Ever wonder what NFL head coaches did to get where they are now? I will be releasing a series of articles for every NFL division. It will include if they were a player, where they went to college, their coaching tree, any Super Bowls or National Championships that they won and any other interesting facts.
Dennis Allen – Oakland Raiders
Part of the famed “Wrecking Crew” defense at Texas A&M, Allen started his final 21 games for the Aggies. Down six against Texas in 1993, Allen made a key interception on the two yard line with six minutes left. They eventually won the game. He got invited to Bills training camp in 1996. He didn’t make the team but he would start coaching that year at his alma mater. He took his first job in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons in 2002 at 29. His college head coach R.C. Slocum told him that day that Allen would eventually be a head coach. 10 years later he became one.
Allen has also coached for the New Orleans Saints and the Denver Broncos. He won a Super Bowl with the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV as the secondary coach. Last season was his first in Oakland. He is 4-12 in his career.
John Fox – Denver Broncos
Fox played for San Diego State in 1974 and 1975 where he was teammates with Herm Edwards. He worked hard as an assistant from 1978 until 2002 when he finally got the call to be the Carolina Panthers head coach. Along the way he coached in college, the NFL and even for a season in the USFL. His highlight before becoming a head coach was probably in Super Bowl XXXV where he was the Giants defensive coordinator in a loss.
When he got to Carolina they were the second worst team in the league. In his first year they improved greatly, and in his second season he took them to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Patriots in one of the most exciting Super Bowls. Now Fox is in his second season in Denver where he will try to get back to the Super Bowl and finally win one. In his career he is 94 and 82 in the regular season and 6-5 in the playoffs.
Dennis Allen and Mike McCoy both have served under Fox and are now head coaches.
Mike McCoy – San Diego Chargers
Mike McCoy played quarterback at University of Utah. He started two games because of an injury. One of them was in the Freedom Bowl where he threw a touchdown on the last play to beat Arizona. He played with the Broncos in the preseason and he was on the Packers practice squad for part of 1995.
After a few years in the CFL, McCoy became an offensive assistant with the Carolina Panthers in 2000. Fox came in 2002 and McCoy worked his way up to quarterbacks coach. In 2009 the Broncos offered McCoy their open position at offensive coordinator. Even though he had some great years in Carolina, including a Super Bowl appearance, this job was too good to pass up.
McCoy was in Denver four years. The last two were way better than the first two. His first season the Broncos started 6-0 and didn’t make the playoffs and in his second year they were the second worst team in the league. In McCoy’s third year everything started to click. With Tim Tebow as his quarterback and with the hiring of John Fox as head coach, they were able to win a playoff game. In McCoy’s fourth year the Broncos were led by Peyton Manning. They were the number one seed in the AFC but lost a tough game to the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. McCoy then interviewed for a number of head coaching positions and eventually became head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Andy Reid – Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Reid inherited an Eagles team that was 3-13. In Andy Reid’s second season as head coach he already had the Eagles up to 11 wins. In years two through six they won 11 or more games every season. He only went to one super bowl in Philadelphia, but he came close and could easily be one of the best coaches in NFL history. He went to the NFC Championship game five times. Yet he couldn’t get it done. They lost their lone Super Bowl appearance to the Patriots by three. If he had even two super bowls he would be an instant hall of famer. Same with Donovan McNabb. Reid also suffered a major loss in his personal life when his son Garrett died of a heroin overdose. It wasn’t always bad for Reid though.
In 1979 Reid along with Steve Young accepted scholarships to BYU. That season they went to the Holiday Bowl and they lost to Indiana who was then coached by Lee Corso. They would go back to the Holiday Bowl and win the next season. BYU also went to the Holiday Bowl in 1982 when Reid became an assistant for one season at BYU. That was the same year that Mike Holmgren started coaching at BYU.
Reid stayed in college until 1991 making stops at San Francisco St, Northern Arizona, UTEP and Missouri. Then he got offered a job as an assistant with the Packers by Mike Holmgren and took it. He was there as Brett Favre made his meteoric rise to the top. Reid won it all in 1996. They went back to the Super Bowl the next season but lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Denver Broncos. At the time he probably never thought that 1996 would be his last Super Bowl winning season.
He then went on to Philadelphia for 14 seasons, which is an eternity for a head coach to stay in one place. On New Year’s Eve 2012 Reid was fired after a 4-12 season. On January 4th he was hired by the Chiefs as their new head coach. He brings with him a 130-92-1 record.
Reid has been a part of a legendary coaching tree. He played and coached for Lavell Edwards who was at BYU from 1972 until 2000. Edwards won 19 conference championships and one national championship. Reid has also coached with and for Super Bowl head coach Mike Holmgren, who won a national title as a player at USC in 1968 and as an assistant at BYU in 1984. A number of Holmgren’s assistants later became head coaches including super bowl head coach John Harbaugh, and Steve Spagnuolo who won a super bowl as defensive coordinator with the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Reid will have his work cut out for him in Kansas City, where they have missed the playoffs in five of their last six years.
You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP