We already know that there are a few head coaches in the NFL who are living legends, and will be destined for Canton once their careers are over.
Bill Belichick and Andy Reid are the two most prominent names that come to mind, for their sustained success over a two-decade period.
Belichick’s success even pre-dates his days as a head coach, when he was defensive coordinator of the 1986 and 1990 New York Giants championship teams.
While Belichick and Reid are the gold standard for NFL coaches in today’s game, Sean Payton probably isn’t too far behind.
He has proven to be one of the most creative offensive minds in league history, and is synonymous with the city of New Orleans.
Payton’s work off the field to help boost morale after Hurricane Katrina has him intimately linked with that city and with the league, so he’s probably already a legend in the eyes of many.
We’ll take a look at two more coaches who, with an impressive performance in 2021, can join the upper echelon of the game’s very best.
2. Mike Tomlin
Mike Tomlin is only the third head coach the Pittsburgh Steelers have had in the last 51 seasons.
That automatically makes him legendary in the Steel City, but his reputation tends to fluctuate.
Because he’s the head man of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises, the standard for him is likely way higher than his other NFL counterparts.
But consider this: after the 2021 season, Tomlin will have been with the Steelers for as long as Bill Cowher was, and the latter is absolutely considered a legend.
Tomlin’s resume is strikingly similar to Cowher’s, as both have won one Super Bowl during their respective tenures.
If Tomlin could lead the Steelers to another championship in 2021, he would truly be considered one of the best in the history of the game.
Most pundits would probably pick Buffalo, Baltimore, Tennessee, or Kansas City to come out of the AFC.
If Tomlin can somehow get past those obstacles to bring home his second Lombardi trophy, his name would be spoken about in a different light.
On behalf of the Steelers’ organization and our families, please know we appreciate the loving example of faith, grace and dignity that Mrs. Rooney provided each of us every time that she was in our presence. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/lJlZrfcNGK
— Mike Tomlin (@CoachTomlin) February 2, 2021
1. Bruce Arians
It’s common knowledge that Bruce Arians is one of the better offensive coaches in football.
He has employed a fun style for many years that allows quarterbacks to take shots down the field to their most talented playmakers.
He had a memorable year filling in as head coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 when head coach Chuck Pagano was ill.
Arians also had some fun teams in the desert in the middle of the last decade with the Arizona Cardinals, revitalizing Carson Palmer’s career.
But if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can win a second straight Super Bowl in 2021, his body of work will become legendary.
He’ll inevitably be part of many chicken/egg debates, questioning whether he allowed Tom Brady to flourish, or whether Brady is the one truly carrying the team.
— Bruce Arians (@BruceArians) March 30, 2021
Regardless of how it happens, Arians would join a very short list of coaching counterparts in league history who have won back-to-back rings.
He’s on the doorstep of becoming recognized as one of the best to ever do it, and 2021 could be the cherry on top of his resume.