Super Bowl XLVIII presents us with two of the most impressive coach-quarterback combos in the NFL today.
In their two years together, John Fox and Peyton Manning have lost just six games (seven if you count their 2012 playoff loss to Baltimore), while the latter has gone on to rewrite the single-season record books.
On the other sideline, Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have been just as impressive. Two years, a 24-8 record, including a 15-1 mark at home, two playoff appearances and Seattle's second Super Bowl appearance.
Only one of these coach-QB combos has much of a future beyond this season, and while Manning will go down in history as arguably the top passer in NFL history, his status is cemented by the time he spent paired with Tony Dungy in Indianapolis.
Carroll and Wilson, on the other hand, have many years ahead of them and plenty of time to cement their status as the top coach-QB tandem in franchise history.
If they can manage that, they'll join this list of the top coach-quarterback duos in each NFL team's history.
You just knew this was going to be a special relationship after Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe, on the way to his own Hall of Fame career, in the 2001 season, and the two guided New England to its first championship of any kind in football.
Fourteen years and 148 victories later, Belichick and Brady stand alone atop the mountain as the top coach-quarterback duo in NFL history.
Together they are a combined 105 games over .500.
Not only do they have 32 more wins together than the next closest pair (Don Shula and Dan Marino), but they also own the most post-season victories with 18. Heck, Belichick and Brady have more losses in the playoffs than most coach-QB combos have wins.
The duo can also claim on their joint-resume: a perfect regular season in 2007; a ridiculous 34-4 record from 2003-04, including a 6-0 mark in the playoffs; an astounding run of 10 consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins; 11 AFC East titles; five conference championships; and, most importantly, three Super Bowl trophies.
Say what you will about the fact that the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004, or that they have two losses in the big game to the same heavy underdog. That doesn't change the fact that to have a chance at winning the Super Bowl, you have to get to the playoffs, something the team has done in 11 of the 12 seasons since Brady took over as the starter.
Even more impressive is that the duo has only two one-and-done performances in the playoffs.
As impressive as their history is together, Belichick and Brady don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. They haven't lost more than five games in a season together since 2009.
Years together: 2000-13
Regular season record: 148-43 (.775)
Postseason record: 18-8 (.692)
Division titles: 11 (2001, 2003-07, 2009-13)
Conference titles: 5 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011)
Super Bowls: 3 (2001, 2003, 2004)
4,178-of-6,586, 63.4%, 49,149 yards, 359 touchdowns, 134 interceptions, 95.7 QB rating
Prior to Belichick and Brady coming along and rewriting the record books, it was Shula and Marino that stood above all others, at least when it came to the regular season.
Despite not being able to hoist a Lombardi trophy together, the pair did just about everything else.
One hundred and sixteen victories, another six in the playoffs, five division titles and a conference championship. We'll just not mention that final score of their one trip to the Super Bowl.
The early days of the Shula-Marino pairing were truly something to behold. From 1983-85, Marino's first three seasons, the Dolphins went 33-8, winning their division each year, while the young quarterback threw for 98 touchdowns in just 41 starts.
They weren't able to string the good seasons together enough after that stretch, but they still managed to post four seasons with at least 10 wins and five more trips to the postseason.
Like Marino himself, this duo of Hall of Famers will always be remembered for their inability to get back to, and ultimately win, a Super Bowl.
Years together: 1983-95
Regular season record: 116-68 (.630)
Postseason record: 6-7 (.462)
Division titles: 5 (1983-85, 1992, 1994)
Conference titles: 1 (1984)
Super Bowls: 0
3,913-6,531, 59.9%, 48,841 yards, 352 touchdowns, 200 interceptions, 88.4 QB rating
It's incredible to think on, but at the same time Shula and Marino were carving out their legacy, there was also something special happening in Buffalo.
In his debut season with the Bills, 61-year-old Marv Levy was able to capitalize on the folding of the USFL, where Kelly had spent the previous two seasons. The 26-year-old Kelly jumped in with both feet and after going 10-18 his first two years with Levy, the Bills went a combined 91-41 the next nine seasons.
From 1990-93, the Bills won a ridiculous 79 percent of the games Kelly started. During that same stretch, Levy's offense and defense ranked among the top eight each year.
In addition to the regular season success they enjoyed, the Levy-Kelly combo was also pretty adept in the playoffs, accomplishing a near-impossible-feat of making appearances in four consecutive Super Bowls as the representatives from the AFC.
The fact that they were outscored 139-73 in those four losses shouldn't distract from their dominance in their conference.
Along the way, they also captured six division titles, an inspiring feat in the heyday of Shula and Marino.
Levy only lasted one more season after Kelly retired in 1996.
Years together: 1986-96
Regular season record: 101-59 (.631)
Postseason record: 9-8 (.529)
Division titles: 6 (1988-91, 1993, 1995)
Conference titles: 4 (1990-93)
Super Bowls: 0
2,874-4,779, 60.1%, 35,467 yards, 237 touchdowns, 175 interceptions, 84.4 QB rating
A losing record, more interceptions than touchdowns and a completion percentage just a fraction over 50 percent are just a few of the things Joe Namath accomplished during his career, and while there could be a legitimate debate over his status as a Hall of Famer, there's no doubt that the time he spent under the tutelage of another member of Canton's finest, Weeb Ewbank, brought out the best in "Broadway Joe."
Over nine seasons, or parts of them, the duo posted only three winning seasons.
