowl appearances with the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre. In 1996, Green Bay beat New England. Two years later the duo lost to John Elway and the Broncos. Holmgren left the Packers after the loss, signing an eight-year contract with the Seahawks.

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Once firmly entrenched with Seattle, Holmgren traded for Green Bay backup Matt Hasselbeck. In 2005, Seattle reached its first Super Bowl in franchise history, losing to the Steelers 21-10. The appearance made the Bay Area native the fifth coach in league history to take two separate teams to the Super Bowl.

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George Seifert - San Francisco 49ers

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George Seifert took the reigns of the San Francisco 49ers after Bill Walsh retired and had to navigate the transition from Joe Montana to Steve Young. He proved he could handle the pressure, taking the team to two Super Bowls and two wins.

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His biggest win came with Steve Young. After Montana retired, Young struggled to overcome the burden of following his greatness. Seifert helped Young get the "monkey off his back" in Super Bowl XXIX, where he threw a record six touchdown passes and was named MVP.

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John Madden - Oakland Raiders

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Much more than the name behind one of the most successful video game franchises of all-time, John Madden had an incredible NFL career. During his ten-year tenure with the Oakland Raiders, he went 103-32, the best regular season winning percentage ever. This list isn't about the regular season, though.

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Madden came back to earth in the playoffs, posting a 9-7 overall record. His teams made six AFC Championship games, losing five of them. When he did make it to the Super Bowl in 1976, Oakland did not disappoint, beating Minnesota 32-14.

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Jimmy Johnson - Dallas Cowboys

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Like Pete Carroll earlier, Jimmy Johnson might be higher on this list if not for one setback. Unlike Carroll, his setback wasn't play calling, it was management. Johnson won two Super Bowls with Dallas, but never got the respect he desired from team owner Jerry Jones.

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Their constant disagreements ultimately ended with a "mutual parting of ways." Johnson was the head coach of Dallas for four years and won two Super Bowls by a combined 52 points. If he and Jones could have made nice with each other, who knows how many more rings he'd have.

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Mike Shanahan - Denver Broncos

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Mike Shanahan had a short start to the beginning of his career, lasting only 20 games with the Raiders before getting the boot at the age of 37. That damaged his legacy a bit but set him up for a bigger return when he landed with the Denver Broncos.

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Shanahan had a healthy Terrell Davis and John Elway was still capable of performing at a high level. This combination led to zero Super Bowl defeats and two wins.

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Tom Coughlin - New York Giants

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Many might consider Tom Coughlin the most underrated coach in NFL history, but much of his demise came at his own hand when he struggled to maintain regular-season success. Out of his 20 seasons, seven of them weren't winning years.

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He did, however, go 2-0 in Super Bowls with Eli Manning at the helm. Bringing crushing defeats to Tom Brady and the Patriots, he remains the only coach to defeat Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl.

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Bill Parcels - New York Giants

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Bill Parcels record in Super Bowl games is 2-1. His career playoff record is 19-11. Basically, he knew how to win when it mattered most. Parcells is interesting in that he coached several different teams and brought many of them to prominence.

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Parcels was in charge of four different teams and brought at least three of them to the conference championship game and two of them to the Super Bowl. He admitted it was his "headstrong" manner that made him leave New England after reaching the big game with them and losing. Whatever the case, the Giants are glad he departed and brought them two titles.

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Tom Landry - Dallas Cowboys

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Tom Landry managed to bring his Cowboys to the ultimate game five times during the '70s. After his loss to Seattle in what many deem the greatest Super Bowl, Landry failed to bring his team back to that stage again in a decade.

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This business is rough but his two wins in '71 and '77 were probably enough to make up for the losses. He just happened to be apart of a well-oiled team during the Steelers reign of dominance.

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Don Shula - Miami Dolphins

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Don Shula is an interesting case. He may have lost as many Super Bowls as any coach ever, but he also won more than most did. He was 2-4 in the Super Bowl but lost one where his Colts had been favored by more than two touchdowns.

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All things considered, you have to remember that it isn't hard making it to the big game six times. One time is hard enough! Don't forget to throw in his 17-0 season that his Dolphins capped off with a 14-7 victory over Washington in SBVII.

