NFL Offensive Play-Callers: Where Do Andy Reid, Kyle Shanahan, and Mike McDaniel Rank?

Who is the best offensive play-caller in the NFL? Andy Reid, Kyle Shanahan, and others can lay claim to the title. We're ranking all 32 NFL OCs.

In today’s offensive-driven NFL, few entities are more valuable than a talented quarterback and a high-end offensive play-caller.

While the league’s top QBs earn north of $50 million annually, offensive play-callers — even those who double as head coaches — aren’t collecting anywhere near that amount, and there’s no salary cap for coaching hires.

A creative playcaller can help an offense overcome a host of obstacles, get the most out of a club’s existing talent base, and put players in a position to succeed. Who are the best offensive play-callers in the NFL?

Ranking the NFL’s Offensive Play-Callers

1) Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes is already one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, but it’s worth imagining what his career might’ve looked like without Andy Reid.

The Chiefs’ head coach, who guided Alex Smith to four excellent campaigns before Mahomes took over in 2018, let the former Texas Tech star take risks and work with innovative arm angles, all while devising one of the most original playbooks in the NFL.

2) Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

The Shanahan scheme has permeated most offenses around the NFL. Rival teams are more than willing to hire former 49ers staffers or outright steal designs from Kyle Shanahan tape.

San Francisco regularly finishes near the top of offensive leaderboards, regardless of whether the club’s QB is a mid-tier talent (Jimmy Garoppolo) or Mr. Irrelevant (Brock Purdy).

3) Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

Seven years after being hired in Los Angeles, Sean McVay remains the NFL’s third-youngest head coach. He’s already won a Super Bowl, helped rebuild the Rams’ roster, and brought the squad back into contention.

Like Shanahan, McVay has assistants all around the league, and his efforts with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Puka Nacua will be on full display in 2024.

4) Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions

Ben Johnson’s schematic creativity — evidenced by his willingness to deploy virtually every run concept under the sun — was part of what made him an attractive head coaching candidate over the past two offseasons. The Lions couldn’t be happier that Johnson turned down overtures, enabling him to return for a third season in Detroit.

5) Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers

No longer viewed as an Aaron Rodgers product, Matt LaFleur showed in his first campaign without the future Hall of Fame quarterback under center. Jordan Love improved down the stretch of his first starting campaign, ending the season second in TD passes (32) and ninth in QBR (62.1).

The Packers have the NFL’s youngest offense by snap-weighted age, giving LaFleur a long runway of potential contention in Green Bay.

6) Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

While the Broncos will likely cut Russell Wilson this offseason, the veteran QB posted better production under Sean Payton in 2023 than he did under Denver’s former staff in 2022.

Payton has a long track record — his New Orleans Saints offenses finished top 10 in scoring in 12 of his 15 seasons in old gold. How he develops the Broncos’ next quarterback will define the latter half of Payton’s career.

7) Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens

Todd Monken has succeeded nearly everywhere, winning back-to-back NCAA championships as Georgia’s OC before guiding Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award in 2023.

While he generated some HC interest this offseason, Monken’s age (58) might keep him in Baltimore. That’s fine by the Ravens, whose offensive scheme was more wide open last season than in years.

8) Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins

Resurrect Tua Tagovailo’s career? Check. Help turn Tyreek Hill into the most dangerous weapon the NFL has seen in some time? Check.

Mike McDaniel came to Miami as a run-game savant, but his passing attack has been the talk of the NFL for two years. Whether Tua will be the Dolphins’ long-term signal-caller is an open question, but McDaniel has aced every test so far.

9) Shane Steichen, Indianapolis Colts

Although Shane Steichen has only been a head coach for one season, consider his entire résumé. He was Justin Herbert’s OC for his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2020, then took over play-calling for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2021 to 2022.

Steichen was supposed to work with No. 4 overall pick Anthony Richardson in 2023, but a season-ending injury forced the Colts to turn to veteran backup Gardner Minshew. Indy still almost made the playoffs, a true testament to Steichen’s abilities.

10) Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s been quite the ride for Kellen Moore, who’s bounced from the Dallas Cowboys to the Los Angeles Chargers to the Eagles in a three-year span. The Cowboys ranked eighth in offensive efficiency during Moore’s run (despite losing Dak Prescott for most of the 2020 campaign), while the Chargers were 10th in EPA per play before Herbert went down.

Philadelphia’s offense was incredibly disjointed in 2023, but Moore can get things back on track.

11) Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys

While Mike McCarthy was derided for firing Moore at the end of the 2022 season and taking over play-calling for himself, the Cowboys’ HC ultimately had the last laugh. Prescott led the NFL in touchdown passes and finished second in MVP voting while posting arguably the best campaign of his career.

Dallas couldn’t advance in the playoffs, but purely as an OC, McCarthy was a success story in 2023.

12) Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals

Zac Taylor has typically been viewed as a product of Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins, but injuries to Burrow and Higgins forced the Bengals’ HC and play-caller to get creative last year.

Cincinnati got the most out of QB2 Jake Browning and nearly snuck into the postseason despite losing Burrow in Week 11. With Burrow back and Higgins likely to be franchised in 2024, Taylor and Co. are loading up for one more Super Bowl run with their current roster.

13) Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills

Scapegoated by former Carolina Panthers HC Matt Rhule in 2021, Joe Brady returned to the OC chair midway through the 2023 campaign following Buffalo’s firing of Ken Dorsey. The Bills rolled out a more balanced attack under Brady, who has since been hired on a full-time basis. Still only 34, he’ll be a head coaching candidate in 2024 if Josh Allen posts another dominant season.

14) Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans

Bobby Slowik interviewed for five HC vacancies this offseason before remaining with the Texans as the team’s play-caller. His first season in Houston could hardly have gone any better, as he assisted C.J. Stroud en route to an Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign.

Slowik needs to reassess his reliance on first-down runs, and the effectiveness of Stroud-Nico Collins-Tank Dell might push him in that direction.

15) Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns

The NFL’s reigning Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski deserves credit for guiding the Browns to the postseason despite constant quarterback upheaval. He fired OC Alex Van Pelt this offseason, hiring former Bills OC Dorsey in the same role.

Will Cleveland be as successful in 2024? Or is Deshaun Watson beyond repair?

16) Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings

After leading the Vikings to a playoff berth in his head coaching debut, Kevin O’Connell was forced to navigate around Kirk Cousins’ Achilles injury in 2023. Joshua Dobbs, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall proved incapable of QB1 duties, but Cousins — a pending free agent — could return next season.

17) Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers

Head coaching responsibilities seemed to overwhelm Arthur Smith with the Atlanta Falcons, but he’s typically proven to be a solid offensive play-caller. The Falcons somehow finished eighth in offensive DVOA with Marcus Mariota at QB in 2022, and Smith helped Ryan Tannehill turn his career around after being traded to the Tennessee Titans.

18) Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers

Greg Roman is a tale of highs and lows. He did excellent work as the 49ers’ OC under Jim Harbaugh and led Lamar Jackson to his first MVP award in 2019.

MORE: Top 5 Highest-Paid NFL Head Coaches

But Roman’s output as the Bills’ OC under Rex Ryan and his late-stage résumé in Baltimore left much to be desired. Now again aligned with Harbaugh, can Roman harness Herbert’s physical talents and give the Chargers a streamlined offensive structure?

19) Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears

Shane Waldron’s efforts with Geno Smith in Seattle landed him another coveted job this offseason — the chance to work with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

While there’s still an outside shot the Bears will retain Justin Fields, Waldron seems likelier to coach Caleb Williams or Drake Maye next season.

20) Dave Canales, Carolina Panthers

After revitalizing Smith and Baker Mayfield over the past two seasons, Dave Canales will now be tasked with getting 2023 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young back on track. He’s repeatedly demonstrated his ability to simplify complex situations and adapt to his players’ strengths. Carolina’s turnaround might take a while, but Canales has a chance.

21) Mike Kafka, New York Giants

Mike Kafka interviewed for four of the league’s five HC vacancies in 2023, but his star had cooled by this offseason. Daniel Jones’ regression and injury — and the Giants’ offensive struggles as a whole — hurt Kafka, who met with only two head coach-needy clubs this year. The 2024 campaign might be a make-or-break season for Kafka, Jones, Brian Daboll, and other key figures in New York.

22) Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals

Drew Petzing could be much higher on this list next offseason. He arguably should’ve drawn head coaching interest earlier this year after crafting an interesting Cardinals offense — first for Dobbs, then for the returning Kyler Murray.

If Petzing can orchestrate a Murray-to-Marvin Harrison Jr. connection in 2024, he’ll be on HC shortlists.

23) Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders

Kliff Kingsbury coached Mahomes and Caleb Williams in college — and doesn’t have much to show for it. He started hot with the Cardinals, but Murray regressed by the end of Kingsbury’s Arizona tenure.

MORE: Caleb Williams Congratulates Kliff Kingsbury On Social Media

Now, Kingsbury will likely have the chance to develop Williams or Maye with the Commanders.

24) Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots

Van Pelt’s last as an offensive play-caller came 15 years ago with the Bills. Fired as the Browns’ OC this offseason, he’ll take on more responsibilities with the Patriots, where first-time HC Jerod Mayo has replaced Bill Belichick. The identity of New England’s 2024 QB remains a mystery, but the Pats’ offense has nowhere to go but up.

25) Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints

The Vikings finished in the middle of the pack offensively in 2021, Klint Kubiak’s lone season as an NFL play-caller. Spending the 2023 campaign under Shahahan as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator was a one-way ticket to another OC job, but Derek Carr and the rest of the Saints’ offense feel like a stagnant opportunity.

26) Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars HC Doug Pederson turned over the offensive reins to OC Press Taylor in 2023 — and Pederson might like to have that decision back.

Jacksonville slipped from eighth in offensive EPA per play to 19th this past season while missing the playoffs. Pederson lost his job with the Eagles due to his devotion to Taylor. Will the same thing happen in Jacksonville?

27) Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders

Was Luke Getsy or Justin Fields the real problem for the Bears? We might find out in 2024, with Getsy in Las Vegas and Fields either still in Chicago or traded elsewhere.

Getsy still received plenty of interview requests from around the NFL despite the Bears’ poor offensive results, and the 40-year-old will get another chance with the Raiders.

28) Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets

The fact that Wilson looked competent under Payton this past season is a significant indictment of Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired before completing his first year as the Broncos’ head coach in 2022.

MORE: NFL Head Coach Wins Leaders

Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers will keep him employed (at least through 2024), but his track record is hardly inspiring.

First-Year Offensive Play-Callers

Four NFL coaches will take on offensive play-calling duties for the first time in 2023. With little to judge them on, we’ll list this quartet alphabetically.

Brian Callahan, Tennessee Titans

Although Brian Callahan didn’t call plays as the Bengals’ OC, he was integral in Cincinnati’s play design and organization process. The Titans’ offense is in disrepair, but the Bengals’ roster wasn’t winning any awards when Callahan went to the Queen City in 2020, either.

Bringing his father — Bill Callahan, arguably the NFL’s greatest offensive line coach — to Tennessee won’t hurt.

Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Liam Coen was the Rams’ OC in 2022 under McVay but did not handle play-calling. He sandwiched that L.A. gig with multiple coordinator stints at the University of Kentucky, where he worked with future second-round pick Will Levis (now Callahan’s QB with the Titans).

The Buccaneers have a lot up in the air, as Mayfield and WR Mike Evans are free agents. Can Coen help Tampa Bay repeat its surprising 2023 success?

Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks

Ryan Grubb has had a whirlwind of an offseason. After losing in the National Championship Game as Washington’s OC, Grubb initially followed Kalen DeBoer to Alabama before accepting the Seahawks’ play-calling job in February.

MORE: List of Current NFL Defensive Coordinators

Mike Macdonald is a first-year, defensive-minded HC, so Grubb should have complete control over Seattle’s offense in his NFL debut.

Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

One last McVay disciple to round out our list. Previously the Rams’ passing game coordinator and QB coach, Zac Robinson received more OC interview requests (seven) this offseason than any other candidate. A former NFL Draft pick and Pro Football Focus analyst, Robinson is a modern-day coach.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Join the Conversation!

Related Articles