With the announcement yesterday that the Cleveland Browns hired Pat Shurmur as their next Head Coach, coupled with Ron Rivera becoming the Carolina Panthers Head Coach earlier this week – and let’s not forget Leslie Frazier officially getting the call in Minnesota – The Walrus has now produced six NFL Head Coaches. SIX!
That’s the same number that the three (probably soon-to-be-four)-time Super Bowl-champion (and supposed “greatest coach to ever stalk a sideline”) Bill Belichick has sired. Seems crazy right? But it’s not that ludicrous when you remember that the Eagles were one of the top-three winning-est teams of the last decade. It’s no surprise that Jim Johnson, one of the greatest Defensive Coordinators of the last 25 years, spawned numerous Head Coaches – making assistants like Rivera and Frazier hot commodities, particularly when JJ himself passed on numerous head coaching gigs.
Over the course of Andy’s tenure in Philly, four major coaching trees have emerged: Reid’s, Belichick’s, Tony Dungy’s and Bill Cohwer’s – with The Walrus and The Hoodie producing the most with six apiece. It’s premature to start comparing the offspring of these two coaching behemoths(*) – mainly because three of Reid’s protégés just took the reins – but it’s certainly still fun to see how they measure up.
(*)One being a behemoth in the coaching/winning sense; The other much more in the literal sense.
It’s also interesting to note that these two coaching trees are rooted in arguably two of the most important coaching families in NFL history, headed by two other similar head coaching contemporaries: Mike Holmgren and Bill Parcells.
As you can see from the two charts (Reid’s Coaches on the left and Belichick’s on the right, below), Andy’s former assistants (at least the ones that have actual experience as a Head Coach) seem to fair pretty well – save for one that looks more like a “To Catch a Predator” pedophile than a football coach. We’ll hold our judgments for Frazier, Rivera and Shurmur for now, but personally, I’m a big Rivera fan. As for Belichick’s guys… nothing impressive at all, really. The best coach he produced so far is Kirk Ferentz, Head Coach at the University of Iowa. And let’s not forget the Charlie Weis-Notre Dame debacle.
Why does this matter? What does it say that Andy’s tree bears better fruit than Belichick’s? Well, for one it points to one of The Walrus’ better traits: He knows how to surround himself with the right assistants (though Sean McDermutt is a WHOLE other story). But I think it proves one glaring thing: Where Reid puts plans and people in places he thinks they’ll succeed, Belichick is INVOLVED with every minor detail. Reid is a good game planner, but a horrific in-game coach. Belichick is brilliant at both, and is by far the superior coach… Obviously, no body was arguing that fact.
Look at the family trees of Holmgren (top of page) and Parcells (below). The Parcells family has won seven Super Bowls to Holmgren’s two. Why is that? Holmgren was a disciple of Bill Walsh, inventor of the West Coast Offense. Holmgren’s disciples advanced the West Coast Offense, and continued its evolution and philosophy. Parcell’s style – and subsequently his coaching disciple’s styles – is predicated on defense first. Tough, physical, smashmouth football teams. The Holmgren tree was built on finesse and offense. Seven to two… That says it all.
Ironically, four of the six coaches to come from the Reid school of football are defensive coaches. And why is that? Two words: Jim Johnson. Much like Parcells’ and Belichick’s championship teams, the Eagles of the 2000’s won all those games because of defense. Jim Johnson’s defense, not Andy Reid’s. It’s no surprise that three guys I would LOVE to see as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles – John Harbaugh, Steve Spagnuolo and Ron Rivera – are head coaches elsewhere.
Defense. Defense. Defense. That’s how you win championships.
Yet another reason to Fire The Walrus.