However, during a two-year stretch from 1968-69, the Jets were the darlings of professional football, with Namath and Ewbank responsible for a combined 21-7 record, back-to-back division titles and the infamous Super Bowl III victory.
Ewbank was a seasoned winner by the time he came to New York, having guided the Baltimore Colts to back-to-back championships in the 1950s, but he'll be most remembered for the time he spent coaching Namath during the Super Bowl era.
Years together: 1965-73
Regular Season Record: 49-37-4 (.544)
Postseason record: 2-1 (.667)
Division titles: 2 (1968-69)
Conference titles: 1 (1968)
Super Bowls: 1 (1968)
1,374-2,738, 50.2%, 21,065 yards, 131 touchdowns, 149 interceptions, 69.2 rating
It's hard to do it better than Noll and Bradshaw.
Noll took over the Pittsburgh franchise in 1969 and endured a dreadful 1-13 campaign before turning the reigns of the offense over to Bradshaw, the first overall pick in the 1970 draft. Two more losing seasons followed, but they would be the only two the duo would endure together.
Starting in 1972, the Steelers won at least 10 games five years in a row and finished two of those campaigns with Lombardi trophies.
The 16-game schedule was introduced in 1978, and Noll and Bradshaw took home the first two Super Bowls of that era as well.
Over a two year span from 1978-79, the Steelers put together one of the most dominating runs in football history, going a combined 26-6 in the regular season and 6-0 in the postseason. Bradshaw took home Super Bowl MVP honors in both championship game victories and went on to a Hall of Fame career under the tutelage of Noll, whose defense usually got the credit, but whose offenses ranked among the top 10 every year from 1972-82.
Only Belichick and Brady have more playoff victories than Noll and Bradshaw, with Noll remaining the only coach to have four Super Bowl trophies to his name.
Noll coached for another eight years after Bradshaw retired in 1983, but posted a 60-76 (.441) mark without his franchise quarterback, a far cry from the 107-51 (.677) they posted together.
Years together: 1970-83
Regular season record: 107-51 (.677)
Postseason record: 14-5 (.737)
Division titles: 7 (1972, 1974-79)
Conference titles: 4 (1974-75, 1978-79)
Super Bowls: 4 (1974-75, 1978-79)
2,025-of-3,901, 51.9%, 27,989 yards, 212 touchdowns, 210 interceptions, 70.9 QB rating
It's hard to fathom how much Harbaugh and Flacco have accomplished in their first five seasons together.
Fifty-four victories, five consecutive trips to the playoffs, at least one postseason win in each season, and ultimately, a victory in Super Bowl XLVII.
The Ravens may have regressed in the duo's sixth year, missing the playoffs for the first time, but there's no telling how much damage these two may do before their time is done. Just for a bit of comparison, it took Bill Belichick 10 years to rack up nine postseason victories, a feat that Harbaugh and Flacco have accomplished in half the time.
Really, the only thing that could keep the Harbaugh-Flacco team from reaching the great heights achieved by Belichick-Brady, Shula-Marino and Noll-Bradshaw might just be the quarterback's enormous contract, signed last offseason, and which might make fielding a competitive team around him much more difficult.
Years together: 2008-13
Regular season record: 62-34 (.646)
Post-season record: 9-4 (.692)
Division titles: 2 (2011-12)
Conference titles: 1 (2012)
Super Bowls: 1 (2012)
1,869-3,103, 60.2%, 21,545 yards, 121 touchdowns, 75 interceptions, 83.7 QB rating
The Bengals haven't been lucky enough to have many franchise coaches or quarterbacks in their history, although the choice here is an easy one.
The combination of brains and physical talent between Sam Wyche and Boomer Esiason gave Bengals fans some of the greatest memories in team history, including one trip to the Super Bowl.
In the regular season, they weren't much to sneeze at, winning just one more game together than they lost, but they did put together some incredible campaigns, notably the 1988 season that ended with a 12-4 record, two playoff wins and a heart-breaking loss to the 49ers in the title match.
Esiason wasn't particularly impressive in the playoffs in '88, but he did lead the league in QB rating and set several career highs during the regular season.
Wyche, Esiason and the Bengals returned to the playoffs again in 1990, but despite the quarterback's brilliance, they were unable to overcome the Raiders in the second round.
The following season the Bengals put forth a career-worst (for both) 3-13 record and both men went their separate ways.
Years together: 1984-91
Regular season record: 54-53 (.505)
Postseason record: 3-2 (.600)
Division titles: 2 (1988, 1990)
Conference titles: 1 (1988)
Super Bowls: 0
1,753-3,100, 56.5%, 24,264 yards, 163 touchdowns, 114 interceptions, 84.0 QB rating
Old timers alert!
One of the greatest and most successful coaches of all time, Paul Brown started coaching in 1946 and was lucky enough to be able to kick-start his career with Otto Graham. Together, they helped Cleveland win four consecutive AAFC Championships before joining the NFL and claiming their first title the next season.
In all, Brown and Graham won seven championships together, the final two coming in 1954-55.
Under Brown's watchful eye, Graham went on to become arguably the most successful passing quarterback of his time, leading the league in passing yards five times and quarterback rating on four different occasions.
He also starred for Cleveland as a defensive player and a punt returner.
It's easy to make the argument, especially when taking into account their combined performance in the AAFC, that Brown and Graham remain the best coach-quarterback combo in professional football history.
