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Regular readers know I am fascinating by the Coach of the Year award.  Here is what I wrote in the preseason:

But even if I wasn’t getting odds, I think I’m still going with Bill O’Brien this year.   Houston was good last year, but if Brock Osweiler hits, and Jadeveon Clowney turns into a star, O’Brien’s Texans will look very good. I think we’ll see O’Brien getting the bulk of the credit for any success in Houston this year, and he’s as good a choice as any.

Here were the Vegas odds entering week 17: not sure much has changed since then, although the Chiefs jumped the Raiders for the 2 seed, which I suppose has increased Reid’s odds and decreased Del Rio’s chances.

Jason Garrett – Dallas 1/2
Dan Quinn – Atlanta 4/1
Bill Belichick – New England 15/2
Jack Del Rio – Oakland 15/2
Andy Reid – Kansas City 15/2
Adam Gase – Miami 12/1

It feels like Garrett and Belichick are the frontrunners — you know, they happen to coach the #1 seeds in each conference — and I can certainly understand the support for Quinn and Reid, who coach the teams that grabbed the #2 seeds.  I still like O’Brien, and think you can spin an easy argument for him: the Texans finished 9-7 despite ranking 29th in DVOA!  Now maybe that’s because they were lucky, but they probably received some good coaching, too.  I think the harder part is that Houston’s offense was awful, and O’Brien is an offensive guy, so doesn’t he deserve some of the blame for that?

Not on the list, but Ben McAdoo seems like another guy who — despite the shortcomings on offense, which is his side of the ball — has done a nice job of getting his team to overachieve.  The Giants finished 11-5 and McAdoo was able to integrate a lot of new faces on defense very quickly. Mike Mularkey also did a good job of building a team in his image, although Tennessee’s pitiful 2-4 record in the division makes it tough.

Who would you vote for? Who do you think will win the award?

  • Adam

    I would vote for Belichick almost every year, and definitely this year. Winning a game 27-0 with a third string QB making his first start? Only Darth Hoodie could pull that off.

    As far as who will win it, I’ll go with Garrett, mostly because the Cowboys receive more national attention than any other team, and their ubiquitous prime time games have kept Garrett it in the spotlight all season.

    • Belichick also pulled his patented move of cutting/trading one of the team’s top players and somehow making his team better as a result. If you are a GM of one of the other 31 teams, should you just make a rule that you never trade with the Patriots? Even when a team “wins” a trade against the Patriots (Chandler Jones was quite good for the Cardinals), they lose (the Cardinals were lousy this year, they lost their second-round selection, and Jones is now an unrestricted free agent).

      I’m with you about him winning Coach of the Year every season, his knack for putting the right player in the right position to help his team win week in and week out, seems to be an order of magnitude ahead of every other head coach in the league. It would be a joy to watch, if I didn’t find him such a noxious personality.

      • Adam

        Oh man, I totally forgot about the Jamie Collins trade. Belichick really seems to be a step ahead of the rest of the league in everything he does. It might be time to officially crown him the GOAT head coach.

        • In my football lifetime (Bill Walsh era 49ers to present), he’s my pick for greatest coach, and it’s not even close. I don’t know enough about the guys before this like Lombardi to have an opinion on GOAT. I would need to do some research.

          • sacramento gold miners

            Belichick is a great one, and has the disadvantage of dealing with free agency, along with other distractions head coaches of the past didn’t have to worry about. However, other coaching legends reached playoffs with more than one QB(on their primary team), and it was Walsh who identified and stole Steve Young from the Bucs. Walsh, Noll, Shula, Landry, and Lombardi also walked into worse situations than what Belichick did in New England.

            Not sure Belichick has anywhere close to the same level of success without Tom Brady. I think the Pats would have been one and out in the playoffs with the likes of Matt Cassel, etc.

            • WR

              A great assessment, gold miners. I’ve been following the Patriots closely since long before Belichick showed up, and I completely agree.

            • eag97a

              Agree. Gibbs also coached the Redskins to 3 SBs with different qbs. Another underrated coach.

              • sacramento gold miners

                My error in not including Gibbs in the pantheon of great coaches. Although Chuck Noll didn’t return to the SB in the 80s, he reached the 1984 AFC TG with Mark Malone at the helm.

