During the 2014 NFL offseason, there has been discussion about the state of the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks, and whether they are building a dynasty. There is no question that they looked dominant all year and in the big game they managed to make one of the best offenses in the league look foolish. On offense, they have Russell Wilson, one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league, who has been able to use his speed and athleticism to make plays even when his rock solid offensive line breaks down. Taking hand-offs from Wilson is Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, one of the most powerful running backs in the league today, with the speed to get to the outside and power to put any defensive back and even some linebackers on the floor. On top of that they have reliable receivers who can react to the mobility of Wilson almost at will.
On the defensive side of the ball, while they have solid defensive linemen and linebackers, arguably the strongest point of their 2013 defense was their defensive backs, consisting of three Pro Bowlers; Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and of course, the 2013 interception league leader, Richard Sherman. Keeping on point with Seattle’s secondary; the dominance of these three men was not only due to their own skills. Basically put: they have Pete Carroll in part to thank because his defensive scheme is partially aimed at preventing big plays, which these men did with absolute impunity, notably against Colin Kaepernick and sorry receiver Michael Crabtree. Aside from the players, who are all incredibly talented, it is important to look at coaching as the foundation of any Super Bowl winning football program. Pete Carroll has (and rightfully so) received plenty of praise in the past year, not only for the players he has drafted during his time as head coach in Seattle, but also the way he has put these players to work with his teams.
It is undeniable that Pete Carroll has performed brilliantly as coach of the Seahawks. In just four years, he has managed to win the Super Bowl and many people are so impressed with his current squad that they are beginning to use the word “dynasty.” It will be interesting to see, in the next few years, if Carroll’s systems do continue to hold up. Unfortunately for the gentlemen on this list, no matter how skilled a coach is, there is no guarantee of a Super Bowl ring. Here is the top ten winningest NFL head coaches who have not won a Super Bowl. In terms of our methodology, we have only looked at coaches who started their head coaching careers after 1966 (the first year of the Super Bowl) and only Super Bowls won as head coach will count, as some on this list won the big game as assistant coaches or offensive/defensive coordinators. Finally, the win statistic that will be used is regular season plus playoff game wins.
10. Dennis Green: 117 Wins
While he never won a Super Bowl, Dennis Green has produced what is possibly the greatest press conferences in the history of the NFL while coaching for the Arizona Cardinals. After that loss to the Bears, he made the point clear that he and the team knew who the Bears were and that they let them off the hook. Aside from his outburst, Green was one of the most successful coaches during the 90’s with several great seasons leading the Vikings as well. He had a record of 97-62 while the head coach of Minnesota, but failed to win the Super Bowl.
9. Norv Turner: 118 Wins
Well, this might a rough year for Turner, as he recently became the offensive coordinator for the Vikings who looked pretty bad last year bringing up the rear of the NFC North. However, there is hope with Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson.
When Norv Turner was a head coach, he coached for the Redskins, Raiders and Chargers. He was largely unsuccessful with the Redskins and Raiders, but achieved some decent seasons at the helm of San Diego. His best head coaching stint was with the Chargers, where he got to the AFC Championship, where they lost to the Patriots.
8. Jim Mora: 125 Wins
I feel for Jim Mora, as he had an interesting take on the game, but neither the Saints nor Colts under his leadership were ever able to win a playoff game. It should be mentioned, however, that both of these franchises were in rough times prior to his hiring as coach. His 125 wins all came in the regular season. He did coach in six playoff games, but lost all of them, four with New Orleans and two in Indianapolis. Despite criticism of his philosophy, I am an unrepentant fan of how he dealt with criticism, summed up in one of my favorite quotes: “you don’t know, you just don’t know, you may think you know, but you don’t know. And you never will.” This is my method for dealing with criticism too and it’s highly effective.
7. Andy Reid: 151 Wins
After achieving solid success with the Green Bay Packers’ offense throughout the 90’s, Reid was hired by the Eagles to be their head coach. He had some solid talent to work with and build the team into a very consistent playoff contender, with six NFC East division wins in the 2000’s. Unfortunately, his Eagles only went to the Super Bowl once in 2004, where they were defeated by the New England Patriots.
