Nobody likes to lose, especially NFL coaches. Yet, every year a coach steps on the field, their loss totals go up — simple math. Some of these leaders never coached a team past mediocrity, while others stuck around long enough to accumulate bountiful wins to go with their losses. Whatever the case, these are the coaches with the most losses in NFL history.
5. Tom Coughlin: 150 losses
Tom Coughlin enjoyed a 20-year coaching career. He spent eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and 12 with the New York Giants. Despite a mixed bag of results, Coughlin coached two Super Bowl champions. This included the Giants’ unlikely win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Coughlin will likely be a Hall of Famer one day.
4. Don Shula: 156 losses
What is better than 156 losses? 328 wins to go along with them. Don Shula is the winningest coach in NFL history, so having a few losses is no big deal.
Shula, unlike some of the other coaches on this list, rarely had a losing season. He began with a successful stint with the Baltimore Colts before celebrating a 26-year tenure in Miami. During his 33-year career, Shula was a Hall of Famer and a two-time Super Bowl champion.
3. Tom Landry: 162 losses
Tom Landry spent 28 years coaching the Dallas Cowboys. While his career began in 1960 with some rough seasons, Landry launched a nearly 20-year stretch without a losing season, even winning two Super Bowls. While some less-than-stellar years bookended his career, Landry coached long enough to accumulate a whole lot of wins to go with his losses.
His single-team stint is, perhaps, the greatest testament to his coaching talent. Even Belichick had some hiccups before he made it to New England, (he isn’t far off the list himself). Landry was fired almost immediately after current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took over in 1988.
1. Dan Reeves: 165 losses (tie)
If Dan Reeves had retired immediately after leaving the Broncos in 1992-93, he would have had a decent winning-percentage. After all, the coach saw a young John Elway rise to success in the NFL and led his team to three Super Bowls. Despite losses in all of those championships, the fact that Reeves was able to achieve such a feat is a testament to his coaching.
Unfortunately, Reeves’ career post-Denver was anything but spectacular. He only had two double-digit seasons in 11 years following his stint with the Broncos.
1. Jeff Fisher: 165 losses (tie)
Jeff Fisher spent 17 years with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans. He oversaw the franchise’s relocation and witnessed the team’s heartbreaking loss just inches away from a win in 1999. Fisher’s career is inconsistent. While he had a handful of great years from 1999 through 2008, everything outside of that involved loss after loss.
Fisher achieved his record 165th loss during his final year with the Rams, the team’s first season in Los Angeles. After a 3-1 start, the Rams dropped 11 of their last 12 games. This secured his tie with Reeves for the most losses ever as a head coach. Still, with a trip to the Super Bowl and over 20 years of experience, Fisher is not entirely to blame for this record.