Ranking the Head Coaches in the NFC South
In previous articles, the best defensive players, offensive players, and quarterbacks in the NFC South were ranked according to their output on the field. This article will feature a ranking of the four current head coaches for each team in the NFC South division. Which team has the best shot-caller?
1. Frank Reich (Head Coach, Carolina Panthers)
Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich is at the helm for the Panthers as he approaches his first season with the team. Prior to joining Carolina, Reich served as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator (’16-’17) and aided them to a Super Bowl 52 victory. Reich led the offense into the postseason without MVP runner-up and former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who went down due to injury late in the 2017 season.
Former Philadelphia Eagles back-up quarterback Nick Foles was thrusted under center and the Eagles went on to defeat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to win their first Super Bowl title. After the 2017 season, Reich joined the Indianapolis Colts as their head coach where he spent the next five seasons (’18-’22).
As head coach for Indianapolis, Reich led the franchise to two playoff berths (’18, ’20) with a record of 41-40-1.
Reich had to manage with the sudden retirement of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck prior to the 2019 season, and struggled to find a suitable replacement at the position with quarterbacks such as Jacoby Brissett (’19), Phillip Rivers (’20), Wentz (’21), Matt Ryan (’22) and Sam Ehlinger (’22).
The former Colts head coach has a fresh start in Carolina, where he will be paired with number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft quarterback Bryce Young. Reich has a proven track record with quarterback success such as Wentz’s 2017 season, Foles’s 2017 postseason and Rivers’s 2020 regular season performance.
Reich has the responsibility of developing one of the most talented quarterbacks in recent memory in Young, and given his history, Young is in good hands.
2. Todd Bowles (Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Todd Bowles is entering his second season as head coach with the Buccaneers after winning the division with a 8-9 record in 2022.
Prior to becoming Tampa Bay’s head coach, Bowles served as the Buccaneers defensive coordinator (’19-’21) which includes a Super Bowl 55 victory in the 2020-2021 season. In 2020, Bowles led the defense to a number six ranking in total defense.
Bowles is heading into the 2023 season without former seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady under center, which will be a challenge for Bowles and the offense.
Bowles has a head coaching record of 34-50, as he also served as the New York Jets head coach (’15-’18).
3. Dennis Allen (Head Coach, New Orleans Saints)
New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen is embarking on his second season at the helm in New Orleans.
In 2022, Allen led the Saints to their first losing season since 2016 with a 7-10 record. Allen as a head coach has a record of 15-38 across two franchises (Las Vegas Raiders ’12-’14, New Orleans Saints ’22-present).
Allen is known as a defensive-minded coach, as he served as the Saints defensive coordinator for seven seasons (’15-’21). Through the 2017-2021 seasons, Allen led the Saints defense to three top-fifteen finishes (’17, ’18, ’19) and two top-five finishes (’20,’21).
The former defensive coordinator is heading into 2023 with former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and returning all-pro wideout Michael Thomas. Allen and the Saints have solid talent on both sides of the ball and if New Orleans doesn’t meet expectations, all eyes will be on Allen.
4. Arthur Smith (Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons)
Arthur Smith was named the 18th head coach in Atlanta Falcons franchise history prior to the 2021 season. Smith has led the Falcons to two consecutive 7-10 records (’21-’22) with no playoff berths.
Atlanta is in a rebuild after the departure of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan prior to the 2022 campaign. Smith is putting his faith in former Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder as he approaches his first full season as a starter.
Smith served as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans (’19-’20) and led the Titans to an upset victory over the one-seeded Baltimore Ravens in the 2019 postseason. In 2020, Smith led the Titans offense to 30.7 points per game (ranked fourth), 168.1 rushing yards per game (ranked second) and 396.4 in total yards per game (tied for second).
Smith has a solid offensive arsenal with the number eight overall 2023 NFL draft pick running back Bijan Robinson in the backfield. The former Titans offensive coordinator will also have returning pro-bowl tight-end Kyle Pitts and promising wideout Drake London on the offense.
The 41-year-old head coach can’t afford to have three straight losing seasons or his time in Atlanta is on borrowed time.