Bill Belichick cemented his legacy as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL after his New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. He passed Don Shula for most Super Bowl appearances with seven and passed Chuck Noll for most wins with five. Surely this has to be enough to be considered the pinnacle of NFL coaching success, right?
. #Patriots owner Robert Kraft says team has TWO G.O.A.T.S. "Bill the GOAT…Bill Belichick the greatest coach of all-time." #SuperBowl pic.twitter.com/GypqIpnAAx
— Adam Bagni (@AdamBagni) February 7, 2017
Perhaps, but I still won’t give him the title of greatest coach of all time. I don’t think the “G.O.A.T.” should be measured purely by rings. That’s why I think legendary Redskins coach Joe Gibbs should be in the conversation.
Case for Gibbs
Gibbs is perhaps the most idolized or iconic figure in D.C. sports history (but even that is currently under contention as Alex Ovechkin pummels his way through the NHL record books). Over two coaching stints spanning 16 years, he took the Redskins to 10 playoff appearances and four Super Bowls, winning three. Yet somehow it seems he is often glossed over in the conversation of “greatest” NFL coaches ever, and I never understood why. Perhaps it’s the flashy quarterbacks around the other great coaches. Bill Walsh had Joe Montana. Noll had Terry Bradshaw. Belichick has Tom Brady. Six names. Six Hall of Famers.
Gibbs had Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien. Among those, only Gibbs in enshrined in Canton. The rest will likely only go as far as the Redskins’ Ring of Fame. As a disciple of Don Coryell and the Verticle Offense, to win the ultimate prize with three different, average-caliber quarterbacks is astounding. The only other coach with multiple Super Bowls from different QBs is George Seifert and he did it with Montana (immediately following Walsh’s retirement) and Steve Young.
Belichick and Brady have been the only two constants over their dynasty, shuffling supporting players in and out like a revolving door. Even when Brady went down with an injury the Patriots still finished 11-5. Sure Gibbs did it with three different quarterbacks, but he had a far more consistent cast, specifically one of the best offensive lines in NFL history for a decade.
But, when Gibbs returned in 2004-07 to a far less talented team than he coached to three Super Bowl victories, he still made it to the playoffs twice with Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, and Todd Collins.
I don’t think Belichick’s final Super Bowl tally will likely ever be touched. Brady may still have a couple left in him. By no means am I saying that Gibbs is the greatest of all time. I don’t like the “G.O.A.T.” title when it comes to coaches. Instead, I prefer the “Mount Rushmore” approach. My Rushmore of NFL coaches: Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Joe Gibbs, Bill Belichick.