In what purely turned out to be a vote between Philadelphia Eagles’ fans and Philadelphia Eagles’ detractors, Chip Kelly edged out Andy Reid to win the NFL Live Coach of The Year yesterday afternoon. Voting only lasted for ten minutes, as it was only a segment of the show, so the award comes with an asterisk. At the same time, Kelly’s success in his rookie season in the NFL, is not only being recognized in the Philadelphia area, but also across the country. Kelly edged out Reid, Ron Rivera, and Bill Belichick, to win the fictional award.
Even though we are still eight days away from the highly promoted, and likely boring, 3rd Annual NFL Honors show hosted by Alec Baldwin (sorry), it isn’t too early to look at my coach of the year ballot, and make predictions on who the Football Writers of America (who will actually decide who wins the award) will select as the 2013 coach of the year.
To be honest, my vote wouldn’t have gone to either Kelly or Reid, but rather former Eagles’ assistant and current Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera. Rivera managed to keep his job after a rough 2012 season, and appeared to be destined to be the first head coach fired in the 2013 season, after a 1-3 start. Instead, behind his dominant defense, Rivera’s Panthers rattled off wins in 11 of their last 12 games, to win the NFC South title.
I would have even had Bill Belichick above both as well, because of what he was able to do with a Patriots team that lost Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez in the offseason (obviously under completely different circumstances), and was without tight-end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, and linebacker Brandon Spikes for a majority of the season. Even with all that taken into account, Belichick recreated the Patriots into a smash-mouth team lead by castoff running-back LaGarrette Blount, while still utilizing Tom Brady very successfully. Belichick, with the exception of the 2000-01 Superbowl season, had his best coaching year in 2013, which should NOT be discounted because of his past success.
Kelly would come in third on my list, and him not being number one doesn’t discount the fact that I think he is a better coach than Ron Rivera and did an incredible job with Nick Foles in the first season of his NFL tenure.
I’m not Andy Reid’s biggest supporter, and I will be the first to tell you that. However, I will also be the first to tell you that I have tremendous respect for what Reid did in his time in Philly and believe he is the best coach in team history. I just don’t understand why we are giving an offensive coach so much credit for leading a team largely propelled by an elite defense and a tremendous special teams unit. It isn’t that Reid didn’t help Alex Smith revive his career or continue Jamaal Charles elevation as one of the top five offensive weapons in the league, but I don’t think he did anything next level like the first three did.
Rivera turned a team that was left for dead into an elite team in the NFC, and he is a defensive coach, therefore he gets some credit for the Panthers scary defense that led them to the playoffs. (The media would lead you to believe that Cam Newton singularly went Superman and led them to the playoffs, when in reality Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Greg Hardy were bigger reasons for the Panthers turnaround).
Belichick helped steer a team that had injuries to key players on both sides of the ball, to their third straight AFC Title game. I don’t care how many times that the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have won the AFC East and beyond, the rest of the faces have changed, and “the hoodie” deserves a majority of the credit for that.
Kelly checks in third for me, but Reid misses out on fourth.
I think Arizona Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians didn’t walk into a team a few years removed from a playoff birth that had only really struggled because of injuries to key players, like Reid did. Instead, he walked into a team that had been on a spiraling downfall since the retirement of Kurt Warner and revived the offense, all while bringing Carson Palmer back from the quarterback ICU. I don’t think that he was far and away better than Reid in 2013, but the fact that Arians’ Cardinals played a tougher schedule, and actually had three wins over teams that went on to have winning records, while the Chiefs only had one win over a team that happened to end up with a winning record (the Eagles), gives him a slight edge.
I think Reid did bring a culture change to Kansas City, but so did Kelly and Arians in their first head coaching seasons. Heck, even in his third year, Ron Rivera was able to keep players behind him even when things looked bleak at best. And Bill Belichick might not have changed the Patriots’ culture, but considering the players that the Pats lost, he put his players in position to still be successful. So why do we only give Reid credit for “bringing a culture change”?
Remember, my opinion means absolutely nothing. I don’t get a vote for the NFL Honors, but I’ve probably done more research and watched more games across the league than most of the people voting, but who’s counting? All I’m saying is that I feel I have a more informed opinion on the topic, than people who just singularly look at at a team’s win/loss turnaround, without digging deeper.
My best guess is that the balloting ends up like the list on the left, but my ballot would look like the one on the right.
Predicted NFL Honors Ballot My Ballot
1. Ron Rivera 1. Ron Rivera
2. Andy Reid 2. Bill Belichick
3. Chip Kelly 3. Chip Kelly
4. Bill Belichick 4. Bruce Arians
5. Pete Carroll 5. Andy Reid
Remember, I’m not an Andy Reid hater, I just don’t agree with the national perspective that he did a better job than some of the other coaches on this list, simply because of his team’s turnaround in total wins. I still consider him to have been the fifth best coach in 2013, out of 32 coaches in the entire league. Don’t get carried away in destroying my article because I actually did more research than the people jamming Andy Reid down your throats nationally.