Coach of the year can’t be determined until after Week 17

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Of all the postseason awards to be announced the night before the Super Bowl (when everyone will have stopped being interested in who wins them), the most interesting award this year could be coach of the year.

It’s typically the most subjective of the awards, despite the objectivity of a team’s win-loss record.  The more accurate measure comes from performance relative to expectations, and nothing is more subjective than expectations and the extent to which they’re exceeded.

This year, various favorites have emerged from time to time.  When the 2-14 Chiefs started 9-0, Andy Reid appeared to be a lock.  When the Panthers won eight in a row after starting 1-3, Ron Rivera moved to the top of the list.  Now, with the Dolphins winning five of seven games in the wake of the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito mess, Joe Philbin (pictured) becomes perhaps the most viable candidate to secure the title.

But it’ll be impossible to make an accurate assessment until the regular-season ends and the playoff seedings are set.  If, for example, the Panthers secure the No. 2 seed and a bye in the NFC, Rivera’s candidacy improves dramatically.  If the Dolphins finish the job and qualify for the playoffs by winning their final two games, Philbin could be the favorite.

Other coaches deserve consideration, too, based on how their teams finish.  If the Patriots secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC, Bill Belichick should get some votes.  If the Ravens complete their late-season climb to the AFC North title — and possibly swipe a bye — John Harbaugh deserves votes.

How about Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who’ll possibly win the NFC East despite no prior NFL experience?  Or Bears coach Marc Trestman, who may win the NFC North in his first year of running a team after many years as an assistant and no prior opportunities to take over the top job?

If the Saints rebound and take the No. 2 seed, should Sean Payton get consideration for instantly turning his team around after a one-year suspension?

The NFC West has produced a trio of candidates.  The Seahawks arguably have the most talent in the league, but Pete Carroll has guided them through periods of injury on the offensive line and injury/suspension in the secondary.  The 49ers continue to find a way to thrive under Jim Harbaugh.  And Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, in his first year as a head coach, could become the first back-to-back winner since Joe Gibbs in 1982-83, and the first to ever win the award in consecutive years with different teams.

The winner won’t begin to become clear until the dust settles on the regular season.  Even then, chances are a healthy debate could emerge — and that the 50 total votes could result in the first tie since George Allen and Don Shula shared the honor in 1967.

38 responses to “Coach of the year can’t be determined until after Week 17

  1. It’s Philbin or Rivera, Reid took over a team loaded with talent and then replaced the starting QB with a #1 overall pick who over the past two seasons was performing exceptionally well before he was injured. Right now I would give it to Rivera, on the hot seat from the start of the preseason, starting 1-3 and now with a shot at the #2 overall seed in the the tuffer conference is an amazing job. What Philbin did though has also been impressive, starting 3-0, then going on a losing streak that culminated with that Martin vs. Incognito fiasco and now all of a sudden 8-6 and controlling their own fate when it comes to a playoff spot has been just that, impressive. Both deserve it though, perhaps they do a co-coach of the year giving both guys the award?

  2. Philbin? The guy who oversaw a locker room mess that cost him 2 starting offensive linemen?

    I’d give it to Rivera over Philbin any day. They’re playing better defense with way less name recognition than the Dolphins, and finally got the offense turned around.

  3. “Well, considering Mike Tomlin leads all coaches in tackles…..”

    In fact he’s probably setting an NFL single season record that may never be broken.

    Well played.

  4. I’d say it’s Rivera’s to lose right now, though I hadn’t considered Chip Kelly or Bruce Arians much. John Harbaugh has clearly been coaching the Ravens up the last four weeks, but considering they’ve been a perennial contender the last 5 years, I doubt he’d get too much consideration.

    *****SWITCH TO DISQUS*****

  5. I gotta give it to BB. The Patriots lost both all=world TEs, Vince Wilfork, the star LB, Amendola has been hurt all year, I’m sure the list goes on. The Pats just keep on rolling…

  6. Our leader Coach John Harbaugh is a lock for coach of the year. Best team in the NFL and back to back Superbowl wins. Can’t beat that résumé.


  7. Patskrieg dot com says:
    Dec 18, 2013 9:38 AM
    Philbin? The guy who oversaw a locker room mess that cost him 2 starting offensive linemen?

    I’d give it to Rivera over Philbin any day. They’re playing better defense with way less name recognition than the Dolphins, and finally got the offense turned around

    Of course you would say this because you are a Pats fan. You lost to the Fins who probably should have swept the season series fromt the Pats. The Fins were left for dead once that Martin/Incognito scandal came to light. Philbin deserves consideration, not because of the play of their defense but keeping the team focused on the goal. Plus when you look at the Fins victories: Bengals, Colts, Chargers, Pats, Steelers they are all teams either in the playoffs or vying for a spot. That is impressive no matter how you look at it. Regardless, I give it to Any Reid. The Chiefs turnaround has been remarkable.

  8. COY goes to Andy Reid hands down. This team had 2 wins a year ago and they started the season 9-0 are you kidding me!! They are 11-3 worst they can finish is 11-5 that is unbelievable. To me, it’s no question it’s Reid. They have a chance to finish the year with the best record in the league if not 2nd best. It’s Reid’s all the way.

  9. johnelwayishorsefaced says:
    Dec 18, 2013 9:59 AM
    I hope you’re joking about Trestman

    Schwartz wasn’t on the list so i’m not really sure where the joke would be.

  10. 1uniquename says:
    Dec 18, 2013 9:27 AM
    It’s Philbin or Rivera, Reid took over a team loaded with talent and then replaced the starting QB with a #1 overall pick who over the past two seasons was performing exceptionally well before he was injured.

