There are really very few great coaches. I think the term is used way too often. The same can be said of great players. When I think of great coaches I think of the late Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells,Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichick, Bud Grant, Tom Landry, the first reign of Joe Gibbs and a few others. I would say that John Madden was an excellent coach. I got to know him and he probably would have fallen into the great category if he had coached longer. Chuck Knoll of the Steelers is right on the cusp and I wouldn’t argue if he was included. I think that Marv Levy had a great run but he couldn’t get the “big win”. His teams were so close but,where do we draw the line?
Bill B was fired in Cleveland. Tony Dungy was fired in Tampa and they went on to have outstanding results in another venue. My definition of great is a little more complex than winning a super bowl. John Gruden won one but his teams and results did not stand the test of time. The test of time. What does it mean? It’s not just about superbowls for me. The superbowl has proven over the years that the best team loses as much as it wins. We have all witnessed games that were decided on a freak play or sadly bad refs. A ref’s calls should NEVER determine the outcome of a game. It happens so, it’s part of the game. The Steelers went on to win a superbowl based on a bad call recently as an example. The Jets were NOT a better team than the Colts and the Giants were NOT a better team than the 18 and one Pats. I think the Jets win was the most shocking one I have ever seen. The Giants win is in the same class. It makes the game fun but the best team doesn’t always win. Most of the games have been boring,blow outs. The Giants-Colts game was pre-superbowl but one of the greatest games ever. Two deserving teams. Ideally the way it should be. The Packers, Cowboys on the frozen tundra in Green Bay, the immaculate reception by Franco Harris, the Giants vs the Pats,the Giants vs the Bills et al are the games I always hope to experience. They come rarely but,what a treat. The Kansas City Chiefs beating an excellent Viking team ranks with the Jet’s win. It legitimized the A.F.L. and shocked everyone. I am sure you guys/gals have other choices that I may have missed.
A good coach wins consistently. I consider Bill Cowher a great coach not because he finally got his ring. His teams were always good, always contending, always playing hard and reflected his personality. It’s the consistency that in my mind made him great. Bill Walsh (the genius) was clearly at the top of the list. He was,well,an offensive genius and he could judge talent. Parcells (Young) took arguably the worst team in football and made them champs. Parcell’s rings with the Giants were an incredible accomplishment but he ranks at the top because of what he did with the Jets and the Pats as well. The guy is amazing and he always won. The Steelers, the Vikings, the 49ers, the Packers,the Pats. They each dominated for a decade. That is consistency. That,for me,defines GREAT. The Redskins under Gibbs were also a consistently dominant team.
O.K. Mike Shanahan was a good coach. He too was fired by Al Davis but he did a superior job in Denver and yes,he got the ring. He should have walked as the last few years tarnished what otherwise would have been a GREAT career. Tom Coughlin got a ring,Weeb Eubank got a ring,Hank Stram got a ring. The ring is superfluous! Not even close. Tom Flores was/is one of the classiest guys I ever met. He was not a very good coach. Norv Turner is an excellent offensive coordinator. He is a class act but not a very good head coach. Tom Coughlin’s Giants are the most inconsistent team of all. As aptly and rightly stated on this blog by many of you,the Giants just don’t get better. They are sloppy,inconsistent,unimaginative and they got a ring. For those last six games they were everything they have not been during Coughlin’s tenure. The Giants were desperate and hired an anti-Fassel. We lived a dream I will never forget but the Blue have not gotten better since. They had a run, period.