NFL Teams That Always Fire Their Coaches

NFL Teams That Always Fire Their Coaches

Since the beginning of the 2018 NFL season, eight of the league’s 32 teams have fired or parted ways with their head coach. The Arizona Cardinals fired head coach Steve Wilks after just one season at the helm. Most coaches get more time to shape their team, but overall, NFL coaches have a very short shelf life.

When NFL fans are frustrated with the performance of their team, their anger is often directed at the head coach. Head coaches run their teams, so ultimately all the responsibility falls on their shoulders. Whether they fail to get the most out of their players, struggle to draw up successful game plans and adjustments, or just have too much bad luck to overcome, NFL coaches can lose their jobs very quickly.

Throughout the entire histories of the 32 active NFL franchises, the average coach has lasted about 3.8 years. But this is not the case for every team. Some keep their coaches for more than a decade as they keep winning trophies, while others have impatient owners and demanding fanbases, leaving little to no room for error.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the average head coaching tenure of all 32 NFL teams on professional football database Pro-Football Reference to determine the teams where coaches always get fired.

Historically bad teams are always looking for the one coach who could turn them into a winner. The New England Patriots were one such franchise, firing their coaches most frequently before hiring Bill Belichick. New England went 5-11 in Belichick’s first year but hasn’t had a losing season since, winning six Super Bowls and showing no signs of stopping nearly two decades later.

The eight NFL teams that relieved their head coach of his duties either during or after the 2018 NFL season — Green Bay, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, Tampa Bay, Denver, Arizona, and the New York Jets — are all hoping to hire a long-term solution to their coaching issues who will bring postseason success.

Source: jeffweese / Flickr

32. Baltimore Ravens
> Average coach’s tenure: 7.7 seasons
> Total coaches: 3
> Number of seasons: 23
> Longest tenured coach: John Harbaugh (104-72)

The Baltimore Ravens keep their coaches the longest, on average. The team has had just three coaches in 23 seasons: Ted Marchibroda, Brian Billick, and John Harbaugh. Marchibroda lasted just three years. Billick coached for nine seasons, making four playoff appearances and winning a Super Bowl. Harbaugh, who is still coaching, has won a Super Bowl and posted just one losing season in his 11 years at the helm.

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

31. Dallas Cowboys
> Average coach’s tenure: 7.4 seasons
> Total coaches: 8
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Tom Landry (250-162-6)

For nearly half of their history, Tom Landry was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. Over his 29 seasons, Landry took Dallas from a winless expansion team in 1960 to Super Bowl winners. Since Jerry Jones became owner in 1989 and fired Landry, coaches have changed much more frequently, though 2019 will mark current coach Jason Garrett’s 10th season in charge.

Source: Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

30. Minnesota Vikings
> Average coach’s tenure: 6.4 seasons
> Total coaches: 9
> Number of seasons: 58
> Longest tenured coach: Bud Grant (158-96-5)

Though the Minnesota Vikings have never won a championship, the team has been reluctant to change head coaches. Seven of the nine Vikings head coaches lasted more than four full seasons. Minnesota’s greatest coach, Bud Grant, took the team to four Super Bowls in his 18 seasons, but he never won the big game.

Source: David Banks / Getty Images

29. Chicago Bears
> Average coach’s tenure: 6.2 seasons
> Total coaches: 16
> Number of seasons: 99
> Longest tenured coach: George Halas (318-148-31)

The Chicago Bears owe much of their historic success to George Halas. The man called “Papa Bear” coached the team for 40 non-consecutive seasons starting in 1920 and won five NFL Championships in the pre-Super Bowl era. The only coach able to win a championship since Halas is Mike Ditka, who coached the Bears for 11 seasons, including the legendary 1985 season.

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

28. Carolina Panthers
> Average coach’s tenure: 6.0 seasons
> Total coaches: 4
> Number of seasons: 24
> Longest tenured coach: John Fox (73-71)

Since their inaugural season in 1995, the Carolina Panthers have only made three coaching changes. Ron Rivera will begin his ninth season as head coach in 2019. Before him, John Fox led Carolina for nine seasons, which included three trips to the playoffs.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

27. Green Bay Packers
> Average coach’s tenure: 5.8 seasons
> Total coaches: 17
> Number of seasons: 98
> Longest tenured coach: Curly Lambeau (209-104-21)

The Green Bay Packers have had five coaches who led the team for more than 100 games each. Curly Lambeau helmed the Pack for the team’s first 29 seasons, in which they won six titles. In just nine seasons in Green Bay, Vince Lombardi won five NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls. Hall of Fame QB Bart Starr led his former team as head coach from 1975 to 1983, though he posted a losing record. Mike Holmgren and Mike McCarthy each led Green Bay to one Super Bowl. McCarthy was fired during the 2018 season. Matt LaFleur will be Green Bay’s 17th head coach.

Source: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

26. Pittsburgh Steelers
> Average coach’s tenure: 5.4 seasons
> Total coaches: 16
> Number of seasons: 86
> Longest tenured coach: Chuck Noll (193-148-1)

Over the past 50 seasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had just three coaches: Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, and Mike Tomlin. Noll, who became coach for the 1969 season, orchestrated the Steelers’ 1970s dynasty, which won four Super Bowls. Noll retired in 1991 and passed the reins to Cowher, who coached for 15 seasons and won a Super Bowl of his own before retiring and letting Tomlin take over. This is an impressive run, and seems like it should put the Steelers higher up the list. But the team had 13 more coaches before Noll, with about half lasting 25 games or fewer.

Source: Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

25. Seattle Seahawks
> Average coach’s tenure: 5.4 seasons
> Total coaches: 8
> Number of seasons: 43
> Longest tenured coach: Mike Holmgren (86-74)

Though Mike Holmgren has coached the Seattle Seahawks longer than anyone else, at 10 seasons, his streak will almost certainly be broken by current head coach Pete Carroll. Carroll led the Seahawks to the playoffs in six of his nine seasons, including the franchise’s lone Super Bowl title in 2014. Though the Seahawks lost in the first round of the 2018 playoffs, they still outperformed expectations and the fans will undoubtedly want Carroll as head coach for years to come.

Source: George Rose / Getty Images

24. Cincinnati Bengals
> Average coach’s tenure: 5.1 seasons
> Total coaches: 10
> Number of seasons: 51
> Longest tenured coach: Marvin Lewis (131-122-3)

After 16 seasons, 256 games, and an 0-7 playoff record, the Cincinnati Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis parted ways after the 2018 season. Lewis — like Sam Wyche, Paul Brown, and other Cincinnati coaches — was able to get his team to the playoffs, but never achieved much postseason success. Despite this futility, the Bengals organization has almost always given coaches at least three seasons to find success before making a change, which is why they rank as one of the teams where coaches last longest.

Source: Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images

23. New York Giants
> Average coach’s tenure: 4.7 seasons
> Total coaches: 20
> Number of seasons: 94
> Longest tenured coach: Steve Owen (153-100-17)

From 1925 to 1930, the New York Giants had five different head coaches before they finally settled on the legendary Steve Owen. Owen coached the Giants from 1930 to 1953, winning two NFL Championships. Since then, the Giants have had two additional long-tenured two-time champions — Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin. Though the Giants franchise has typically had head coaching stability, the team is on its third head coach since Coughlin was pressured to resign after the 2015 season.

Source: Scott Halleran / Getty Images

22. Kansas City Chiefs
> Average coach’s tenure: 4.5 seasons
> Total coaches: 13
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Hank Stram (124-76-10)

No Kansas City Chiefs coach has been able to match the success of the franchise’s first leader, Hank Stram. In his 15 seasons running the Chiefs, the team won the 1962 AFL title and Super Bowl IV in 1970. Though the franchise has hired legendary coaches like Dick Vermeil, Andy Reid, and Marty Schottenheimer since, it has yet to make it to another Super Bowl.

