Friday, May 31, 2013

10 comments Rick Reilly Ranks the Top 20 Coaches in NFL History Using a Metric I Won't Ever Understand

ESPN is ranking the greatest NFL coaches of all-time. I guess this is similar to their "Who's More Now" list from a few years back, just slightly more useful and informative than finding out "Who's More Now." Rick attempts to explain the metric or standard he used to rank these coaches, but it seems like he doesn't use a consistent metric at all. He sort of changes the standard he is using based upon where he wants to rank these coaches. It's one of those lists where he has the rankings already planned out in his head before he did any research (which I'm not sure Reilly did research). Much like the rest of his writing, Reilly favors cheap jokes and bad analysis over any type of critical thought about where he would rank these head coaches. Oh, and there is a Little Mermaid joke. Because it is the early 90's again in Rick's mind.

I've been instructed by the ESPN gendarmes not to reveal who made our Greatest Coaches in NFL History poll.

Gendarmes means "a military force charged with police duties." It's not a polite way to refer to the ESPN executives who have made Rick wildly overpaid over the past five or so years in this way. This would be like Mike Hampton bashing the Colorado Rockies front office for being loose with money in free agency.

But I know who I voted for, and I know who the group voted for, and one of us must've voted on nitrous oxide, because we're a Carnival cruise ship apart on some picks.

Wow, that sentence was a roller coaster ride wasn't? We have an unfunny somewhat dentist-related joke and an unfunny pop culture (is Carnival pop culture?) reference.

Here is Rick's list and I have to spoil one point he makes about Bill Walsh in order to criticize some of these early picks. He puts Walsh lower than he should be (in my opinion) on the list because he won his Super Bowls with one quarterback. This doesn't stop Rick from putting Belichick fourth on the list, putting Jimmy Johnson 14th on the list and he leaves Mike Shanahan off the list entirely because he won two Super Bowls with one quarterback. Apparently winning two Super Bowls with one quarterback is unimpressive. So keep this in mind as Rick goes through this list of the greatest NFL head coaches of all-time.

20. Dan Reeves -- Gruff and grouchy, the man went to four Super Bowls, three with John Elway and one against him. That says something, doesn't it?

This one of the metrics used that I don't understand. So making it to three Super Bowls with John Elway as your quarterback and losing a Super Bowl to John Elway is impressive, but actually winning two Super Bowls with John Elway as your quarterback means nothing? How can this be? It's better to lose three Super Bowls with John Elway than win two Super Bowls with John Elway? How in the hell does this make any sense? Reeves even lost a Super Bowl to John Elway and Mike Shanahan, yet Shanahan is not on the list and Reeves is.

And in that one, he woke up on game day to find out his best defensive player had been busted by an undercover hooker.

But I'm sure the Falcons would have won the Super Bowl if Eugene Robinson had not propositioned a cop undercover as a hooker the night before the game.

19. Ray Flaherty -- Don't start with me. Just because he coached before Netflix doesn't mean he wasn't great.

Netflix wasn't founded until 1997. Quite a few great coaches coached before Netflix.

Won two NFL titles and a bunch of division titles in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which was a very big deal despite TMZ never having heard of it.

What the hell does TMZ have to do with anything? TMZ covers celebrities and isn't too big on pre-1960's NFL trivia. Maybe Rick meant to write "despite TMQ never having heard of it." Of course there are a lot of things TMQ has not heard of.

18. Tom Coughlin -- Won two Super Bowls with The Wrong Manning.

Yes, but he won both Super Bowls with the same quarterback...just like Mike Shanahan, who isn't on this list because he won two Super Bowls with the same quarterback. Again, this is a constantly moving and inconsistent metric being used by Rick.

17. Marv Levy -- Made four straight Super Bowls. You say he never won The Big One.

By the way Bill Parcells didn't make this list. Many of your know I am not the biggest Bill Parcells fan in the world, but Rick leaves off Parcells because he coached in New York and "only" had a .570 career regular season coaching record. Marv Levy's career regular season coaching record? .561.

Bill Parcells made three Super Bowls, winning two of them, including one over Marv Levy and his Bills. How Rick can have the audacity to criticize Parcells' career regular season coaching record and slip Levy into the Top 20 when he has a lower career regular season coaching record and fewer Super Bowl victories than Parcells? I can't understand this. I'm dumbfounded.

15. George Allen -- Would've been a great general. He'd find a way to beat you if all he had was two right tackles and a spatula. Never had a losing season. Won 71 percent of the time. OK, so it never happened for him in the playoffs. Sue.

