Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 comments on “Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

  1. HubcapDiamondStarHalo

    Teams only change their underwear once a year??? That explains a lot of bad behavior!

    • Ironman_4life

      I noticed that. Them things start gettin a stank after a week or two. I cant imagine after a year.

    • claude raymond

      Half a day is all it takes for me. Getting old sucks. “Depends” on your age I guess

  2. ziggy13

    Crazy that Pederson is already the 10th longest tenured coach after only 4 seasons

  3. kevin

    could have swore January comes before February but seems their list is lacking that knowledge

    • ffjsisk

      O’Brien had KC on the ropes and gave it up. He may suck as a GM but he’s got 4 division titles and only one losing season as a coach. Simmers been good as well. Quinn is a mixed bag, he’s probably served his purpose.

      • wagner13

        Quinn is carried by high-end talent. He was brought in to improve the defense and he’s done very little to mitigate the problem. He deserves to be on the hot seat. McDermott, McVay, and Shanahan can be added to the untouchable list imo

        • braveshomer

          I agree about Quinn…I’ve always liked him as a motivator and been rooting for him but his days seemed numbered. The Defense has gotten worse and the offense is the only reason he even has 2 winning seasons

          • wagner13

            Also, the offensive success can be attributed to Shanahan in 2016. Ever since, the unit has been super unbalanced

            • UGA_Steve

              I would say that is less Shanahan and more about Freeman getting paid. He just hasn’t played the same. Call it health, age, dollars, whatever. The Falcons have to throw in the towel on the run game by the second quarter if they want to have any chance of winning.

              They basically have to be unbalanced.

  4. petersdylan36

    It’s always interesting to look at this. The top 6 won super bowls and number 10 won a Super Bowl. So how much longer do 7-9 have before they win? I think Zimmer has the safest job and the best team out of the three

    • ffjsisk

      I’ll take O’Brien because the AFC south is consistently weak. He’ll probably win another division title. Watson is head and shoulders above all the other QB’s in that division. Ryan sucks and that division is brutal. Cousins has to beat Green Bay…

      • Ak185

        Rodgers will be gone in two years, Stafford is on his way out (even if he isn’t, Patricia and/or Quinn likely are), and the Bears will be needing a new QB soon (and may fire Pace and/or Nagy before that happens, less likely than Patricia though). Minnesota’s chances are better than you’d expect. Even if Green Bay, the current division leader, ends up bouncing back, Minnesota would likely have at least a year or two years where the rest of the division will possibly be up for grabs and they are the most stable team around. It is certainly possible that they contend in a very serious way before Cousins’ contract is even up. Currently they are not the favorites, but they may be soon, given the rebuilds that could possibly be looming in the division around them and how Spielman and Zimmer likely are safe.

        The Texans, on the other hand, are considerably worse, have lost most of their good draft picks, and are about to commit major money to three players despite giving up two very talented young players who would be useful in win-now mode. They are facing an up surging Titans team, a Colts team with much improved management and finally a good defense and competent coaching, and Jacksonville, who has gathered numerous picks with a potential long term quarterback. I do not think the AFC South is closer to rebuilding than the NFC North as a whole in terms of the next three years.

        Houston’s competition is getting better and Minnesota’s is getting worse in that timeframe, and Houston has crippled its draftable and signable future while ridding itself of two of its best players (one of whom is a potential Hall of Famer). Their money will be tied up in Tunsil, Watson, and Watt and have no upper level drafting ability to fill out the rest of the team. I do not see the Texans washing out, but I do not see them winning a Division level playoff game in the next few seasons.

        And while I don’t have much faith in Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan certainly does not “suck”.

      • petersdylan36

        The BOB lead Texans remind me a little bit of the Marc Jackson lead Warriors. The were good enough to make the playoffs because they were talented but then Kerr showed up and unlocked the rest of their potential. There is too much talent in Houston to be as underwhelming as they have been. They need a new coach and a real GM

  5. crosseyedlemon

    Why would anyone want a long career as an NFL coach? Your under the media microscope 24/7 and every decision you make is likely to be second guessed. The stress is going to give you a large ulcer or other health issues. You have to sacrifice your family life. You could be with an organization that doesn’t care about winning or providing you with talent. Money isn’t a cure all for everything.

  6. crosseyedlemon

    Hall of Famer George Allen had a .712 win percentage but his last NFL head coaching gig lasted just 2 pre season games. How crazy is that?

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