Source: Bill Baptist / Getty Images

21. Houston Texans
> Average coach’s tenure: 4.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 4
> Number of seasons: 17
> Longest tenured coach: Gary Kubiak (61-64)

The Houston Texans are on their fourth coach since they were founded in 2002. Their first coach, Dom Capers, failed to produce a winning season in his four years in charge. He was replaced by Gary Kubiak, who led the team from 2006 to 2013, when he was fired towards the end of the season and Wade Phillips served as interim coach for three games. Current coach Bill O’Brien has proven to be the most successful Texans coach, making three playoff appearances in his five seasons.

Source: Doug Benc / Getty Images

20. Miami Dolphins
> Average coach’s tenure: 4.1 seasons
> Total coaches: 13
> Number of seasons: 53
> Longest tenured coach: Don Shula (257-133-2)

Legendary head coach Don Shula helmed the Miami Dolphins for 26 seasons, winning two Super Bowls. He coached the 1972 team, which remains the only undefeated team in NFL history. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, he is the only coach that has lasted in Miami for more than five seasons. Not counting Shula, the average Dolphins’ coach tenure is about four years. The team fired coach Adam Gase following the 2018 season, replacing him with New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

Source: Brian Bahr / Getty Images

19. Jacksonville Jaguars
> Average coach’s tenure: 4.0 seasons
> Total coaches: 6
> Number of seasons: 24
> Longest tenured coach: Jack Del Rio (68-71)

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ first two coaches, Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio, each lasted eight full seasons at the helm. Since firing Del Rio during the 2011 season, the Jags have had four different head coaches and only made the playoffs once.

Source: Patrick Smith / Getty Images

18. New England Patriots
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.9 seasons
> Total coaches: 15
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Bill Belichick (225-79)

Before the arrival of Bill Belichick in 2000, New England Patriots coaches rarely lasted more than three or four seasons. The only other coach who lasted over 100 games was Mike Holovak, from 1961 to 1968. Though coaches like Bill Parcells and Raymond Berry were able to get the Pats into the playoffs, only Belichick has led the team to championships. Since teaming up with Tom Brady in 2001, Belichick has coached New England to 16 playoff appearances, six Super Bowl wins (and counting), and zero losing seasons.

Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

17. Los Angeles Chargers
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.7 seasons
> Total coaches: 16
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Sid Gillman (86-53-6)

The Los Angeles Chargers, formerly located in San Diego, have been plagued by long gaps in their playoff appearances. The team missed the postseason during 1966 to 1978, 1983 to 1991, and 1996 to 2003 seasons — all stretches in which multiple coaches lost their jobs. However, the Chargers appear to have a good fit now in Anthony Lynn. In two seasons at the helm, he took a 5-11 squad and turned it into a 12-4 team in 2018, earning the Chargers’ first playoff win since the 2013 season.

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

16. San Francisco 49ers
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.7 seasons
> Total coaches: 20
> Number of seasons: 73
> Longest tenured coach: Bill Walsh (92-59-1)

Outside of the five Super Bowls during the tenures of Bill Walsh and George Seifert, the San Francisco 49ers have struggled to find consistent head coaching. San Francisco has had eight head coaches who lasted two seasons or fewer. Of the 20 coaches in team history, just seven made the playoffs. Since Jed York became the franchise’s owner, president, and CEO in 2009, coaching changes have been frequent. The team fired head coach Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season, Jim Tomsula after 2015, and Chip Kelly after 2016.

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images

15. Philadelphia Eagles
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.6 seasons
> Total coaches: 24
> Number of seasons: 86
> Longest tenured coach: Andy Reid (130-93-1)

The Eagles have had a number of long-tenured coaches like Andy Reid, Dick Vermeil, and Greasy Neale going back to the 1940s. The franchise tends to stick with winning coaches for a long time, though the average coaching tenure is dragged down somewhat by some interim coaches and shorter tenures in the franchise’s earliest seasons. The Eagles will likely be with current coach Doug Pederson for a long time after he delivered Philly’s first Super Bowl in dramatic fashion in Super Bowl LII.

