Harbaugh brothers among Pick 6 for coach of year
Picking the NFL’s coach of the year might not be so easy – even
with Mike McCarthy on the verge of guiding the Green Bay Packers to
a perfect season.
History says McCarthy wins if the Packers don’t lose. Don Shula
of the 1972 Dolphins and Bill Belichick of the 2007 Patriots won
the award following unbeaten regular seasons.
But with three games to go, and many playoff berths still up for
grabs, we can only be certain that Jack Del Rio, Todd Haley and
Tony Sparano are out of the running after being fired.
Taking it a step further, we can also eliminate Jim Caldwell of
the winless Colts, Steve Spagnuolo of the Rams, Leslie Frazier of
the Vikings and Raheem Morris of the Buccaneers, among others.
Speaking of others, Andy Reid of the Eagles won’t make this Pick
Six of top contenders – even though his team still has a chance to
win the NFC East, believe it or not.
Mike McCarthy, Packers: It might be too tough to overlook
McCarthy if the Packers sweep the Chiefs, Bears and Lions and
finish 16-0. Even with a defense that ranks 31st in yards allowed
and a bunch of injuries, Aaron Rodgers and Co. have been able to
produce enough points to win `em all. And after all, as one former
Packers coach said, ”Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only
Gary Kubiak, Texans: Think you could motivate your team to keep
winning as all your best players (Andre Johnson, Mario Williams,
Matt Schaub to name a few) are going down for the count? Three
cheers for Kubiak for trusting third-stringer T.J. Yates to lead
Houston to its first playoff berth and first division title. And by
the way, just hiring Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator should
be enough to earn Kubiak votes. Of course, now Phillips is
sidelined for a while after kidney surgery.
Jim Harbaugh, 49ers: He’s already earned rookie coach of the
year in our book (is there such an award?), but this slap-happy
first-year NFL coach has been wildly successful. He convinced his
players that Alex Smith was indeed a quarterback capable of leading
them to the playoffs. So what happens? The Niners roll to the NFC
West title with a fierce defense and good enough offense and are in
the postseason for the first time since 2002.
John Harbaugh, Ravens: Just beating the Steelers twice makes him
coach of the year material. Plus, he came out on top in the
Thanksgiving brother vs. brother matchup and also managed to guide
his team to four straight wins without defensive monster Ray Lewis
in the lineup. Having the versatile, dependable Ray Rice in the
backfield helps, too. So does having quarterback chaser Terrell
John Fox, Broncos: If he wins, surely he’ll be accepting on
behalf of Tim Tebow. After all, hasn’t Tebow – not Fox – guided
Denver to the top of the AFC West after taking over at QB for Kyle
Orton? Neither Fox nor Broncos football chief John Elway are huge
fans of Tebow’s unorthodox ways. But who can argue with seven wins
in the last eight games? Certainly not Fox, who seems as amused as
all of us while he watches – and smiles – from the sideline. Great
Ron Rivera, Panthers: The coach of a losing team has virtually
no shot, but Rivera deserves big-time credit. He’s taken a rookie
QB – we know, it’s virtual Offensive Rookie of the Year lock Cam
Newton – and created a winning spirit that falls a tad short. Six
of Carolina’s nine losses have been by seven points or less, and
the Panthers were either tied or in the lead in the fourth quarter
of six losses.