Overall, he has had success as a head coach, with fifteen seasons under his belt and only three of those having losing records. His first year with the Kansas City Chiefs was impressive as he guided them to an 11-5 record. With that said, his career has yet to end and with his record so far, he is still a coach that could take a team to the big game. It’s also important to note that he inherited a 2-14 Chiefs squad after 2012 but turned them into a playoff team in 2013.
6. Marv Levy: 154 Wins
Sometimes when writing, it is necessary to put facts into a good news/bad news framework. With regards to Marv Levy, we’ll start with the good news. He won two Grey Cups while he was head coach of the Montreal Allouettes. Now for the bad news. It shouldn’t be news to anyone, but Marv Levy has an atrocious Super Bowl record. From 1990 to 1993, the Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl every year. AND LOST ALL FOUR TIMES! Once to the Giants, once to the Redskins and, of course, twice to the Cowboys. Oh well, at least he can look back to his fond memories from the CFL.
5. Jeff Fisher: 161 Wins
Jeff Fisher does have a Super Bowl win, however, it was prior to his becoming an NFL head coach. Since he became a head coach, he has not been as lucky. His 17 years with the Oilers/Titans, produced one Super Bowl appearance, but they were defeated by the Rams, who he would later coach, starting in 2012. His one Super Bowl loss was one of the closest games in the history of the big game, as on the final play of the game, receiver Kevin Dyson stretched out while being tackled and ended up with the ball just inches from the goal line, where a touchdown would have tied the game with no time left.
4. Bud Grant: 168 Wins
Another Vikings coach on this list, and also another case in which we are going to present a good news/bad news framework. Grant was the head coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian football league in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and won four Grey Cups in ‘58, ‘59, ‘61 and ‘62. Unfortunately, as a head coach in Minnesota, he was unable to win a Super Bowl, despite coaching his team to the big game four times. He did so in ‘69, ‘73, ‘74 and ‘76. His coaching record, which includes 168 wins (regular season and playoffs) has, however, gotten him selected into the Hall of Fame.
3. Chuck Knox: 193 Wins
Knox had a very successful 22 year career as a head coach in the NFL, being named Coach of the Year three times. Unfortunately for him, he was never able to win the Super Bowl. He was the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets until 1967. He left in that year to coach in Detroit, but, sadly for him, the Jets won the Super Bowl that year. In 1973, he earned his first head coaching job and would go on to coach the Seahawks, Bills and the LA Rams. While he was not able to win a Super Bowl as a head coach, he is the ninth highest winning coach in league history, and is widely believed to have concocted offensive line blocking techniques and schemes that are essential to modern football.
2. Dan Reeves: 201 Wins
The number eight winningest coach in NFL history is our number two on our list of those without Super Bowl rings. Don’t feel too bad for him though, as he actually won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys in the late 60’s and 70’s, as a player and later as an assistant coach. As a head coach, however, he was not as successful. He, like Bud Grant and Marv Levy, lost four times in the Super Bowl as a head coach. When he was head coach of the Broncos, he lost in 1986, 1987 and 1989 and years later, when he was leading the Falcons in 1998, he lost to his former team in Super Bowl XXXIII.
1. Marty Schottenheimer: 205 Wins
Marty is one of the best coaches ever, but he has the most wins of any coach who has never won the Super Bowl. Schottenheimer coached four different teams over the course of his career. He coached the Browns for five seasons in the late 80’s, the Chiefs from 1989 until 1998, the Redskins in 2001 and, after a two year break from coaching, the San Diego Chargers from 2002 until his retirement in 2006. His teams made the playoffs thirteen times, but was never able to get further than the AFC Championship, losing there three times.
His UFL coaching career was more successful as he led the Virginia Destroyers to a league title back in 2011. That league has since folded. It probably wasn’t the league championship that he wanted, but it still counts. Either way, Super Bowl ring or not, Schottenheimer has a win percentage over .600 , the fifth most wins of an NFL head coach and a very respectable career.