Apparently Allen only had one right tackle and a spatula when it came time to play in the playoffs with his 2-7 career record in the postseason.

14. Jimmy Johnson -- Still can't believe he's not in the Hall of Fame. Do you think Cowboys fans would take him back right now? Made all those egos work, the largest of which was his.

You guys know it pains the hell out of me to plead for Mike Shanahan, but Jimmy Johnson won two Super Bowls with the same quarterback (Troy Aikman) and then Barry Switzer won a Super Bowl with Aikman. If we are assuming a great quarterback helps to make a coach look better, wouldn't it make sense that Jimmy Johnson doesn't make this list since another Cowboys head coach won a Super Bowl with Aikman? I'm just thinking logically, which I know isn't something Rick Reilly never be clear, "thinking" is what Reilly never does.

I don't have a huge problem with a list like this one. Just use a consistent metric or make sure the metric you use doesn't get contradicted somewhere along the way. Rick has failed on both of these counts.

12. Curly Lambeau -- Six NFL titles. First to use the forward pass as his main weapon. Won two out of every three games with the Packers. Oddity: Lambeau never went to Lambeau Field. When he was alive, it was called New City Stadium.

It's not really an oddity. Lambeau died in 1965 and the stadium was built in 1957, so he was only only 8 years after the field opened and he stopped coaching in 1953. Lambeau wasn't even inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1963. 

11. Bud Grant -- The Norse God. He looked like the guy Hollywood hires to play a football coach. Always wore the expression of an Easter Island statue, even as Gary Cuozzo or Joe Kapp was fumbling away another Super Bowl. Maybe if he could've relaxed the rules a little on his players, like Chuck Noll, he would've won one of those four Super Bowls.

Sure, maybe that was the reason the Vikings didn't win the Super Bowl under Grant. Maybe if Bud Grant had worn his shoes on the wrong feet the Vikings would have won all four Super Bowls. Perhaps if Grant sacrificed a kitten at exactly 11:23pm the night before the Super Bowl in the back of a Buick then the Vikings would have won at least one Super Bowl.

9. Chuck Noll -- Four Super Bowl wins in six years. Then why isn't he higher, you ask? Because he did it with only one quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, and one defense, the Steel Curtain. 

(Bengoodfella hangs his head sadly) So because Noll helped put together a team with a decent quarterback and a great defense that won four Super Bowls this means he is not as good of a coach as Bill Belichick (fourth on this list) who won three Super Bowls with the same quarterback but didn't do it with the same defense?

I'm not arguing Bill Belichick is not as good of a coach as Chuck Noll, but what standard is Rick using other than his opinion? He wants us to believe his list is a list based on well-thought reasoning, but I'm not entirely sure it is. Some coaches who haven't won Super Bowls are on Rick's list with a lower career winning percentage than coaches who have won Super Bowls but aren't on this list. Opinions are great, just back it up with a consistent line of thought.

8. Bill Walsh -- This will torque people off, having Walsh this low, but I answer with two words: Joe Montana.

I will answer with many words: Not relevant in terms of how you have ranked these previous head coaches. Bill Walsh was an innovator and he did more than find Joe Montana (in the third round by the way) and then roll the ball out there to watch Montana win games.

He won all three of his Super Bowls with Joe Montana. Still, a very smart guy. One of the smartest things he did? Quit just before Montana did.

Just to be clear. The #1 coach on Rick's list won four NFL Championships (two Super Bowls) with the same quarterback for three of those championships. So that's kind of interesting to know based on the rankings Rick puts forth in this column.

If you don't think Bill Walsh could have won a Super Bowl with Steve Young as his quarterback like George Seifert did then I would kindly disagree. I think Walsh could have won another title with Steve Young. It's not like the 49ers nosedived after Montana wasn't the quarterback of the 49ers anymore.

6. Tom Landry -- The Fedora had 20 straight winning seasons, made five Super Bowls, and was my mom's favorite coach because he looked so nice on the sideline, unlike certain coaches in cut-off, bottom-of-the-hamper sweatshirts you might find at your finer Goodwill stores.

Landry won two Super Bowls with the same quarterback and had a regular season record of .607. He won 250 games in 35 years of coaching.

Bill Walsh won three Super Bowls with the same quarterback and had a regular season record of .609. He won 92 games in 10 years of coaching.

I like Tom Landry, but unless Rick Reilly is counting the number of wins Landry had in his career compared to the number of wins that Bill Walsh for his career then there's no reason (using Rick's reasoning) Landry should be ranked over Walsh.

4. Bill Belichick -- A mad scientist.


The man already has been to five Super Bowls and he's only 61. The way he's going, he could make it to seven, a record. You say, "What about your one-quarterback rule NOW?"

