Eagles Wake-Up Call: Finding QB More Important Than Coach

Much of the conversation in recent weeks has centered around who will replace Andy Reid as the Eagles’ head coach at year’s end.

While that decision will certainly be significant, finding the right quarterback will probably determine when this franchise gets to the Super Bowl next.

As Tim pointed out yesterday, that will likely be the new coach’s call. It could be Nick Foles. It could be someone they draft or acquire via trade or free agency this offseason. It could even be Michael Vick. Who knows?

Below is a list of the coaches and quarterbacks who have appeared in the Super Bowl the last five years.

2011GiantsEli ManningTom Coughlin
2011PatriotsTom BradyBill Belichick
2010PackersAaron RodgersMike McCarthy
2010SteelersBen RoethlisbergerMike Tomlin
2009SaintsDrew BreesSean Payton
2009ColtsPeyton ManningJim Caldwell
2008SteelersBen RoethlisbergerMike Tomlin
2008CardinalsKurt WarnerKen Whisenhunt
2007GiantsEli ManningTom Coughlin
2007PatriotsTom BradyBill Belichick
2006ColtsPeyton ManningTony Dungy
2006BearsRex GrossmanLovie Smith

Eight different quarterbacks have appeared in the Super Bowl the last five years: Eli Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Brees, Peyton Manning, Warner and Grossman.

(By the way, raise your hand if you forgot that Grossman was a 16-game starter for a Super Bowl team.)

Look at that list. Seven of the eight have proven capable of playing at an elite level. Four of the eight (Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger) have gotten to the Super Bowl twice in a five-year span. That’s no coincidence.

Five of the eight were first-round picks. The only exceptions were Brees (second round, 32nd overall), Brady (sixth round, 199th overall) and Warner (undrafted).

As for the coaches, you see guys like Belichick, Coughlin and Dungy, who were on their second stops. And first-time head coaches like Tomlin, McCarthy and Payton, who got to the Super Bowl within five years. It seems to be a more varied list in terms of style, background and accomplishments.

By the way, one thing to note for the Jon Gruden/Bill Cowher crowd, you don’t see a coach on the list who won a Super Bowl in a previous stop. And that’s not just in the past five years. That’s all-time. No coach has won a Super Bowl at one stop and gone on to win it again with another team.

The overall point, though, is that finding a quarterback will likely prove more difficult for Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and company than finding a new coach. And that, ultimately, will be the most significant factor in determining when this franchise hoists its first Lombardi Trophy.


Robert Griffin III says the Eagles were showing heavy interest in him before the draft. Tim’s got the details.

Here’s a taste of Oregon’s Chip Kelly, a potential head-coaching candidate.

Did Jeremy Maclin shy away from contact last week? He responds to criticism from Troy Aikman and others.

Here’s an All-22 look at what we saw from Foles last week against the Cowboys.

This week’s breakdown of defensive line production shows that Fletcher Cox has been a bright spot for the Eagles.

Will Vick definitely be gone in 2013? T-Mac’s not so sure.


SI.com’s Don Banks has the Eagles 24th in his power rankings:

If you’re rookie quarterback Nick Foles, you could do worse than making your first start on the road in Washington, where visiting teams often win, and the Redskins defense is depleted by injuries. It’s all about the future in Philly at this point, but that future in all likelihood doesn’t include Andy Reid and Michael Vick.

Andrew Brandt of ESPN.com says giving the coach primary personnel responsibilities is not ideal:

Although Bill Belichick has been able to achieve sustained success, he has done so with cold and impersonal detachment, often not even responding to player discontent about roles or contracts, further infuriating players and agents. Reid, although a flat-liner with the media, cares deeply about his relationship with his players.

The Eagles are obviously talented but sometimes appear undisciplined and unafraid of consequences. Although there are many factors in their struggles this year, the arrangement of Reid as coach and general manager is certainly not ideal for this current club.


We’ll hear from Todd Bowles and Marty Mornhinweg as Foles and the Eagles prepare for the Redskins.

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  • southy

    there’s a little bit of self-fulfilling prophecy in this analysis. if a qb is “good” and goes to a superbowl (or wins it) we are more likely to consider them elite. there are plenty of qb’s around the league that play well but haven’t been – Rivers, Ryan, Schaub come to mind – who have shown they can play as well or better at times than some of these guys but because they don’t have a ring we consider them less good.

    not saying the thesis is wrong, just trying to round out the picture.

    • BlindChow

      Plus, there’s Rex Grossman.

    • Cranky Caucasian

      QBs have always gotten too much credit and blame for a team. Eli manning is the perfect example to me. Look at the 2007 team. On that winning drive he throws a ball that Samuel should have picked, but he dropped it. A lucky play off of a receiver’s helmet later and suddenly Eli is elite and clutch. If Samuel makes that play, he goes back to being a choker. It’s a team game, the QB is just part of that team. An important part, but not the only one. Grossman on that list should make that very obvious.

  • BlindChow

    I’ve seen the “no coach has won the Super Bowl with a second team” statistic as an argument against hiring Gruden or Cowher, but really, that stat means absolutely nothing. Everything that has ever been done had at one point never been done before.
    Case in point: before Kurt Warner, one could make the argument that an undrafted quarterback would never win you a Super Bowl, simply because it had never been done. Oops.
    Not that I’m making an argument FOR Gruden, Billick, etc. Just that if they take over the Eagles and fail to win a Super Bowl, it will be for reasons other than the fact they’d been there before.

    • borntosuffer

      Agree on all points. Many things have to come together to win a Super Bowl.

    • Kimbafuzz

      Speaking of Warner, is he the only QB to lead two different teams to a Superbowl as a starter? (Rams, Cardinals)

  • FMWarner

    Even if the quality of the quarterback is ultimately more important, it’s still like putting the cart before the horse. The coach is the guy who will pick the quarterback, and you have to lay a foundation before you build the house.

    Plus – David Woodley, Stan Humphries, Trent Dilfer, Rex Grossman. When was the last time a thoroughly average (or worse) coach won the Super Bowl? Maybe Barry Switzer. Maybe Jon Gruden. Both those guys inherited extremely talented teams and won only in their first year on the job.

  • LaPhil

    Based on your chart, which shows 6 years of data not 5 as you claim, it’s actually 7 QB’s in the last 5 years, 8 in the last 6. Guess your chart got wet Kotite.

  • Brian

    ” No coach has won a Super Bowl at one stop and gone on to win it again with another team.”

    I wish people would stop bringing this up like it means something. Only 8 head coaches have won a SB and then gone somewhere else as a head coach. That sample is microscopic, and the stat is meaningless at this point.