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Vince Lombardi - Green Bay Packers

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Unfortunately for Vince Lombardi, only three of his ten seasons fell into the Super Bowl era. Otherwise, he would receive way more praise. Either way, he helped launch said era with his Green Bay Packers. They beat two storied franchises in the Raiders and Cowboys.

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Due to a tragic diagnosis of late-stage colon cancer, Lombardi wasn't able to continue his run. We guess that was the door opening for other teams to have a chance at winning.

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Bill Walsh - San Francisco 49ers

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Here's another coach that didn't lose a single Super Bowl. Bill Walsh won all three of his trips to the biggest game of the year. He also reinvented football during the '80s. He unleashed the potential of the passing game to control the clock while simultaneously frustrating the opposing defense.

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Joe Montana was the master of the West Coast offense as it kept drives alive and the defense fresh. Had Walsh not retired when he was 57, he might have become the greatest coach of the Super Bowl era.

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Chuck Noll - Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Steelers from the '70s have to be the greatest NFL dynasty ever. They are still outlasting the 21st-century Patriots because they were a team of talent, not just a player-coach duo. Noll has four Super Bowl victories with zero losses.

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Terry Bradshaw had the honor of playing the quarterback position during these championships, but the team ended up changing significantly throughout the course of this fantastic run. When you haven't lost a game in the Super Bowl in four tries, you deserve to be on this list.

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Sean McVay - Los Angeles Rams

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It's no easy feat leading a team to two Super Bowls - especially when you're still under 40-years-old, but that's exactly what Sean McVay did. In 2021, the 36-year-old head coach of the Los Angeles Rams led the team to its second title game (played in 2022), beating the Bengals 23-20 to win his first ring.

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The big victory wipes away the embarrassment of losing 13-3 in his first Super Bowl to the Patriots. McVay licked his wounds, learned from his mistakes, and became the youngest head coach to ever win it all. That alone earns him his spot on this list.

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Joe Gibbs - Washington Redskins

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With three Super Bowl wins and one defeat, Joe Gibbs is well-accomplished. What makes that stat even better is Gibbs won with three different quarterbacks. You usually pair Super Bowl-winning coaches with their quarterback, but Gibbs had many.

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Something even better is that Gibbs always had dominant teams in the big game. He wasn't the type to take an 8-8 team on a miraculous run. The three teams he coached that won were a combined 33-7.

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Bill Belichick - New England Patriots

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Even with Spygate on his resume, you still have to respect the coaching legacy of Bill Belichick. The New England Patriot's head coach has more wins than losses in the Super Bowl. No other coach has been to more and won more than Belichick (five victories and three losses).

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There hasn't been another to perform at such a high level for so long. You can chalk it up to having Tom Brady as his quarterback, but other players seem to flourish under Belichick where they might struggle elsewhere. If it weren't for Belichick, Brady might not have developed as he did.

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Bobby Petrino

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It's fair to say, Bobby Petrino didn’t have it easy when he landed his job with the Atlanta Falcons. His franchise quarterback Mike Vick was sidelined due to a dogfighting scandal and the team got off to a brutal 3-10 start. That would make any new coach lose his nerve, but Bobby did things differently.

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With three games left in the season, Petrino resigned by leaving a short, handwritten note attached to the lockers of all his players. In the fallout, Petrino was criticized and labeled a coward. Now, he’s coaching the Louisville Cardinals and has found the success he was clearly missing in the pros.

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Nick Saban

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No one likes Nick Saban. He's the Bill Belichick of college football — a hardliner who wins a lot. Under Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide have won four National Titles and have an all-time record of 101-19. People forget that before he built this legacy in Alabama, Saban was a head coach for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and a horrible one at that. Coming from a college system where the head coach’s word was the law, Saban struggled to adjust.

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NFL players with inflated contracts routinely talked back to him, sometimes refusing to follow orders. Players used to call him Nick just to piss him off because they knew he preferred to be called "coach", or “coach Saban.” By the end of his second season in Miami, Saban accepted a job with Alabama and resigned as head coach of the Dolphins.

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Rod Marinelli

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Whether you like Marinelli as a person or not, you probably hate him as a coach because of the part he played in the Lions winless season. Marinelli was the head coach of the worst team in NFL history. The 2008 Lions finished 0-16, making them the only team to ever reach that historical mark.

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Marinelli's head coaching was nothing short of a disaster, but he found plenty of success coaching defense over the years. He won a Super Bowl as the defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that boasted one of the greatest defensive fronts in NFL history.