    Andy Reid has done a lot more than insert a QB. He’s completely changed the culture virtually overnight. Talented teams under perform all the time and last year’s Chiefs squad was a prime example. They were leaderless and directionless. Takes more than installing a new QB to fix that.

    Reid is coach of the year hands down. It’s not even close.

  11. I am a Dolphins fan and a Philbin fan.

    seems insane he would be considered for this award. he is the coach that allowed the Martin Incognito mess to happen in the first place. that would be like giving the captain of the Titanic an award for best skipper for steering a lifeboat. dude is the one who crashed into the iceberg!

    if Philbin were coach of the year, Martin/Incognito never would have happened the way it did.

  12. Philbin? His aloofness towards his locker room and the flawed system he uses to pick team leaders caused the very problem he had to overcome. I don’t think that qualifies as ‘Coach of the Year.’

  13. Andy Reid.

    Unless you know another coach this season with star power who in his first year took a team that was 2-14 laughing stock of the earth, immediately got a franchise qb and led them to 11 wins and counting and already locked up a playoff berth a year after being in personal turmoil with the death of his son and his long time team and fans running him out of town?


  14. Like Jim Harbaugh, Andy Reid inherited a team with a lot of talent. A lot went wrong for the Chiefs last year, but they weren’t a two-win team by talent. Not close.

    Pete Carroll, meanwhile, inherited a slag heap of a roster. He has coached the hell out of a bunch of mid- to late-round draft picks and street free agents. He is a master of exploiting the positive attributes of his players and putting them in the best position to be successful.

    And save your witless, rabid-dog Pete Carroll hate. He’s done more to help others than you and everyone you know put together. He’s a good man, with a seemingly endless supply of upbeat energy. Go spew your venom at the mirror.

  15. Possible back to back coach of the year awards, and the opportunity to be the first ever to do it with two teams back to back? That’s a pretty active retirement.

    But hey, at least his replacement is knocking it out of the park…

  16. Belichick has done an amazing job with a decimated roster. Most teams going through what the Pats have this year would have imploded long ago.

    Under BB the Pats are still in the running for the AFC 1 or 2 seed. If they end up in either of those positions he should be coach of the year.

  17. @osoviejo:

    What if I knew Martin Luther King or Ghandi? Would Carroll still have done more to help people that ANYONE I know? lol

  18. Shouldn’t just go by last years record vs this year, especially if a team went out and got every available free agent

  19. If Joe Philbin is the guy who presided over a locker room that allowed the Incognito-Martin mess, Bill Belichick is the coach who presided over a locker room that cultivated a murderer.

    If only Belichick had a better feel on the pulse of his locker room, those poor people wouldn’t be dead right now. Because as we’ve all learned over the last few months from Pats fans, it’s the coach who should be held responsible for the actions of the players, and nothing should slip under their noses. Ever. Heck, Belichick videotapes everything and he still missed a homicidal sociopath. Talk about lack of attention to detail and falling down on the job, am I right? He’ll be lucky if he survives the offseason!

  20. Mike Tomlin is running away with this award. After retiring Bruce Arians, bringing in that hack, Haley, nearly tackling Jacoby Jones, inspiring the players to play harder by taking away the ping pong tables, rearranging the o-line weekly like it was his living room set. He has to win!! Our season will be remembered with one single word: Memorable.

  21. For everyone saying Andy Reid I think Chip Kelly should get some consideration for turning around his old team with no NFL experience. Andy has 15 years experience.

  22. I don’t know if Chip Kelly should win or not. You have to be somewhat impressed by not only HIS lack of NFL experience, but across his entire coaching staff. Add to that the player turnover and culture’s an impressive feat!

  23. Marc Trestman > Chip Kelly (guess this Sunday will tell us, anyway), plus a lot of other coaches.

    For the some of the same reasons as Chip Kelly – rookie NFL coach, installing a new system, winning over the players, etc.

    Except, the Bears have NEVER had the kind of explosive, complex, mutli-dimensional offense we’re seeing now. They will have set new team records in a number of ways by season’s end.

    Plus, Trestman has also had to deal with incredible adversity of losing the starting QB and guiding the team through that minefield, and now has that same QB seemingly back inthe saddle without missing a beat.

    AND, deal with the adversity of losing SIX of his starting defensive players – including 3 pro bowlers, the franchise player, and defensive signal caller, and others, for the season.

    It’s still a little premature, of course, but I think the mastermind behind the Trest-coast offense should certainly be in the discussion!

  24. 1. Reid – Taking a 2-14 team to a double-digit winning team and locking a playoff spot up with a couple weeks to go? Yea, that’s pretty darn good.

    After that, I’d call a tossup between

    Trestman – Talk about dropping in an explosive offense. If they make the playoffs, he’s high up there.

    Kelly – Like everyone said before. 1st year on the job, looked like a lame duck for a while after the first half of the first game of football, but has since got everyone on the same page and is blowing it out of the water. With Nick Foles.

    BB – A bit of a shameless plug perhaps, but still 10-4 without 3.5 all-pros from last year (gronk was out, then in for a couple, now out again), spent time without one or the other of his starting CBs (Dennard and Talib) and is still in the driving seat for a bye. If they keep the 2nd seed or somehow get the 1st, he’s a close second to Reid. If the collapse to 11-5 or 10-6, I’d call him out of the running.

    Arians – Similar to Reid. Able to take a team that seemed mired on the wrong side of mediocrity to a spot where the playoffs isn’t out of the question.

  25. My team has lost 2 starting running backs, a future HOF wide reciever, our starting guard, starting tight end, our starting center has been in and out, our 2nd best cornerback and safety have been in and out…

    Yet the Colts keep on winning.

    That’s some good coaching.


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