Sunday afternoon will see two teams punch their ticket to Super Bowl LVIII, and if Super Bowl logo color schemes are to be trusted, they will be the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
But color schemes don’t play the games, football teams do! This year’s title games are great because it does not feel like we have to stretch that hard to see any team winning one way or another. Obviously Baltimore and San Francisco are favored, but this is football where anything is possible.
Given that these are the final four teams they are obviously all very good and have talent all over their rosters. Today, we are gathered to discuss literally none of that. Today, we are here to discuss the coaches of the groups, particularly the head honchos in charge of it all.
Here is my ranking of the Conference Championship coaches, which I am 100% positive you will agree entirely with. We are going in ascending order because of drama, duh.
Number 4: Dan Campbell
It is hardly a shame to come in fourth in a contest of four coaches in the title round of the NFL playoffs — and more specifically so in this particular year.
This is more about everybody else than it is about Dan Campbell because Dan is clearly an incredibly talented coach. He has rallied this Detroit Lions team in just a few short years and has them one game away from the Super Bowl. Think about that.
Digging a bit deeper … Campbell does not exactly have a specialty that he is bringing to the group. His coordinators handle play-calling on both sides of the ball and in an exercise where we are ranking the coaches, that serves as a bit of a tiebreaker (this is obviously an applicable mindset to John Harbaugh as well, but I’ll address that later).
To be clear Dan Campbell absolutely rules. He just has to prove it a little more than the rest of the field.
Number 3: Kyle Shanahan
There is no question that Kyle Shanahan is the best offensive play-caller in the NFL. But he is not perfect.
Consider the end of the first half of the last playoff game that his team played and won. Shanahan was operating out of so much fear of the Green Bay Packers having enough time to kick a field goal that he cost himself a potential touchdown while out-thinking himself. When you lose a Super Bowl after being up 28-3, those scars are hard to get rid of.
Much like Campbell, this is also about Shanahan being good/very good but just not being on the level of the other two coaches. This is a sneaky big time moment for Shanahan as while he has gotten his team to the NFC Championship Game three years in a row (also four out of the last five) but he has zero rings to show for it. Legacies need that and he is on the verge of authoring one of the worst things in sports … The Dynasty That Never Was.
Number 2: Andy Reid
Obviously, I am aware that Andy Reid has the most hardware of anybody involved (literally more than the other three coaches combined). I just am that in on John Harbaugh right now.
But these words are about Andy Reid who will one day be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is quite possible that the next few weeks ensure he enters with at least three Super Bowl trophies at his back, obviously more are possible when Patrick Mahomes is your quarterback, but that’s the thing about Andy in this moment. Patrick Mahomes is his quarterback.
It is not my intention to act like having Mahomes is Andy’s fault because he has done a wonderful job of leaning into Patrick’s talents over the years. Andy deserves all of the credit in the world. But that obviously is the NOS boost powering the elite machine that is Reid’s offense so he loses out on the slightest edge.
Number 1: John Harbaugh
The Ravens are an overall machine that are poetically purple just like their most obvious comparison in Thanos.
While John Harbaugh has strong coordinators in the way that Dan Campbell does and has an all-world talent at quarterback in Lamar Jackson the way that Andy Reid does … we are talking about somebody with a seriously long level of sustained excellence here. Winning is what John Harbaugh does and he has done it in his current post way longer than anybody who is also in the title game this week.
It feels like we forget that John Harbaugh has already won a Super Bowl (I realize Andy has won two, as noted) or that the Ravens were at the forefront of using analytics in their processes before it became sort of vogue to do so across the league. I’d almost go as far as to say that John Harbaugh and the type of machine/culture he has built are underrated. In fact, I’ll say it. He’s underrated!
This is my list and I stand by it. If you disagree then that is your right but just know you are wrong. Happy Conference Championship Weekend!