This has been a strange year in the NFL it feels like every week what I think is going to happen the absolute opposite has happened. We have seen a QB in Josh Allen go from being unable to complete 58% of his passes last year to almost 70% this year. The work that some coaches have done this year with all the problems created from covid has been remarkable. We have also seen some absolutely god awful coaching, but here I wanted to present my nominees for the best coaches this year and then give my winner.
One note, Kevin Stefanski is not on this list, you might find that odd given the Browns are in the playoffs and just advanced for the first time since man first discovered fire. The reason for this is simple, Week 16 against the Jets is one of the worst coaching performances I think I have ever witnessed. Now the Browns were down multiple wide receivers due to covid-19, for some reason, Stefanski still decided to build a game plan around Baker Mayfield throwing the ball as much as possible. For that reason alone he is disqualified. Come back next year Kev.
Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers)
The Packers went 13-3 this year (26-6 on his career) and the friction around LaFleur and Rodgers seems to have dissipated. The emergence of Davante Adams as a true number 1 has helped. There was scepticism around LaFleur when he was initially hired last year largely because of his connection with Sean McVay however this year he proved that year 1 was no fluke.
The Green Bay offence improved from last year going from the 15th ranked offence in points scored to the 1st and from 17th in passing yards to 9th this year. They have also seen improvements on the defensive side of the ball with the defence now ranking 9th in yards allowed up from 18th last year. This should make Green Bay a dangerous opponent this year in the playoffs.
Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs)
I hate the NFL coach of the year award it normally just goes to the coach of the team that improved the most. Bill Belichick has only won the award threes times, but I digress.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs have ahead a bit of a down year in some respects, watching them I do not think they have bothered to get out of third gear in most of the regular season games this year. Even doing that they have still managed to win 14 games and lock up the number one seed for the playoffs.
The argument against Reid is that he has Mahomes and a very stacked offence, but the great NBA coach Pat Riley once said the hardest thing to do is to stay motivated after a championship because of the disease of more. Mahomes is now the highest paid QB of all time, Travis Kelce is off filming sitcoms with John C Reilley and the Chiefs are still the Death Star of the NFL (Is that a good analogy? Pretty sure the Death Star was blown up, nerds let me know in the comments). Sometimes we overthink things when we really should not Andy Reid is still one of the best Coaches in the NFL.
Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints)
He put a fucking gunner from the punt team at QB and won 3 of the 4 games he started! Tim Tebow is currently kicking himself that he never took Payton up on that offer to come and play for the Saints.
Even when he has had his starting QB you could say that Drew Brees play has been…limited at best. Even the shell of Cam Newton has pushed the ball downfield more times than Brees. Brees has thrown the ball further than 20 yards only 29 times this year completing 12 of those attempts for 341 yards.
Payton has evolved the Saints to cope with his QB’s limitations, they now depend more on the running game and the short to the intermediate passing game. NFL defences are all aware of this and yet… they have not been able to stop the Saints.
*** Sean Payton once played in the British Leagues, Clickbait!!!
Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills)
The Bills won the East and their first playoff game since December 30th 1995 (Michael Jackson was #1 with Earth Song).
The job McDermott and Bill’s staff have done with the development of Josh Allen is tremendous, as I mentioned at the top he has gone from a low 50% passer to within touching distance of 70%. They have built a solid defence, his hire of Leslie Frazier was a brilliant move in retrospect and Brian Daboll has built a brilliant passing attack, I really love the number of times the Bills use the empty formation and the passing concepts that he is using off of it.
This has been a steady build for the Bills and I will admit I did not think they would get there, especially after last years performance from Josh Allen. They are now being mentioned as possible contenders to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. I think they have a chance however I am more interested in how they do next year, as I want to see what happens if Daboll gets a head coaching job and what sort of impact that will have on Josh Allen’s development.
For me the coach of the year has to go to Mat LaFleur, I just think Green Bay are the best team in the NFL this year and now it is all about making sure that they actually make it to the Super Bowl. With home-field advantage and in my opinion the 2020 MVP I see no reason why they should not.
Congratulations Matt, feel free to send me a load of Green Bay merch as a thank you!
You can hear more of Calum’s opinions every Thursday on the Armchair QB’s podcast!
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