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

job, coach.

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.