What makes a coach of the year? Typically, it’s the guy who exceeded the loose preseason expectations for his team the most. Often, the assessment is influenced by the manner in which the coach overcomes unexpected adversity along the way.
This year, the adversity in Arizona was both unexpected and in some ways unprecedented.
Bruce Arians held his team together through a seemingly endless supply of injuries, which came after an offseason that saw the defection of linebacker Karlos Dansby and the full-season suspension of linebacker Daryl Washington. Most importantly, the Cardinals lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer, twice.
First, it was a dead nerve in his shoulder, which caused Palmer to miss more than a month. Second, it was a torn ACL that knocked him out for the year.
Then came a knee injury followed by an infection that shelved far-better-than-expected backup Drew Stanton, forcing the Cardinals to try to hold it together down the stretch with Ryan Lindley.
The end result was a one-game improvement over the team’s 10-6 finish in 2013, along with a playoff berth. And it’s Arians, who has a way of getting the most out of his players by expressing over-the-top confidence in their abilities and expecting that the next man up will get the job done, who deserves to be recognized as the NFL’s coach of the year.
Other finalists were Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Cast your vote below for the award, and share you views in the comments.