Source: Lisa Blumenfeld / Getty Images

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.6 seasons
> Total coaches: 12
> Number of seasons: 43
> Longest tenured coach: John McKay (44-88-1)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers change coaches every 3.6 years on average. Though considering that the franchise has an NFL-worst 38.5% win percentage all-time, it may be surprising to some that coaches last even that long in Tampa. John McKay led the team from 1976 to 1984 — a long tenure, considering he lost twice as many games as he won. Tampa Bay fired coach Dirk Koetter after the 2018 seasons, replacing him with former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

13. Denver Broncos
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.5 seasons
> Total coaches: 17
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Mike Shanahan (138-86)

Of the 17 coaches in Broncos history, 10 have lasted two seasons or fewer. Since two-time Super Bowl champ MIke Shanahan was fired after the 2008 season, the franchise is now on its sixth head coach. The team fired Vance Joseph after a disappointing 2018 season, hiring Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Besides Shanahan, the only coach who managed to last a long time in Denver was Dan Reeves, who brought the team to three Super Bowls in four seasons, losing all.

Source: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

12. Cleveland Browns
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 21
> Number of seasons: 70
> Longest tenured coach: Paul Brown (158-48-8)

The two Browns coaches who lasted the longest also happened to the first two. Paul Brown led the team to seven titles — four in the AAFC and three in the NFL — in the franchise’s first 17 years. Blanton Collier then took the reins and tacked on another title in his eight seasons in charge. Since reforming in 1999, the Browns have had 11 different head coaches. Freddie Kitchens was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after the 2018 season and will look to end the Browns’ constant coaching turnover.

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images

11. Atlanta Falcons
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 16
> Number of seasons: 53
> Longest tenured coach: Mike Smith (66-46)

The history of Atlanta Falcons head coaching is a mixed bag. Half of the franchise’s 16 coaches have led the team for four or more seasons. The other half have lasted three seasons or fewer. Current Falcons owner Arthur Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have proven to be patient when it comes to coaches. They have made just one head coaching change since 2008.

Source: Elsa / Getty Images

10. Indianapolis Colts
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 20
> Number of seasons: 66
> Longest tenured coach: Ted Marchibroda (71-67)

From 1954 to 1969, the Baltimore Colts had just two coaches — Weeb Ewbank and Don Shula. The team was relatively successful, winning two NFL Championships in the 1950s under Eubank. Shula left for Miami after the 1969 season. The season after that, the team won its first Super Bowl under Don McCafferty. But that would be the franchise’s last taste of success for a long time. The Colts struggled in the 1970s and 1980s, having five head coaches in each decade. Since 2002, however, there have been just four head coaches for the Colts, including Tony Dungy, who led the team for seven seasons and won a Super Bowl.

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

9. Detroit Lions
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 27
> Number of seasons: 89
> Longest tenured coach: Wayne Fontes (66-67)

In their nearly 90 years of pro football, the Detroit Lions have endured multiple long stretches of ineptitude. The team missed the playoffs during the 1936 to 1951 and 2000 to 2010 seasons, and they made the postseason just once from 1958 to 1981. The team has had 27 total head coaches, 18 of which never made the playoffs. Wayne Fontes is the longest tenured and winningest Lions coach of all time, leading the team from 1988 to 1996, but he was only ever able to muster one playoff victory.

Source: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

8. New Orleans Saints
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.3 seasons
> Total coaches: 16
> Number of seasons: 52
> Longest tenured coach: Sean Payton (118-74)

For many years, the New Orleans Saints were one of the worst teams in the NFL. The franchise had no winning seasons in its first 20 years and discarded coaches with regularity. Jim Mora was hired in 1986 and provided a small measure of success. He coached the Saints for 11 seasons and made four playoff appearances. The Saints struggled again after Mora’s departure, but finally found a great coach when they hired Sean Payton in 2006. Payton teamed with QB Drew Brees to take New Orleans from joke to juggernaut, making the playoffs consistently and bringing the franchise its lone Super Bowl in the 2009 season.

