Of all the postseason awards for the recently-completed NFL regular season, coach of the year became the toughest one to decide.
Typically, the prize goes to the man whose team most significantly exceeded preseason expectations, with extra consideration given to any adversity overcome in the process.
This year, the PFT coach of the year is Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Entering the season on a hot seat that got a lot hotter after an ugly loss to the Cardinals dropped the team to 1-3, Rivera led the Panthers to a mark of 11-1 over the final 12 weeks of the season, securing the No. 2 seed in the NFC. In hindsight, all that keep Carolina from the top spot was a 12-7 Week One loss to Seattle.
The performance should be enough to persuade new G.M. Dave Gettleman to keep Rivera around for at least a few more years, if not longer. The pieces are in place for the Panthers to contend for the next several years. If not longer.
The other finalists for the prize (which doesn’t entail an actual prize beyond, you know, public recognition) were Chiefs coach Andy Reid, Saints coach Sean Payton, Eagles coach Chip Kelly, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, and Chargers coach Mike McCoy.
Vote for your own coach of the year, and then make your case in the comments. Or do what coaches do and complain about the official ruling.