As a feature in the 2023 Sharp Football Preview Book, the Sharp Football Analysis team ranked positional units across the league for the 2023 season.
The ranking guidelines were up to the specific voter with the only requirement that the focus is on the upcoming season only, not the future outlook.
With a combination of numbers, film, and projections, the rankings were averaged for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers/tight ends, offensive line, defensive front seven, defensive secondary, and head coach.
First up: 2023 NFL head coach rankings.
These insights are an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s 500+ page book “2023 Football Preview” which is now available for download.
2023 NFL Head Coach Rankings
Score based on average ranks of positional unit (on a 100 point scale) for all 32 teams, from Sharp Football staff voters. If all voters had a team at #1, that score would be 100. Ties are broken by the highest vote on any ballot.
What team has the best head coach in the NFL?
32. Jonathan Gannon, Cardinals
Votes for Jonathan Gannon ranged from 29th to 32nd. It’s tough to rank rookie head coaches, but the way their staff comes together can provide some insight. Hiring two rookie coordinators (Drew Petzing and Nick Rallis) is certainly a red flag.
31. Dennis Allen, Saints
Dennis Allen was a liability in his first year at the helm in New Orleans. His old-school approach will continue to hold the team back until he evolves. For example, when faced with fourth-and-one from his own 40-yard line or closer, Allen elected to punt 60% of the time, the league’s highest rate by a wide margin 一 he accounted for 10% of the league’s punts in that situation.
30. DeMeco Ryans, Texans
Hiring a rookie head coach typically leads to a drop in our head coach rankings 一 unless you’re replacing Lovie Smith. Our expectations for Smith were so low last year that he checked in at number 32, below all the rookie coaches. So while we’re still uncertain about DeMeco Ryans, who falls at number 30, we do believe he’ll provide an upgrade in leadership for the Texans.
29. Ron Rivera, Commanders
The lack of talent is concerning enough, but we’re also losing faith in Ron Rivera, who dropped seven spots in our head coach rankings from last season. Among returning head coaches, only Dennis Allen ranks lower.
28. Shane Steichen, Colts
We typically rank rookie head coaches near the bottom of the league, but we’re relatively optimistic about Shane Steichen. He’s our top-ranked rookie coach and even checks in ahead of Dennis Allen and Ron Rivera.
27. Josh McDaniels, Raiders
Josh McDaniels dropped three spots in our head coach rankings from a season ago, and even received one last-place vote. Even though he’s only entering his second year, McDaniels faces a significant amount of pressure due to the fact that he and his staff broke everything that was working for the Raiders under the previous regime and started rebuilding.
26. Mike McCarthy, Cowboys
The weak link on this team is Mike McCarthy and his outdated approach to the game. Among returning head coaches, only three rank worse than McCarthy. Dallas was one of just four teams to hand the ball off on first down over 50% of the time 一 just one example of McCarthy living in a bygone era.
25. Matt Eberflus, Bears
Matt Eberflus still ranks toward the bottom of our ratings but has improved from being second to last in 2022. The Bears still have a young coaching staff, and even after one year, Eberflus is a bit of an unknown.
24. Todd Bowles, Buccaneers
Votes for Todd Bowles ranged from 20th to 27th. A positive mark for Bowles was his handling of fourth downs. When faced with fourth-and-one from his own 40-yard line or closer, Bowles never elected to punt.
23. Brandon Staley, Chargers
Brandon Staley had a tumultuous year in 2022, and our opinion of him dropped considerably as he fell from sixth to 23rd in our rankings. Perhaps we were overly optimistic after his impressive debut season in Los Angeles. Conservative play is a common theme among defensive coaches, and it definitely plagued Staley at times last year.
22. Robert Saleh, Jets
Votes for Robert Saleh ranged from 16th to 24th. This will likely be a make-or-break year for the third-year coach.
21. Arthur Smith, Falcons
Arthur Smith climbed six spots in our head coach rankings, but we’re still not fully sold on him just yet. Smith ranked no higher than 18th on any ballot, and an offense so heavily dependent on the run game is certainly among our reasons for skepticism.
20. Kevin O’Connell, Vikings
Kevin O’Connell impressed in his first season, winning 13 games and jumping eight spots in our rankings as a result. This year could be tougher on O’Connell, who has to navigate the ninth-hardest schedule with a rebuilding defense.
19. Kevin Stefanski, Browns
Kevin Stefanski finished in the bottom half of everyone’s rankings after finishing 11th in 2022. He’s overseen a team that has gone from 11 wins and a playoff spot to 10 losses in just a two-year span.