Unfortunately, their run together ended in 1955, and the Browns have now gone 58 years without anything close to the kind of special connection Brown and Graham enjoyed.
Years together: 1946-55
Regular season record (NFL games only): 57-13-1 (.803)
Postseason record: 9-3 (.750)
Division titles: 10 (1946-55)
Conference titles: N/A
Overall Championships: 7
1,464-2,626, 55.8%, 23,584 yards, 174 touchdowns, 135 interceptions, 86.6 QB rating
The modern-day duo that redefined the coach-quarterback relationship.
When Dungy came to Indy from Tampa, Manning was a up-and-coming star. Granted, he was one with a .500 career record and two 20-plus interception seasons under his belt.
After his arrival, Peyton and Co. went on to win 85 games in just seven years, an average of 12 per season. The Colts won five division titles in a row from 2003-07 and the duo shared in their only Super Bowl championship in 2006.
Under Dungy's watch, Manning became arguably the finest passer in NFL history, making 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns an annual occurrence. In 2004, Manning broke the NFL record for TD passes in a single season and the single season passer rating mark.
The following year, the Colts made a run at 16-0 by winning their first 13 games.
What the duo will inevitably be remembered for, unfortunately, is not winning more. Despite making the playoffs in each of the seven seasons they spent together, the Colts went one-and-done on four separate occasions, and only made it as far as the AFC Championship Game twice.
Years together: 2002-08
Regular season record: 85-27 (.759)
Postseason record: 7-6 (.538)
Division titles: 5 (2003-07)
Conference titles: 1 (2006)
Super Bowls: 1 (2006)
2,482-3,734, 66.5%, 29,210 yards, 222 touchdowns, 84 interceptions, 100.5 QB rating
One of the most underrated coach-quarterback tandems in NFL history, Jeff Fisher and Steve McNair did some special things during their 11 years together.
After two mediocre years together in Houston, the franchise moved to Tennessee, where coach and QB bloomed. After two 8-8 campaigns, the Titans posted back-to-back 13-3 marks, and from 1999-2003 they went 49-22 together.
As a duo, they appeared in the playoffs four times, won their division twice, and helped create one of the Super Bowl's most exciting moments when the Titans were stopped one yard short of the goal line in their matchup with the Rams after the 1999 season.
The end came rapidly for Fisher and McNair, as they went 7-15 during their final two seasons together.
Fisher really did bring out McNair's best, as nearly every single career-best mark for the quarterback was set during his time in Tennessee.
Years together: 1995-2005
Regular season record: 76-55 (.580)
Post-season record: 5-4 (.556)
Division titles: 2 (2000, 2002)
Conference titles: 1 (1999)
Super Bowls: 0
2,305-3,871, 59.5%, 27,141 yards, 156 touchdowns, 103 interceptions, 83.3 QB rating
The Jaguars don't have as much history as most teams on this list, but they did luck out with a strong nucleus in the form of Tom Coughlin and Mark Brunell.
A backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay, Brunell was traded to Jacksonville in 1995 and went on to have the most successful career of any Jags quarterback to date. He started for eight years under Coughlin and together the duo won 55 percent of their games, no small task for a new franchise.
Most impressive was how quickly they found success, with the Jags making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game in just their second season. Together they had four consecutive winning seasons, each of which culminated in a playoff appearance.
Touted as a dual-threat QB coming out of college, Brunell showed tremendous progression as a passer under Coughlin, setting many marks that still rank atop the franchise record charts. He was pretty good as a runner, too, accumulating over 2,000 yards and 13 scores during their time together.
After three consecutive losing seasons, the Jags cut ties with Coughlin, only to do the same one year later with Brunell.
Years together: 1995-2002
Regular season record: 63-51 (.553)
Postseason record: 4-4 (.500)
Division titles: 2 (1998-99)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
2,130-3,534, 60.3%, 25,214 yards, 142 touchdowns, 86 interceptions, 85.3 QB rating
The Texans didn't find much success early on as a franchise, posting an 18-46 mark during their first four years.
Exit Dom Capers, enter Gary Kubiak.
After one adjustment season, Kubiak brought over Matt Schaub from Atlanta and the two found success quickly: A 46-42 record together, culminating in back-to-back division titles in 2011 and 2012, and the franchise's first playoff victory.
Together Kubiak and Schaub turned Houston into an offensive juggernaut that finished in the top 15 in five of seven years. Schaub, personally, put forth three 4,000-yard season and three more seasons with more than 21 touchdowns, and finished his tenure with Kubiak with a overall 90.9 QB rating.
An ugly end to their time together shouldn't overshadow all that they did to put Houston back on the map.
Years together: 2007-2013
Regular season record: 46-42 (.523)
Post-season record: 2-2 (.500)
Division titles: 2 (2011-12)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
1,951-3,020, 64.6%, 23,221 yards, 124 touchdowns, 78 interceptions, 90.9 QB rating
Elway's run with Dan Reeves gets the nod for longevity, but there's no denying the special bond that the Hall of Fame quarterback had with Mike Shanahan.
Despite the fact that they spent just four years together, the duo was able to accomplish some truly amazing things. Together they won 43 of 59 regular season contests, seven of eight games in the playoffs and brought back two Lombardi trophies to Denver.
Their .875 winning percentage in the playoffs is bested only by the numbers Hall of Famers Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr put together during their run in the 1950s and '60s.
