Type to search

NFL Coaches: the Cream Has Risen to the Top

The league has 32 head coaches, all shapes and sizes – and ages, and personalities, and styles. What seems to matter lately, though, is the type of offense they’ve installed.

The four coaches still standing are: Belickick, Reid, Payton, and McVay. All are solid and proven performers.

Bill Belichick is the dean of current coaches. Now 66, he got his start as an assistant on the defensive side back in 1979. He’s been with four teams, including twice with the Patriots, in 1996 and from 2000 to the present. 1996 ought to ring a bell – Belichick was assistant head coach and defensive backs coach under Bill Parcells when the Packers beat the Pats in Super Bowl XXXI.

Belichick didn’t get an HC gig until 1991, with the Browns. In five years there, he went 36 and 44, reaching the playoffs just once and losing in the AFC Divisional game. His regular season record is 261 and 123, for a .680 win percentage. In postseason, he’s been even better, going 30-11 to date.

In nineteen years with the Pats, Belichick has made the playoffs 16 times, and won the Super Bowl five times (and counting). Even so, many experts had picked the Charges to win last Saturday.

Andy Reid, 60, was an assistant coach for five college teams, from 1982 to 1991, before joining the Packers, and HC Mike Holmgren, from 1992 through 1998. Under Holmgren, Reid served as an offensive assistant, offensive line, tight ends, and quarterbacks coach, finishing up as Quarterbacks and assistant head coach in 1997 and 1998. Reid was with the Packers for Holmgren’s entire tenure, including the victorious 1996 Super Bowl year.

For the past 20 years, Reid has been the head coach of the Eagles (1999-2012) and then the Chiefs (since 2013). He’s gone to the playoffs 14 times, but has yet to appear in a Super Bowl game. His current playoff record is 13-13.

Sean Payton, 55, joined the NFL coaching ranks in 1997. He was with the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys prior to becoming a head man, in New Orleans in 2006. He was named Coach of the Year in his first season as HC. His regular season record there is 118 and 74. This past season is his seventh time going to the playoffs, where his mark is now nine and five. He’s taken his team to the Super Bowl once, following the 2009 season, beating the Colts 31-17.

The rise of Sean McVay to being a head coach is similar to that of Matt LaFleur. After a year as an assistant coach with Jon Gruden and the Bucs in 2008, Sean joined the Redskins as a tight ends coach (2010-13), and then offensive coordinator (2014-16). In 2017 the Rams chose McVay as the youngest NFL head coach ever, at age 30. The Rams have finished first in the NFC West in each of his two years.

After losing to the Falcons in the Wild Card game last season, the Rams beat the Cowboys 30-22 on Saturday, and will face the Saints on Sunday. Sean vs. Sean.

Belichick and McVay each became pro coaches without college coaching experience. None of the four was a star at a big-time college. Reid was a tackle at BYU, Payton had success as a QB at Division 1-AA Eastern Illinois, went undrafted by the NFL, and spent a couple years in the Arena League and CFL, and McVay was a wide receiver for Miami of Ohio. Belichick played center and tight end at Wesleyan University, as well as some lacrosse and squash.

Matt LeFleur’s NFL background and time spent working his way up the coaching ladder seem very much in line with how these four winners made their way to being head coaches. Even McVay was in the NFL as far back as 2008.

Offensive Masterminds

What do the four surviving HCs have in common? They preside over powerhouse passing offenses.

Over the regular season, Reid and his Chiefs led the league offensively in both total yards gained (425.6/game) and scoring (35.3). Right on his tail was McVay and his Rams, at 421.1 and 32.9. The Patriots ranked fifth in the NFL in offensive yardage and fourth in points scored. Payton and the Saints were third in points scored and eighth in yardage.

On the defensive side, the Saints gave up the least yardage – but they were ranked only fourteenth best overall. The Rams ranked 19th, the Patriots were 21st and the defenseless Chiefs finished ahead of only the Bengals. Do defenses ever matter anymore?

Clearly, you’d like your team to be an offensive powerhouse at the moment. Green Bay ranked 12th in yardage gained and 18th in yardage yielded in 2018. The Packers were ninth in passing yardage.

The Chiefs averaged 310 yards per game through the air, and 116 on the ground. The Ram’s corresponding numbers were 282 and 139; the Patriots came in at 266 and 127, while the Saints were 253 and 127.

Each of the final four teams finished in the top half of the league in rushing yards per game. Though the Rams were third best and the Chiefs 16th, they were still within 25 yards of each other per game. The differences in passing firepower were more telling, with the Chiefs and Pat Mahomes at 310, the Rams and Jared Goff at 282, the Pats and Tom Brady at 266, and the Saints and Drew Brees at 253. Rodgers and company were ninth, right behind the Pats, at 265.

