Is Sean McVay a Top 5 NFL Coach?

Rams head coach Sean McVay is considered a coaching wunderkind, having taken the Rams to the Super Bowl last season as a 33-year-old in his second season as a head coach.

But is he an elite coach, up there with the likes of Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, and Sean Payton, who are considered some of the best coaches of their generation? For many people, the jury is still out on McVay, who has yet to show that he can be successful for the long-term.

Bill Belichick is the best of the best

There’s no denying that Belichick is the best head coach of the 21st century, and quite possibly in NFL history.

He has helped lead the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles, and in his 24 seasons as a head coach — five with Cleveland in the ’90s and 19 with the Patriots — he is 261-123 in the regular season and an impressive 31-11 in the postseason.

Belichick is also the de-facto general manager of the Patriots, so he is largely responsible for the team’s personnel moves that have helped them be as successful as they have been since 2001.

Who else is in the top 5?

We know Belichick is No. 1 among all NFL head coaches, but who would round out the rest of the top 5? Here’s a look at some possibilities, in no particular order:

  • Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
    • Although he hasn’t had much postseason success, Reid has had a 20-year tenure with the Eagles and Chiefs, and he’s 71 games over .500 in the regular season.
  • Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
    • Payton has spent 12 seasons at the helm of the Saints, going 118-74 in the regular season and 8-6 in the postseason, including a Super Bowl title.
  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
    • Carroll was a .500 coach in his first four seasons in the NFL, when he led the Jets and Patriots in the ’90s, but he is 89-54 in nine seasons with the Seahawks, which includes a Super Bowl championship.
  • Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Although Tomlin has gotten his fair share of criticism in recent seasons, he has a strong track record in his 12 seasons as the Steelers’ head coach. In the regular season, he’s 125-66, with an 8-7 postseason mark, including a championship.

What does Sean McVay need to do to join the “elite” coaches?

Longevity is important. Every coach we’ve listed as being in the top 5 has been in the NFL for at least a decade, with Belichick and Reid at or approaching two decades as a head coach.

If Sean McVay can continue to have the level of success he has had in his first couple seasons with the Rams, he can easily find his way into the “elite” discussion in the next few years, especially if he gets a Super Bowl ring or two on his resume. But right now, it’s too early to put him in the same category as guys like Belichick or Payton.

What other coaches could become “elite”?

Doug Pederson — who does have a Super Bowl ring but only three years under his belt as a head coach — is in a similar position as McVay.

Pederson is older than McVay, at 51, but still has plenty of time to build up his resume to potentially one day end up in the top 5 discussion. If Carson Wentz can stay healthy and play to his potential, he can help Pederson get into the discussion with the Reids and Tomlins of the league.

But with those veteran coaches still active, they’ll continue building on their legacies to make it harder for guys like Sean McVay or Doug Pederson to join the top 5.