If you consider Wikipedia the resident authority (which is often a requirement for this one-man-band), the AP Coach of the Year award is bestowed upon the NFL head coach who “has done the most outstanding job of working with the talent he has at his disposal.” Now, as with most subjective sports awards, one could argue ad nauseam about whether these former winners walked home with the award based on that description or simply their team’s final record. That said, let’s take that brief as gospel. If I was pondering folks to consider for this award, my own list would be lengthy. Tell me you couldn’t make a case for any of the folks below:The Super Sophs – Spagnuolo & Haley
Call me the sucker, but in terms of comeback stories the Chiefs and Rams are pretty compelling. The Lambs, losers of 15 games last year, are a win away from making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback, a group of no-name receivers and a defense full of former Giants castoffs…oh yes, and a second-year head coach. Sure, Spagnuolo’s team is 7-8 in a putrid NFC West. But if you told me this summer that St. Louis would sniff .500 and the playoffs, I’d have had you committed.
In a not too dissimilar scenario (although with admittedly a ton of young talent), Todd Haley has engineered the greatest one-year turnaround in Kansas City Chiefs history. The Chefs have already won the division and earned a home playoff game at Arrowhead, where they are undefeated (7-0) in 2010. Haley sees your second-year success Mr. Spagnuolo and raises you…
The Silent Assassin – Smith
Like his team, you don’t hear a lot about Mike Smith. Yet, the 2008 Coach of the Year has the Falcons soaring again. Tied for the best record in football. Flawless at home. The spotlight will be on the Falcons Monday night as the Saints march into town. Meanwhile, it’d be hard to critique a vote cast for Coach Smith again in 10.
The Old Vets – Belichick and Reid
Reid and Belichick. The second and third longest-tenured sideline chiefs in the biz in New England and Philly. Each has cranked out consistent winners over a long stretch, with Belichick’s rings being the major difference. They’ve both done it again this year. In New England, they’re back on an annihilation run reminiscent of the 2007 regular season. A re-tooled defense, one of the youngest rosters in football…and, yes, Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch and Wes Welker just torturing folks. Just moving round the pieces…
For the Eagles, Reid took a giant question mark and turned it into an exclamation point. That goes for the team, his job and that position behind the center. The unknown was supposed to be just that…but at least the person was supposed to be identified…Kevin Kolb, of course. Instead, after waffling a bit, Reid made his choice and one could argue that Vick and the Eagles, if not the best, are the most dangerous team in the NFC.
Back to Glory? Lovie and Tomlin
And last but not least…what about these guys? There were whispers coming into the season that Lovie’s seat was hot. Like, piping. Toasty as toasty can be. But with seven wins in their last eight, an 11-4 mark, a division title in sight and a playing-to-potential Jay Cutler, some don’t think it’s crazy to talk about Lovie winning the award he claimed in 2005.
No, I haven’t forgotten about Mr. Tomlin either. Me? Never. Iron Mike has againsimply guided the Still-ers to the postseason. Suspensions to your star quarterback? Your defensive MVP used as a posterboy for a new rule bonanza? Injuries to your studs? No matter. Tomlin’s demeanor permeates this team, and they soldier on through. You certainly wouldn’t hear anything from me if Omar snagged a few votes.
Regardless of which way you’re leaning, the race is intriguing. I’ll be interested to see who the powers-that-be deem most worthy come mid-January.
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About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.