Eight years later, with an injured Jim Kelly on the sidelines, Reich led the greatest comeback in NFL history, leading the Bills to a 41-38 playoff win over Houston after trailing 35-3 early in the third quarter.
And in 2017, Reich was the Eagles offensive coordinator when MVP favorite Carson Wentz tore his ACL, ending his season. Reich helped design an offense that turned Philadelphia backup and Rams castoff Nick Foles into the Super Bowl MVP. After leading two miraculous comebacks as a backup quarterback, Reich was the man pulling the strings as the Eagles backup quarterback did something even Reich couldn’t do: win the Super Bowl.
And now? Reich is once again coming in off the bench. For most of January, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was expected to become the next Colts head coach. But McDaniels ultimately changed his mind and decided to return to New England, leaving the Colts at the altar at the last minute. In an embarrassing bind, Indianapolis has turned to the ultimate backup, tapping Reich as the team’s newest head coach.
Reich, after winning the Super Bowl as an offensive coordinator, is immediately becoming an NFL head coach. In addition to the two coordinators who were promoted by their franchises after winning the Super Bowl after their head coaches retired, Reich will become the 10th coordinator to win a Super Bowl and then become head coach with another team.
In 2004, Romeo Crennel was the Patriots defensive coordinator and won his third Super Bowl in four years in that position. After the season, he joined his former team, the Cleveland Browns, as head coach. Crennel lasted four years and went 24-40 as Browns head coach, which is distinctly above-average by new Browns standards.
In 1999, Mike Martz was the Rams offensive coordinator when St. Louis shocked the world and won the Super Bowl. Martz was branded as an offensive genius, and stayed true to that word for many years. After the season, Dick Vermeil retired (again), and Martz replaced him as Rams head coach. Martz went 53-32 as St. Louis head coach, and took the team back to the Super Bowl in 2001, where the heavily-favored Rams lost to the upstart Patriots. The Rams offense operated at historic levels under Martz, but he was never able to replicate that success after ’01.
In 1994, the San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl with a pair of superstar coordinators. After the season, the team lost both OC Mike Shanahan and DC Ray Rhodes. Shanahan went to Denver, where he went 8-8, 13-3, 12-4, and 14-2 his first four seasons, culminating in a pair of back-to-back titles. Rhodes was much less successful: his Eagles went 10-6, 10-6, 6-9-1, and 3-13. His tenure in Philadelphia wasn’t particularly memorable, although he did give a young Jon Gruden his first chance to be an offensive coordinator.
In 1993, Norv Turner was the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, who had just won back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Turner left to become the Washington Redskins head coach, the offensive genius tapped to restore a division rival. Turner’s career has been marked with mixed results ever since: he was always good enough to get another job, but never successful enough to keep one for very long. He lasted a long (by both his and the franchise’s standards) seven years with Washington, going 49-59-1, but has largely bounced around the league ever since. He will be the Panthers offensive coordinator in 2017, the 9th franchise he’s been the head coach or offensive coordinator with since leaving the Cowboys 25 years ago.
The Dallas defensive coordinator in 1992 was Dave Wannstedt. After helping the Cowboys win the Super Bowl, he was chosen to replace Da Coach in Chicago. Wannstedt never quite lived up to the hype he had in Dallas, going 40-56 with the Bears. He then became the Dolphins defensive coordinator — again under Jimmy Johnson — and succeeded him as Miami head coach the next season. Wannstedt was never much of a fan favorite, either in Miami or as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers.
In 1990, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl with a dominant defense coordinated by Bill Belichick. After the season, he went on to become the Browns head coach. Belichick had an up-and-down tenure in Cleveland, winning a playoff game in his fourth season, but finished 36-44 in five seasons amid a rotating group of quarterbacks. After the Browns moved to Baltimore, Belichick was fired as head coach, and was never heard from again.
In 1988, George Seifert was the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator under the great Bill Walsh. The Hall of Fame coach retired after the season, and Seifert replaced him. It was a seamless transition: Seifert and the 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1989, went 14-2 again in 1990, and won at least 10 games in each of his eight seasons, winning another Super Bowl in 1994. From ’89 to ’96, the 49ers won 77% of their games, a full 10% higher than any other team in the NFL. But after ’96, he resigned after the writing was on the wall that the 49ers were unhappy with Seifert, after he failed to make the NFCCG for the second year in a row.
The defensive coordinator for the famed 1985 Bears, Buddy Ryan was the hottest commodity in coordinator circles. He left to become the Eagles head coach, and while he went 43-35-1 despite playing in a brutally tough division, Ryan’s Eagles never won a playoff game. After three straight playoff losses, combined with Ryan’s abrasive personality, the organization decided to fire Ryan. He returned as the Oilers defensive coordinator in ’93 and the Cardinals head coach in ’94 and ’95, but his crowning achievement there was getting both of his sons into the NFL as DL/LB coach and DB coach.
Bill Arnsparger was the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator from 1970 to 1973. After Miami led the NFL in points allowed and won the Super Bowl in ’72 and ’73, Arnsparger was an obvious choice for any coaching vacancy. He chose to go to New York to coach the Giants, but his tenure was a disaster. He went 7-28 with New York, being fired midway through the 1976 season. Arnsparger returned to the Dolphins for another successful stint as defensive coordinator, and later served as the LSU head coach for three seasons.
The first coordinator to leave a Super Bowl champion happened one year earlier, when Howard Schnellenberger rode the 17-0 wave as the Dolphins offensive coordinator to a head coaching job in Baltimore. But it was a poor fit: the Colts went 4-10 in 1973 where he coached a rookie Bert Jones, and was fired after an 0-3 start in 1974. Schnellenberger returned to Miami as offensive coordinator before serving as a head coach in college for the University of Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma, and Florida Atlantic.
Of the first 9, Shanahan is the obvious pick as the best of the bunch, as Ryan was the only other coach to have a winning record. Reich has long odds to succeed as head coach of the Colts, but that tends to be when Reich is at his best.