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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The 10 Worst Head Coaches in the NFL since 1970

The 10 Worst Head Coaches in the NFL since 1970

The 10 Worst coaches in the NFL since 1970!
Publish Date: 07/03/2021
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

10). Rod Rust

Rust was an excellent coordinator, but as a head coach he failed miserably. His Pats lost all but one game in his lone season at the helm, barely defeating the equally woeful Colts 16-14. In Rust’s defense the Patriots weren’t exactly loaded with talent, but 1-15 is hard to ignore.

9). Eric Mangini

The supposed “Mad Genius” failed miserably in Cleveland. And worse than anything was the way he handled the team’s high-priced quarterbacks, Brady Quinn, Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy and Jake Delhomme. There was never any commitment to any of them.  Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski went so far as to call Mangini’s hiring by the Browns as the worst coaching hire from the past 25 years. In his 2013 memoir, former player Nate Jackson, who was briefly part of the Browns practice squad during the 2009 preseason, sharply criticized Mangini. Jackson wrote that Mangini’s coaching style had so alienated his players that they seemed “deep in despair” with “no fight left in them” only a few months after Mangini took over.

8). Les Steckel

After taking over for the legendary Bud Grant, Minnesota posted its worst record in nearly a quarter-century, prompting management to replace him with…Bud Grant. The Vikings went 3-13 in Steckel’s only year, he was a very strict disciplinarian which did not go over well in Minnesota.

7). Ray Handley

He took over for Bill Parcells just months after a Super Bowl title, and the Giants were nothing but mediocre following a decade of dominance. And although he had the misfortune of several stars (Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, Phil Simms, Ottis Anderson) passing their prime on his watch, Handles dug his own grave. Handley tried to be an exact opposite of Parcells and it obviously did not work out the way he planned.

6). Rich Kotite

Kotite was a paltry 4-28 to say his team was bad would be an understatement. What makes his tenure with the Jets so miserable is what happened after he was canned in favor of Bill Parcells. They almost made the playoffs a year later and nearly the Super Bowl the season after that.

5). Dave Campo

The Cowboys dynasty of the mid-1990s was becoming old and slow by the time he took over. But since he had Jerry Jones—who was willing to spend, spend, spend—Campo’s teams didn’t lack talent the same way that other NFL bottom-feeders did. (Bill Parcells’ playoff season the year after Campo was fired was proof of that.)  However, the Cowboys stumbled in the season opener losing to the expansion Houston Texans in the Texans’ very first game. Dallas entered week 13 with a 5–7 record and led the San Francisco 49ers 27–24 with about 2 minutes to play. Facing a fourth and one at the 30-yard line, Campo opted for a field goal attempt even though there was a considerable amount of time left in the game. The attempt failed and taking over at the 30, the 49ers drove down the field to win the game. Campo’s team was blown out the next two games and finished the season 5-11 again, after which he was fired. To date, he is the only Cowboys head coach to have left the team without posting a winning season or coaching a playoff game.

4). David Shula

Where to begin on this one? The Brown family was very tight with the Shula family, so maybe it was nepotism? Then again two years before the Bengals hired Shula the Eagles tried to hire him. Shula won his first two games and that was as good as it would ever get. Shula is the losingest coach in the modern era of the NFL period, who has coached at least 50 games.  Shula’s stint with the Bengals was horrendous and the team was dismal during the 1990s. The team compiled a 19–52 record over Shula’s four and a half years at the helm. He was fired after starting the 1996 season 1–6. Shula lost 50 games faster than any NFL coach in history (71 games).

3). Bill Peterson

Peterson was an innovative and winning college football coach. In 1972, Peterson joined a select group who have been head coaches in high school, at the major college level and in the National Football League (NFL). As has been the case with a number of successful college coaches, Peterson did not fare well as a head coach in the NFL. Peterson coached the Houston Oilers for the entire 1972 season and for five games in the 1973 season. The team finished 1–13 in 1972 and 0–5 in his five games in 1973. His career record in the NFL was 1–18, and his .053 winning percentage is the lowest for any coach after the NFL/AFL merger who coached at least an entire season.

2). Rod Marinelli

The Marinelli era began poorly, as the Lions lost the first five games of the 2006 season before beating the Buffalo Bills 20–17. The Lions lost seven games in a row between weeks 10 and 16 before ending the year on a high note by beating the Dallas Cowboys 39–31. The 2007 season started off well for the Lions as they started 6-2. However, the Lions lost seven out of their last eight games, and finished the 2007 season 3rd in the NFC North with a 7–9 record. Despite a perfect 4–0 preseason, Marinelli coached the 2008 Lions to a winless 0-16 campaign, the worst and only winless season for any NFL team since the 16-game regular season was instituted in 1978. 0-16 has to get you on this list.

1). Bobby Petrino

A man that just disappears without a trace during the season has to be number 1! To be honest, if he had quit after the 2007 regular season had ended, he probably wouldn’t have been crucified. But to quit midseason to take the job at Arkansas later that week—and tell his players by leaving a printed note in their locker—was a disgrace.

In April 2012, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash on Arkansas Highway 16 near the city of Crosses. He was riding with former Arkansas All-SEC volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he had hired on March 28 as student-athlete development coordinator for the football program after she served as a fundraiser in the Razorback Foundation. Petrino initially said he was alone on the motorcycle. However, on April 6, just minutes before a police report was to be released showing Dorrell was also aboard, Petrino revealed that Dorrell was not only a passenger, but that he had been conducting an adulterous relationship with her. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long placed Petrino on an indefinite paid leave of absence while he reviewed the situation.

On April 10, Long announced that Petrino had been fired. During Long’s investigation, it was discovered that Petrino made a previously undisclosed $20,000 cash gift to Dorrell as a Christmas present. It was also revealed that Dorrell may have received preferential treatment in her hiring on the football staff, as Petrino’s relationship with Dorrell was not disclosed and Petrino was on the hiring committee. Long determined that Petrino’s attempts to mislead both him and the public about the accident and his relationship with Dorrell were grounds to fire Petrino for cause. Long also determined that the $20,000 payment could expose Arkansas to a sexual harassment suit if Petrino were retained.

The said thing is Petrion is still a Head Coach, now at Louisville, very unfortunate that a man with no moral character is still coaching young men.

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