Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Who's Better: Joe Gibbs or Bill Belichick?

Bill Belichick

Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I’m hearing more and more fans and football pundits starting to refer to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as the greatest coach of all time.  And while his record certainly is more than enough to garner him mention among the greatest coaches ever, I’m not so sure I would call him the greatest.

And for some reason you never hear anyone mention Redskins Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs as the greatest head coach ever.  Maybe he wasn’t flamboyant enough, or maybe because he “only” won three Super Bowls.  But Belichick has only won three, and while he’s taken teams to five Super Bowls, Joe Gibbs took the Redskins to four.

Belichick’s thirteen straight winning season with the Patriots is an amazing accomplishment, and a testament to how great a coach he is.  However, his career winning percentage is .666, while Joe Gibb’s .665 percentage is nearly identical.   Where Gibbs established his record over sixteen seasons, Belichick is still going strong at nineteen years.

But where the separation occurs between the two is that Bill Belichick has done most of his winning with one quarterback, future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.  Where as Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.  And while each were very good, none of them are hall of famers.

Would Bill Belichick have had the same amount of success without Tom Brady?  I doubt it.  And while the consecutive winning seasons is remarkable, could he have done it in the glory years of the NFC East that Joe Gibbs had to succeed through?  Routinely going up against fellow hall of fame coaches like Tom Landry and Bill Parcells.

Yes, Bill Belichick is definitely a great head coach, but in my opinion Joe Gibbs was greater.  And if Bill Belichick is deserving of being called the greatest of all time, then why not Gibbs?  I think people underrate Gibbs, and he should mentioned as possibly the greatest ever.  And I’d pick him over Belichick.  But which one do you think is better?


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  • Anton

    Gibbs! Not just three different quarterbacks, but three different running backs. He also never really had incredible defenses, but always had great offenses, pretty incredible considering who some of the QBs and RBs were.

    • Maurice Barksdale

      I think Joe Gibbs was a greater coach than Bill Belichick, so I agree with you assessment, Anton. I think he’s underrated in the discussion of great coaches. Pundits acknowledge him, but they never call him the greatest coach ever. I think the reasons you mention are possibly why he may be the greatest coach of all time. And while Belichick is great in his own right, I don’t think he’s greater than Gibbs.

      • Anton

        Thanks. Great article btw, it’s a good discussion to have, I hope that more people check the stats and see how good he really was. Even in the chaotic Daniel Snyder era, he was by far the most successful under Snyder, making the playoffs two of his last three seasons.

        • Maurice Barksdale

          Yes, Gibbs didn’t do too badly under Snyder’s ownership, and who knows what could have happened if he’d continued on? The Redskins certainly would have been better with Gibbs than Jim Zorn. It’s rare to see a coach retire from a winning team. and I’m glad you enjoyed the article Anton, thanks for commenting.

  • David Dorman

    Gibbs was an amazing coach and he deserves to be in the conversation. Bill B had to deal with some things that Gibbs never did though like the salary cap era and unrestricted free agency. He also drafted Brady in the 6th round and it’s remarkable that he’s been able to keep him for so many years with the cap and FA to deal with. The fact that he’s able to bring new players in and out every year and not miss a beat is remarkable. Bill B’s in the playoffs is .789 and Gibbs is .710, both are amazing records. When Gibbs came back to the Skins and faced the new era issues with the NFL he did well, but not nearly as good as he did his first time with the team. This can be compared to Bill’s time in Cleveland pulling his overall record down. I think this becomes much more of an argument if we specifically compare Gibbs first stint coaching with the Skins and Bill’s with the Pats only. But if we look at their overall coaching records it’s close but they definitely coached in different eras, just my opinion.

    • Maurice Barksdale

      Joe Gibbs had been away from football too long when came back the second time. However, he still did better than any other Redskins coach who came after his first stint. And the point you make about them coaching in different eras is valid, but without Tom Brady I doubt anyone would be referring to Bill Belichick as the greatest coach ever.