Ken Whisenhunt Deserved Honorable Mention for NFL Coach of the Year

Ron JohnsonSenior Writer IJanuary 19, 2009

As I moved around the Internet and jumped through a few hoops, I saw something astounding. I went to and saw the nominees for this year's NFL Coach of the Year.

I saw that Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was omitted as a nominee. Even though his team won the NFC West Crown...and had a strong finish in the playoffs...and defeated the heavily favored Carolina Panthers in Charlotte...and are going to their first Super Bowl in franchise history, their coach is not nominated for the Coach of the Year honors.

And then there's the other nominees.


Tom Coughlin, New York Giants

Coughlin's job was on the line last season, and what does he do? He goes out and makes it to the Super Bowl. He defeats the undefeated New England Patriots and wins the Super Bowl in the process. His reward: A contract extension and a clumsy receiver on top of that.

But does Coughlin deserve Coach of the Year honors? Probably. His team did finish with an impressive record at the end of the season. They did win the NFC East. They clinched Home Field and a First Round Bye in this year's playoffs. But they lost to Philadelphia twice this year, including the 23-11 loss in the playoffs.

A good record doesn't get you there. Maybe if they gave it to him last year, it would make sense...but this year, there are others who are more deserving of the award.


Jeff Fisher, Tennessee Titans

Fisher has been here before. His Titans were the powerhouse of the year without question. The Titans almost finished undefeated this season until a late season collapse caused them to lose a couple of games. But the Titans finished strong, clinched the NFC South, Home Field Advantage and a First Round Bye.

But they lost to the Ravens at home last weekend. The Titans once again came up short of their goal of making it to the Super Bowl and had to settle for the accomplishments of a season that had so much promise but came up short.

Still, it's a pretty impressive finish for a team that plays in the same conference as the mighty Indianapolis Colts. But still, winning the Super Bowl would have increased his chances of winning Coach of the Year honors.


John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

If anyone on this list deserves the honor of being coach of the year, John Harbaugh has a huge chance of being just that.

He was one of many rookie coaches this season...but he was the only rookie coach who survived the toughest two weeks in the postseason. The Ravens revamped their offense and resurrected their defense. The Black Birds continued their rampage when they came up just shy of winning another trip to the Super Bowl.

Despite coming up one game short, Harbaugh's faith in his rookie quarterback and faith in his aging defense paid off as the Ravens were one step away from going to their second Super Bowl this decade.


Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Smith was one of those rookie coaches who was brought into a dismal situation and made it just as good as the old years of Atlanta Falcons football.

Less than a year after losing both Michael Vick and their coward head coach, the Falcons started rebuilding their organization. They went out and got Smith to lead them onto the field...and Matt Ryan to lead them into battle. The result: An impressive season filled with postseason dreams and forgotten thoughts of The Fighting Dog Whisperer and that Chickensh*t in Arkansas right now.

Despite losing to future NFC Champion Arizona in the Wild Card round, Smith proved that there is life after Vick. But will he feel that same way when Vick serves the remainder of his prison sentence and returns to the NFL? Either way, Smith garners some votes...but maybe not enough to get him the award.


Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins

Sparano was brought in from Dallas to get the Dolphins past that beyond mediocre season of 2007. He didn't disappoint his new boss, Bill Parcells.

The Dolphins made history by going from 1-15 to playoff bound in a single season. Whether it was the play of discarded Field General Chad Pennington, the resurrection of Longhorn Sensation Ricky Williams or the arrival of Smashmouth Chief Tony Sparano, the 'Fins not only managed to clinch a playoff berth a year after finishing dead last in the AFC East, but also win the AFC East and keep New England out of the playoffs.

Still, they had a lot to prove and lost to the Ravens in the opening round of the postseason. But for a rookie head coach, you have to give credit where credit's due. Sparano earns some votes...but is he worthy of Coach of the Year honors?


Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin is in his second season as head coach of the Steelers. But after finishing almost big this season, he wanted more. So did his team deliver when the coach wanted them to? You be the judge.

The Steelers won the AFC North division, took out the Cinderella story known as San Diego and are now heading to their second Super Bowl in four years. But they're doing this with a head coach...only in his second season. Despite being plagued with injuries this season, the Steelers continued their dominance and are now poised to clinch their second Super Bowl Championship in four years, and first under Tomlin.

But does this give Tomlin Coach of the Year honors? For the Steelers fans, the answer is yes, but for everyone else...we're not sure about that.

So, I pose this question to you, the Bleacher Report Nation. Do any of these men deserve to be named Coach of the Year? And if not, who does? NFL's voting ends Wednesday, but our voting won't end until the fat lady (aka my ex) sings.