With the hire of Matt Nagy the Bears became the eighth team headed by a member of the Andy Reid coaching tree in the NFL (counting Reid himself).
According to the Kansas City Star, other than Nagy and his mentor in Kansas City, those coaches are Doug Pedersen (Eagles), John Harbaugh (Ravens), Ron Rivera (Panthers), Steve Spagnuolo (Giants, interim, reported to be replaced with another coach but they counted it), Todd Bowles (Jets) and Sean McDermott (Bills).
Reid also has claims to a couple of former coaches, including Pat Shurmur (Browns 2011-12, reported to replace Spagnuolo) and Brad Childress (Vikings 2006-09).
Now, some of the defensive coaches are stretches to give Reid sole “coaching tree” claim to because in the cases of Spagnuolo, Rivera and Leslie Frazier, they served as low-level assistants before moving on to other coaches where they were coordinators before becoming head coaches. So for our purposes, those coaches won’t be counted in the numbers I’m looking at today.
According to this 2016 Cauldron article, the average tenure of an NFL head coach is roughly three years. This Business Insider article pegs the average at four years and the median at three.
So if most coaches get three to four years and typically are no better then their predecessors, then are Reid’s coaching proteges any better than average?
- Brad Childress received four full seasons and was fired 10 games into his fifth season, finishing with a 39-35 record and two playoff appearances.
- Bowles just finished his third season, but despite facing difficult roster depth and talks of tanking, Bowles received a contract extension after getting to a surprising 5-11 record this year. His record is 22-29 (counting his interim Dolphins stint) and he has no playoff appearances.
- Harbaugh finished his 10th season in Baltimore where he has a 94-66 record, six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl.
- Shurmur was 10-23 between his two seasons with the Browns and his one game as interim coach for the Eagles. He had no playoff appearances.
- Pedersen is 20-12 in two seasons with the Eagles and is in the midst of his first playoff appearance, with a shot at a Super Bowl trip coming up Sunday.
So of the five coaches, and granted not all of them have huge sample sizes, two survived longer than the average tenure and two had multiple playoff berths.
Pedersen appears poised to outlast the average coach as well, considering that the Eagles’ season should buy him two years, especially with Carson Wentz coming off of a serious knee injury.
Shurmur is about to get his second go-around as a coach and seems poised to do well, considering the production he has gotten out of some misfits and back ups in Minnesota.
Overall that is a pretty good track record overall. The defensive coaches also have a pretty good run, Spagnuolo aside. Rivera has four playoff appearances and a record that is 17 games above .500 and McDermott finished with a winning record with questionable quarterbacks this season. Even Frazier had a playoff appearance despite finishing with an overall losing record.
The Reid coaching tree has been more successful than bad, and has a lot of playoff appearances, especially on the offensive side.
Now we wait and see as to whether Nagy will be the next successful Reid protege.