Elway's stats under Reeves also pale in comparison to those under Shanahan. His TD/INT rate, completion percentage and QB rating were all significantly higher during his four-year run with Shanahan, as was the level of his play in the postseason.
Most important, however, are those two Super Bowl championships, Denver's first and second.
Years together: 1995-98
Regular season record: 43-16 (.729)
Postseason record: 7-1 (.875)
Division titles: 2 (1996, 1998)
Conference titles: 2 (1997, 1998)
Super Bowls: 2 (1997-98)
1,093-1,866, 58.6%, 13,739 yards, 101 touchdowns, 49 interceptions, 88.7 QB rating
Stram and Dawson don't get nearly as much love as they deserve since they began their reign during the hey-day of the Packers and ended it in the era of the Cowboys and Dolphins.
Still, in terms of sheer production, they belong on any list discussing the top coach-QB combos of all time.
Their run began together in the AFL, where they compiled a 65-32-4 record. They won three division titles and twice claimed the league championship. Under Stram's guidance, Dawson became one of the most prolific passers in the league, winning passing titles (according to rating) in 1962 and 1964-68.
The two guided the Kansas City franchise to their first ever Super Bowl appearance in 1966, and a few years later to their first and only victory.
Upon joining the NFL, the duo fared only slightly better than average (27-20-4), and made just one playoff appearance, a one-and-done effort in 1971. Similarly, Dawson's numbers decreased. After compiling a 182:117 TD-to-INT ratio in the AFL, he posted a 50:57 mark after the two leagues merged.
After a career-worst mark of 5-9 in 1974, Stram moved on, and at age 40, Dawson called it quits the following year.
Years together: 1962-1974
Regular season record: 92-52-8 (.605)
Postseason record: 5-3 (.625)
Division titles: 4 (1963, 1966, 1968, 1971)
Conference titles: 2 (1966, 1969)
Super Bowls: 1 (1969)
Overall Championships: 2 (1966, 1969)
2,022-3,556, 56.9%, 27,412 yards, 232 touchdowns, 174 interceptions, 82.9 QB rating
Another incredibly underrated coach-quarterback tandem, Madden and Stabler did little else besides win during their nine-year run together.
In reality, the stats for Stabler weren't overly impressive, including only three more TDs than INTs and a QB rating under 80. Still, few quarterbacks racked up as many wins as he did under one of the game's best coaches.
Their winning percentage together of .750 is one of the highest marks of any coach-QB team in history, but this was a team that was built for postseason success, as well. They won eight more games in the playoffs and claimed Super Bowl XI in a blowout over the Vikings.
In all, they claimed six division titles together, including five in a row from 1972-76.
One can only imagine what kind of sustained success they would have had together had Madden not called it quits after the 1978 season. Stabler went on to play six more years but never regained the success he encountered with Madden.
Years together: 1970-1978
Regular season record: 60-19-1 (.750)
Postseason record: 8-6 (.571)
Division titles: 6 (1970, 1972-76)
Conference titles: 1 (1976)
Super Bowls: 1 (1976)
1,182-1,983, 59.6%, 15,463 yards, 124 touchdowns, 121 interceptions, 79.7 QB rating
If you aren't familiar with Coryell's name, don't worry. This isn't his only appearance on the list. You'll have plenty of time to get to know him.
Coryell didn't get a head coaching gig until he was nearly 50, and he didn't find his way to San Diego until he was 54. Luckily, when he arrived, 27-year-old Dan Fouts was waiting to be groomed into the superstar he would become.
In the five seasons before Coryell arrived, Fouts threw for nearly 7,700 yards and 34 touchdowns. With Coryell, it took him roughly two and a half seasons to top those numbers...by a lot. In his first three years with the offensive genius, Fouts tossed for nearly 12,000 yards and 78 TDs.
He set the NFL record for passing yards in a season (4,715) in 1980, only to break the mark the next season. Fouts was putting up Peyton Manning and Drew Brees-like numbers in an era where that just didn't happen.
San Diego's performance during the three-year stretch from 1979-81 was epic. They posted a 33-15 record, won their division each year, and Fouts passed for 13,599 yards and 87 touchdowns.
Unfortunately, the Chargers' success under Coryell didn't extend to the postseason. They were unable to get over the hump, known to them as the AFC Championship Game. Their season ended in heart-breaking fashion in both 1980 and '81.
Regular season record: 69-49 (.585)
Postseason record: 3-4 (.429)
Division titles: 3 (1979-81)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
2,506-4,146, 60.4%, 32,865 yards, 210 touchdowns, 170 interceptions, 85.3 QB rating
For a relationship that started and ended in boos, there sure was a lot of winning between Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb.
While they'll forever be infamous for their inability to win the "big one," there's plenty to like about the 11 years they spent together in the City of Brotherly Love.
For starters, there was the winning. The managed to rack up 92 victories in 11 seasons.
From 2000 to 2004, they won 54 of their 73 games together. Not coincidentally, it was during this period that the Eagles appeared in four consecutive NFC Championship Games. While they won only one, that's still an impressive feat in itself.
They would go on to win five division titles, routinely thumping their rivals.
For McNabb, Reid's West Coast offense did wonders. He tossed for more than 30,000 yards and 200 touchdowns during their time together.
