Marty Schottenheimer – Regular Season vs. Playoffs

Marty Schottenheimer had a contrasting legacy in the NFL, defined by a strong regular season record but a disappointing playoff performance.

Here’s a breakdown:

Regular Season

  • 200-103-1 (.613 winning percentage): One of the highest win percentages in NFL history among coaches with 200+ wins.
  • Five teams coached to division titles: Cleveland Browns (3 times), Kansas City Chiefs (1 time), San Diego Chargers (1 time).
  • 13 playoff appearances: Reached the playoffs with every team he coached except Washington.


  • 5-13 (.278 winning percentage): Only losing playoff record for an NFL coach with 200+ wins.
  • Never won a Super Bowl: Lost in two AFC Championship games with the Chiefs and one with the Chargers.
  • Known as a “playoff choker”: Despite regular season success, his inability to translate it to the postseason plagued his reputation.

While Schottenheimer was a dominant force in the regular season, his playoff struggles became a defining narrative of his career.

He remains a respected coach for his leadership and tactical acumen, but his playoff record adds a bittersweet layer to his legacy.

Why did Schottenheimer not win in the playoffs?

Marty Schottenheimer’s struggles in the playoffs are a complex issue with many contributing factors.

Here are some key points:

Quarterback Play

  • Lack of elite QB: While having good QBs, he never had a consistent, top-tier talent like Elway or Marino, his playoff opponents often did.
  • Turnovers: Some costly interceptions or fumbles in crucial moments proved decisive in several playoff losses.

Coaching Philosophy

  • “Martyball”: His conservative, run-heavy approach, focused on ball control and defense, could be criticized as overly cautious in high-scoring playoff games.
  • Inability to adjust: Some argue he was too rigid in his game plan and failed to adapt to changing situations or exploit opponent weaknesses in the playoffs.

Other Factors

  • Bad luck: Controversial calls, injuries, and missed kicks also played a part in some defeats, adding to the narrative of playoff struggles.
  • Strength of opponents: Facing multiple Hall of Fame QBs and strong teams in the playoffs undoubtedly contributed to the difficulty.

Ultimately, attributing Schottenheimer’s playoff record to any single factor wouldn’t be accurate.

It was a multifaceted issue involving quarterback limitations, coaching strategies, situational challenges, and perhaps even some misfortune.

He still achieved significant success in the regular season, making him a respected coach.

However, his inability to translate that into playoff victories remains a notable aspect of his legacy.

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