7 Worst NFL Coaches Ever

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Someone didn’t have such a happy Friday; his name is Gary Kubiak. The Houston Texans fired their head coach this week with three games remaining in the regular season, and enlisted defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to fill Kubiak’s shoes for the time being. ESPN reported the news Friday, and quoted owner Bob McNair asserting “This has been a very disappointing year. We started with such high hopes. To have this string of losses is unacceptable.”

The Texans now suffer the league’s worst record at 2-11, and have lost a record eleven straight games after winning their first two match-ups. Houston was expected to be a possible Super Bowl contender this year, but things evidently haven’t gone as planned, and that’s especially true after Kubiak suffered a transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke,” while walking off the field on November 3.

ESPN reports that Kubiak, 52, spent seven-and-a-half seasons coaching the Texans, having signed on in 2006, and his record with the franchise was 61-64. He was the fourth-longest-tenured coach in the league, but now he’s the first coach to lose his job this season, and McNair explains, “We normally would wait until the end of the year to evaluate our staff; under these extreme circumstances thought best to start the process now.”

Kubiak may be the first coach to go this season, but he still walks away from the game with two AFC South titles and the award for 2011 Coach of the Year. Thus, he likely won’t join the company of Pro-Football-Reference.com’s lineup of coaches who are now known for their losing records, rather than their winning ones. However, in light of the recent dismissal, we decided to highlight some of these men for you anyway. Here are seven of the worst NFL coaches, according to hard statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com.

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7. Darryl Rogers

First on the list is Darryl Rogers, coach of the Detroit Lions from 1985 to 1988. In Rogers’s four years as a NFL head coach, he recorded eighteen wins and fifty losses, coming up with a win-loss percentage of 31 percent. Rogers was on the Detroit Lions sidelines for fifty-eight games, but was twenty-two games behind clocking a 50 percent winning percentage, and is now known for one of his more famous quotes during his unsuccessful tenure with the team: “What does a coach have to do around here to get fired?”

Before coaching in the NFL, Rogers spent eighteen seasons coaching college-level football for Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State, and Arizona State.

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6. Harland Svare

Harland Svare comes in at No. 6 on Pro-Football-Reference.com’s list, and his six-year stunt as an NFL coach now isn’t exactly looked highly upon, as he only registers twenty-one wins out of seventy-four total games coached. Svare first coached the Los Angeles Rams from 1962 to 1965 where he registered fourteen wins out of forty-eight total games, but he left the team before signing on for the San Diego Chargers in 1971,where he finished out his last three seasons, voluntarily leaving after the 1972 term.

Svare’s win-loss percentage ended at 30.4 percent, and he was twenty-seven games shy of a 50 percent winning percentage.

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5. Joe Bugel

More recently, at least in relative terms, was Joe Bugel, who was the Phoenix Cardinals head coach for four seasons and the Oakland Raiders for one. Bugel makes the list at No. 5 with a win-loss percentage of 30 percent, and was thirty-two games away from clocking in at 50 percent.

During his time in the NFL, the coach first served as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins from 1981 to 1982 before signing off as head coach for the Cardinals in 1990. He coached the Cardinals for four seasons, recording twenty wins and forty-four losses, but finished out his career with the Raiders, where he coached for one season when his team won four games and lost twelve. 1997 was the last year that Bugel served as head coach, but he went on to serve in other roles, such as assistant head coach-offense and offensive line coach for the Redskins, only retiring in 2010.

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4. Marion Campbell

Falling back a few years to 1974, we meet with Marion Campbell, who is now known as the fourth worst NFL coach, at least according to Pro-Football-Reference.com statistics. Campbell had a long stint in the NFL, coaching for nine years between 1974 and 1989, but he still only can boast thirty-four winning matches, and eighty losses. Campbell coached a total of 115 games, split between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, but his win-loss percentage stands at 29.8 percent, a considerable forty-six games away from 50 percent.

Campbell first served as head coach for the Falcons from 1974 to 1976. There, he recorded six total wins in three seasons before departing for Philadelphia, where he’d obtain seventeen more wins over the course of another three seasons. The coach returned to Atlanta in 1987 to play out the rest of his three coaching years, but he still didn’t have much success with the Falcons, and only managed to scrape out eleven wins over the span of three seasons.

3. Dave McGinnis

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Closing in on the top, we come to Dave McGinnis, listed as the third worst NFL leader to have coached the game. Out of his three seasons with the NFL, he coached a total of fifty-seven games and only won seventeen. That comes to a win-loss percentage of 29.8 percent, and ultimately resulted in his departure from the Arizona Cardinals in 2003. McGinnis now serves as the assistant head coach of the St. Louis Rams, and before that, he was assistant coach for the Tennessee Titans in 2011.

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2. David Shula

Before Dave McGinnis, there was David Shulla, who made his mark on the NFL from 1992-1996. Shulla served as head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from during that time, after serving as offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons. Unfortunately for Shula, his stint as a head coach was a short-lived one, as he was fired after starting the 1996 season 1-6, and he only recorded nineteen winning games with the Bengals out of a total seventy-one. Shula lost fifty games faster than any NFL coach in history, and his win-loss percentage stands at 26.8 percent, thirty-three games away from 50 percent.


1. Bert Bell

Last, and actually, definitely least, is Bert Bell, Pro-Football-Reference.com’s worst NFL coach according to game statistics. Bell’s overall win-loss percentage as a coach was 17.9 percent, a solid thirty-six games shy of finishing at 50 percent. He ultimately proved a better NFL commissioner than coach, and served in the position from 1945 until his death in 1959.

During Bell’s time as leader, he manned the Philadelphia Eagles’ sidelines for a full four seasons from 1936 to 1940 before departing Philadelphia to join the Eagles’ rival in Pittsburgh in 1941. Unfortunately, after suffering four losing seasons in Philly, the coach didn’t have much luck in Pittsburgh either, and he only lead the Steelers for two games before addressing urgings from owner Art Rooney and resigning as head coach. During Bell’s time on the Eastern side of Pennsylvania, he recorded a mere ten wins out of fifty-six total games, while in the West, he registered zero wins out of two games.

Editor’s Note: This post has been edited to reflect that Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are not crosstown rivals — as pointed out by readers.

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