The Falcons announced on Wednesday that they had extended both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitrioff for three seasons each. Quinn, now entering his fourth season as head coach of the Falcons, has reached the playoffs twice in three seasons and of course come oh-so-close to leading the franchise to it’s first Super Bowl. The sample size has not been very large, and he has had a lot of talent to play with, but Quinn has already established himself as a quality head coach.
The question now looms, where does he rank among his peers?
We break down the best head coaches in the game by using five tiers:
Coaches on the hot seat, The Newbies, Coaches with promise, Proven entities, and the Cream of the Crop.
Tier 5: Coaches on the hot seat
Cleveland Browns- Hue Jackson
Cincinnati Bengals- Marvin Lewis
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Dirk Koetter
Can we laugh at the fact Hue Jackson is a ridiculous 1-31 as the Browns head coach? That is a winning percentage of 3.1%. Now, Jackson has gotten the benefit of the doubt because of an awful roster, but the Browns have invested into that team this offseason. There is no way this team should not win at least five games this season. If that does not happen, Jackson should be let go. Marvin Lewis has miraculously convinced the Bengals organization he is a worthy head coach despite fifteen seasons without a single playoff victory.
Tier 4: The Newbies
Arizona Cardinals- Steve Wilks
Chicago Bears- Matt Nagy
Denver Broncos- Vance Joseph
Detroit Lions- Matt Patricia
Indianapolis Colts- Frank Reich
Los Angeles Chargers- Anthony Lynn
New York Giants- Pat Shurmur
San Francisco 49ers- Kyle Shanahan
Tennessee Titans- Mike Vrabel
Buffalo Bills- Sean McDermott
Miami Dolphins- Adam Gase
New York Jets- Todd Bowles
These are coaches in their first three seasons as head coaches that have yet to have the opportunity to prove how good they can be. All of these guys were successful coordinators, but that does not always translate to head coaching. The two on this list that most likely accomplishes something as early as this season: Kyle Shanahan and Pat Shurmur. We have seen what a wizard Shanahan can be with his offensive play-calling. Now he has Jimmy Garrapolo, who he went 5-0 with after acquiring him via trade last season. The 49ers could be a dangerous team in 2018. Shurmur also has a ton of offensive coordinator experience and was a helping hand on last year’s Vikings offense that operated under a third-string quarterback the entire season and into the playoffs. Even without a track record as a head coach, Shurmur enters a great situation in New York. The Giants get a lot of players back from injury, and after picking second in this year’s draft, could be back in the playoffs as soon as this season.
Tier 3: Coaches with promise
Dallas Cowboys- Jason Garrett
Houston Texans- Bill O’Brien
Jacksonville Jaguars- Doug Marrone
Los Angeles Rams- Sean McVay
Washington Redskins- Jay Gruden
These are guys who have shown they belong in the NFL as head coaches, even if they have only been a head coach for one season, as is the case with Doug Marrone and Sean McVay. Both of them led their respective teams to surprising playoff berths, and Marrone became very close to upsetting the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The other three, Bill O’Brien, Jay Gruden and Jason Garrett, have proven over their careers to have value as a head coach. However, none of these guys have done anything to earn long-term job security. They all still have a lot to prove.
Tier 2: Proven Entities
12) Minnesota Vikings- Mike Zimmer
11) Oakland Raiders- Jon Gruden
10) Carolina Panthers- Ron Rivera
9) Atlanta Falcons- Dan Quinn
8) Philadelphia Eagles- Doug Pederson
7) New Orleans Saints- Sean Payton
6) Green Bay Packers- Mike McCarthy
5) Baltimore Ravens- John Harbaugh
4) Seattle Seahawks- Pete Carroll
This is where the rankings start to come in. For the most part, it is splitting hairs here because all of these guys have had some sort of playoff success and even won a Super Bowl. The most interesting one to watch on this list would have to be Pederson. He won the Super Bowl in his second season as the head coach of the Eagles, and if he can win another in Philly, he very well could find himself in the next tier very soon. Gruden will also be an intriguing storyline as he makes his return to Oakland. He is one of the most fascinating names in the business, but crowning him one of the best coaches in the NFL would be a strong overreaction.
Tier 1: Cream of the crop
3) Kansas City Chiefs- Andy Reid
2) Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike Tomlin
1) New England Patriots- Bill Belichick
You could argue Reid does not belong in this tier because he lacks a Super Bowl ring, however, his longevity as a fantastic head coach makes up for that. He should be regarded as a Hall of Famer. Tomlin has been able to keep Pittsburgh relevant among the top teams in the league for over a decade, winning one championship and going to another. Belichick, well he’s Belichick.