Years together: 1999-2009
Regular season record: 92-49-1 (.648)
Post-season record: 10-8 (.556)
Division titles: 5 (2001-04, 2006)
Conference titles: 1 (2004)
Super Bowls: 0
2,801-4,746, 59.0%, 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns, 100 interceptions, 86.5 QB rating
No list of the top coach-quarterback combos in NFL history is complete without Landry and Staubach.
Landry began his coaching career at the tender age of 36 and coached for nine years before Staubach returned from military service to start his career in 1969. The legendary coach had put together three consecutive winning seasons, but it was the addition of Staubach that put the Cowboys over the top.
Landry installed him as the permanent starter in 1971, and the result was near perfection. The team went 10-0 in Staubach's starts, and 11-3 overall. They breezed through the playoffs and throttled the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.
In the 100 starts that followed, the duo went a combined 72-28, winning four division titles and appearing in three more Super Bowls. They took home another Lombardi trophy together in 1977, once again steamrolling the competition in the playoffs. They outscored their three opponents 87-23.
Together, Landry and Staubach won 85 of 114 games, seven division crowns, and 11 of 17 in the postseason.
Staubach also emerged as one of the finest passers of his era, leading the league in passer rating four times.
The two were able to somewhat ride off into the sunset together, posting an 11-5 mark in 1979 before falling in a heart-breaker to the Rams in the division round of the playoffs.
Years together: 1969-1979
Regular season record: 85-29 (.746)
Post-season record: 11-6 (.647)
Division titles: 7 (1969-71, 1973, 1976-78)
Conference titles: 5 (1970-71, 1975, 1977-78)
Super Bowls: 2 (1971, 1977)
1,685-2,958, 57.0%, 22,700 yards, 153 touchdowns, 109 interceptions, 83.4 QB rating
Who would have thunk that of all the coaches to be on this twice, it would be the cranky Coughlin?
Still, the work that he and Eli Manning have put in is certainly worthy of recognition, and gets the slight nod over the collaborative era of Bill Parcells and Phil Simms.
Base on sheer winning percentage in the regular season, the battle goes to Parcell-Simms, but factoring in performance in the playoffs and ultimately, Super Bowl victories, the war is won by Coughlin-Manning.
In all, the mismatched duo has taken home three division titles—each three years apart, interestingly enough—piled up a .727 winning percentage in the playoffs and claimed the all-important Lombardi trophy twice, in 2007 and 2011.
The fact that together they ended the run of a Patriots squad that had started the season with 18 consecutive victories is just a cherry on top.
While Manning has had his fair share of troubles in the NFL, for the most part he's been a rousing success, averaging 23 touchdowns and over 3,500 yards per season for 10 seasons in a row. His career passer rating is a respectable 81.2.
And when the games have mattered the most, he's been at his best, completing 62 percent of his passes with a 17:8 TD-to-INT ratio in the playoffs. His postseason QB rating is 89.2.
Regular season record: 85-66 (.563)
Postseason record: 8-3 (.727)
Division titles: 3 (2005, 2008, 2011)
Conference titles: 2 (2007, 2011)
Super Bowls: 2 (2007, 2011)
2,929-5,008, 58.5%, 35,345 yards, 229 touchdowns, 171 interceptions, 81.2 QB rating
For as much history as the Redskins have, they're severely lacking in impressive coach-quarterback tandems.
In fact, the franchise has only had two coach-QB combos that have remained together for more than four years: George Allen and Billy Kilmer, and the most successful duo, Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann.
The two Joes only spent five years together in the early 1980s, but they did a lot in that time, winning three division titles, making two Super Bowl appearances, and taking home one Lombardi trophy. They posted a .750 winning percentage in the playoffs to go with their .691 mark in the regular season.
Theismann, while not as prolific as some of the other great passers of the 1980s, cemented his status as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Their run together likely would have continued had Lawrence Taylor not shattered Theismann's leg on a fateful Monday night in 1985.
Regular season record: 47-21 (.691)
Postseason record: 6-2 (.750)
Division titles: 3 (1982-84)
Conference titles: 2 (1982-83)
Super Bowls: 1 (1982)
1,180-1,985, 59.4%, 14,480 yards, 93 touchdowns, 69 interceptions, 83.1 QB rating
The ultimate coach-QB combo.
Lombardi and Starr only left the field as losers 24 times in 114 contests. That's an astounding .790 winning percentage, bolstered of course by a 9-1 mark in the postseason.
The inimitable duo took home three NFL championship trophies before the introduction of the Super Bowl in 1966. Two of championships came back-to-back in 1961 and '62 during a run that saw the Packers post a 24-4 mark in the regular season.
By the time it was decided to pit the AFL and NFL champions against each other in a "Super Bowl," Lombardi and Starr were on top of their game, winning the last NFL championship of it's kind in 1965.
Green Bay took the Chiefs to the cleaners in Super Bowl I, posting a 35-10 victory, and made it back-to-back titles—three if you count their championship in '65—the very next year, defeating the Oakland Raiders by the score of 33-14, and sending Lombardi off into the sunset a winner.
As a testament to the preparation and leadership instilled by both men, the Packers won nine of 10 postseason games they participated in together, with the only loss coming in the 1960 NFL Championship Game. They outscored playoff opponents by a combined 170-60 margin.
