Analysis

From A to F: Grading Every NFL Head Coach’s 2022 Performance

There were 14 NFL team owners smiling on Monday because their teams were still playing more games. Many of the coaches of those clubs have security beyond these playoffs.

Not all, though. 

As for the other 18 franchises whose season is finished, well, some of those owners already are in the midst of head-coaching searches, and others might soon be. Yet some of those owners also are smiling because of the progress their teams made in 2022.

The 33rd Team graded the performance of every head coach (listed in alphabetical order under each category) for this season, and here’s how they stack up, from A to F. And yes, there are some Fs for failures, flops and fiascos.

Grade: A

Pete Carroll, Seahawks

The NFL’s oldest head coach (71) got his under-talented roster to a wild-card spot when the Seahawks generally were regarded as a contender for the top overall draft choice. 

Brian Daboll, Giants

The development of quarterback Daniel Jones (career-high 3,205 yards, career-low five interceptions) and the immense change in the Giants’ environment earn Daboll top marks.

Sean McDermott, Bills

From navigating through injuries and inconsistencies to the scary Damar Hamlin injury, McDermott has personified strong leadership.

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers

Shanahan has one of the Super Bowl favorites – with a third-string rookie QB playing like a star. Plus, San Francisco’s defense is monstrous.

Nick Sirianni, Eagles

Jalen Hurts is the NFL’s most improved quarterback, the offense is balanced and stacked, and the defense led the league in sacks. Oh yeah,  Sirianni’s news conferences are as entertaining as his team’s style of play.

Doug Pederson, Jaguars

Talk about changing a locker room’s culture. Pederson, a Super Bowl winner in Philadelphia, rid the Jaguars of the stench of Urban Meyer’s short tenure and guided Trevor Lawrence toward franchise-QB territory. 

Andy Reid, Chiefs

We tend to forget how great a coach Reid is. Then he loses his most dangerous player, Tyreek Hill, and standout safety Tyrann Mathieu, yet leads Kansas City to the top of the AFC.

Zac Taylor, Bengals

Cincinnati might be the most balanced team in the league. The restructured offensive line and an underrated defense highlight Taylor’s work, as does his empathy and understanding during the traumatic Damar Hamlin situation. 

Mike Tomlin, Steelers

A near-total rebuild in Pittsburgh with a rookie quarterback emphasizes just how great a coach Tomlin is. You know, a coach with zero losing records after this season’s rally.

Grade: A-Minus

Dan Campbell, Lions

Detroit still needs to be better on defense and to find some consistency from week to week. But Campbell, who guided the Lions to their first winning season since 2017, never plays not to lose, and you have to love that attitude.

John Harbaugh, Ravens

Once more, Baltimore was ravaged by injuries, particularly to QB Lamar Jackson, who missed the final five regular-season games. But there the Ravens are, a wild-card team. 

Kevin O’Connell, Vikings

Yes, they won the NFC North and showed great resilience with their in-game comebacks. But that defense is worrisome, as is a penchant for losing big when the Vikings do lose. 

Grade: B

Mike McCarthy, Cowboys

Many pundits believe Dallas underachieved, which isn’t fair; the Cowboys went 4-1 without their No. 1 quarterback. Still, the decision making by McCarthy can be difficult to fathom. 

Arthur Smith, Falcons

Another team with uncertainty at quarterback and lots of youth that somehow won seven games. Atlanta’s run game (159.9 yards per game, third in the league) was particularly strong under Smith.

Brandon Staley, Chargers

Staley’s love of analytics results in some strange and often misguided decisions. But he’s willing to gamble, his team overcame major injuries, and the Chargers have become a contender.

Grade: B-Minus

Mike McDaniel, Dolphins

Miami was far too streaky, and McDaniel’s play-calling was way too predictable. The defense also regressed. Still, with big injuries at quarterback, he got the Dolphins into the postseason parade. 

Ron Rivera, Commanders

Rivera deserves kudos for doing his best in a messy organization. But the inability to figure out the QB quandary and a few bad defeats drop his mark. 

Grade: C

Bill Belichick, Patriots

Maybe it’s Belichick the GM who gets this grade for putting the Patriots in such an also-ran condition. The only playoff team they beat was Miami without Tua Tagovailoa. 

Matt LaFleur, Packers

That Green Bay surged in December and nearly grabbed a playoff berth boosts his mark a bit. By far this was LaFleur’s worst showing with the Pack.

Sean McVay, Rams

Injuries and a Super Bowl hangover had a lot to do with this, but come on: The defending champions with all that talent going 5-12?

Robert Saleh, Jets

New York was 7-4 and Saleh was in the conversation for Coach of the Year. The Jets finished with six straight losses, QB chaos, and wasted a solid defense (fourth in total yards allowed per game, 311.1).

Mike Vrabel, Titans

Injuries for the second consecutive season were damaging. Not having a reliable replacement when QB Ryan Tannehill went down hurt just as much. 

Grade: D

Dennis Allen, Saints

In the feeble NFC South, New Orleans couldn’t ride its decent defense that Allen oversees. His resume as a head coach (15-38 over parts of four seasons) doesn’t compare to his success as a coordinator.

Todd Bowles, Buccaneers

Also in that weak division, the Bucs struggled and Tom Brady got his first losing record as a starter. Few decisions Bowles made worked out, though the playoffs could bring redemption.

Matt Eberflus, Bears

The only reason this isn’t an F is because of the development of QB Justin Fields, whose quarterback rating improved 12 points from his rookie season. 

Kevin Stefanski, Browns

The only reason this isn’t an F is because of the waiting game Cleveland had to play for QB Deshaun Watson, who was suspended the first 11 games. The Browns had a major meltdown on defense.

Grade: F

Nathaniel Hackett

Did the hiring of Hackett come with the belief he could persuade Aaron Rodgers to join him in Denver? Instead, the Broncos got Russell Wilson – and then a complete collapse. And Hackett was shown his way out.

Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals

Pretty simple here. Arizona went from a playoff team to an utter flop. And Kingsbury is out of work.

Josh McDaniels, Raiders

Like many others, McDaniels is proving he’s a good coordinator who struggles as a head coach. Not even having WR Davante Adams (1,516 receiving yards and 14 TDs), rushing-leader Josh Jacobs (1,653 yards and 12 TDs) and DE Maxx Crosby (12.5 sacks) got Las Vegas anywhere.

Frank Reich/Jeff Saturday, Colts

Like Las Vegas, Indy spiraled from contender to also-ran under Reich, and it got worse under Saturday. 

Matt Rhule/Steve Wilks, Panthers

Separately, Wilks deserves a higher mark because he made the Panthers competitive after they sank to the bottom of Lake Norman under Rhule. The failed Baker Mayfield experiment falls on Rhule.

Lovie Smith, Texans

Did Smith ever really have a chance with the dysfunctional way Houston is run? At least the Texans finished strongly – strongly enough to blow the top overall draft selection. Oops!

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