NFL Coach of the Year Candidates for 2008
There are plenty of teams that have done something with nothing. Some teams have lost franchise players, others have had a horrible season thus far. Simply put, there are many NFL coaches who have worked wonders for their teams this season.
Teams that were once projected to finish last in the NFL are now clenching playoff berths. Surprisingly, many of these head coaches are first timers.
However, many have been coaching for years and are finally becoming winners. Let's take a look at some of the coaches I believe should be candidates for Coach of the Year.
So what if the Ravens have always had an great defense. They had one with Bill Billick, and we see where that went. Honestly, if someone had told me that a guy who use to be a special-teams coach for nine years was going to take over in Baltimore, I would have laughed.
It's not that I wouldn't believe in him, but quite frankly, most head coaches are NFL coordinators first. Harbaugh was none of the above. But look at what he has done.
He has a star in the making with Joe Flacco, and a hard-nose defense that refuses to lay down. He has taken a 5-11 team to a dangerous 10-5 record. If John Harbaugh doesn't get considered for Coach of the Year, then there is a problem. A big one.
A rookie coach and rookie QB having success together is nearly unheard of. Believe it or not, Harbaugh will be THE guy in Baltimore for a very long time.
Take away Michael Vick. Fine. Take away Pro Bowl players like DeAngelo Hall and Alge Crumpler. Fine. While we're at it, let former NFL head coach Bobby Petrino walk out on his team, leaving "good-bye notes" on the players lockers...all before the end of the season.
Now, insert rookie GM Thomas Dimitroff, former defensive coordinator Mike Smith, and rookie QB Matt Ryan, and what do you get? A playoff team. From here to Timbuktu, the Atlanta Falcons were selected to finish 32nd in the NFL this year.
Mike Smith had his players buy into his system. He constantly preached that there was a "process" they were going about. He told his players, "Why not us?" Why not the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs?
Why not the Atlanta Falcons going all the way? Well, with such a dramatic turnaround to a seemingly losing franchise, Mike Smith has given the Falcons one thing they haven't had in a very long time: hope. The question now appears to be, "Why not Mike Smith?"
Who would have thunk it? Last year, the Titans finished 10-6, losing to the Chargers in the wild-card game. Fisher has to be the epitome of "moving forward." Each year, they get better and better.
I look at this team and wonder, "Where did all of these good players come from?" Fisher has made it a priority to build through the draft. They give up Adam "Pacman" Jones and many feel their defensive backfield will suffer.
Insert Cortland Finnegan. Wait, who is he? He's a seventh-round draft pick selected by the Titians in 2006. This isn't anything new to the Titians. They have always built around the draft, which explains their success.
Fisher has played a huge role in shaping his team. He keeps them motivated and playing hard every down. At press conferences after games, I can't help but chuckle. This guy seems so relaxed and somewhat dull.
However, behind the scenes he is a motivator, a doer, and a taskmaster. If this team continues to feed off of his energy, it will be a long post season for whomever steps in their way.
Jeff Fisher should be considered for Coach of the Year because he has built a team from the inside out. He deserves nothing but praise as his team moves soundly into the playoffs.
"I just want it to be over", was probably the theme for the Miami Dolphins' 2007 season. The team only won one game last year. There were rumors that the team was being sold and in the mist of another horrific season.
So why in the world are the Dolphins heading for the playoffs? Well, after bringing in the new Executive Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells, many knew it wouldn't be long before this team became good. Isn't that what you usually get when your team obtains a football guy like Parcells?
But, many did not expect this big of a turnaround. When Tony Sparano was hired, many wondered who this guy was. Well, apparently this guy isn't who we thought he was. He has become the main reason this team has played with intensity and heart.
He is taking a team that only won one game to the playoffs. He inherited a QB that many claimed was a bust with the Jets. He has developed a winning team. A team that now has confidence that was not established last season.
This team is now competing and with Sparano leading the way, it will only get better. Indeed, with every passing week, he is proving why he is a worthy candidate for the Coach of the Year award.
Honorable Mention: Mike Singletary
Say what you want about Mike Singletary, but he certainly motivates men. Currently, he has a 4-4 record, serving as an interim head coach. He has won over a locker room that Mike Nolan evidently lost.
If you watch a San Francisco game now, you won't see a team that lays down because their playoff dreams are crushed. You will see a team that plays every down like its their last. You will see a young QB name Shaun Hill making gutsy plays.
Yes, the 49ers have a long way to go, but with Singletary behind the wheel, can it be that bad? Actually, it could be a great thing. The players are supposedly now rallying to keep Singletary as Head Coach.
Mind you, this is after he dropped his pants and displayed his rear end at halftime. This is after telling his most talented tight end to "hit the showers."
Yes, this is even after stating that he wanted to choke his QB after a game against the Rams. The players see something in Singletary that many cannot. They see his desire to win.
This desire has become contagious around the San Francisco locker room. If the 49ers finish their season out strong, it will be hard not to bring Singletary back as head coach. He may not win Coach of the Year, but he has definitely won over a locker room in San Francisco.