The bright lights also brought out the best in Starr, who completed a ridiculous (in his era) 61 percent of his passes with a 15:3 TD-to-INT ratio and a stunning 104.8 QB rating in 10 postseason games. That includes two of the highest-rated performances in postseason history: a 10-for-17, 164-yard, 3-TD outing against the Giants in the '61 title game (130.9), and a 19-for-28, 304-yard, 4-TD gem against the Cowboys in the '66 NFL title matchup (143.5).
Regular season record: 77-23-4 (.740)
Postseason record: 9-1 (.900)
Division titles: 6 (1960-62, 1965-67)
Conference titles: 2 (1966-67)
Super Bowls: 2 (1966-67)
Overall Championships: 5 (1961-62, 1965-67)
1,224-2,114, 57.9%, 17,320 yards, 107 touchdowns, 83 interceptions, 85.0 QB rating
Just like the Redskins, the Bears don't have much in the way of epic coach-QB history.
The best signal-callers in franchise history, including Ed Brown, Sid Luckman and Jay Cutler, all played or have played for multiple head coaches.
As such, the top tandem has to be Mike Ditka and Jim McMahon.
Together, the two won 75 percent of their regular-season starts together, took home five division titles in a row and went 4-2 in the playoffs. In 1985, they were also able to bring a championship trophy home to Chicago for the first time since 1963.
During a span that lasted from late 1984 until early 1987, the two were virtually unbeatable, winning 22 consecutive games in which McMahon got the start.
Unfortunately for McMahon, Ditka's teams tended to be heavy on running the football and stout on defense, making the QB pretty much an accessory. However, when he was asked to help win games, he did his part, especially in the 1985 playoffs. He completed 59 percent of his passes and tossed three TDs (with no interceptions) in three victories in which the Bears outscored their opponents 91-10. He posted passer ratings of 96.1 or higher in all three outings.
Ditka and McMahon parted ways after the 1988 season.
Regular season record: 46-15 (.754)
Postseason record: 4-2 (.667)
Division titles: 5 (1984-88)
Conference titles: 1 (1985)
Super Bowls: 1 (1985)
874-1,513, 57.8%, 11,203 yards, 67 touchdowns, 56 interceptions, 80.4 QB rating
Another incredible, unheralded duo, Bud Grant and Fran Tarkenton made beautiful music together.
Unfortunately, like anyone who has ever played or coached for the Vikings, they'll ultimately be remembered for not being able to win a championship, despite their three attempts.
Still, few were more successful during the regular season or as adept at getting to the playoffs as Grant and Tarkenton. They won 69 percent of their games and managed to secure a spot in the postseason in all but one year of their time together, which coincidentally was their first season as a duo.
Three times they managed to win their conference and advance to the Super Bowl, although they never could win one. Still, making it that far is a damn impressive accomplishment. So is this: From 1973-76, the Vikings went 45-10 in the regular season and made three Super Bowl appearances.
Despite the fact that Tarkenton was already 32 years old when he returned to Minnesota, he enjoyed the best years of his career under Grant, leading the league in completions three times, completion percentage twice and passing yards and touchdowns once.
Like Grant and the Vikings, he wasn't always at his best in the playoffs, compiling a passer rating of 58.6 in 11 starts and an 11:17 TD-to-INT ratio.
In three Super Bowl appearances, he tossed just one touchdown and six interceptions, while completing well under 50 percent of his passes.
Regular season record: 64-27-2 (.688)
Postseason record: 6-5 (.545)
Division titles: 6 (1973-78)
Conference titles: 3 (1973-74, 1976)
Super Bowls: 0
1,611-2,670, 60.3%, 18,519 yards, 126 touchdowns, 99 interceptions, 81.5 QB rating
One really has to go back in time to find a duo that has stuck around long enough in Detroit to even garner consideration for this list.
In the end, you have to go back more than a half-century to find a coach-QB duo that actually brought some legitimate success to the downtrodden city that the Lions call home: Buddy Parker and Bobby Layne.
The duo was only together for six years, but they were arguably the best at their craft during that period. Together they won 67 percent of their regular-season contests, three division crowns and two NFL championships, back-to-back in 1952 and '53.
As noted in the video above, the Lions haven't won much since that last title in '53.
The only postseason loss the two endured together was a crushing 56-10 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, who featured all-time greats Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Chuck Noll, Frank Gatski, Dante Lavelli and Mike McCormack.
Layne was arguably at his worst in that one, completing just 43 percent of his passes and tossing six interceptions!
Interestingly enough, Layne was able to lead them to a postseason victory two years prior, despite completing 43 percent of his passes and tossing four interceptions and zero touchdowns. In all, Layne posted a 1:12 TD-to-INT ratio in his four postseason appearances, making his 3-1 record in them all the more impressive.
Also, a testament to Parker's incredible coaching acumen.
Regular season record: 43-19-2 (.672)
Postseason record: 3-1 (.750)
Division titles: 3 (1952-54)
Conference titles: N/A
Super Bowls: N/A
Overall Championships: 2 (1952-53)
823-1,652, 49.8%, 12,047 yards, 95 touchdowns, 110 interceptions, 65.4 QB rating
Fox is in the middle of doing something pretty special with Peyton Manning in Denver, but he's already earned his way onto this list thanks to the impressive resume he built with another quarterback from the Bayou.
Fox brought career backup Jake Delhomme to Carolina after one season, and the two found instant success: an 11-5 record and a trip to the Super Bowl. For their money, the Panthers actually gave the Patriots one hell of a challenge in the championship match, but once again the Belichick/Brady-led Pats were able to sneak out with a victory.
