The Buffalo Bills are a team that has been trending up since Sean McDermott took over as head coach in 2017 and are now in a position to be a top contender for the Super Bowl this season.
However, outside of the early 1990s, that hasn’t always been the case and the Buffalo Bills have been a franchise that has struggled for long stretches, including the playoff drought that started after the 1999 season.
One of the reasons for their struggles is not always getting the head coach right. In franchise history, the Buffalo Bills have had 20 head coaches but only five have a winning record with the franchise. This is a list of those coaches.
5 winningest coaches in Buffalo Bills’ history
W-L Record: 29-19
Wade Phillips was named head coach after Marv Levy retired following the 1997 season and would remain in that role for three seasons. He would lead the Bills to playoffs in each of the first two seasons with a 10-6 record in 1998 and an 11-5 record in 1999.
However, the Bills would lose in the Wild Card round each year with a 24-17 loss to the Dolphins and a 22-16 loss to the Titans in the infamous Music City Miracle.
In 2000, the Bills would once again be competitive but miss the playoffs after an 8-8 season. The reason for Phillips’ departure wasn’t tied so much to the performance on the field but rather he refused to fire special teams coordinator Ronnie Jones. Owner Ralph Wilson wanted to make a change but Phillips did not want to fire Jones after one year so Wilson elected to dismiss Phillips.
There is no question that Phillips likely would have been much higher on this list and had a longer tenure as head coach if there was not this disagreement with Ralph Wilson.