Super Bowl 51: Bill Belichick, Tom Brady or Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan Going Forward?
Setting history aside, which coach and quarterback combo is best next season and beyond? Do you take Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, or Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan? Super Bowl 51 debate.
Super Bowl 51 pitted the New England Patriots, led by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, against the Atlanta Falcons, headed by Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan. Both are excellent duos, yet one is old, while the other is not. Two are champions, while the others are not.
The matchup, on the surface, was one of historic dominance versus the new kid in town. However, it begs the question, which coach/quarterback pairing would you rather have moving forward? From this point. History doesn’t matter. Which pair do you want for 2017 and beyond, as far as they continue?
Bill Belichick is 64 years old, just a few months shy of Pete Carroll, who is the oldest coach in the league. Tom Brady is 39 years old, reaching the end of feasible excellence at the quarterback position. How many more years do these two guys have left in the tank?
Meanwhile, Dan Quinn is 46 years old and in just his second season as a head coach. He has already made a Super Bowl in year two. Matt Ryan is on the wrong side of 30, but just barely. At 31 years old, he is right in the midst of his prime, with perhaps 2016 being his entrance into the NFL elite.
Based on those numbers, the easy answer is to pick the Falcons’ pair. They should have many more years left together in which to compete. However, I’m not sure how often they actually will compete for championships. This season, though amazing and memorable, seemed a bit fluky. Is it able to be replicated, especially if the team’s offensive coordinator moves elsewhere?
On the other hand, I could see Belichick and Brady sticking around at least another three years. And you know what? All three of those years they are going to compete for AFC Championships and Super Bowl berths. That pair is enough of a baseline to assure a competitive year. I cannot say the same about the other two guys, even if they work together for ten more years.
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Also, that last point is hardly a given. Head coaches have very short leashes in this sport, for any number of reasons. One Super Bowl doesn’t guarantee existence beyond a few years. Look at what happened with Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco or Jon Gruden in Oakland or Jim Caldwell in Indianapolis. Coaches part ways, get traded or get fired even after reaching the mountaintop. Quinn will still have to work for job security. Belichick will not. I will take a few years of contention for a questionable length of time over something far less certain.
Considering how Super Bowl 51 ended, one duo leaves a sour taste in my mouth while the other seems unstoppable. You picked Brady and Belichick, possibly the greatest player/coach combo in all of sports and easily the best in NFL history. But what about Matt Ryan’s ceiling and Dan Quinn’s longevity? This question must first be broken up between the player and the coach.
While I agree that Dan Quinn could easily find himself on the coaching hot seat after a couple of mediocre seasons, I do not foresee that happening with Atlanta’s current offensive makeup. Julio Jones and Ryan will be a tandem again next season. Quinn is going to be successful, but obviously Belichick is going to be more successful.
The odds are that both men coach an equal number of seasons from this point forward. Belichick will coach until he can’t stand up. Quinn will be a mainstay, but its hard to envision him coaching any longer than ten more years. Coaching careers just aren’t that long anymore on average. This is therefore not a debate in and of itself, because Belichick is the greatest of all time and could coach from a wheelchair if need be.
Will Matt Ryan outplay Tom Brady from this point forward? Let’s call this a five year stretch, because Brady playing past 45 years old seems unfathomable and would likely be a sorry sight to see. Tom Terrific has five more years left, if we’re being generous. I’ll even give him four of those seasons at his highest level. Brady still falls short of Ryan going forward.
The Falcons’ quarterback was better this past season, won the MVP award, and has been at worst on par with Brady over the last four or five years. I’m not sure what Matt Ryan’s ceiling is, but even if he’s reached it, I like a younger Ryan doing more impressive work than an elderly Brady. Ryan in five years will be 36 and likely nearing retirement. But he’ll be the better signal caller each of those five years.
I want to pick Matt Ryan so badly, but his coach Dan Quinn has not proven enough for me to select the duo over any pairing that includes Bill Belichick. I believe the Belichick and Brady duo will be the favorite to win the AFC for as long as they shall play. I have a hard time envisioning a Belichick run Patriots team not being the favorite, regardless of who’s at quarterback. Dan Quinn still has too much to prove.