Although Fox and Delhomme only managed two more winning seasons together (2005 and '08), they never suffered a complete collapse, posting a mark of 7-9 or 8-8 in four of their seven years as a duo.
They made another appearance in the NFC title game in '05, but weren't able to keep up with the Seahawks in a 34-14 defeat.
Under Fox's tutelage, Delhomme emerged from his presumed "career backup" label and developed into one of the finest passers in the NFC. He surpassed 3,000 yards four times, tossed 31 more touchdowns than interceptions and finished his seven-year stint under Fox with an 82.6 passer rating.
They still rank as the Panther's all-time winningest coach and all-time passing leader.
Regular season record: 53-37 (.589)
Postseason record: 5-3 (.625)
Division titles: 2 (2003, 2008)
Conference titles: 1 (2003)
Super Bowls: 0
1,580-2,669, 59.2%, 19,258 yards, 120 touchdowns, 89 interceptions, 82.6 QB rating
The words "tandem," "duo," or "couple" don't really do justice to the kind of relationship that Sean Payton and Drew Brees have had since the former Cowboys' assistant took over the Saints in 2006.
The two came in together, with Payton recruiting the QB who suffered a potential career-ending injury the year before. Their bond produced immediate results, giving the long-suffering Saints fans only their second 10-win season since 1993. They also picked up the first playoff win for New Orleans since 2000.
After two mediocre years, albeit record-setting ones for Brees, the Saints really found their footing in 2009. With Payton calling the plays, Brees passed for nearly 4,400 yards and 34 touchdowns while completing a league-leading 70.6 percent of his passes.
The Saints breezed through the divisional round, snuck past the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and won in an upset over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Brees, of course, took home MVP honors.
The Saints have yet to lose more than five games in a season since that championship season, at least not with Payton at the helm. He was suspended for the entire 2012 season, and not surprisingly, the team went 7-9.
Since their last season at .500 or worse in 2008, Payton and Brees are 48-15.
In their seven seasons together, Brees has rewritten the record books, setting single-season marks for passing yards (since broken), pass completions, yards/game and completion percentage.
Under Payton's guidance, Brees has averaged almost 4,800 yards, 34 touchdowns and a 99.4 passer rating per season.
Regular season record: 73-39 (.652)
Postseason record: 6-4 (.600)
Division titles: 3 (2006, 2009, 2011)
Conference titles: 1 (2009)
Super Bowls: 1 (2009)
2,934-4,320, 67.9%, 33,556 yards, 240 touchdowns, 105 interceptions, 99.4 QB rating
The Falcons have been so bereft of talent during their 47 years of existence, that not only is Ryan the top passer in team history, but Smith, with just six years of head coaching experience, is already the winningest coach in the history of the franchise.
That's more to diminish the skills of the players and coaches that have come before the Smith-Ryan era in Atlanta than what they have accomplished in just six years.
Since coming into the professional ranks together in 2008, the duo has won 64 percent of their regular season starts, and despite the flak they catch for not having much success in the playoffs, the simple fact is that they have more seasons with 10 or more wins (four) since '08 than any coach-QB combo not named Belichick-Brady (five) and the same amount as Payton-Brees and Harbaugh-Flacco.
And despite the fact that Ryan came into the NFL as one of the most seasoned rookies in quite some time, the development of him as a passer has been key to the Falcons' success. He has nearly twice as many touchdown passes (153) as interceptions (77), has completed nearly 64 percent of his passes and has averaged almost 4,000 yards per season.
If he can keep that up for another seven or eight years, he's a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
As for Smith, it's hard to find a first-time coach who has endured as much regular-season success as him. His 60 wins in his first six seasons are more than any active coach except for John Harbaugh (62), Sean Payton (62), Mike McCarthy (63), Mike Tomlin (63) and Andy Reid (64).
Not bad, especially when you consider Smith is the only one in that group that has a 4-12 record thrown in.
Much has clearly been made of the Falcons' inability to find success in the playoffs, to which I say four trips to the playoffs in six years is nothing to sneeze at.
Regular season record: 60-34 (.638)
Postseason record: 1-4 (.200)
Division titles: 2 (2010, 2012)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
2,093-3,288, 63.7%, 23,472 yards, 153 touchdowns, 77 interceptions, 90.6 QB rating
The Bucs are in the rare situation of not having many coach-QB tandems with winning records.
As such, the honor goes to one of the losingest coaches in NFL history and the franchise's first "franchise" quarterback.
John McKay was pushing 60 years old and was the owner of a 2-26 career record when the Bucs selected Doug Williams with their first-round pick in 1978. The duo didn't find instant success like some of the other pairs on this list, although their first year together did bring Tampa Bay five victories, four of which Williams helmed.
Williams completed just 38 percent of his passes that first year, but as he found more success, so did the Bucs.
In just his second season, he guided Tampa Bay to a 10-6 record, the franchise's first winning season, and even engineered a first-round playoff victory against the Ron Jaworski-led Philadelphia Eagles. His performance the following week (2-for-13, 12 yds, 1 INT) sealed the team's fate in 9-0 loss to the Rams.
Two years later, McKay and Williams had the Bucs back in the playoffs after they won four of their final five games to clinch a spot. Unfortunately, they stood no chance against the Cowboys and went home losers, 38-0.
