Aside from those brought over from college, most NFL coaches start as assistant coaches. Because of this, some of the best NFL coaching staffs become quite legendary based on their football careers afterward.
While there have been several loaded coaching staffs in NFL history, the one that won the New York Giants’ 1990 Super Bowl is downright insane. There are nine Super Bowl wins between the coaching staff, which includes some of the biggest names of the last 30 years.
Who was on the best NFL coaching staff ever?
The ’90 Giants team was coached by Bill Parcells. Parcells was a two-time Super Bowl winner during his time with the Giants. But the 1990 stunner over the Buffalo Bills still resonates nearly three decades later.
Part of the reason this team was so successful, however, had to do with the people Parcells assembled. None of the coaches were huge names yet, but all of them had been around the block more than once.
The staff was loaded from front to back. Linebackers coach Al Groh had only a single year of head coaching experience with the 2000 Jets at the time. Since his time with the Giants, he’s had a storied career coaching at both the college and pro levels.
While his head coaching career left something to be desired, defensive line coach Romeo Crennel is also among the league’s most respected assistants — and he’s still doing it at 72 years old with the Houston Texans. Special teams coach Charlie Weiss was a respected assistant for several teams and a successful college coach at Notre Dame and Kansas.
Fittingly, Tom Coughlin was the receivers coach under Parcells for the ’90 season. But this wasn’t his only time seeing the team succeed. Fourteen years after the 1990 season, Coughlin called the shots from the sidelines with a young quarterback, Eli Manning. Coughlin defeated one of his fellow assistants from the ’90 Giants to get there, too.
Of course, this coaching staff’s crown jewel is Bill Belichick, who was the defensive coordinator. Belichick held all sorts of NFL roles before becoming a head coach. He’s long cited Parcells as one of his greatest influences.
How did this coaching staff happen?
Everything about the Giants’ 1990 Super Bowl win was unlikely. The team had a 13-3 record for the season, so they belonged out there. Starting quarterback Phil Simms was lost to injury, however, and the team had to be led by backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler on their way to the victory.
Not only did the Giants beat Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills in the big game, but they beat Steve Young and the San Francisco 49ers, too. Belichick’s defense, in particular, has been credited with saving the Giants during the big game and keeping the team calm on the biggest stage in sports.
The importance of coaches in the NFL
People often discuss a team’s depth on the roster when they are talking about winning big. But the importance of a deep coaching staff cannot go unnoticed either.
In football, more than any other sport, there’s too much for one person to do all at once. There are schemes for every position, and a coach has to lean heavily on his assistants to make them succeed.
Parcells knew this. Even if he didn’t know just how good the coaches would be, he was one of the ones to find their talent and make it work.
Much is made about coaching trees in sports, from Belichick to the NBA’s Gregg Popovich. However, no coaching staff in a single season has ever had this much gravitas. And it will be hard to recreate this in the future, too.