New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady are already counted among the top coach-quarterback combinations since the Super Bowl era began in 1967.
Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. Don Shula and Dan Marino. Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.
In December, they broke the Shula-Marino record of 16 years and 116 regular season victories for the Miami Dolphins — and they did it in 35 fewer games, more than two seasons' worth.
Now, four years after losing Super Bowl XLII to the Giants, 17-14, Belichick and Brady have another chance to match Walsh and Montana's record of four Super Bowl rings. The Pittsburgh Steelers, with head coach Chuck Noll and quarterback Terry Bradshaw, also won four Super Bowls and did it just six seasons, but those championships were built around defense, not Bradshaw's offensive prowess.
It takes a great coach and a great quarterback to make great combination and, as individuals, Belichick and Brady are among the best ever at their jobs.
"Bill's two greatest strengths are his insight into the game and his foresight," said former Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Charlie Weis. "He's well above any coach I've ever seen in his study of the game, the insight he puts into it, while at the same time he's always thinking down the road.
"As for Tommy," said Weis. "His feet are so still. There are times he just stands there. There are people all around. He just stands there. And there are times he has to move a little to the left, a little to the right or go back or go forward. He does it, finds a window and throws the ball. I've never seen anyone so calm playing the quarterback position. There are certain people who have it — and I can't tell you what 'it' is — Tommy has it."