AFC West head coaches ranked from worst to best in 2023

There are some very polarizing head coaches in the AFC West.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Brandon Staley is not going to catch up to Sean Payton in terms of legacy in 2023 but he could pass him on this list depending on how the season goes. While Payton has established a legacy in the league, there is reason to question how great of a head coach he will be for the Denver Broncos.

Payton definitely won't be a bad head coach and he will be miles better than Nathaniel Hackett. But this is his first time away from Drew Brees and the system that he built in New Orleans. Sure, he coached one year without Brees on the Saints but that season wasn't great and then Payton up and left.

It seems a bit odd that Payton doesn't get more pushback for that move; that as soon as his Hall of Fame quarterback retires he also decides to retire only until there is conveniently another coaching job open a year later. Wouldn't a truly great head coach at least stick around and give it a go, a la Bill Belichick?

If Payton reinvents the Broncos, brings Russell Wilson back to form and leads them to the playoffs then his stock will be an all-time high and the Chargers will look silly for keeping Staley in favor of trading for Payton. But if this season crashes and burns and is a disappointment there will be real question marks about what Payton can do at this point in his career.

He gets the obvious benefit of the doubt and is the second-best head coach in the AFC West as a result. But let's not write in Sharpie that he is an elite head coach.