3. Bill Cowher & The Pittsburgh Steelers
I’ve chosen the Cowher-led version of the Steelers as there’s no case to be made against Mike Tomlin. His Steelers won the Super Bowl in just his second season (2008). Cowher didn’t win the Super Bowl until his fourteenth year in the league. It had to have been patience that kept him in the Steel City so long, right? Wrong. That’s revisionist history if I’ve ever heard it.
By Cowher’s seventh NFL season, he had:
- Won 64 regular season games.
- Won the division five times.
- Won four playoff games.
- Made three trips to the AFC Championship Game.
- Earned a Super Bowl berth.
The Steelers knew they had the right guy when tough times rolled around in 1998. In fact, Cowher only had four seasons where he failed to post a winning season the entire time he coached in Pittsburgh. He was one of the most bankable head coaches in the NFL throughout his coaching tenure. Winning the Super Bowl in 2005 was just icing on the cake.
4. Bill Belichick & The New England Patriots
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Say what you want about the Patriots organization, but since the year 2000, they’re four-time Super Bowl champions. Their success was swift under Belichick. By his fifth season, New England had won it all three times (including back-to-back championships in 2003 and 2004). The emotionless maverick affectionately known as “The Hood” has had only one losing season since he’s been at the helm in New England.
The Kraft family never needed to be patient with Belichick. After a losing season in 2000, he won 48 games over the next four years. He’s proven himself to be an immovable force in the NFL and that’s driven purely by the success he’s had on the field. Belichick can write his own ticket going forward because he’s repeatedly shown himself to be arguably the best head coach in football. One could argue that more patience might’ve gotten the Browns over the hump, but Belichick had plenty of time there to produce a winner. He spent five full seasons in Cleveland despite losing more games than he won in four of them.
I’ll say this again: Results beget patience. Thus far, Andy Reid has only the 20-win start to his credit in Kansas City. He hasn’t proven to be a difference maker in the postseason and that’s where you buy yourself time in this league. All four of the coaches mentioned above either made multiple trips to the postseason or won a big game between January-February by year three. Reid hasn’t done that and after such a huge step backwards in 2015, I’m not sure he should get another opportunity.
Next: One final argument