One of the more prestigious honors in the NFL is the Coach of the Year award. It goes to the head coach who does the best job of anyone else for a given season. Here are the top five names that deserve the honor.
#1 – Andy Reid – Kansas City Chiefs
Any man who can take a team that went 2-14 the previous year and turn things around to start the season 9-1 must look like a wizard. Indeed Any Reid worked some magic on what was a lost Kansas City Chiefs team. He traded for a quarterback Alex Smith to get more consistency and production out of the passing game and drafted Eric Fisher to bolster the offensive line. However, his greatest and most unsung move was hiring Bob Sutton to coach the Chiefs defense. Since his arrival the unit ranks 12th overall in the league but second in allowing points and pass rush. If the Chiefs make the postseason and win a playoff game it will be very hard to argue anybody other than Reid taking home the award.
#2 – Marc Trestman – Chicago Bears
Where Reid is lauded for his hot start, Marc Trestman deserves tons of credit for keeping a broken train on the tracks. Few teams have suffered a string of injuries like the Chicago Bears. No fewer than five day one starters including Jay Cutler, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are out with various ailments. Most first-year head coaches wouldn’t have been able to take that kind of loss and keep his team competitive. Yet Trestman has not only done that, but he has the Bears still in serious contention for the division title. Backup quarterback Josh McCown is playing some of the best football of his career, as is the entire Chicago offense that currently ranks ninth overall in the NFL. Their schedule ahead isn’t overly daunting. If Trestman can get this wounded team to the playoffs he is the only serious contender at the moment to Reid.
#3 – Sean Payton – New Orleans Saints
They call him the “Mad Scientist.” Indeed it’s a moniker well earned because Sean Payton has worked some experiments on the New Orleans Saints that many thought were crazy at the start of the 2013 season but have turned out to be exactly the right things. His biggest and most important move was hiring Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator to rebuild what was a historically bad Saints defense. The results are a unit that ranks fifth overall and fifth in points allowed. Their pass rush is the best in football while Payton has once again turned the New Orleans offense into a juggernaut. This team is on track to contend for home field advantage. If they succeed, it’s hard seeing anybody going into the Superdome and winning.
#4 – Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks
Every part of the success felt by the Seattle Seahawks is directly tied to the actions of Pete Carroll. The former college coach has turned the NFC West team into a Super Bowl front runner. He got Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo and turned him into a beast. Russell Wilson, once a height-challenged third round pick quarterback is playing like an MVP. A defense that couldn’t stop anybody four years ago is now stopping everybody. Seattle is 10-1 and comfortably in the lead for the division title. If they can maintain their momentum, getting home field advantage might very well guide them back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005. Carroll deserves every bit of the credit for those expectations.
#5 – Chip Kelly – Philadelphia Eagles
This fifth spot could have a number of choices but Chip Kelly deserves it the most because he’s done more with less. People forget he lost his second best receiver at the start of the season in Jeremy Maclin and dealt with inconsistency at the quarterback spot with Michael Vick. However, the Philadelphia Eagles seem to have adjusted under Kelly and his new quarterback Nick Foles. It hasn’t always looked pretty what with the Eagles defense ranking second worst in the NFL, but at 6-5 the team is leading the NFC East and could make the playoffs after going 4-12 the previous year.