Great partnerships between head coaches and quarterbacks

The quarterback has always been the most important position in pro football, even in the days when the running game was dominant. Many fans don’t realize that quarterbacks called all the plays as late as the 1970s and into the early 1980s. So even if offenses weren’t quite as complex back then and great teams had excellent running games, having a field general like Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw or Roger Staubach was critical. As the NFL evolved into a more pass-happy league, an evolution that has accelerated in the last ten years with rules protecting the quarterbacks and defenseless receivers, the importance of the quarterback has only been magnified.

This reality makes the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback the most important in pro football. Look at the great teams over the years, and you see great partnerships between coach and quarterback leading to success on the field. It’s interesting to take a look back and see how these relationships took shape and see how they varied based on the situations and the personalities involved. Here are several interesting examples:

1-Bill Belichick and Tom Brady

Bill Belichick was known as a defensive genius when he took over the New England Patriots, but he was also known as a rigid coach who had a complete lack of imagination on offense as a result of his years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Belichick wanted the quarterback to be just another position on the field as he didn’t seem to acknowledge the leadership qualities of the position. Tom Brady was a sixth round pick sitting on the bench behind Drew Bledsoe.

When Bledsoe got hurt, Belichick turned to Brady and immediately saw Brady’s talent, decision-making and leadership ability. When Bledsoe came back, Belichick decided to stay with Brady, which at the time was a controversial decision. They made it to the Super Bowl, and by then Belichick has so much confidence in Brady that he made the aggressive decision to drive down the field with little time left in the fourth quarter in a tie game against the Rams. John Madden famously said on television that the Patriots should have just run out the clock and took their chances in overtime. Instead, Brady drove the Pats down to the game-winning field goal.

Two more Super Bowls and one undefeated regular season later, this partnership between Belichick and Brady is one of the most successful in NFL history. Belichick and his offensive coaches let Brady achieve his full potential by becoming just as imaginative on offense as Belichick had been his whole career on defense. From year to year the Patriots would beat you in many different ways, and then they grabbed Randy Moss they were almost unbeatable.

2-Mike Shanahan and John Elway

John Elway is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Yet despite his heroics with “The Drive” and countless other games that he won on sheer athletic ability, Elway had never managed to win a Super Bowl. He never had a real running game, and the Denver defenses were routinely embarrassed in Super Bowls. Then Mike Shanahan arrived. Shanahan is a stubborn system guy, and since the John Elway days he’s not had nearly as much success with his arrogant attitude. But Shanahan’s system was exactly what Elway needed. Elway bought into the changes which placed more emphasis on a running game and a disciplined approach to the passing game, and the result was two Super Bowl titles.

3-Bill Walsh and Joe Montana

Bill Walsh was a system guy. He was an offensive genius who dominated the NFL with his West Coast offense, and he happened to find the perfect quarterback for his system in third-round draft pick Joe Montana. Montana was very accurate and incredibly smart, and he played the quarterback position flawlessly in this system. Of course the 49ers were loaded with talent on offense, but the natural relationship between Walsh and Montana set a standard that would be copied over and over again in the NFL. Look at Aaron Rodgers today, and you see flashes on what Walsh and Montana created thirty years ago. Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have forged a great relationship following the Brett Favre drama in Green Bay.

Of course there are exceptions that help prove the rule. Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw never got along, but they managed to ride one of the best defenses in history plus a great running game to four Super Bowls, and Bradshaw thrived under pressure despite his frosty relationship with Noll. Bill Parcells was notorious for riding Phil Simms, and they had great success as well.

But there’s no doubt that the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback is usually a critical component to sustained success in the NFL. It will be interesting to see how young quarterbacks like Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford grow with their head coaches.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Desmond Howard: Phil Simms wanted to take a swing at me

Phil Simms admitted on Saturday that he had a heated exchange with ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard at the NFL Experience exhibit in Dallas. Apparently the altercation stemmed from a comment Howard made prior to the Tennessee-LSU game on October 2 when he said, “You will see three of the worst quarterbacks in the SEC in that game.”

Why the comment struck a nerve with Simms is because his son Matt was one of those three quarterbacks. He just finished his junior year at Tennessee and apparently ol’ dad didn’t appreciate what Howard had to say.

