A new year brings out a new NFL award, this time to recognize the contributions of assistant coaches. Who are some early favorites?
Darrel Bevell and Dan Quinn – Seattle Seahawks coordinators
Part of the reason the Seattle Seahawks were so good last season is because they have an outstanding coaching staff. Yes, Pete Carroll runs the show but he wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl without coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn. Bevell orchastrated a perfectly balanced offensive attack keyed by Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch that operated like a machine, not always pretty but masterfully efficient. Quinn simply fielded the #1 overall defense and shut down the best offense in history.
Adam Gase – Denver Broncos offensive coordinator
Speaking of that offense, Adam Gase certainly has nightmares about what happened to his Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl but he isn’t dwelling on it. Peyton Manning gets most of the credit for the units’ success but it is Gase, with his ability to both discipline and show compassion with his players as well as dissect how to attack defenses, it was no surprise Denver was as explosive as it was in 2013 and should be again in 2014.
Dick LeBeau – Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator
He should be the inaugural winner of the award. No coordinator has withstood the shifting tides of coaching staffs and had success like Dick LeBeau. He’s been doing it for two decades now and the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t imagine life without him. Of late the defense has struggles due to key players getting older and young ones trying to come in. Still, LeBeau has adjusted before so don’t be surprised if he puts yet another unit near the top of the NFL.
Mel Tucker – Chicago Bears defensive coordinator
After finishing 30th overall in 2013, it’s easy to laugh at considering Chicago Bears defensive coordinator a hopeful for the honor. However, if time proves anything in this league it’s that favorites to win such awards are often ousted by those who pull off major turnarounds. Andy Reid won Head Coach of the Year when he took the Chiefs from 2-14 to the playoffs. Tucker has almost a completely remade roster in front of him including a promising pass rush led by Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff and Willie Young. If he can put the pieces in the right place, he could return the Bears to respectability.
Norv Turner – Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator
He’s under a head coach who will put his primary focus on the defense, so Norv Turner will have complete autonomy on the Minnesota Vikings offense. He has to like what he sees from star running back Adrian Peterson, to promising young pass catchers like tight end Kyle Rudolphi to wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. If Turner can elevate the play at the quarterback position, either with Matt Cassel or rookie Teddy Bridgewater he has a chance to get Minnesota back on the right track and himself on the upswing towards another head coaching job.