A good coach or a good quarterback at times are easy to find on their own. However, a combination of the two that is good is something entirely different. In the earlier days you had the likes of Mike Ditka and Jim McMahon, Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw, Don Shula and Dan Marino, and of course Bill Walsh and Joe Montana. From the 2000s on though trying to find this magical spark between these two can be hard to find. That being said I did a little digging and was able to find what I believe to be the top ten quarterback-coach duos of the millennium.
#10 Matt Ryan and Mike Smith
Some of you are scratching your heads seeing this here and I can understand that, but hear me out. Even though this duo has not won a Super Bowl together and their post season record wasn’t the best they did great things and are remarkably underrated when it comes to a quarterback-coach duo. Since being paired in 2008 and ending in 2014 these two along with the Falcons team won 64% of their regular season games in that time frame. With that being said they had four seasons with ten or more wins since 2008. They did fall off the wagon in the final two years that Smith was with Ryan and the Falcons going 4-12 in 2013 and 6-10 in 2014. Now compared to what the Falcons did getting to the Super Bowl was a huge hole to climb out of after those two awful seasons but I do find it impressive of the years before all of that happened.
#9 Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid
You can try to make the case for Reid and Mahomes for an honorable mention on this list but I feel like they need a bit more time to work throughout the years to come to even scratch this list. Now one quarterback that Reid did extremely well with was when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles; Donovan McNabb. Granted there was a little bit of drama that went a long with this one but the stats overpowered this little dilemma. From 2000 to 2004 they won 54 of their 73 games together and also appeared in four consecutive NFC Championship games. Together, they also went on to win five division titles. They fall short on the list however as the big one still avoids Reid’s career. Hopefully one day he will find it.
#8 Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh
There is no doubt that Flacco and Harbaugh have accomplished a lot together since joining up in 2008. From that year on until the end of 2014 the Ravens won five wild card playoffs, two divisional playoffs, one AFC championship and of course one Super Bowl in 2012 defeating the San Francisco 49ers. They kind of fell off going forward however as 2013 came along and they took a record of 8-8 and in 2015 their record being 5-11. The point is that haven’t really been the same going forward and that is why they fall short on this ranking. However being that the 2018 season is most likely the last time that we will see Flacco in a Ravens uniform, we could not forget to mention the magic these two created in Baltimore.
#7 Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy
Let me be very clear the main reason why these two have fallen this far down is do to the fact that Rodgers ran McCarthy out of town and out of the job during the 2018 season. However, drama put aside these two created magic together from the year 2006 onward. Together they won four wild card playoffs, four divisional playoffs, one conference championship and finally one Super Bowl beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. Since that Super Bowl win they were still heading in the right direction up until the 2017 season. They went 7-9 and did even worse in the 2018 season going 6-9-1. In the middle of the season McCarthy was fired after being the head coach for twelve years. Again Rodgers and McCarthy drama aside for that amount of years accomplished great things for Green Bay.
#6 Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy
Manning and Dungy from 2002 to 2008 had an amazing run together as a quarterback-coach duo. They won three wild card playoffs in the years of 2003, 2004 and 2006, two divisional playoff victories also in 2003 and 2006, one conference championship and finally a Super Bowl win in 2006 defeating the Chicago Bears. The important thing here is the regular season records that Dungy and Manning had in those years. They went 85-27 from 2002 to 2008. Every one of those years had double digit wins and had six or less losses. A remarkable amount of credit for these two indeed.
#5 Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin
Before all of you people start complaining about where these two are on this list let me explain. Yes, I understand that Eli Manning under the guidance of Coughlin won two Super Bowls beating the Patriots in 2007 and 2011. That alone is impressive in its own right especially taking down Brady and Belichick on the grandest stage of them all. However if you take out those two major accomplishments what do you have? You have a divisional playoff loss in 2008 and a wild card playoff loss in 2016. A lot of people love to buy into something for the end results and not the path that led them there and in-between. That is the story of Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin and why they fall at our number five spot.
#4 Drew Brees and Sean Payton
It has been nothing less than memorable when talking about the careers these two have shared together in the city of New Orleans. Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been together for twelve years and have produced countless statistics and moments. They have won three wild card playoffs in 2011, 2013 and 2017. Along with that they have secured victory in the divisional playoffs as well three times in 2006 (Payton’s first year), 2009 and 2018. Of course in 2009 they then went on to beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship game and finally winning the Super Bowl shortly after that against the Colts. Most if not all people would argue the Saints would be on their way to another Super Bowl this year had the referees not blown a blatant pass interference call that would have ended the game against the Rams. Sadly, they will have to look to next season to avenge two heart felt losses in two years.
#3 Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin
Some of you might be reading this and think why are these two this far up on this list following this latest season? I would argue to those people saying these two are probably one of the best quarterback-coach duos in the NFL since forming in 2007. Tomlin as of late especially this season however is slowly starting to lose his mojo as we begin to see bad decision making and time management coming into play. However the Steelers organization has been a very traditional one as they have stuck by three coaches since 1969. In my mind this season Tomlin will have to prove himself to the organization that he is right person to lead this team to the next level. Since 2007 Tomlin along with Roethlisberger have claimed two wild card playoff victories, three divisional playoff victories and have appeared in two Super Bowls winning one of those against the Cardinals in 2008. Recent drama has stricken this team with losing Le’Veon Bell and the eventual departure of Antonio Brown, but they still have Big Ben. As long as Tomlin and Ben continue to get along this team will continue to have good moments in NFL history.
#2 Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll
Aside from our number one position, no other quarterback-coach duo has had more success in their careers than Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll. Since these two have been together from 2012 to present, they have accomplished many great things for the Seattle Seahawks. In his first year under Carroll, Wilson took the Seahawks to a win over the Redskins in the wild card playoffs. With a rookie quarterback alone that is no less than incredible. In the years to come Wilson and Carroll won two more wild card playoffs in 2015 and 2016, two divisional playoff victories and appearing in two back to back Super Bowls one in which they won in 2013 beating the Denver Broncos. This duo carries something special as they appeared in at least a wild card playoff or higher except for the 2017 season. As impressive as their stats are they are hard to argue for number one when the next duo comes into play.
#1 Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
As much as they are hated for the way they do it no one can stop these two from taking their rightful spot at the top of this ranking. These two were paired up in 2000 and have been dominant all the way up to the end of the 2018 season as we sit and cringe at the fact they will be in the Super Bowl once again. Brady came in and took the ball out of the hands of the injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and with Belichick’s guidance we knew that this combination would be one that we as NFL fans would have to reckon with. Since Brady was on the field this duo has won two back to back wild card playoffs in 2005 and 2006, a whopping thirteen divisional playoff victories in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011-2018. Alone those stats would be incredible to witness but they have also won nine AFC championship games and have appeared in nine Super Bowls winning five of those nine. True we could be looking at sixth win this upcoming Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, but I certainly hope that doesn’t happen. As amazing as these two are I think it is about time both of them step away from football and let someone else take the helm and run with it.