USA Today has the rest of the details:

On Saturday, Phil Simms confronted Howard about the comments.

“Desmond and I were having a private conversation that became heated,” Simms said in a statement released by CBS. “But at no time was there ever a chance of any physical confrontation, or that I felt the police officer assigned to me by the event planners for my appearance needed to separate the two of us.”

Howard, who was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXI with the Green Bay Packers, said on his Twitter account that Simms threatened to throw a punch.

At NFL-Xperience and Phil Simms just threatened 2 hit me b/c I said his son was 1 of the worse QBs in the SEC. I told him “LET’S GO!”

I am DEAD serious about the Phil Simms thing. We all thought he was joking, but he kept going and said he wanted 2 take a swing at me!!

It ended w/police stepping in between so I could continue my appearance w/fans.

Later Saturday, Howard issued a statement of his own through ESPN.

“I was at a public signing for a sponsor when Phil approached me to express anger over on-air analysis I made months ago about his son, Tennessee QB Matt Simms. During the conversation, Phil made a reference to hitting me and security and sponsor representatives soon stepped in. It was an unfortunate incident and I’m moving on.”

I’ve had the opportunity to interview Phil Simms twice here at The Scores Report and he was a pleasure to speak with both times. He’s honest, funny, positive and he knows the game of football.

He also knows that it’s other media members’ jobs to share their opinion when they’re in front of the camera or behind the computer. Others may have found a more delicate way to say what Howard did, but in the end he was just sharing his opinion. That’s what he’s paid to do and Simms can’t take it personal. He knows better than anyone that the media doesn’t always have kind words to share about players and quite frankly, that they’re not always right either. (In fact, we’re/they’re wrong way more times than we’re right.)

Simms is fortunate to have a couple of sons that were/are good enough to play at the college and/or pro level and everybody (including Phil himself) needs to roll with the punches (no pun intended). And hey listen, I get it – he’s a parent first. It can’t be easy to listen to someone criticize your child. But in the end, criticism is just part of the business – a business that Simms knows very well.

Phil Simms returns to chat with The Scores Report

Feb 3, 2010; For Lauderdale, FL, USA; Phil Simms emcees the FedEx Ground & Air NFL Players of the Year press conference at the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Obviously we’re doing something right here at The Scores Report if a Super Bowl MVP quarterback is willing to chat with us two years in a row.

Over the past four years, Giants’ legend Phil Simms has worked with FedEX to promote their “Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week.”

What is it? Every week during the NFL season six finalists are chosen for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week award. Three are nominated as the FedEx air player (so quarterbacks, obviously) and three are nominated as the FedEx ground player (so punters, obviously) online at At the end of the season, fans nominate three finalists for each category and then two players (one air and one ground) are chosen as the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year. Last season, two worthy receipts in Drew Brees and Chris Johnson won the awards.

Why is it important? The winners of the awards will each receive a $2,000 donation in their name to a local Safe Kids coalition in the player’s areas. Over the years, FedEx has donated over $13 million to this program, which educates people on pedestrian safety – especially around schools and playgrounds.

Over the past two years, we’ve been fortunate enough to chat with Phil about his involvement in the program and what it means to him. He’s also been gracious enough to talk football with us and this year we got to pick his brain about whether or not Mark Sanchez is the Jets’ Achilles heel, what quarterback (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers) he would select if he were starting a franchise tomorrow, and what his take is on the Brandon Jacobs situation in New York.

The video interview is below and to check out our first interview with Phil last year, click here.

Phil Simms chats with The Scores Report

Here’s what many sports fans know about Phil Simms: He’s a Super Bowl winner, a Super Bowl MVP and now is a lead analyst for CBS’ sports team.

But what sports fans might not know about Phil is that he’s also one hell of an interview.

We were fortunate enough to chat with Phil recently about a host of topics, which included his work with the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week program, which starts every Tuesday morning throughout the NFL season and allows fans to vote for one player in each category through FedEx will donate $1,000 to a local Safe Kids coalition in the name of each FedEx Air and FedEx Ground Player of the Week voted on by fans, so it’s definitely a worthy cause.

