Ranking NFL Head Coach/QB Combos- Part V


Football is the ultimate team sport.  With that said, the quarterback is not only the most important position in the game, but in all of sports.  What makes a great quarterback work well is usually the relationship he has with his head coach, even if the coach knows just to leave his star alone.

To get you fully prepared for the NFL season we are continuing our countdown series as we move to the best head coach/quarterback combinations.

In our first volume, we ranked the worst head coach/quarterback combinations entering the 2015 season.

We moved up the list just a bit in volume two, further along in volume three, to the middle of the pack in our last volume.

Now we get closer to the “elite.”

12. Dallas Cowboys- Jason Garrett/Tony Romo

Nobody really considers Jason Garrett an elite head coach, but most of the Dallas Cowboys issues over the past few years since he took over have stemmed from injuries and not much that he could control.  Garrett did a great job of basically “sticking to what worked” in 2014 and the Cowboys had their best season under his regime.

Tony Romo is a much better quarterback than he gets credit for being, but late season collapses have altered his perception as being a “choker.”  The reality is that Romo has been one of the best signal callers in the game for quite a while, and the Cowboys wouldn’t have been in position to “choke” if it wasn’t for his excellent play (overachieving).

The perception of Garrett and Romo differs from the reality probably more than any head coach/ quarterback combination in the last 30 years.  You get the feeling they won’t truly be appreciated until they’re gone.

11. Denver Broncos- Gary Kubiak/Peyton Manning

Although many people are spraining their ankles jumping off the Peyton Manning bandwagon, he’s still an excellent cerebral quarterback who is poised to have another great season.

Sure, Manning is past his prime, but he’s still amongst the most accurate passers in the NFL and will put up huge numbers yet again.

As for his head coach, Gary Kubiak is getting his first shot in charge since being fired by the Houston Texans and he has something that he never had in Houston, a legitimate quarterback.

Kubiak’s offense doesn’t seem to mesh well with Manning’s talents (roll-outs), but when he was the offensive coordinator in Baltimore, he helped Joe Flacco to some of his best season’s as a pro.  Kubiak isn’t dumb and he knows that he will have to fine-tune his game plan around Manning’s limitations.

10. New York Giants- Tom Coughlin/ Eli Manning

The combination of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning are somewhat of an enigma.  They are consistently mediocre to slightly above average, and when they get to the playoffs they turn elite.

Eli Manning is one of the better quarterbacks in football, but he’s probably not as good as division rival Tony Romo, and maybe 10 other QB’s.  He beats up on the bad teams in the regular season, and it’s usually not quite enough to navigate the Giants into the postseason.

When the games count the most in January, there isn’t five quarterbacks you’d take over him.  Probably not three.

Coughlin is similar.  He’s been successful everywhere and he’s softened up over the years to become more relatable to his players.  With that said, every time the Giants are off to a slow start, Coughlin is about to be run out of town on a pitchfork by the fans and media….and then they find a way to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

Not every time, but it’s happened twice.  Again, the Coughlin/Manning ticket is one of the most difficult to figure out in the NFL and the back end of the Top 10 seems like a perfect place on this list.

9. San Diego Chargers- Mike McCoy/ Philip Rivers

Some will scoff at Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers being in the Top 10 because they haven’t “won anything,” but McCoy is a very good coach who is doing the best he can with what he has to work with and Rivers is truly an elite quarterback who again, is doing the best he can with what he has to work with.

Make no mistake, Rivers is the main reason why this ranking is as high as it is because he’s been consistently great throughout much of his career.  When things appeared to be going south, McCoy came in and Rivers has played the best football of his life.  Rivers gets the most out of great footwork and an average arm.

McCoy seems to be dealt injury blows every year and pieces enough together to put the Chargers in position to compete for the postseason.  If San Diego can get some injury luck this season, 2015 could be the year everything comes together.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.