Warning: Shifting metric ahead.

And I say, "How do you know Tom Brady would be Tom Brady anywhere else? He wasn't Tom Brady in college, was he?"

Oh, I get it. Belichick made Brady, but Montana made Walsh. Elway made Shanahan, except when Elway was coached by Dan Reeves, who made Elway a better quarterback, even though Reeves couldn't win a Super Bowl with Elway, who made Shanahan. None of it makes sense.

Rick does realize much of the reason Brady wasn't Brady at Michigan is because Drew Henson was favored by the Michigan coaching staff because Drew Henson, right? Henson was bigger, stronger, faster, which is why he was often given the starting quarterback job by Lloyd Carr. The story is pretty well-known at this point, but to deny Tom Brady wouldn't be as good on another team is to call him a "system quarterback" and we all know how I feel about that type of description regarding Brady.

2. Joe Gibbs -- OK, here's where you start throwing shoes. But it goes back to quarterbacks. Nobody has ever come close to doing what Gibbs did, which is win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, none of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

This is impressive and I can completely see how Reilly would move Gibbs up the list because he won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. The problem is this seems to be the only criteria Reilly is using to rank these coaches and he isn't even consistent in how he ranks head coaches who won Super Bowls with only one quarterback.

That's like crossing the Pacific in a Little Mermaid floatie.

Come on, man. It's 2013. Little Mermaid references were old in 1995 and no grown man should be making a Little Mermaid reference. If you absolutely must reference a children's movie how about referencing one from this century?

1. Vince Lombardi -- OK, the chalk pick, but do you think Bart Starr would be in the Hall of Fame without him?

As Reilly said in regard to Bill Walsh, I have two words for you: Bart Starr. The best thing Lombardi did was quit in 1967 before Starr quit in 1971.

Couldn't you say that about Lombardi? He won an NFL Championship without Bart Starr but once the leagues merged he couldn't win a Super Bowl without Starr. I obviously am not saying Vince Lombardi isn't a great coach or wasn't a great coach without Bart Starr, but the same criticisms by Reilly of Bill Walsh can be used for Vince Lombardi. Once the leagues merged he never even tried to win without Bart Starr, just like Bill Walsh retired before Joe Montana could retire.

This former Latin teacher got a job nobody wanted -- coaching the 1-10-1 Packers -- and proceeded to win 74 percent of his games after that. 

That 1-10-1 Packers team had five Hall of Famers on it by the way. Just felt like mentioning this.

Now let me tell you whom I didn't vote for.

It's not who Rick didn't vote for that annoys me, it's why Rick didn't vote for these head coaches. 

I didn't put Bill Parcells in the top 20. Lot of people are going to file a grievance over that. Fine coach, fun guy, but his regular-season coaching record was only .570, which ranks below most of the coaches in my top 20.

Other than the fact he has two Super Bowl victories, which is two more than Dan Reeves (.535 career regular season winning record), Marv Levy (.561 career winning record), and Bud Grant (.622 career regular season winning record), Bill Parcells isn't as good as the other head coaches on this list. If Rick is going to give Joe Gibbs credit for winning three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, none in the Hall of Fame, then Rick should know Bill Parcells won two Super Bowls with two different quarterbacks, neither in the Hall of Fame. Somehow Parcells doesn't make Reilly's list, even though he has more Super Bowls won with different quarterbacks than most other coaches on this list.

Plus, Parcells' stature was blown up because he did his best work in New York, which is the scuba mask of the world. Everything you do in New York looks one-third bigger than it really is.

I agree. I think Parcells' stature is blown up because he coached in New York and Dallas, but you can't argue with his inclusion on this list when using the criteria that Rick is using. Parcells, using Rick's own criteria, should have made this list.

I stiffed Mike Shanahan, too. Like Parcells, Shanahan is a wizard, but both his Super Bowls came with one quarterback, Elway. He has won one playoff game in the 13 years since. Needs to prove it.

Jimmy Johnson is 14th on this list and he won two playoff games since having Troy Aikman as his quarterback. Johnson had Dan Marino as his quarterback in those other two playoff victories and Marino is a Hall of Fame quarterback like Aikman. But somehow Johnson with fewer total coaching wins, a lower career regular season coaching record (.556 to Shanahan's .572) and one less playoff win without a Hall of Fame quarterback is 14th on this list while Shanahan is off the list completely. That's ridiculous. At least use your own metrics in a consistent fashion.