18. Brian Daboll, Giants
Brian Daboll undoubtedly made an impact in his first year, and he climbed five spots in our head coach rankings from a season ago. If he can take this rebuilding roster to the playoffs again, he may prove worthy of a substantial rise in the rankings a year from now.
17. Dan Campbell, Lions
A breakout performance on Hard Knocks did not impress our panel, and Dan Campbell is ranked 15th among head coaches. It is clear Campbell has spent his first two years in Detroit building a culture, but in year three, it’s time for him to build off the team’s 8-2 finish to 2022.
16. Matt LaFleur, Packers
After two years as a top-10 coach, Matt LaFleur fell to 15th in this year’s rankings, earning votes ranging from 14 to 19. After becoming the first coach to win 13 games in each of his first three seasons, LaFleur experienced his first hiccup on the job in 2022 and now will oversee a team without an MVP quarterback for the first time.
15. Frank Reich, Panthers
Despite a revolving door of quarterbacks, Frank Reich still closed out his career with the Colts with a winning record and two playoff trips. Now that he’s got a franchise quarterback to build around, we’re optimistic both he and Carolina are in a good place.
14. Mike McDaniel, Dolphins
Opinions still vary on Mike McDaniel, who received votes ranging from 10th to 19th among head coaches. If his offense takes another step forward despite minimal changes in personnel, he’ll prove worthy of the higher end of that spectrum.
13. Mike Vrabel, Titans
Votes for Mike Vrabel ranged from 10th to 21st among head coaches. To live up to the high end of that spectrum, Vrable must become more aggressive. On second and 10, Tennessee has handed the ball off on 32% of plays over the last two seasons (league average 23%) 一 that’s a defeatist approach to the game.
12. Zac Taylor, Bengals
After a 12-4 season, Zac Taylor jumped to 12th in our rankings. Among coaches who haven’t won a Super Bowl, Taylor ranks fourth behind Nick Sirianni, Sean McDermott, and Kyle Shanahan.
11. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
We have no idea what to make of Pete Carroll anymore. He dropped to 25th in our coach rankings last year, then jumped back up 14 spots after Seattle’s surprise playoff berth. His offensive philosophy is outdated in many ways, but it’s tough to penalize him too much when he’s making it work.
10. Sean Payton, Broncos
The change from Nathaniel Hackett to Sean Payton gives the Broncos the largest improvement in our coaching rankings, as they jump from 30th into the top 10. Payton ranked fourth in his final season in New Orleans, so we’re reserving some skepticism after a year away, but there’s no doubt he’ll stabilize the sideline in Denver after a tumultuous year.
9. Doug Pederson, Jaguars
After winning a division title in his first year in Jacksonville, Doug Pederson climbed four spots in our coach rankings and cracked the top 10.
8. Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Once again, Mike Tomlin received a top-10 vote from everyone on the panel. Despite some questions about his in-game strategy, there’s no questioning his leadership. He has gone 16 years as a head coach without a losing season.
7. Sean McVay, Rams
Sean McVay is one of seven coaches who landed in the top 10 on every ballot. Though his game-management skills come under scrutiny at times, McVay remains among the most innovative offensive coaches.
6. Bill Belichick, Patriots
What do we make of the Patriots’ recent struggles in regard to Bill Belichick? There’s no consensus among our group, as Belichick’s votes ranged from second to 11th. There’s no doubting the legacy of Belichick’s career, but a case could be made his conservative style is starting to hold them back.
5. Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
Votes for Kyle Shanahan ranged from third to seventh. He’s arguably the most innovative offensive play caller of the last decade, but his conservative game management skills sometimes hold the team back in key moments.
4. Nick Sirianni, Eagles
Among returning head coaches, Nick Sirianni had the second-largest rise, jumping from 14th to fourth. He is one of seven head coaches to appear in the top 10 on every ballot.
3. Sean McDermott, Bills
Sean McDermott ranked third on our coaches ballot for the second consecutive year and was one of just two coaches (Andy Reid) to land in the top five on every ballot.
2. John Harbaugh, Ravens
John Harbaugh finished second in our ratings for the second straight year, trailing only his mentor, Andy Reid.
1. Andy Reid, Chiefs
Andy Reid is our top head coach for the second consecutive year, but it’s his first year as a unanimous selection.
Ranking each NFL Unit for 2023:
For all of the team-by-team unit rankings and full team chapters, including a dozen more visuals & info-graphics, defensive breakdown, and detailed Fantasy football implications — plus all 32 team chapters — pick up a copy of Warren Sharp’s new ‘2023 Football Preview’ book