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Lane Kiffin

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Lane Kiffin was hired by Al Davis in the heart of the Raiders losing years at the age of 31, which made him the youngest head coach in the modern football era at the time. For some reason, Davis was displeased with how Kiffin was running the team and apparently, tried to force him to resign. When Kiffin refused, Davis fired Kiffin and named Tom Cable the interim head coach… TOM CABLE!

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Things didn't improve after Kiffin returned to college football. In 2012, he led a USC team with National Title aspirations to a 7-6 record. Sports Illustrated named him one of the five worst coaches in college football for turning the USC Trojans into the "biggest underachievers in the country."

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Bill Belichick

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Yes, Bill Belichick. The New England Patriots head coach is no doubt beloved by all who support the franchise, but to everyone else, he's Darth Belichick, leader of the Evil Empire. It’s hard to deny his brilliance given the fact that he’s won five Super Bowls already, but he’s easy to hate.

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Every great story needs a villain and with all the scandals the Patriots have dealt with over the years, and Belichick plays the part perfectly. Let’s not forget that hoodie. No one looks good in a hoodie vest.

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Sean Payton

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The head coach of the New Orleans Saints has enjoyed a great head coaching career. He was instrumental in his teams 2009 Super Bowl victory. His surprise onside kick call to open up the second half shifted the momentum and helped the Saints defeat the favored Indianapolis Colts.

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His involvement in the Bountygate scandal has become a major blemish on his legacy. In 2012, Payton was suspended for an entire season after it was proven that he was aware the bounty program implemented by defensive coaches, which incentivized players to intentionally injure opponents.

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Jim Schwartz

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I could probably make a list dedicated exclusively to terrible Detroit Lions coaches and I still think I'd have to leave a few worthy candidates off the list. Jim Schwartz was no Rod Marinelli, but he had his fair share of lowlights. In addition to being brutal with the challenge flag, Schwartz also made an illegal challenge — for those who don’t know, throwing the challenge flag at the wrong time is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — that cost him a win against the Houston Texans back in 2012.

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It’s also worth mentioning the brawl Schwartz started with then San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh shook his hand too hard after the game so Schwartz chased him down. It was quite the spectacle.

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Jim Harbaugh

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The fiery Jim Harbaugh is unabashedly critical of everyone and anyone. Calling him an oddball wouldn't do him justice. He gives entertaining quotes, sometimes evenat the expense of his own players. The majority of head coaches are deadpan on the sidelines so as to not give anything away. Not Harbaugh.

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The former 49ers head coach jumps around like a jackrabbit, throws at least one temper tantrum a game and barks constantly at the referees. Oh and let’s not forget the time he started a fight with Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. Wolverine fans seem to love him though, so there’s that.

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Dennis Erickson

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Dennis Erickson's first stint in the NFL didn’t go as planned. In three of his four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Erickson finished with the wildly mediocre 8-8 record. He was fired after failing to make the playoffs and returned to the college football ranks, before taking another job in the NFL, this time with San Francisco 49ers.

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Things only got worse for Erickson. His 49ers never finished with a winning record and in 2004, after going 2-14, he was fired with three years remaining on his contract. You really have to hate someone a lot to be willing to pay them for three years not to coach your team.

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Butch Davis

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When the Browns scooped up Butch Davis he was tabbed as the potential savior of a reeling franchise (how many times have we heard that), mostly due to the reputation he built during his time as coach at Miami University. His legacy of winning football games wasn't enough to counteract the Browns losing attitude.

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He made the playoffs once during his tenure, only to blow a 17-point second-half lead in his only postseason appearance. Two years later, Davis was canned after giving up 58 points to his team’s divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. Davis returned to college football and the Browns continued to suck.

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Norv Turner

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When Norv Turner assumed control of the San Diego Chargers in 2007, they were the team to beat. The had a future star quarterback by the name of Philip Rivers who was just beginning to come into his own, and a Hall of Fame running back named LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield. Somehow, he still managed to screw it up. He won 11 games in his first season and lost in the AFC championship game.

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His only other season with 10-plus wins in 2009 when the Chargers went 13-3 and were defeated in the first round of the playoffs. Tomlinson, whose prime had already been squandered, left in free agency and the Chargers proceeded to miss the playoffs for the following three seasons before Turner was finally let go.