Lastly, I didn't vote for Tony Dungy. People act as if he won two Super Bowls: the one with Indy and the one Tampa Bay won the year after he was fired. Kim Kardashian just got pregnant with Kanye West. Does Kris Humphries get credit for that?

I'm not even sure how this makes sense. This is a pretty forced pop culture reference.

And yes, he won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning, but your muffler guy could win one with Manning in those years.

Really, asshole? My muffler guy could win one with Manning in those years? So how many Super Bowl victories, no, how many Super Bowl appearances does Peyton Manning have without Tony Dungy as his head coach? One. Manning has been to the Super Bowl twice and won it once...with Tony Dungy as his head coach. It's idiotic, stupid, moronic, to claim anyone could have won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning when NO OTHER HEAD COACH than Dungy has won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning as his quarterback.

Anyway, if you have any beefs, run them all through Adam Schefter.

I'll run my beefs through anyone but you. It's clear you don't know what the hell you are talking about and can't even adhere to the metrics you used to put together your list. This is another abomination of an article from Reilly. It's what happens when Reilly has to be pulled away from the "sad story of the week" and has to actually talk about sports. He's clueless. 


jacktotherack said...

Just thought I would point out that not only did Parcells beat Leavy in a Super Bowl he also beat Dan Reeves in Super Bowl XXI. So Reeves losing 2 Super Bowls with a HOF QB is somehow > than Parcells winning 2 QB's without a HOF QB, including one head-to-head against Reeves...

In closing, Rick Reilly is fucking stupid.

jacktotherack said...

winning 2 Super Bowls without a HOF QB I mean...

Big Tuna said...

I would have included Hank Stram, George Halas and Paul Brown over non-winners like Grant and Allen. I'm sure Reilly spent the bare minimum time in cobbling together this crap.

ivn said...

Reeves coached in Denver for a while (and probably bought Rick Reilly more free drinks and meals than Mike Shanahan) so of course he got on the list.

and when writers say things like, "He wasn't Tom Brady in college, was he?" it's great because it's nice to know who doesn't watch any college football. it's like when Simmons said that Vick and Luck were Ewing Theory candidates because Virginia Tech and Stanford "didn't win anything" with them.

JBsptfn said...

Va Tech hasn't been to the NC game since Vick left, so how can he be a Ewing Theory candidate?

Simmons: The epitome of fail.

As for Allen, he didn't win in the playoffs more than twice because he had too many old people, and he preferred Billy Kilmer to Sonny Jurgensen. Kilmer wasn't really much better than Tebow.

With all the draft picks he traded away, it's a wonder that the Skins became a power in the 80's. Just more credit to Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, no kidding. I'm not a huge Parcells fan, but when using the criteria that Rick is using it's obvious Parcells should be on the list.

Tuna, he probably picked from a list of 30 coaches and then tried to see which ones won multiple SB's with non-Hall of Fame QB's, left out Parcells, then called it a day.

Ivn, that is true. I believe Reilly is a Broncos fan or as much of a Broncos fan as he is capable of being.

That's a good point about college football. I think Reilly watched Notre Dame this year and this is the first time he's watched a college football game or set of games ever.

JB, I know next to nothing about George Allen, but I know he hated to lose. NFL history isn't my strongest suit. I do know Gibbs and Beathard did a great job with the Skins in the 1980's...of course everyone knows that.

waffleboy said...

Okay, hopefully this is as close as I will ever get to defending Rick Reilly, but I think the point Rick was trying to make about Bill Walsh being dinged for only winning with Joe Montana, wasn't that he only won with one quarterback,but that he won because he had Joe Montana.
I don't have any problems with Shanahan not being on the list, but leaving Parcells off is just dumb.

Bengoodfella said...

Waffle, I get that argument, but it is dumb. Vince Lombardi won with Bart Starr and I'm convinced if Walsh had stuck around he would have won in 1995 with Steve Young. I don't get how Belichick is 3rd on the list, but Walsh gets dinged for having Montana.

I don't have a problem with Shanahan off the list either, but not with the criteria Rick claims to be using. It doesn't makes sense to leave Shanahan off the list if Rick uses his own criteria.

The Parcells omissions WAS dumb. Rick just wanted to be controversial.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait until you critique his Top 100 NFL Players gripe. I mean, who uses their column to complain about a list based on the opinions of multiple contributors? Reilly does, cuz he's got nothing else.

BTW, he threw in a Daft Punk reference! Hahahahahha!

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, it seemed like a stretch for a column, that's for sure. I started writing it and then TMQ came out and now that has my attention, but I'm still planning on posting it.

It's funny how he treats the Top 100 like it was the decision of one person, not the cumulative decision of 63 people.