20 Worst NFL Coaching Tenures Since 1990
Here is Athlon Sports’ list of the worst to ever roam an NFL sideline in the last 23 seasons
By: Mark Ross | 1/31/13, 9:40 AM EST
20. Dave McGinnis1 of 21
In 1990, coaching legends Joe Gibbs, Chuck Knoll and Don Shula were still patrolling the sidelines, while other notable members of the profession included Mike Ditka, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells and Dan Reeves, to name a few. There, were, however, some not-so-notable names leading NFL teams back then, just as is the case today. For every Hall of Fame head coach like a Gibbs or Shula there have been plenty of Rod Rusts and Cam Camerons.
Here’s Athlon Sports' list of the worst NFL head coaching tenures since 1990:
20. Dave McGinnis, Arizona Cardinals (17-40, 2000-03)
The Good: McGinnis’ coaching tenure in the NFL goes back to 1986, when he started as a linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears. He is currently an assistant head coach with the St. Louis Rams.
The Bad: His head coaching career got off to a rocky start, going 1-8 as interim head coach for Arizona in 2000 following the firing of Vince Tobin, who started the season 2-5.
The Ugly: After going 7-9 in 2001, his last two Cardinals teams went a combined 9-21 in 2002-03, finishing 29th or worse in points scored and points allowed in both seasons.
19. Scott Linehan2 of 21
19. Scott Linehan, St. Louis Rams (11-25, 2006-08)
The Good: Started his head coaching career by going 8-8 in 2006. Offensive coordinator for Minnesota and Miami from 2002-05, has been in same capacity for Detroit since 2009.
The Bad: Things went downhill for him and the Rams after that 8-8 campaign in 2006. Opened the ’07 season with eight straight losses.
The Ugly: Won just three of his final 20 games, fired after starting 2008 season 0-4. Lost eight in a row to end tenure in St. Louis, as his Rams were out-scored by 178 points (22.3 ppg).
18. Joe Bugel3 of 21
18. Joe Bugel, Phoenix Cardinals (20-44, 1990-93)
The Good: Ended his tenure with the Cardinals on a high note, going 7-9 in 1993.
The Bad: Became offensive coordinator for Oakland Raiders in 1995 before getting another shot at head coach in 1997. Raiders went 4-12 that season, his last in the NFL.
The Ugly: Never finished higher than fourth in the division in any season as a head coach, his career winning percentage is just .300 (24-56).
17. Norv Turner4 of 21
17. Norv Turner, Oakland Raiders (9-23, 2004-05)
The Good: Has gone 114-122-1 (.483) overall in his 15 seasons as a head coach in the NFL, serving stints with Washington and San Diego in addition to Oakland. Was 56-40 in his six seasons leading the Chargers, which included three AFC West division titles. He has also been a successful offensive coordinator for several teams (Dallas, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco) and landed on his feet after getting fired by San Diego as Cleveland’s new offensive coordinator under new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinksi.
The Bad: Teams seemed to consistently underachieve; his career playoff record is 4-4 with just one conference championship game appearance (AFC, 2007).
The Ugly: Won just nine games in two seasons in Oakland. The Raiders’ rushing offense and defense ranked near the bottom of the league both seasons.
16. Dennis Erickson5 of 21
16. Dennis Erickson, San Francisco 49ers (9-23, 2003-04)
The Good: Overall NFL head coaching record is 40-56 (.417), as he went 31-33 in four seasons with Seattle (1995-98). He also has 179-96-1 career record as college head coach and won national championships at Miami in 1989 and ’91.
The Bad: Never fully embraced by 49ers fans, who along with the media questioned his hiring in February 2003 as the replacement for the fired Steve Mariucci. Salary cap problems throughout the roster hampered his ability to build a winner.
The Ugly: The 49ers went 2-14 in 2004 with both wins coming in overtime. The team ranked 30th in scoring offense (16.2 ppg) and last in scoring defense (28.2 ppg).
15. David Shula6 of 21
15. David Shula, Cincinnati Bengals (19-52, 1992-96)
The Good: Don Shula’s son went 7-9 in 1995.
The Bad: He followed that up with a 1-6 start in 1996, leading to his dismissal.
The Ugly: Has the second-lowest career winning percentage (.268) all-time among NFL head coaches (min. 50 career games).