Source: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

7. Washington Redskins
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.1 seasons
> Total coaches: 28
> Number of seasons: 87
> Longest tenured coach: Joe Gibbs (154-94)

For a storied and successful franchise, the Washington Redskins have had very little coaching consistency. Of the 28 coaches in franchise history, 18 have lasted 35 games or fewer. Only Joe Gibbs and Ray Flaherty had any long-standing success. Flaherty coached Washington from 1936 to 1942, winning two NFL Championships. Gibbs won three Super Bowls in his first stint in charge, from 1981 to 1992. He returned for a mediocre four-season run in 2004.

Source: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

6. Tennessee Titans
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.1 seasons
> Total coaches: 19
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Jeff Fisher (142-120)

Stability at the top of any sports franchise is crucial to success. That may explain why the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers franchise has struggled historically. Eleven of the 19 Titans head coaches lasted no more than two seasons. Jeff Fisher, who coached the franchise for 17 seasons, is the only one who’s led the Titans/Oilers for more than 100 games.

Source: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

5. New York Jets
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.1 seasons
> Total coaches: 19
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Weeb Ewbank (71-77-6)

Most New York Jets coaches have been unable to keep their jobs for more than three seasons. Even proven successes like Pete Carroll and Bill Parcells couldn’t turn the Jets into winners. Even Weeb Ewbank, the longest tenured Jets coach ever, who coached the franchise to its lone Super Bowl victory, has an overall losing record in New York. Only two coaches have a winning record as Jets head coach: Parcells, who coached the team from 1997 to 1999, and Al Groh, who took over for Parcells and coached the team in 2000.

Source: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

4. Los Angeles Rams
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.0 seasons
> Total coaches: 27
> Number of seasons: 82
> Longest tenured coach: John Robinson (75-68)

The Rams franchise — which moved from Cleveland, to Los Angeles, to St. Louis, before moving back to L.A. — has never been known for stability. Of the 27 Rams coaches, 17 lasted three seasons or less, not including current head coach Sean McVay. Many of those were coaches from the early days of the franchise, but even lately the Rams have been quick to change coaches. The franchise is on its fourth coach since 2011, but McVay is just 33 and a proven winner and could lead the Rams for years to come.

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

3. Oakland Raiders
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.0 seasons
> Total coaches: 20
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: John Madden (103-32-7)

Outside of John Madden and Tom Flores, the Oakland Raiders’ franchise coaching history is a mess. Of the team’s 20 all-time coaches, 11 lasted two seasons or fewer. Since Mark Davis took over the team’s ownership from his late father in 2011, the team has had five head coaches. Current head coach, Jon Gruden, is planning to be around for a long time, though. Gruden reportedly signed a 10-year, $100 million deal to coach the Raiders as they prepare to move to Las Vegas.

Source: Rick Stewart / Getty Images

2. Buffalo Bills
> Average coach’s tenure: 3.0 seasons
> Total coaches: 20
> Number of seasons: 59
> Longest tenured coach: Marv Levy (112-70)

Just four of the 20 coaches hired to lead the Buffalo Bills lasted more than three seasons. A dozen Bills coaches lasted for two years or fewer. Buffalo’s best ever coach, Marv Levy, led the Bills for 12 years, bringing his team to four straight Super Bowls, but losing each one. Since Levy retired, 10 different coaches have helmed the Bills, none of which has won a playoff game.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

1. Arizona Cardinals
> Average coach’s tenure: 2.4 seasons
> Total coaches: 42
> Number of seasons: 99
> Longest tenured coach: Ken Whisenhunt (45-51)

Though the Arizona Cardinals franchise has existed in one form or another for nearly a century, it has never had any coaching stability. The franchise’s 42 coaches is by far the most in the NFL. No other team has even gotten to 30. Arizona’s longest tenured coach, Ken Whisenhunt, had a losing record over his six seasons, though he did bring the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl.

To top