With NFL training camps open in less than a month, there’s no better time to begin our preparation for the upcoming season. When examining the NFL, I recommend starting with the bottom teams and then working your way up.
Using this approach, you should develop a skill that will allow you to identify teams more likely to be undervalued following a poor performance in the previous season. This method will also come in handy when looking at possible futures.
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As a result, it will serve as part of our foundation for projecting the AP NFL Coach of the Year award.
NFL Coach of the Year Odds
|Coach (Team)||Odds||Team’s Previous Record|
|Brian Daboll (Giants)||+1000||4-13|
|Brandon Staley (Chargers)||+1400||9-8|
|Kevin O’Connell (Vikings)||+1400||8-9|
|Doug Pederson (Jaguars)||+1400||3-14|
|Kyle Shanahan (49ers)||+1600||10-7|
|Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos)||+1600||7-10|
|Mike McDaniel (Dolphins)||+1600||9-8|
|Josh McDaniels (Raiders)||+1600||10-7|
|Nick Sirianni (Eagles)||+1600||9-8|
|Dan Campbell (Lions)||+1600||3-13-1|
|Matt LaFleur (Packers)||+1800||13-4|
|Frank Reich (Colts)||+2000||9-8|
|Kevin Stefanski (Browns)||+2500||8-9|
|Sean McVay (Rams)||+2500||12-5|
|Sean McDermott (Bills)||+2500||11-6|
|Zac Taylor (Bengals)||+2500||10-7|
|John Harbaugh (Ravens)||+2500||8-9|
|Mike Vrabel (Titans)||+3000||12-5|
|Bill Belichick (Patriots)||+3000||10-7|
|Todd Bowles (Buccaneers)||+3000||11-6|
|Dennis Allen (Saints)||+3000||9-8|
|Robert Saleh (Jets)||+3000||4-13|
|Ron Rivera (Commanders)||+3000||7-10|
|Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals)||+3000||11-6|
|Matt Eberflus (Bears)||+3000||6-11|
|Mike Tomlin (Steelers)||+3000||9-7-1|
|Andy Reid (Chiefs)||+3500||12-5|
|Matt Rhule (Panthers)||+5000||5-12|
|Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)||+5000||12-5|
|Arthur Smith (Falcons)||+5000||7-10|
|Pete Carroll (Seahawks)||+5000||7-10|
|Lovie Smith (Texans)||+5000||4-13|
Before we begin our analysis, here are a few things to keep in mind about this award:
- Various news and sports organizations voted for the NFL Coach of the Year award.
- The award is given to the head coach who has done “The most outstanding job working with the talent he has at his disposal.”
The second bulleted item is essential because it stipulates the criteria for which voters make their selections. Thus, the coaches are judged based on the talent of players they can put on the field.
In other words, simply being the team with the best record doesn’t necessarily mean the coach will win the award. Coaches that can transform their teams and get the best out of their players are likely to be in the mix even if they don’t finish with the most wins during the regular season.
After looking at the previous winners dating back to 1984 (before the 1982-83 strike year), there are multiple examples of head coaches who’ve won the award despite not having the most victories.
In 1990, Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson won the award despite finishing with a 7-9 record. However, it was quite a turnaround for a Cowboys team that went just 1-15 in the previous year.
How teams perform year-over-year is also a key contributor in determining which head coach wins the award. My analysis shows that coaches who’ve won the award improved their team by an average of 5.66 wins from the previous year.
Since we’re looking for teams ready to make a significant jump, there’s no better place to start than those who finished nearer the bottom of the league.
Ron Rivera (Commanders) +3000
Although the Commanders finished just 7-10 last season, they should be even better following the addition of Carson Wentz at the quarterback position. While Wentz certainly has his critics, he’s still an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke.
The North Dakota State product has shown signs of brilliance at different moments in his career. In 2017, he played at an MVP level with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions before suffering a season-ending injury.
Last season, Wentz was one game away from leading the Colts to the playoffs but came up short in Week 18 against the Jaguars. If he can regain his form and better protect the football, the Commanders could be well on their way to contending in the NFC East.
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John Harbaugh (Ravens) +2500
Injuries finally caught up to the Ravens towards the second half of the season. In Week 12, Baltimore was 8-3 and squarely in the mix for the playoffs.
Yet, while the Ravens did their best to patch up a secondary that lost three starters for much of the season due to injuries, the challenge became insurmountable when starting quarterback Lamar Jackson went down with an injury in Week 14.
Baltimore finished the year at 8-9, losing its final six games. This is an enticing buy-low spot with the Ravens as it’s unlikely they’ll have another bad run with injuries in back-to-back years.
The Ravens remain a class organization that does well in drafting and developing their players. I like their chances to bounce back in 2022.
Nick Sirianni (Eagles) +1600
The Eagles could be ready to take flight after the playoffs, with Jalen Hurts now entrenched as the starting quarterback. With an entire season under his belt, Hurts should do even in 2022. Staunch believers in football analytics often praised Philadelphia for its ability to win on third-down. The Eagles finished tied for third on third-conversions with 5.9 per game.
Philadelphia has a chance to improve in the division because the Cowboys are expected to take a step back after losing two of their top four receivers in Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, two starting offensive linemen in Connor Williams and La’el Collins, and their No. 1 offseason priority in defensive end Randy Gregory.
It’s also worth noting that the Eagles have the, according to the Action Network’s predictive analyst Sean Koerner.
Nathaniel Hackett (Broncos) +1600
Nathaniel Hackett is entering a pretty good situation as a first-year head coach after the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson from the Seahawks. The former Super Bowl winner is a massive upgrade for a Denver team that won just seven games last season.
It might surprise you, but first-year head coaches have a track record of winning Coach of the Year. Since 1990, 10 of the 28 winners were coaches in their first year with a team.
I won’t be surprised if Wilson’s addition is worth four additional wins on the season. With playmakers like Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, the Broncos could be in store for a big season now that they finally have a franchise quarterback.
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