It’s the simple truth in the NFL that the better your head coach/quarterback combination, the better chance you’ll have to win a Super Bowl.
That seems more accurate than ever. Of the eight remaining playoff teams, there are some fantastic head coaches and some of the best quarterbacks in the game. It’s almost impossible to get this far without at least one of those in place, and getting harder to do it without both.
Here is the ranking of the eight head coach/quarterback combinations left in the NFL playoffs:
8. Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett and Dak Prescott
You’ll find as you look through the list that it’s hard to rank any one too low. This is a strong field. But sorry, Cowboys fans, this ranking is pretty obvious. Prescott gets more criticism than he deserves — he’s a perfectly capable quarterback and has shown that often — and while Garrett is seemingly one bad loss from being on the hot seat at all times, his overall record isn’t terrible. But someone has to be eighth, and this is the only honest answer.
7. Philadelphia Eagles: Doug Pederson and Nick Foles
Yep, the coach and quarterback who won last year’s Super Bowl is second-to-last. Whoever came in seventh was going to be offended. It’s simply a great group of quarterbacks and coaches still in the playoffs. Pederson has shown he’s a good coach (if there was any doubt as the Eagles struggled this season, the last four games should have put that to rest), and Foles is going to be a legend forever. But the best way to settle it is by asking, would you take Foles over any quarterback ahead of him on this list?
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Anthony Lynn and Philip Rivers
This also seems too low, because Lynn immediately showed he was a good coach when he dug the Chargers out of an 0-4 start last season, his first as a head coach. Lynn is already one of the NFL’s best. And Rivers is probably going to make the Hall of Fame. A Super Bowl championship this season would clinch that. Lynn and Rivers being No. 6 shows how tough it is to rank these combinations (yes, Rivers > Foles is why they’re not behind the Eagles).
5. Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay and Jared Goff
It was hard to rank this duo behind the one up next. But, McVay and Goff have each been in only one playoff game and lost it. That’s a tiny sample and it’s very, very doubtful they have some fatal flaw that will keep them from ever experiencing playoff success. McVay and Goff are fantastic. But the quarterback up next has proven himself to be one of the NFL’s best, has played great in some postseason games, and the rookie coach is already a star …
4. Indianapolis Colts: Frank Reich and Andrew Luck
Reich basically did for the Colts this season what McVay did for the Rams last season. The improvement the Colts made during the season was remarkable. And with Reich’s help, Luck has re-established himself as one of the best players in football. His rebound to a near-MVP level was not guaranteed before this season started. The Colts are the hottest team in the NFL, having won 10 of 11, and their new coach and veteran quarterback are in perfect sync.
3. Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes
I’d have Patrick Mahomes as my MVP pick, like nearly everyone will, and Andy Reid would be my coach of the year. Who else should get the credit for Mahomes’ incredibly rapid development? Reid keeps losing great assistants and keeps posting winning records. He’s underrated and will be until he wins a championship. But this is still Mahomes’ first playoff start and Reid’s playoff failures have been noted time and time again. So they can’t be ranked any higher than this. We’ll check back on them in a few weeks.
2. New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton and Drew Brees
If it weren’t for the No. 1 group on this list, this duo might get more attention from a historical perspective. They’re practically inseparable at this point. Brees might have had a great career with any coach in any system, but it’s hard to deny Payton’s offense helped him become the NFL’s all-time leading passer. Like all great combinations, they have lifted each other. Payton and Brees already have one title, and their all-time rankings will improve with another Super Bowl.
1. New England Patriots: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady
Brady is 41 and had moments this season in which we might have finally seen some signs of his age. This wasn’t a vintage Patriots team. Belichick lost games by double digits to Doug Marrone and Matt Patricia, two of the worst coaches in the NFL this season. He also lost games to rookie coach Mike Vrabel and to Adam Gase, who was fired by Miami. Yet, we all know the track record. Brady and Belichick will be considered by many the greatest coach and the greatest quarterback in NFL history when they’re done, and they deserve the top spot on this list until they’re retired.
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