14. Josh McDaniels7 of 21
14. Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos (11-17, 2009-10)
The Good: Got his first head coach job at just 33 years old, won his first six games with Denver.
The Bad: Didn’t exactly endear himself to fans when he traded then-quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago less than three months after being named Broncos’ head coach. Also traded up into the first round to select Florida quarterback Tim Tebow with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
The Ugly: Won just five of his final 22 games, fired after starting 2010 season 3-9.
13. Dick MacPherson8 of 21
13. Dick MacPherson, New England Patriots (8-24, 1991-92)
The Good: Coached at UMass and Syracuse for a total of 17 seasons prior to the Patriots, posting a 111-73-5 mark. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
The Bad: Didn’t have as much success in the pros, winning just a quarter of his games in his two seasons in New England.
The Ugly: The 1992 Patriots lost nine in a row to open season and their final five to finish things out. Team scored less than 13 points per game, including zero points three different times.
12. Mike Mularkey9 of 21
12. Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14, 2012)
The Good: Fared better as Buffalo’s head coach from 2004-05, going 14-18.
The Bad: First Bills team went from 9-7 in 2004 to 5-11 in ’05, losing eight of its last 10 games.
The Ugly: Didn’t get much of a chance or much help of any kind in his one and only season in Jacksonville. Injuries decimated the Jaguars’ offense, as the team struggled to score points (15.9 per game) all season and lost its final five games by an average of nearly 14 points per game.
11. Steve Spagnuolo10 of 21
11. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams (10-38, 2009-11)
The Good: Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants from 2007-08 and is credited as the architect of the defensive strategy employed by the team in its Super Bowl XLII victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
The Bad: Had four different losing streaks of six or more games during his three seasons with the Rams.
The Ugly: In between a 7-9 record in 2010, Spagnuolo’s Rams won a total of three games (3-29) combined in the 2009 and ’11 seasons. Following his dismissal from the Rams, Spagnuolo served as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator in 2012, overseeing a defense that broke the NFL single-season record for most yards allowed.
10. Chris Palmer11 of 21
10. Chris Palmer, Cleveland Browns (5-27, 1999-2000)
The Good: Hired as head coach of expansion Cleveland Browns upon their return to the NFL in 1999. He also has served as offensive coordinator for Jacksonville (1997-98), Houston (2002-04), and Tennessee (2012).
The Bad: Lost first seven games with the Browns, he also had a separate seven-game losing streak during 2000 season.
The Ugly: His Browns’ offenses finished last in the NFL in both total and scoring offense in both seasons.
9. Art Shell12 of 21
9. Art Shell, Oakland Raiders (2-14, 2006)
The Good: Played tackle for 15 seasons for Raiders (1968-82), earning eight Pro Bowl invites and first-team All-Pro honors twice. Inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1989 also finished head coaching career for the Raiders franchise with winning record (56-52 overall).
The Bad: After six successful seasons as head coach for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1989-94, where he went 54-38, he made the wrong decision in choosing to come out of retirement to coach the Oakland Raiders in 2006.
The Ugly: His 2006 Raiders allowed a respectable 20.8 points per game, but scored nearly half as many (10.5 ppg), a big reason why they won just two games. The offense scored six or fewer points six times and were shutout completely on three different occasions.
8. Romeo Crennel13 of 21
8. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs (4-15, 2011-12)
The Good: Has won five Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach with the New York Giants (1986, ’90 seasons) and New England Patriots (2001, ’03, ’04), where he had the opportunity to work under Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
The Bad: His championship pedigree has never carried over to his head-coaching jobs. His overall record is 28-55 (.337), including 24-40 as Cleveland’s head coach from 2005-08.
The Ugly: Only winning season came in 2007 when he led the Browns to 10-6 record, but they still missed the playoffs. Went 2-1 as Chiefs’ interim head coach to close out 2011 and get him the full-time gig, but followed that up with 2-14 mark this past season. The Chiefs fired him on Dec. 31.
7. Marty Mornhinweg14 of 21
7. Marty Mornhinweg, Detroit Lions (5-27, 2001-02)
The Good: Been more successful as offensive coordinator for San Francisco 49ers (1997-2000) and Philadelphia Eagles (2006-12).
