Super Bowl LV is the quarterback matchup the NFL has been dreaming of since Dan Marino and Joe Montana faced off 36 years ago. While Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady have the spotlight this week -- and rightfully so -- there will also be a coaching matchup that hasn't been discussed enough, one that will have a major impact in determining the next NFL champion.
Andy Reid is well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning his first Super Bowl title with the Kansas City Chiefs -- and is looking to become the first coach to win consecutive Super Bowl titles since Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004. Bruce Arians is the second-oldest coach (68 years, 127 days) to coach in a Super Bowl and the oldest head coach to make his first Super Bowl appearance. A Tampa Bay Buccaneers win in the Super Bowl would make Arians the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl (and second-oldest to win a championship).
Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.
Reid vs. Arians is a coaching matchup for the ages in this Super Bowl. These are the two architects of the league's best offenses and what could be one of the highest scoring Super Bowls in NFL history. Here's a look at the coaching matchup heading into Super Bowl LV:
- Career regular season record: 221-130-1
- Career postseason record: 17-14
- Conference championship game appearances: 8
- Super Bowl appearances: 3
- Super Bowl titles: 1
Reid has coached in the NFL for 22 years and his .629 win percentage is the sixth-best among head coaches that have coached 20 seasons. His 17 postseason victories are tied for fourth-most in NFL history and his 238 combined victories (regular season and postseason) are fifth-most on the all-time wins list. A second Super Bowl would make Reid the 14th coach with multiple Super Bowl titles and just the seventh coach to win back-to-back Super Bowls -- joining Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Jimmy Johnson, Mike Shanahan and Bill Belichick.
Reid will certainly be in the Hall of Fame, but his most impressive accomplishment is his strength as an innovator over his two-plus decades as a head coach. Reid has finished in the top-10 in points scored in 14 of his 22 years, including finishing in the top six in the last three years. The Chiefs have led the NFL in total offense (406.9 yards per game) and points per game (31.02) over the last three years, a product of Reid's ability to have a prepared game plan and add new wrinkles to his offense.
Reid started his head coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles as a savant with the West Coast offense, learning under Mike Holmgren for seven years with the Green Bay Packers. He tailors his offensive scheme to the quarterback running his system, learning the pistol offense to help Alex Smith became one of the game's most consistent quarterbacks (which the Baltimore Ravens now use with Lamar Jackson). He envisioned the spread offense as the future of the NFL, using the concepts when Michael Vick was his quarterback in Philadelphia and tailoring the offense to his West Coast style -- which is a huge reason why the Chiefs have one of the best deep-ball offenses in the game.
For the Chiefs offense to work, Reid uses the speed on his roster (players he drafted) to have Mahomes get to ball to them in space and create yards after the catch -- a West Coast staple for decades. The deep ball wrinkle adds more explosive plays to the game, as Kansas City is first in the NFL in plays of 10-plus yards (266) and plays of 20-plus yards (79) -- while ranking second in 20-plus yards completions (69). The Chiefs still succeed against the blitz, having a 132.1 passer rating -- which is first in the NFL.
Expect Reid to be at the top of his game in this Super Bowl, especially since he is 25-5 coming off bye weeks in the regular season and postseason. Reid just is an innovator, one of the best in NFL history.
- Career regular season record: 67-44-1
- Career postseason record: 4-2
- Conference championship game appearances: 2
- Super Bowl appearances: 1
- Super Bowl titles: 0
Arians certainly has paid his dues toward becoming a NFL head coach, serving as an assistant for 20 years before finally getting the chance to coach the Arizona Cardinals in 2013. Before leading the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs as an interim head coach in 2011, Arians had a top-10 offense in points and total yards just once as an offensive coordinator (2007 with the Pittsburgh Steelers). Arians has only had two losing seasons as a head coach in seven years (both of those seasons resulted in seven wins) and has won 10-plus games four times. He's the oldest first-time Super Bowl head coach and got his first head coaching job at 61 years old -- the same age Reid was when he won his first Super Bowl.
Arians has developed a reputation around the NFL for his aggressive offensive approach, particularly on vertical passing routes. The system is fun for any quarterback, but it's tough for a thrower to adjust to in year one (just ask Carson Palmer). Arians' offensive scheme is built around the "hot" route and how quickly the quarterback can process that information when recognizing the blitz -- the difference is Arians' formula is less protection-based and recognizing the target as soon as possible.
Tampa Bay is first in points scored outside the red zone (145), was tied for the second-most 20-plus yard plays in 2020 (76), and third in 20-plus yard completions (67). Arians' "no risk it, no biscuit" philosophy led Tom Brady to the most completions (43) and touchdowns (13) when throwing the ball for 20-plus air yards -- but also the most interceptions (nine). Brady has a 36.8% completion percentage on deep throws, (20-plus air yards), good for 22nd in the NFL. Arians' philosophy is certainly a "feast or famine" result.
Don't be surprised to see Arians' offense altering the game plan significantly during the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers will sling the ball downfield and go for the quick score, even against a Chiefs pass defense that allowed the seventh-lowest passer rating (63.6) on those deep-pass attempts (NFL average is 94.9). Arians will use all his pass-catching options as a way to keep up with Kansas City's high-powered offense -- the best way for the Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl.
Arians has achieved success doing things his way. Why change now?