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Romeo Crennel

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Your franchise is never in good hands when Romeo Crennel is at the helm. Crennel got his first head coaching gig with the Cleveland Browns when he replaced Butch Davis. He coached four seasons in Cleveland a finished with a winning record just once. After the Browns organization finally gave him the boot, he eventually found himself in Kansas City where he was named interim head coach, replacing Todd Haley.

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Before long, the franchise gave him the permanent spot, however, a 2-14 record led to his termination as well. All thing considered, Crennel isn't a bad guy, nor is he a bad football coach. He just doesn’t know how to win games.

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Steve Spurrier

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Steve Spurrier coached the Redskins through two of the team's worst years. The franchise agreed to pay him an exorbitant sum to leave college football — $5 million over five years to be exact — which only amplified the fanbase’s hatred for him. Spurrier lasted two seasons, winning just 12 games in that span.

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In 2003, Redskins owner Dan Snyder parted ways with his costly investment, sending Spurrier back to college football where he immediately took a head coaching job at South Carolina. The Redskins have continued spinning their wheels since Spurrier’s dismissal, and his Gamecocks haven’t faired much better.

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Rex Ryan

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The son of Buddy Ryan and the twin brother of the Rob Ryan, Rex's coaching career has had several ups and downs. Fans tend to love the guy when the team is winning because of his brash, outspoken nature. When the team is losing, as all Ryan coached teams eventually start doing, fans become critics seemingly overnight.

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It happened in New York when he coached the Jets and it happened again in Buffalo after Rex hired his brother Rob and turned a top-five defense into one of the worst units in the league. It’s worth mentioning Rex recently 'retired’ from coaching and became an analyst.

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David Shula

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David Shula fell off the face of the earth after he was fired by the Bengals in 1996. Most people who fail as head coaches either land a similar job at the collegiate level or are employed in the NFL as a coordinator or unit coach. Shula, on the other hand, walked away from football entirely to join the family steakhouse business.

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I guess he really didn't have much of a choice after he became the fastest coach to lose 50 games. His career record stands at 19-52.

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Rich Kotite

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Coincidentally, Rich Kotite disappeared from football the same year David Shula announced that he was hanging up his clipboard. In addition to Kotite's inability to win football games, the head coach of the Jets and Eagles was awful when it came to drafting talent.

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His biggest draft day blunder came in 1995 when selected a tight end named Kyle Brady on front of future Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, sending the franchise back more than a couple of years. Fans nicknamed him "Rich Kotex" a reference to the tampon brand. Essentially, Kotite was shamed until he walked away from the league, something you don’t see very often.

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Marty Mornhinweg

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Unsurprisingly, Marty Mornhinweg's head coaching career started and ended with the Detroit Lions — as most head coaching jobs usually do. As an offensive coordinator, Mornhinweg headed offenses that routinely finished in the top 10 of the league.

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As a quarterback coach, he churned out five Pro Bowl quarterbacks, including Brett Favre, Steve Young, and Joe Flacco. As a head coach, well, he was awful. He won five games in two seasons and once elected to kickoff in overtime after winning the coin toss. It didn’t take long for Lions fans to turn on him, as most Detroit fanbases do.

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Ron Rivera

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Ron Rivera a.k.a "Riverboat Ron" was the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears in 2005 when his unit carried them all the way to the Super Bowl. Rivera was hired by the Carolina Panthers in 2011 to be the head coach. His first couple of years didn't go well, as he failed to make the playoffs.

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After a poll indicated that 83% of fans wanted the Panthers to fire Rivera, he bounced back with three consecutive playoff berths, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2015. Amid his historic winning streak, Rivera still found a way to piss people off thanks to a video taken in the locker room after a win, where he was pictured “dabbing”. So while Panthers fans grew to love the guy, the rest of the NFL remained steadfast in their opinion of him.

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Todd Haley

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Most coaches try to avoid butting heads with players, management, and the general coaching staff at large. Todd Haley welcomed the confrontation. His most memorable spat was with Kansas City Chiefs star running back Larry Johnson who questioned his coaching ability over Twitter.

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You know things are bad when a war of words boils over the Twittersphere. Johnson was suspended for a game and then released. Haley was later fired after the team finished with a 5-8 record and missed the playoffs. Whether the world at large despises Haley is not known. There's certainly no love lost between Haley and Johnson, though.