        • John

          How can he be the GOAT head coach if his career was a failure till literally the moment Tom Brady became th starting qb?

          Don’t tell me no one can win in Cleveland because Marty won there literally not a few years before bill came. He was 17 games over 500 and went to two AFC title games.

          Parcels went to the Super Bowl with the patriots with the same qb that that belichick was 5-13 with as a starter in Bledsoe.

          Is he in the conversation? Absolutely is it a slam dunk hell no. That’s a hole in his resume

          • Richie

            I’m not sure that his Cleveland tenure can be classified a failure. He took over a 3-13 team. In his fourth year, the team went 11-5 and won a playoff game. And of course this was with guys like Testaverde, Hoard, Metcalfe, Derrick Alexander, etc. It kind of reminds me of the supporting pieces that the Patriots usually have.

            The following year, the team started 3-1, but collapsed the rest of the way as rumors about the team leaving Cleveland started flying. I don’t think moving the team was entirely responsible for the collapse, but I’m sure it didn’t help.

            I’m no expert on that team, but it looked like a team that was trending up four the first 4 years he was there.

            • WR

              I agree with your take on Belichick’s tenure in Cleveland, which is underrated. But there’s no disputing that in his first year in New England, he went 5-11 with Drew Bledsoe at QB, and went 0-2 with Bledsoe starting the first 2 games of 2001.

            • The year before Belichick arrived in Cleveland, 1990, the Browns had a -232 point differential. In his first season, it was -5. Now I’m wondering where that 227-point improvement ranks for a first-year coach. May well be the record.

              • Richie

                Tony Sparano, of all people, had a 198-point improvement.

                • Richie

                  Jim Harbaugh 192.

            • John

              Even if you don’t consider it a “failure” it was not exactly a success. Other coaches have gone to teams comparable or worst and turned them around. I would expect the “GOAT” to do the same.

              Let’s say for the sake of argument we’re going to give BB a “pass” for the browns years, how the hell do we explain the patriots 2000 season going 5-11 in his first season? Presumably after him learning from the time with the browns in his first go around coaching?

              • WR

                You’ve got to understand, John, that the people you’re debating here operate within a paradigm that says
                1. Brady and his contributions are overrated
                and, most importantly,
                2. Brady will never be the equal of Peyton Manning, no matter what he achieves

                Once you understand that paradigm, it explains why, in this case, they’re desperate to maximize the value attributed to Belichick.

          • Adam

            Belichick’s career in Cleveland was most certainly NOT a failure. The Browns improved dramatically under his watch, and he remains the last HC to win a playoff game in Cleveland. The team collapsed in 1995 after a 3-1 when Art Modell announced he was moving the team, but that’s not on Belichick.

            Do you really think the 2000 Patriots had a roster equal to the 1996 SB team? Come on, that’s just disingenuous. Belichick was stuck with the players left behind by Carroll, but once he brought in the players he wanted, NE became a powerhouse.

            • John

              1.)36-44 with one playoff win is a failure anyway you slice it or try to dress it up. Many people consider Rex Ryan’s tenure with NYJ a failure and he went to back to back AFC championship games with mark Sanchez something BB has never come close to doing with Brady in the lineup.

              2.) The players on the patriots pre belichick were instrumental to that first superbowl win. Guys like Ty law, Willie mcginnest, bruschi, Adam Vinetari, lawyer milloy. Let’s not act like the cupboard was bare and BB inherited an expansion team here. They were mediocre with Carroll and were straight up terrible with BB in 00 and 01 till literally the moment Brady became the starter.(5-13)

              • Adam

                The Browns were a dumpster fire in 1990 before Belichick arrived, but he quickly turned them into a successful team. I guess Jimmie Johnson’s first couple years in Dallas prove that he was a failure, right?

                The Patriots were not a great team in 2001 or 2002, even though they won the SB in `01. They did not become great “literally the minute Brady became QB”. The dominant Patriots, as we know them today, didn’t really begin until 2003. BTW, the 2002 team with Brady was significantly worse on offense than the 2008 team with Cassel, so you can’t give Brady credit for everything.

                • John

                  The 2008 team on offense was light years talent wise compared to 2002. I can’t believe you wild make that comparison lol.

                  Randy moss wes welker and a dominant o line with multiple all pros.

                  • Adam

                    “The 2008 team on offense was light years talent wise compared to 2002. I can’t believe you would make that comparison lol.”