The Bad: First career win didn’t come until 13th game, a 27-24 victory over Minnesota.
The Ugly: Won his five games by a combined total of 18 points. Biggest win was by five points (three times).
6. Lane Kiffin15 of 21
6. Lane Kiffin, Oakland Raiders (5-15, 2007-08)
The Good: Following his success as offensive coordinator at USC, was hired by Al Davis in January 2007. At the time, he was the youngest (31) head coach in Raiders franchise history and in the entire NFL since 1946. Landed back in the collegiate coaching ranks when he was named University of Tennessee’s head coach in 2009. Left Tennessee after just one season to return to USC as the Trojans’ head coach in 2010.
The Bad: Finished his first and only full season with the Raiders 2-10 after getting off to a 2-2 start. In college, he has established a pattern of running afoul of the NCAA and rubbing his peers the wrong way during his time at both Tennessee and USC.
The Ugly: Fired by Davis “for cause” just four games (Raiders went 1-3) into the 2008 season. His 2012 USC team, which was ranked No. 1 in just about every major preseason poll, stumbled to a 7-6 record, including a disappointing 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
5. Rich Kotite16 of 21
5. Rich Kotite, New York Jets (4-28, 1995-96)
The Good: Went 36-28 as Philadelphia Eagles head coach from 1991-94.
The Bad: Lost five games in 1995 by seven or fewer points.
The Ugly: Lost 12 in a row from 1995-96, lost seven games in ’96 by 14 or more points.
4. Rod Marinelli17 of 21
4. Rod Marinelli, Detroit Lions (10-38, 2006-08)
The Good: After getting fired from Detroit, he joined Chicago as assistant head coach/defensive line in 2009 and became defensive coordinator the following season. The 2012 Bears defense finished first in the NFL in takeaways, third in scoring defense and fifth in total defense. Hired earlier this month as Dallas' defensive line coach under new Cowboys' defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
The Bad: His Lions’ teams were out-scored by a total of 440 points in his three seasons, for an average of 9.2 per game.
The Ugly: Even though they went a perfect 4-0 in preseason play, the 2008 Lions went winless during the regular season, becoming the first NFL team in history to go 0-16.
3. Cam Cameron18 of 21
3. Cam Cameron, Miami Dolphins (1-15, 2007)
The Good: Cameron enjoyed considerably more success as an offensive coordinator for both the San Diego Chargers (2002-06) and the Baltimore Ravens (2008-12). His Chargers’ offenses from 2004-06 ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total offense and top 5 in scoring offense.
The Bad: His lone coaching win came in the Dolphins’ 14th game of the season, a 22-16 overtime win against a Ravens team that would finish with just five wins.
The Ugly: His Dolphins were out-scored by 170 points (437 to 267); the team averaged less than 99 yards rushing per game and allowed more than 153.
2. Rod Rust19 of 21
2. Rod Rust, New England Patriots (1-15, 1990)
The Good: Spent 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive coordinator for Kansas City (1978-82, ‘88), New England (1983-87), Pittsburgh (1989), the New York Giants (1992), and Atlanta (1996)
The Bad: Won just one game in 1990, a 16-14 victory in Indianapolis.
The Ugly: His Patriots were out-scored by 265 points in 1990, an average of 16.6 points per game. Five losses were by 28 or more points.
1. Bobby Petrino20 of 21
1. Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons (3-10, 2007)
The Good: Parlayed his success as the head coach at Louisville and his reputation as an offensive-minded coach into the Falcons’ job in 2007.
The Bad: With only three seasons worth of NFL coaching experience prior to taking over the Falcons, including just one as an offensive coordinator (2001, Jacksonville), Petrino never seemed to be able to adjust to the pro game. Neither of the NFL offenses he was responsible for ranked higher than 20th in total or scoring offense in either of his two seasons.
The Ugly: Resigned just 13 games into the season, informing the team, his coaching staff and the players of the decision via a four-sentence statement printed on a piece of paper. He left the Falcons to go back to the college ranks, becoming Arkansas’ new head coach, leading the Hogs to a 34-17 record in four seasons. He was fired by Arkansas this past April for cause after a motorcycle accident involving a female passenger revealed an adulterous affair and a string of poor decisions made by Petrino in hopes of keeping it secret.
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