Let’s just face it, the offseason is always going to be an endless carousel of lists and mock drafts and reflections on things past, with a dash of looking ahead into the future. But it also needs to be acknowledged that all that reflecting is kind of a big part of what the NFL is. It’s what the Hall of Fame is—reflecting on the best to ever play the game.
Pete Prisco recently posted one of those reflective, retrospective pieces for CBS Sports, in which he ranked the league’s coaches from first to last. The reporter placed Pittsburgh Steelers veteran head coach Mike Tomlin fifth on his list, behind some familiar names.
Heading the list, to the surprise of perhaps literally nobody, is Bill Belichick of the Patriots, who is proceeding to make a mockery of the record books with his five Super Bowl championships as a head coach and seven total Super Bowl appearances in that capacity. I don’t think many people will argue this.
Prisco placed Packers head coach Mike McCarthy second on the list. He took over the Packers a year before Tomlin took over the Steelers, and they have similar win-loss records with one Super Bowl apiece, with McCarthy’s coming at the expense of Tomin’s second attempt.
The one grouping in the top five that I don’t buy, at least in terms of the ordering, is Andy Reid at three, who has been coaching for nearly two decades without winning a Super Bowl title. He even managed to lose to the Steelers in the playoffs at home coming off a first-round bye in a game in which Pittsburgh didn’t score a touchdown. He is obviously a good coach, but he now has a losing record in the postseason.
Pete Carroll of the Seahawks inches his way ahead of Tomlin as well. He took the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls and may have one both of them, instead of just the first one, had he, oh I don’t know, run the ball at the goal line. That gave Belichick a fourth ring and Malcolm Butler an inflated value. He has won at least 10 games in five consecutive seasons.
Finally we get to Tomlin at five, who has yet to face a losing season in 10 years. He is coming off his best season since 2010, going 11-5 in the regular season and reclaiming the AFC North, advancing to the AFC Championship game.
Prisco notes that Tomlin has won at least 10 games in seven of his 10 seasons, with the exceptions coming most recently in 2012 and 2013, a transitional period. The other, a 9-7 season, came in 2009 that took a 6-2 team on a five-game losing streak that coincided with some prominent defensive injuries.
“There are some who question whether he’s just a guy who oversees everything rather than a hands-on coach”, Prisco recites of an old and disproven knock against Tomlin before adding, “I don’t buy that”. He concludes, “he knows what it takes to win, no matter how he gets it done”.
In case you were wondering, he ranked John Harbaugh of the Ravens seventh, with Marvin Lewis falling to 15th. He ranked Hue Jackson 24th, two spots ahead of all non-first-year head coaches. His top five is pretty solid, but there’s a lot that I might rearrange on his list beyond that.