                    And how do you think the 2008 team acquired this vastly superior talent? Bill Belichick’s drafting, trades, free agent signings, and player development, that’s how.

          • “How can he be the GOAT head coach if his career was a failure till literally the moment Tom Brady became th starting qb?”

            This is a very unconvincing rebuttal for several reasons:
            (1) As others have pointed out his stint in Cleveland wasn’t a failure
            (2) Even if it was, so what? Maybe that failure helped him improve and become the GOAT
            (3) He is the one who made Brady the starting QB, even after Bledsoe was healthy! How is having the football savvy to recognize Brady’s potential greatness a knock against him?
            (4) You left out the part that he is 14-6 without Brady since he became the starter (with an extra playoff win if you count the 2001 AFC Championship Game when Brady missed over half the game).

            • John

              1.) under 500 with one playoff win is a failure
              2.)So what? When judging the GOAT in any aspect all their career counts, not just the time they had a top 5 qb of all time.
              3.) he started Brady because Bledsoe was hurt them rode the hot hand. I’m not giving him credit for that
              4.)he’s still under 500 without Brady with one playoff win.

              I need to see BB do something of signinficsnt without Brady as his starting qb and no, regular season wins against the Brock osweiler led Texans is not significant.

              I’m talking about deep playoff runs

              • Richie

                1) I disagree. Context is important. Sometimes that may be a failure performance, and sometimes not.

                • Adam

                  Exactly. If the next 49ers coach only wins five games in 2017, will he be considered a failure?

              • Adam

                And Brady has 0 playoff wins with out Belichick. The causation arrow goes both directions.

                • eag97a

                  That is a bit of a fallacy. BB has coached professional football w/o Brady while Brady has never played professional football w/o BB. So the causation arrow does not in fact point both ways in one sense.

                • John

                  We’ve never seen Brady without BB But we’ve seen a significant sample size of BB without Brady and it’s not pretty. Under 500 career record with one playoff win

  • Adam

    Remember when Mike Zimmer was considered a near lock after week 5? That seems ridiculous in retrospect, especially after the mutiny attempt by his DB’s.

    After five weeks, Adam Gase looked like he was in over his head with a bad 1-4 Miami team. Now he’s on the short list for COTY. My how quickly things change in the NFL!

  • Mike


    Can you do an article on whether the Raiders/Texans game will have the fewest combined starts for the two starting QB’s in playoff history? It’s possible that the Savage-Cook combo started fewer games in a season than any playoff match. Also, it could look at the fewest career starts before a playoff matchup which I’m sure Savage-Cook have locked up. They have a combined 2 career starts and 113 pass attempts between them.

    • I think Osweiler is going to start.

      • Mike

        That doesn’t change much. Osweiler and Cook have a combined 14 starts between them this season and just 23 career starts. 23 starts is probably one of the lower playoff matchups in history.

  • Richie

    I don’t see why Garrett should be considered. The Cowboys were bad last year. This year they added Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (both ROY and MVP candidates) and suddenly the offense is much better. Surprise!

    It looks like they are a little better at run defense compared to last year. Though I wonder how much of that is due to the Cowboys usually being ahead in games. And Garrett is an offensive coordinator, so not sure how responsible he is for that improvement anyway.

  • I picked Del Rio, Belichick second. I don’t have a good sense for who’s likely to win this year, but the odds on Garrett seem optimistic.

  • Topher Doll

    Reid gets my vote this year for his consistency in winning despite injuries and inconsistency of play from key players. Belichick is second but there are a lot of viable Coach of the Year options, hard to go wrong with most of these guys.

  • John

    Also chase I’m very interested in your opinion on the free agency/salary cap argument people use for the patriots/belichick success. People always say “well it’s so much harder be a consistent great team in this era because of those two things” and that’s why BB should get more credit than other HC’s from the past

    It’s true that it’s harder to keep together a team due to the cap but you could also make the argument that it helps them because their competition isn’t as good as teams from the past(70’s,80’s,90′)?

    Let’s be honest for a second, How many truly great teams have the patriots beaten in the playoffs over the last 15 years? The only ones of the top of my head are the 01 Rams,14 Hawks, 06 Chargers and 04 Steelers that won 15 games. The AFC playoff field is a joke this year.