PREDICTING THE NFL’s COACH OF THE YEAR
Recently, the NFL’s Coach of the Year Award has been reserved for a first-year coach that not only exceeded the expectations for his team, but got them to the playoffs. Historically that’s not been the case.
The new guys that won it, Kevin Stefanski last year, Matt Nagy in 2018 and Sean McVay in 2017 were all first year guys, but you have to go back to 2012 for the last time a rookie head man took the title when Bruce Arians, then the offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts who stepped in for head coach Chuck Pagano after a leukemia diagnosis, took the checkered flag.
Since 2010, five first year men have won and six vets have hoisted the hardware. There’s really no way to predict which will pay off, but what we can do is look at each man, and his team, to see if some of the ground work has been laid to land an NFL Coach of the Year nod.
Brian Flores +700
Ron Rivera +750
Arthur Smith +900
Brandon Staley +1400
Bill Belichick +1600
Urban Meyer +1600
Sean McVay +1800
Kevin Stefanski +1800
Sean McDermott +1800
Bruce Arians +2000
Kyle Shanahan +2000
Robert Saleh +2000
John Harbaugh +2200
Frank Reich +2200
Joe Judge +2200
Matt Rhule +2200
Zac Taylor +2200
Andy Reid +2500
Matt LaFleur +2500
Sean Payton +2500
Mike McCarthy +2500
Pete Carroll +2800
Kliff Kingsbury +2800
Nick Sirianni +2800
Matt Nagy +3300
Mike Tomlin +3300
Mike Zimmer +3300
Mike Vrabel +3300
Jon Gruden +3300
Vic Fangio +3300
Dan Campbell +5000
David Culley +5000
First off, we can go ahead and knock a few of these guys off our list immediately. You have to take into an account that this is a regular season award, one voted on before the playoffs begin. A guy like Matt LeFleur (+2500) of the Green Bay Packers is 26-6 in two seasons. That’s two 13-3 records and he didn’t win it. I’m not sure what he could do to claim it, in the regular season, at this point. He literally has the best winning percentage in the league and the best first two head coaching seasons in NFL history. If it ain’t happened yet, it’s not going to happen this year.
I’m going to go ahead and “X” through Andy Reid (+2500) too. Two straight Super Bowls and the favorite again, while he’s a great head coach and a first ballot Hall of Famer, winning the AFC West once more and even winning 14-15 games won’t be enough to land him this trophy this season.
You can make similar arguments against John Harbaugh (+2200), Bruce Arians (+2000), Pete Carroll (+2800) and Sean McDermott (+1800). They’re all established guys right now, all coaching teams expected to be in the postseason. What could they do to stand out?
Now, there are three established guys coaching predicted playoff teams that could take it. Sean McVay (+1800), Mike Vrabel (+3300) and Frank Reich (+2200). All made some big trades (The Rams shipping Jared Goff and picks to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, the Tennessee Titans swapping picks for Atlanta Falcon wide receiver Julio Jones and the Indianapolis Colts doing the same with the Philadelphia Eagles for Carson Wentz) this offseason and if they pay off in the regular season, say 13-14 wins, that could put any of these guys in contention. The Colts, especially with Wentz’s new foot injury, don’t look likely to get there. The Rams and Titans absolutely could.
Any new head coach a danger to win it? It’s not hard to see it happening. Brandon Staley (+1400), former defensive coordinator of the Rams, is stepping into almost the same situation his old boss did with the Rams a few years ago, taking over a loaded Los Angeles Chargers roster. No one would be shocked to see the Chargers win 10-11 games this season and make the Wild Card. Most of us are predicting it.
The next best new coach option? The Falcons’ Arthur Smith (+900). The books like him a little better than Staley. He’s definitely inherited a ton of talent and a veteran, former MVP quarterback in Matt Ryan. With a Wild Card spot up for grabs because of the retirement o the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees, he could sneak in there if he gets his team to double digit victories.
Robert Saleh (+2000) of the New York Jets, Urban Meyer of the Jacksonville Jaguars (+1600) and Nick Sirianni (+2800) of the Philadelphia Eagles just don’t have the rosters to seriously contend. David Culley (+5000) of the Houston Texans is more likely to be fired at the end of the season than win Coach of the Year.
Speaking of the Saints, don’t sleep on Sean Payton (+2500). With Brees gone, no one is expecting a whole lot out of New Orleans which is a recipe for an award if they can win the division or even make the Wild Card.
Your favorite, according to the odds, is Brian Flores (+700) because his team, the Miami Dolphins, nearly made the playoffs last year. Honestly I think that works against him.
The best dark horse candidate is probably Vic Fangio (+3300). That’s a playoff roster in most NFL divisions, so he could put together a winning campaign. Kliff Kingsbury (+2800), Zac Taylor (+2200) and Joe Judge (+2200) would could all lay a claim to the award if they got their squads to the postseason.
But what’s the best bet? I like Staley a lot, but I’ll tell you who I like just as much; Bill Belichick (+1600). He took a hit last year, watching his own team crumble while the quarterback he made no effort to keep took another team to the Super Bowl and won it. If Belichick can get the New England Patriots back into the mix, win 11-12 games, the voters would be dying to give CotY to him.
The NFL season begins on Thursday, Sep. 9 and the Week 1 Schedule is already up and taking bets at BetOnline.AG.