Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been in a league of their own in terms of success since 2001. Sunday's overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs secured the team's ninth Super Bowl appearance (fourth in the last five seasons) since Brady and Belichick joined forces. The duo has won five Lombardi Trophies together and has a chance at corralling a sixth in Atlanta two Sundays from now.
The success of Belchick and Brady has been unparalleled, but New Orleans' Sean Payton and Drew Brees and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger have also enjoyed at least a decade's worth of prosperity. None of these quarterbacks are getting any younger, and all are undoubtedly on the back nine of their careers.
With that in mind, here are six coach-QB combos that have the greatest potential to log 10-plus years of success:
1) Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: It's hard to believe Carroll and Wilson have been together in Seattle for seven seasons already. SEVEN. It seems like just yesterday that Wilson was on the field to essentially hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, use his own legs in the run game and avoid making any mistakes that would jeopardize the elite defense's hold on the game. Now, at age 30, Wilson remains a threat with his legs, but he's also lethal in the pocket and consistently makes accurate throws. With Wilson more advanced as a QB than when the Seahawks competed for titles a few years ago and Carroll building a great defense yet again, it's hard to imagine the Seahawks dropping off any time soon. Plus, Carroll's energy and positive relationships with his players lead me to believe he could (and just might) coach forever.
2) Sean McVay and Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams: Turning 33 this week, McVay is about to become the youngest head coach ever in a Super Bowl, and he's gotten this far based on his ability to construct a great game plan and lead the locker room. He is fantastic at identifying an opponent's strengths and weaknesses and exploiting the necessary areas to benefit his team. Although he's an offensive-minded coach, McVay isn't afraid to put his two cents in with Wade Phillips and the defense (much like Belichick does with the offense in New England).
In two years under McVay's watchful eye, Goff has undergone a makeover on all levels. He looks nothing like the kid who threw more interceptions than touchdowns and stumbled to a 63.6 passer rating as a rookie in 2016. A Pro Bowler for the second straight season, Goff has done well in intense environments and has handled adversity with aplomb. Just look at Sunday's NFC Championship Game. After struggling out of the gate, the young passer was resilient and put his team on his back. That mental toughness showed me that Goff doesn't let the moment affect him. He might not play well all the time, but he's not in over his head -- he's similar to Eli Manning, a teammate of mine on the Giants for four seasons, in that way.
Lastly, Goff is one of the more accurate passers on throws to the second level. Of the quarterbacks with more than 30 attempts of throws traveling 20-plus air yards this season, Goff ranks third in completion percentage behind Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield, per Next Gen Stats. Anyone can dink and dunk the ball or take shots downfield, but really good passers excel on intermediate throws. Goff has done that under McVay.
3) Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Last week, I wrote about how Reid often comes up short in big games for several reasons. The one thing he has proven, though, is that he can put points on the board with a capable quarterback surrounded by complementary pieces. Reid's creativity and ability to dial up a great offensive game plan have never been the question -- all the way back to when he worked with Brett Favre as Green Bay's quarterbacks coach in the 1990s. Ironically, he has a talent in Patrick Mahomes who was compared to the Hall of Famer before taking his first NFL snap. Mahomes was that and more in his first year as K.C.'s starting quarterback, as he finished as the front-runner in the MVP conversation with 5,097 passing yards, 50 touchdown passes and a 113.8 passer rating. Helping the Chiefs lead the league in scoring (35.3 points per game), Mahomes was so successful when creating offense and playing outside the Xs and Os, but I question whether he can consistently play this well for 10 years.
4) Frank Reich and Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: I met Reich for the first time in 2007, when I played for the Carolina Panthers. He was a motivational speaker at the time, and I recall thinking that he had the football knowledge (being a former NFL player), smarts and leadership ability to command a room full of grown men. So I wasn't shocked that he enjoyed success in his first year in Indy -- however, I was a little surprised that he had the level of success he did, just given the general expectations surrounding this team entering the season. Luck has proven since coming into the league that, when healthy, he's a top-tier quarterback. Given the early success of Reich and Luck, combined with 2018 PFWA Executive of the Year Chris Ballard's roster vision (which included shoring up a poor offensive line over the last few seasons), I expect the Colts to control the AFC South for the next six or seven years.
Two pairs I believe in, though questions remain
5) Jon Gruden and Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders: First and foremost, Gruden is going to be with the Raidersfor a decade. In all seriousness, Gruden has taken a lot of heat for the decisions he made in 2018. The Raiders' offense showed flashes despite fighting through a trying season, but the biggest factor playing in Jon and Derek's favor is their relationship. They don't have to be best friends but must have a mutual respect for one another (much like Belichick and Brady), and they do. Gruden believes Derek is capable of executing his offense, and Derek has a lot of confidence in Gruden's offensive scheme. The thing that would hold them back from having great amounts of success is the lack of talent on the roster.
6) Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: Shanahan is one of the best play-callers in the league and has elevated the level of play of every quarterback he's worked with. Garoppolo is a good, young talent who had the luxury of sitting behind and learning from Tom Brady, and I love Garoppolo's game. He is fantastic in the pocket, with deft pocket movement and accuracy. The greatest compliment I can give this kid: He has the pocket movement of Brady andAaron Rodgers' ability to always square up his body before delivering a throw on the move. However, Garoppolo wasn't superb before his season-ending knee injury in Week 3 and must improve in Shanahan's system.