In all sports, the Coach of the Year award has a misleading title. It’s not about who the best coach is; it’s about which team stunned the most people, or which team overcame most of the adversity by staying close to the top of the leaderboard. This is what voters are really looking for. According to these criteria, there are many coaches who could be worthy of the title of “Coach of the Year”.
Belichick took his Patriots to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. Zac Taylor’s Bengals shocked everyone by overtaking Browns, Steelers and Ravens for the AFC North title. Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals could potentially win the daunting NFC West when no one gave them a chance before the season started. Matt LaFleur and the Packers repeated themselves as seeded NFC in the regular season despite a string of distractions from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Hell, a lot of people thought the Eagles were going to compete for the worst record, but with one week left to play, the Eagles grabbed a place in the playoffs.
But aside from week 18 results, none of the aforementioned coaches have anything on Mike Vrabel of Tennessee and Sean Payton of New Orleans.
With a win over the Houston Texans this week, the Titans will officially seize the AFC seed and a farewell to the first round, a feat the Titans have not accomplished since 2008. The Titans will have done so despite the absence of the league. running back star Derrick Henry, whose regular season ended in week 8, and with quarterback Ryan Tannehill having gone through his worst year as a starter for Tennessee. Yet despite these adversities, the Titans are a win over the wretched Texans far from securing their home advantage during the AFC playoffs. Who would have thought AFC’s road to Super Bowl LVI would go through Nashville given that during the first 8 weeks of the season, Henry accounted for 45.8% of the team’s offensive touchdowns (10 runs, 1 pass) and 36.2% of the team’s total yards? Nobody. Everyone thought the Titans would sink into mediocrity before giving up on the playoff run, and while the Titans certainly weren’t as good as they were with King Henry, they still managed to defeat both the Los Angeles Rams and a very hot team of the 49ers without him in their backfield. This speaks volumes not only about the resilience of the team, but also about Vrabel’s adaptability as head coach.
Now, you might be thinking, “Well, of course, how could anyone compete with what you just said?” Well, what if I told you that there is another team that, despite having several key players, wastes time due to concerns related to COVID, despite having the sixth largest number of players on Injured Reserve all season, despite having virtually had to play without a quarterback for more than half of the season, was he vying for a place in the playoffs last week?
Meet the New Orleans Saints. While the Saints aren’t currently in the NFC playoff framework, it’s not hard to imagine a world where a team with the Taysom Hill quarterback is fighting for a chance to stay in the Super Bowl hunt. All that has to happen is for the 49ers to lose to the Rams and the Saints to beat the Falcons. I understand that the The Falcons beat the Saints when they last played, but Hill also wasn’t the New Orleans star in that game. I also understand that the 49ers beat the Rams the last time they played, but let’s be honest we all know the Rams are the best team and as the Rams have to win to secure a division title they will likely retire all stops. to give the 49ers a run.
If all goes according to plan, the Saints will reach the playoffs, despite the team’s best wide catcher having missed the entire season, the team’s starting quarterback has fallen from an injury mid-season and many of the team’s offensive linemen have missed their lines. matches due to COVID and other injuries. This is crazy. This is really crazy. The Saints have nothing to do to be close to the playoffs, but out of sheer will and reluctance to let injuries derail their season, they persevered and made the 49ers’ timbres shake suitably.
If the Saints do end up missing the playoffs, I don’t think there’s any chance Payton will win manager of the year, but if they do, it should be taken seriously. It shocks me that in most of the Coach of the Year predictions I’ve seen lately, Payton is nowhere to be found. What’s even more shocking are the people I saw in Payton’s place.
John Harbaugh? Seriously? You mean the guy whose team was supposed to win the division or, at worst, finish second, but only has a two percent chance of making it to the playoffs with just one week left? I understand that Lamar Jackson hasn’t been available for the past three weeks, but Tyler Huntley hasn’t been listless either. Brian Flores? You mean the guy who had a 10-6 record last season and came this season with huge expectations just to be the streakest team in NFL history, and be out of the playoff pic to watch with a week to go. ? No. While both these guys are great coaches, worthy of praise, neither of them had to face the same adversities as Sean Payton and the Saints.
And guess what, when the NFL regular season finally comes to an end this Sunday night, if one of these teams ever find themselves playing again, it will be New Orleans. Give Sean Payton the respect he deserves, please!