The 2017 NFL season begins in September and all 32 teams have just one week to finalise their preparations for the new campaign.
The 32 head coaches are under immense pressure at this time of the year as they assemble their rosters. A simple decision could have serious ramifications over the course of the term, making every move count.
No decision matters more than at the quarterback position. Several coaches across the league have been naming their starters for the campaign, knowing that the success or failure of the team rests on his shoulders.
Jason Garrett made such a move last season – out of necessity – when he selected rookie Dak Prescott to lead his side into the term.
Veteran Tony Romo’s injury played a significant part in the decision, but Garrett’s choice led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-win term, winning him the award.
The Cleveland Browns have turned their fortunes over to DeShone Kizer as Hue Jackson aims to bounce back from a 1-15 term. Whether it will be enough to save him this time around will be decided over the next 17 weeks of the season.
We’ll now break down the candidates for Coach of the Year, featuring one of the usual suspects and others who may surprise this season.
As ever Belichick leads the contenders for the award, although he has not won the title since 2010. Unfortunately for the 65-year-old, his side have been so consistent in their excellence, he has been overlooked in the last seven campaigns.
In that period, the Patriots have won at least 12 matches in all seven years and have won the Super Bowl twice along with a defeat in showcase fixture. Belichick is a class apart from any other head coach in the NFL due to his side’s consistent level of play.
The Patriots have won the AFC East for the last eight years on the bounce and have reached six-straight AFC Conference games. New England’s Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons highlighted the quality and character of his side, stunning their opponents with a 25-point comeback.
The victory took Belichick beyond Chuck Noll for the most Super Bowl triumphs as a head coach. He could well notch his sixth Vince Lombardi trophy this term as the Patriots look well placed for another run.
Most sides that win the Super Bowl are plucked of their best talent, but New England have bolstered their line-up, acquiring Brandin Cooks and signing Stephon Gilmore. Pundits have suggested that the club are capable of matching their 16-0 achievement from the 2007 campaign.
A lack of pass-rush depth and Julian Edelman’s season-ending injury could prevent that. Although Tom Brady remains at the peak of his powers, while the rest of the AFC seems very weak in comparison. It would be surprising to see the Patriots not win 14 matches again this term.
As a result, backing him at odds of +700 with Bovada sportsbook is well worth the punt as he is overdue for the award.
Quinn and the Falcons were one quarter away from winning the Super Bowl last season, only to collapse against the Patriots. They were not the first team to be undone by the brilliance of Brady and will not be the last, but the damage of the defeat could linger over the club this term.
As a result, the 46-year-old has a major challenge ahead of him this term to keep his side on the right track. He displayed potential in his first season at the club, guiding the NFC South outfit to a 5-0 start in the 2015 campaign. However, they missed the playoffs, winning only three out of their last 11 matches.
That would not be the case last term as rookies Keanu Neal and Deion Jones solidified the defense. Matt Ryan took his play to a new level as he and his offense dominated the league, leading the NFL in scoring. Ryan won the MVP award for his exploits and in the playoffs, he led the Falcons on demolitions of the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
They crushed the Patriots in the opening three quarters of the Super Bowl – not just on offense as Robert Alford picked off Brady for a touchdown. If Atlanta can overcome the heartbreak of their defeat and channel their play into the level shown for the 11 quarters in the playoffs – there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be on course for a return.
Quinn’s energy on the sideline and ability to scheme his defense overcame Aaron Rodgers and had Brady on the ropes. Expect him to continue that this season and at odds of +2000 with Bovada, he provides good value to win the award.
The Coach of the Year award usually goes to a man that has performed above expectations – see Garrett last season. Lynn had a tough time ahead of him being a rookie head coach as it was, but add the factor of the team relocating to Los Angeles, it’s fair to say his hands are pretty full.
The 48-year-old has a great deal of experience behind him, having coached in the NFL for 17 years. He has filled a variety of roles – mainly on the offensive side of the ball.
Lynn enjoyed a meteoric rise last season at the Buffalo Bills. He started the term as running backs coach and ended as the interim head coach following the firing of Rex Ryan. Lynn also spent time as their offensive coordinator from week two onwards, although it was another season of struggle in Buffalo.
He moves to Los Angeles looking to reverse the fortunes of a team that finished 5-11 and fourth in the AFC West last season. The Chargers were hit by a spate of injuries across the board, but primarily to their key players as Jason Verrett, Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen missed the majority of the term.
The club do have a quality quarterback in Philip Rivers – an immediate plus point for Lynn. They also have talent around him and emerging stars on the defensive side of the ball. The roster is there for Lynn to succeed in his first head coaching term in the NFL.
However, the 48-year-old needs to bring consistency and more importantly fitness to his new team. Due to the quality of the roster and a steady hand from Lynn they could reach the playoffs, therefore backing the coach at odds of +2500 with PaddyPower could be an excellent punt.
Bill Belichick To Win Coach Of The Year
Dan Quinn To Win Coach Of The Year
Anthony Lynn To Win Coach Of The Year