CBS Sports ranked all 32 coaches going into the season, a tremendous content exercise sure to spark debate and traffic. Good job by them.
Andy Reid is atop the list, followed by Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh, Sean Payton and Sean McDermott. Sean McVaey, Pete Carroll, Bruce Arians, Matt LaFleur and Mike Tomlin round out the top 10.
But what if we were to project forward and endeavor to predict the future and what such a list will look like after the next Super Bowl is captured? After all, John Hammond stood on the shoulders of greatness to create something visionary and the only bad thing that happened on Isla Nublar was a little rainstorm.
1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick's Patriots missed the playoffs last season for the first time in over a decade. Belichick was so horrified he overhauled the entire team in free agency. The pieces are there, from prize acquisitions Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith on offense to Matthew Judon on defense. The only question is quarterback. But whether it's leading Cam Newton to a resurgent year or teaching Mac Jones the ropes as a rookie QB, this season will be one of Belichick's very best. A run-first team with a fierce defense and a game-managing QB will lead the Pats back to playoff contention, as it once was in the earliest days of this dynasty.
2. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City's march to a repeat was derailed by unfortunate wholesale injuries to the offensive line. The reliable Joe Thuney will help bolster depth at that position and if healthy, provide ample opportunity for Patrick Mahomes to cook — perhaps the simplest of all NFL recipes. It took Reid 21 years to break through and win his first Super Bowl. No one thinks it will be his last. When the dust settles on his final ledger, historians will wonder how he was undervalued as a coach for so long. In a league tilted toward parity, the 63-year-old has manage to win 63 percent of his 352 regular-season games and compile a winning playoff record. Throw in a few more championships with his unicorn quarterback and the Mount Rushmore conversations can begin in earnest.
3. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh helped Lamar Jackson win an MVP trophy in 2019. In 2020, defenses adjusted and the Ravens bowed out in the wild card round of the playoffs. This season should be another good one, and Harbaugh is more than smart enough to adjust to the adjustments made by opposing units. Pair that with the standard of excellence Harbaugh has on the defensive side of the ball throughout his career, and the Ravens will fight for the AFC North title and a trip to the Super Bowl once more. It'll be a defining year for Harbaugh with this team as currently constructed, and we believe he'll make the most of it.
4. Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Some of the shine has came off the wunderkind since he earned a trip to the Super Bowl at 33, but he's managed to compile a 19-13 record over the past two years with Jared Goff at quarterback. With access to Matthew Stafford's veteran leadership and play-making ability, the Rams embark on a quest to return to titletown with a reliable roadmap. We could be looking at a five-year stretch out of the gate for McVay in which he's won 70 percent of his regular-season games and secured two conference crowns. A good start to what is likely to be an extraordinary career.
5. Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bruce Arians admittedly doesn't have the most difficult job compared to other coaches on this list. He has the privilege of coaching the greatest QB ever to pair with arguably the most talented receiving corps in the NFL. The Bucs are also returning every key piece from their Super Bowl run. Arians will tweak the offense to perfection, Tom Brady will have a complete grasp on the playbook from Day 1, and Tampa should be favorites to return to the Big Game. The only reason Arians isn't higher is because, well, his job won't be all that hard this year. Relatively speaking.
6. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
At this juncture it becomes obvious that the balance of coaching power tilts heavily in the AFC's direction. McDermott's Bills played in the conference championship game last winer and are a trendy pick to return. He should be given the upmost credit for believing in Josh Allen and building around the quarterback's unique skillset. He's a perfect cultural fit for his market, having the demeanor of a person who chews glass and pisses excellence. McDermott is not afraid of the moment and will get a chance to stare down some big ones in both 2021 and the years to come.
7. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
There was a very strong argument to be made that Mike Tomlin deserved Coach of the Year in 2020 after scheming an aging Ben Roethlisberger offense to the playoffs on the strength of an elite defense. Tomlin have his work cut out for him again in 2021 with Roethlisberger returning and the team remaining largely the same. Tomlin has long proven himself one of the best coaches of the league, though, and he'll put in a masterclass again this year to ensure the black and yellow play into January for another season.
8. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
The last embers of the Drew Brees Era made things hazy. An uncertain quarterback situation — with no option standing out as all that enticing — portends bad things. Payton has been as reliable as winner and contender as they come but a betting reader could feel confident in predicting a dip. A reasonable argument could be made that he underachieved over the past decade, but some bad luck and bad bounces share some responsibility. The Taysom Hill thing remains eternally weird, though if it somehow works out in the long run, it will serve as a coaching masterpiece.
9. Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
The reigning Coach of the Year, Stefanski will have a lot of eyes on him as he attempts to turn in a successful sophomore season as head coach. The Browns had their best season in a long time in his first season at the helm. They're bringing back every key player, banking on further development from Baker Mayfield in Year 4, and added a few extra pieces defensively. Cleveland is set up for another winning season and Stefanski's offensive genius will shine for the second year in a row, even in perhaps the toughest division in football.
10. Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
Reich got the absolute most of a roster dependent on a duck-throwing Philip Rivers, so who better to restore some roar to Carson Wentz? After waiting 10 years to get a head coaching job in the NFL, Reich has navigated less-than-stellar rosters to field a competitive team and shown fight in the playoffs. Only a matter of time until he gets over the hump.