We also couldn’t let Phil get off the phone without talking some football, which he was more than happy to do. He gave us his opinion on Brett Favre’s comeback, whether or not he would have played for a rival team (a la Favre) and what young quarterback (Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez or Matthew Stafford) he would choose to start for him if he were a GM and head coach. His answer may surprise you.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Phil Simms: Hey Anthony, this is Phil Simms.

TSR: Hey Phil, how are you?

PS: Good, bud.

TSR: Good, I appreciate your sitting down and talking with me today.

PS: Don’t be silly – thank you.

TSR: Talk to me about the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Week program that you guys are doing.

PS: Well, I’ve been doing it for three years myself – six years for FedEx – and it’s about the fans voting for their favorite air and ground players each week. The nominees for this week are pretty easy: Brett Favre, David Garrard and Peyton Manning through the air, and Ronnie Brown, Matt Forte and Rashard Mendenhall on the ground. And what fans do is they go to, they vote, and those votes determine the winners. The two winners get $1,000 donated by FedEx to local Safe Kid coalition in their name and it goes for pedestrian safety, so it’s a great program and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

TSR: How did you get involved in something like this, Phil?

PS: Well, the people from FedEx came to me and asked me if I’d do it. And I had done a few things around schools with bike safety and pedestrian safety and it worked out well. So like I said, I’m real happy to be a part of it and it’s for a very good cause.

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Super Bowl standings: top 10 teams

The Super Bowl has been played since the 1966 season, so while NFL championships before that are not irrelevant, many records are based on the “Super Bowl era.” And while some teams have a great track record in Super Bowls (49ers), there are others that have awful records (Vikings, Bills). Here is a list of the Top 10 teams record-wise (based primarily on wins) in the Super Bowl era…..

1. San Francisco 49ers (5-0)—The 49ers are undefeated in Super Bowl history, and when you have guys like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and Steve Young leading the way, it’s easy to see how that happens. But these teams were deep on both offense and defense, and were coached by Bill Walsh and George Seifert. What might be even more remarkable is that the Niners have scored 188 points while giving up 89 in those five games, a 99-point differential. Truly, ahem, super.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-1)—The Steelers are looking to become the first team to win six Super Bowls this Sunday in Tampa against the Cardinals and the second one in the Ben Roethlisberger era. They are already one of the NFL’s premier franchises, but more is always better when it comes to championships.

3. Dallas Cowboys (5-3)—The Cowboys have a rich history of winning, but in today’s what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL, all anyone remembers is that they haven’t won a playoff game since 1996, and that dysfunction follows them around like tabloids following QB Tony Romo.

4. Green Bay Packers (3-1)—You might immediately think of Brett Favre, but he is only 1-1 in Super Bowls. The other two were Super Bowls I and II, when Bart Starr was the Packers’ QB and the coach was the legendary Vince Lombardi.

5. New York Giants (3-1)—The Giants climbed up a few notches with that improbable upset of the Patriots last season. Bill Parcells has two of the wins, one with Phil Simms at the helm and the other with Jeff Hostetler—and both with one of the greatest defensive players in history, Lawrence Taylor, terrorizing the other teams’ quarterbacks.

6. Oakland/LA Raiders (3-2)—It’s been about a quarter century since the Raiders won a Super Bowl, or around the same time Al Davis started to lose his marbles.

7. Washington Redskins (3-2)—The Redskins lost to Miami in Super Bowl 7, 14-7, to cap Miami’s (and the NFL’s only) perfect season, and have had mixed results since then, last appearing in 1991 when they beat Buffalo. Hard to believe it’s been almost 20 years since their last Super Bowl, but Dan Snyder makes Al Davis type decisions at times, so the drought could be long.

8. New England Patriots (3-3)—Have the Patriots have lost as many Super Bowls as they’ve won? Yes, when you realize the first two losses were to the mighty ’85 Bears, and to the unstoppable Favre/Holmgren Packers in ’96.

9. Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (2-1)—You would think Peyton Manning should have more than one Super Bowl appearance, but that very fact was the big knock on him until he got his ring two years ago.

10. Miami Dolphins (2-3)—It’s been 25 years since the D-men have been in the big game, but mark my words…with Bill Parcells at the helm, this team will get back there within a few years, maybe even next year.

Source: Pro Football Reference

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