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Bucs edge Chiefs in a ranking of best quarterback-head coach duos

A new ranking from CBS Sports puts Brady and Arians over Mahomes and Reid.

NFL: Super Bowl LV-Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports published his ranking of the NFL’s top quarterback/head coach duos. Unsurprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are on this list — but surprisingly, they aren’t at the top. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady and Bruce Arians wrestled it away from the Chiefs, who had the top spot one year ago.

2. Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid — Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and Reid clearly have an argument for the top spot for the second consecutive year, but we’ll get to why they fell to No. 2. The Chiefs are 38-8 in Mahomes’ 46 starts with three AFC Championship Game appearances (in three full seasons), two conference championship victories, and a win in Super Bowl LIV for a 6-2 postseason record. Reid deserves the credit too, as the Chiefs have averaged 31.4 points per game in Mahomes’ 46 starts — including scoring 30-plus points 28 times and 40-plus points eight times.

Mahomes is still the youngest player to win NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP while having the most passing yards (14,152), passing touchdowns (114), highest passer rating (108.7) and fewest interceptions (24) through a player’s first 46 starts.

Since becoming the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback in 2018, Mahomes leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (114), and is second in passing yards (13,868) and passer rating (109.3) This past season, Mahomes completed a career-high 66.3% of his passes for 4,740 yards with 38 touchdowns to just six interceptions (108.2 rating). Mahomes also led the league in passing yards per game (316.0).

Mahomes recorded his third-consecutive season with 4,000-plus passing yards, becoming the third player in NFL history with 4,000-plus passing yards in three of his first four seasons, joining Peyton Manning and Dan Marino. He also became just the seventh player in NFL history to throw for 4,500-plus passing yards and 35-plus passing touchdowns multiple times in his career. Mahomes is just the third quarterback with at least 110 touchdown passes in his first four seasons in NFL history, joining Marino (142) and Kurt Warner (111).

Based on Mahomes’ historic start and Reid taking the Chiefs deep in the playoffs each year in the three full seasons that Mahomes has been the starting quarterback, the duo should be the best in the NFL, right? If only they weren’t dethroned by a duo that won a Super Bowl in their first year together.

The Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers/Matt LaFleur), Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson/Pete Carroll) and Baltimore Ravens (Lamar Jackson/John Harbaugh) round out Kerr’s top 5.


At the end of his introduction, Kerr exclaims, “Feel free to criticize!”

Thank you, sir. I think I will!

Here’s how Kerr justifies ranking the Buccaneers ahead of the Chiefs: by pointing out that Brady and Arians won a championship in their first year together — which happened to be during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Brady-Arians duo accomplished all this in Year One during a pandemic with no preseason and a restricted training camp. The odds were stacked against the Buccaneers to win a Super Bowl in Year One with Brady and Arians, and they won the title anyway. Imagine what Year Two could bring for this duo.

Brady and Arians deserve the top spot, especially since Brady is the only quarterback to defeat Mahomes and Reid in the postseason.

Did I miss something? Were the Buccaneers the only team to have no preseason and a restricted training camp in 2020? As an Arrowhead Pride writer, I’m very busy — so it’s possible I missed some detail. Someone may want to check me on this, but I’m pretty sure that every team had to play the season under those circumstances.

That’s not to say that appearing in (and winning) a Super Bowl while adding a new quarterback during an offseason like last year’s isn’t a significant accomplishment; it certainly is! But is it enough to move Arians past a head coach who has appeared in three consecutive conference championships for the second time in his career — and past a quarterback who outpaced Brady in all but one 2020 quarterback statistic Kerr thought was important?

Mahomes vs. Brady -- 2020

Player Cmp% Yds TD Int Yds/Att
Mahomes 66.3 4740 38 6 8.06
Brady 65.7 4633 40 12 7.60

Mahomes also bested Brady in the more relevant passer rating and interception percentage stats — both by significant margins — while Brady edged out Mahomes in touchdown percentage. Meanwhile, Reid’s team finished the regular season with the NFL’s best record at 14-2, while Arians’ team ended at 11-5 — including a defeat at the hands of the Chiefs.

To be sure, the Buccaneers’ march from a Wild Card berth to the championship was noteworthy; it’s not easy to do. But in recent years, when wild card teams do make it to the championship game, they tend to win. Here’s the thing, though: during the next season, they generally don’t go deep into the playoffs; the last four teams to do it never got past the Divisional round in the following season.

In his introduction, Kerr said that in these rankings, longevity wasn’t everything.

It’s a great sign that a head coach and a quarterback have been together for a long time (which certainly plays a role in these rankings), but recent success on the field should also play a factor.

That’s fair. But it sure seems to me that Kerr really meant to say that recent success should be a more significant factor. Otherwise, why would he also say this?

Yes, winning the ultimate prize matters, which is a power boost— and it’s even better if that title is a recent one. Getting to the Super Bowl is a tough task, which played a part in where I decided to rank these duos.

If the whole point of this exercise is to anoint the previous Super Bowl winner as the best quarterback/head coach duo, that’s fine — but if so, let’s call it what it is. Otherwise — in my opinion — this is a ranking that Mahomes and Reid should still top.

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