Based on the differences in passing prowess, I’d have to favor kid McVay and young Goff meeting old-timer Reid and even younger Mahomes in Atlanta on February 3. That’s making the big assumption that the Chiefs’ offense can make up for a defense that gave up over 405 yards per game during the regular season.

The most interesting question for Packer fans might be how these coaches and their dynamic offenses bode for the future of new coach Matt LaFleur? My initial impression is very well, but I’m going to give it a lot more thought and research.

For sure though, the year LaFleur spent with the Rams as Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator has to bring a smile to Aaron Rodgers’ face.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Cheese January 19, 2019

    “Reid has been the head coach of the Eagles (1999-2012) and then the Chiefs (since 2013). He’s gone to the playoffs 14 times, but has yet to appear in a Super Bowl game.”

    Reid made it to Super Bowl 39 the 2004 season and lost to the Patriots.

    1. Ferris January 19, 2019

      The Donovan McNabb barf game.

  2. Howard January 19, 2019

    On the defensive side of the ball I think it is better to look at points scored, since points determine winners and losers.

    This year in points per play allowed for the final four NE ranks 5th in the league, N.O is 15th, KC is 18th, and the Rams rank 24th.

    One good thing about having a dynamic offense, that scores points at a high rate per play is the opponent tends to have a higher turnover rate per drive when on offense. This year the Rams defense ranked 2nd in turnover rate per drive, K.C was 5th, N.E was 7th, and N.O was 8th.

    A team that scores consistently and often puts a lot of pressure on the opponents offense, that helps the defense in accumulating turnovers.

  3. Brandon Richardson January 19, 2019

    I always looked forward to “TOTAL PACKERS” posts because it read EXACTLY how I felt, especially after a loss. No offense but this new dude’s content is fuckin boring! That’s what we have bleacher report and Green and Gold for!

    1. MJ January 19, 2019

      Rob tends to produce nice pieces, very often well backed by stats. Yes, not all of us agree with him all the time, as this is a critical audience (and proudly so). In the old TP lineup he was the one that wrote the most serious articles, not the one that cranked out sarcasm left and right.
      Since this time around we are out of the playoffs, I take that the authors have less material to write about in a sarcastic note. They are scraping the barrel with the coaching hires, though.

      1. Savage57 January 20, 2019

        There’s not a lot to piss and moan about right now, just have some patience.

        Soon enough Free Agency will open, followed by the draft. There’ll be an abundance of grist for the mewling mill.

  4. PF4L January 20, 2019

    Unfortunately, there are always things to piss and moan about, because there will always be intelligent, informed Packer fans. The last 7 years of futility made sure of that. But sometimes you just kick back, and reflect.

    Searching for something else, i stumbled upon this from the 2017 season, before Murphy was told to Ted let go.

    Remember how Murphy disclosed his discovery that their were “silo’s”? He discovered this after being in the building for the last 9 – 10 years. So my question is, how did it take him so long to find this out when i had that inclination 2-3 years ago. How come i felt there was a lack of communication, but Murphy apparently just discovered it?

    I guess i was pissing and moaning back when i posted this. But then again, if Murphy would have been reading my post. Maybe he would have been clued in about the “silo’s” before 2018. Even though he works there and is the President. I guess Murphy could learn from us piss and moaners.

    12/06/2017 at 6:49 pm
    That’s the thing Empac…..TT supplys the guys, and it’s like there is no discussion, no communication between McCarthy and TT, or DC and TT. I’ve said it before, i wonder if these people even talk to each other much.

    That’s what i meant that it isn’t on MM. He’s dealt the hand to play by TT. It’s obvious that there is serious lack of communication. We have Rodgers, so everyone (TT) thinks they can do the bare minimum, then take 7 months off. I’ll say it again for the 50th time…….

    This team is broken.

  5. PF4L January 20, 2019

    Maybe my posting that “this team is broken”, is also pissing and moaning. But that message, couldn’t be more accurate, from the first time i wrote it, to the last time.

  6. PF4L January 20, 2019

    Well…the Rams are going to the Super Bowl. Congrats, but don’t forget to send the zebra’s a gift. Like a free trip to the optometrist.

    Not that i care, because i believe either the Chiefs or the Patriots beat L.A. or the Saints in the SB. But if i’m the Saints, i’m plenty pissed off.

  7. Mitch Anthony January 20, 2019

    Oh boy. The Packers draft position just improved.

  8. PF4L January 20, 2019

    Wow….As an NFL fan….I have the utmost respect for the Patriots. One man owns the team, maybe the finest man in the NFL. The head coach doesn’t just coach, he also procures player acquisition. Who has had more success than him? The QB is flat out, the undisputed GOAT. Julian Edelman must be mentioned as Mr. Clutch.

    This team will not allow anything, or anyone to disrupt their focus and winning formula. Hence, the longevity.

    Championship teams are made from the top down. This is a Championship team. This is a dynasty. One many, or all of us, may never see again in our lifetime.