The very next season, albeit a strike-shortened one, Tampa once again made the playoffs after another late-season streak that saw them take five of six. Once again, however, they came up against the Cowboys, who once again sent the Bucs packing.
That 1982 season was the final year for McKay and Williams, who went on to become the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but some 30-plus years later, they remain the top coach-QB combo in franchise history.
Regular season record: 33-33-1 (.493)
Postseason record: 1-3 (.250)
Division titles: 2 (1979, 1981)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
895-1,890, 47.4%, 12,648 yards, 73 touchdowns, 73 interceptions, 66.2 QB rating
There are only a few coach-quarterback combos who were more successful than Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, and even fewer that can rival their success in both the regular season and the playoffs.
They're one of just three duos to have taken home three Super Bowl trophies together, joining Belichick-Brady and Noll-Bradshaw.
In addition, they won 68 percent of the regular-season games they coached/played in, won six division titles and revolutionized the NFL with Walsh's West Coast offense.
Under Walsh, the undersized Montana emerged as one of the top passers in NFL history. Four times he led the league in completion percentage. His passer rating only twice dipped below 87.8 during their 10-year run, one of which came in his rookie season when he started just one game.
Walsh would go on to retire after their third championship together, while Montana was still playing at an incredibly high level (he would go 25-3 the next two seasons under George Seifert), leaving many to wonder how many rings they would have won together had he stayed.
Regular season record: 75-36 (.676)
Postseason record: 10-4 (.714)
Division titles: 6 (1981, 1983-84, 1986-88)
Conference titles: 3 (1981, 1984, 1988)
Super Bowls: 3 (1981, 1984, 1988)
2,322-3,673, 63.2%, 27,533 yards, 190 touchdowns, 99 interceptions, 92.0 QB rating
For all the credit Holmgren gets in developing Brett Favre in Green Bay, he doesn't get enough for the work he put in with Matt Hasselback and the Seahawks.
Consider this: Holmgren won just as many division crowns with Hasselbeck as he did with Favre.
Without a doubt, the Holmgren-Hasselbeck pairing is the top combo of it's kind in Seattle history, although the Carroll-Wilson duo is certainly making some moves.
After a two-year "getting-to-know-you" period, the two went on a tear, winning 51 of 80 games together from 2003 to '07, claiming four division titles in the process. The crowning jewel of their time together came in 2005, when Seattle breezed through the regular season with a 13-3 record thanks to the top-ranked offense in the league.
They steamrolled the Redskins and the Panthers in their first two playoff games, giving Seattle their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Unfortunately, they couldn't get past the Steelers, suffering a 21-10 loss.
A 4-12 record in 2008 cost Holmgren his job, and Hasselbeck's performance (1-6 in seven starts) didn't help.
Regular season record: 58-45 (.563)
Postseason record: 4-5 (.444)
Division titles: 4 (2004-07)
Conference titles: 1 (2005)
Super Bowls: 0
2,000-3,318, 60.3%, 23,404 yards, 145 touchdowns, 94 interceptions, 84.5 QB rating
Tom Coughlin and Don Coryell are the only two coaches to appear on this list twice, a testament to their erratic brilliance. Without a doubt, Coryell did more with less, utilizing Dan Fouts in San Diego and the virtually unknown Jim Hart in St. Louis.
Somehow, Coryell and Hart turned a struggling Cardinals' franchise that had become a symbol of mediocrity into a winner. Over a five-year period, they claimed victories in 60 percent of their games. They also claimed the Cardinals' first division titles since 1948.
They weren't able to do much with their playoff experience, losing the two games by a combined score of 65-37. Still, getting a team to double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons in a city that hadn't had a 10-win season since that same 1948 squad, is an amazing accomplishment.
After back-to-back third place finishes in 1976 and '77, Coryell moved on to another tough job with the Chargers.
Hart, who had posted an 85:70 TD-to-INT ratio in 68 games with Coryell, played another seven years in the NFL, six with the Cardinals, but posted a 57:80 TD-to-INT mark in 65 games.
Regular season record: 41-26-1 (.603)
Postseason record: 0-2 (.000)
Division titles: 2 (1974-75)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
964-1,796, 53.7%, 12,629 yards, 85 touchdowns, 70 interceptions, 75.6 QB rating
Allen almost made it onto this list for his performance later in his career in Washington with Billy Kilmer (???), but he's a sure-fire addition for the time he spent with Roman Gabriel in Los Angeles.
In just five seasons together, Allen and Gabriel displayed tremendous prowess in the regular season, winning 70 percent of their games. From 1967 to 1969, they posted an incredible 32-7-3 mark, taking home division honors twice.
They didn't fare well in their postseason appearances, losing both games.
Gabriel's performance under Allen established him as one of the top all-around quarterbacks of his era. In addition to the nearly 13,000 passing yards and 94:64 TD-to-INT ratio, Gabriel also added another 773 yards and 19 scores on the ground.
Two of Gabriel's three highest single-season passer ratings came under the tutelage of Allen and he finished their time together with a respectable 76.0 rating.
After the 1970 season, Allen was lured to Washington, while Gabriel lasted only two more seasons with the Rams before moving on to a five-year stint with the Eagles.
Regular season record: 49-17-4 (.700)
Postseason record: 0-2 (.000)
Division titles: 2 (1967, 1969)
Conference titles: 0
Super Bowls: 0
1,025-1,940, 52.8%, 12,784 yards, 94 touchdowns, 64 interceptions, 76.0 QB rating