Brandon Staley is one of the hardest head coaches to compare to his peers in the entire NFL. Staley had a winning season with the LA Chargers in his first year as a head coach, but fell short of the playoffs. His aggression on fourth downs made him look genius at times, and careless at other times. He was touted as a defensive genius, yet had one of the worst defenses in the league.
Staley's second season as head coach is going to be extremely telling of where he truly falls in the hierarchy of NFL coaches. While Charger fans are undoubtedly pleased with the new culture instilled on the team, the results still need to come. With a roster this talented, missing the playoffs would be inexcusable.
Pro Football Focus recently released a pretty controversial head coaches list that Staley was (rightfully) not a part of. With Staley not cracking the top 10, and the list itself being rather controversial, we thought that we would give it a go.
Where Chargers head coach Brandon Staley falls in the NFL hierarchy:
Tier 1 (The greatest of all time): Bill Belichick
Sure, Bill Belichick has been far from a good GM over the last few years and he has peaked as a head coach. He also has the most Super Bowls in league history and will leave behind the biggest legacy for any coach in the entire sport. It is impossible to put him on a tier with anyone else.
Tier 2 (Previous Super Bowl winners that can absolutely do it again): Andy Reid, John Harbaugh, Sean McVay, Mike Tomlin
These coaches have led their team to a Super Bowl in the past and outside of Mike Tomlin, it would not be a big shock at all if any of their teams won the Super Bowl this upcoming season. Nearly any team in the league would take one of these head coaches over their own as these coaches haven't just won a Super Bowl, but have consistently won at a high level.
Tier 3 (Needs a Super Bowl to reach tier 2): Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Mike Vrabel, Doug McDermott
If any of these coaches win the Super Bowl next year then they will shoot into tier 2. These coaches have led some of the most successful teams in the league over the last few seasons, and while talent does have a big part in that, there is no denying that these are great head coaches.
Tier 4 (Previous Super Bowl-winning coaches who WON'T do it again): Pete Carroll, Doug Pederson, Mike McCarthy
This is the hardest tier to rank. Do we rank them below the next tier? Maybe. Would I take almost every coach in tier 5 over the coaches in tier 4? Most likely. However, these three coaches have lifted the Lombardi trophy over their heads and even though they probably won't ever do so again, it is worth mentioning.
Tier 5 (Good head coaches knocking on the door of being great): Zac Taylor, Frank Reich, Kevin Stefanski, Brandon Staley, Kliff Kingsbury, Nick Sirianni, Ron Rivera
This is where Chargers head coach Brandon Staley makes a lot of sense. He has undoubtedly introduced a new culture to the team and made a noticeable difference in year one. If he can turn that into success in year two then he will start getting more respect as a great head coach. All of these coaches are one (or another) deep playoff run from being moved up.
Tier 6 (Can these defensive guys be a complete head coach?): Robert Saleh, Todd Bowels, Dennis Allen, Lovie Smith
On paper, all three of these head coaches should be good head coaches in the NFL. However, that is not always how it works and if these three can just figure out the offensive side of the ball then they will be in good shape. Luckily for Bowels, he has Tom Brady.
Tier 7 (Could be good head coaches, could also be pretty bad): Arthur Smith, Dan Campbell
Both Arthur Smith and Dan Campbell are heading into year two and the jury is still completely out on them. Both coaches could end up getting fired after the 2022 season and both could end up climbing these ranks.
Tier 8 (The newcomers who are impossible to gauge): Matt Eberflus, Nathaniel Hackett, Mike McDaniel, Brian Daboll, Kevin O'Connell
There are some coaches in this tier that could wind up being extremely good that will quickly climb up the NFL totem poll. However, these guys need to prove it first and because of that, they find themselves this low on the list.
Tier 9 (The worst head coaches in the league): Josh McDaniels, Matt Rhule
Seeing Josh McDaniels this far down might be a surprise but it really shouldn't be. Chargers fans have nothing to be worried about with McDaniels coaching the Raiders. His first (and only) head-coaching stint with the Broncos was an absolute disaster. McDaniels is going to be another failed former Patriots coordinator and I am willing to be bold and put that prediction out there.
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Meanwhile, Matt Rhule has run a dumpster fire over in Carolina and has been far from the head coach that the Panthers thought they were hiring before the 2020 season.