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2022 Coach of the Year Candidates

Coach of the Year

With less than a month left of the regular season thoughts to turn the end of the season awards and even though a lot can change in three weeks here’s a look at the coaches who have improved their teams in 2022.

Coaches Whose Teams Have Improved

Dan Campbell 

In Campbell’s first year in Detroit, the Lions won just three games. In 2022, they already have seven wins. Replacing Anthony Lynn as offensive coordinator with Ben Johnson, who worked under Campbell in Miami, has resurrected Jared Goff’s career. The Lions have the fifth-highest scoring offense and the fourth-highest average yards per game in 2022. So Campbell’s plan to tread water long enough to bury opponents is definitely working. 

Campbell and GM Brad Holmes look to have already fixed the mess Matt Patricia left behind. Campbell signed a six-year contract in 2021 with expectations of a long and gradual rebuild, but they’re challenging for a playoff spot after just 23 months. If they continue their recent form (six wins in seven games) they could play Minnesota in the postseason. They defeated the Vikings in Week 14. 

Pete Carroll 

When Seattle packed Russell Wilson off to Denver and Russ proclaimed “let’s ride”, most believed Seattle would consolidate and rebuild. Pete Carroll had other ideas though, the Seahawks used the draft to bolster the offensive line, unearth a gem of a running back, and improve the defense.

Seattle is starting five rookies this season. Carroll also gambled and put his faith in a 35-year-old quarterback who hadn’t started a Week 1 game since 2014 and Geno Smith has repaid him. Smith’s completion rate is the highest of his nine-year career (and highest in the league this season) and his best single-season QBR. Carroll put Smith’s success down to his agreeing to wear a wristband.

Last season, the Seahawks lost 10 games and finished bottom of the NFC West. In 2022, they’ve surprised even the people who thought the NFC West would be trash. If Kenneth Walker III can return to form soon, they could still make the playoffs and could meet the 49ers. 

Matt Eberflus 

Eberflus was the Colts defensive coordinator for three years before the Chicago Bears hired him. While Indianapolis has suffered without him (they’ve missed 64 tackles, sixth most in the league), the Bears Defense is also struggling as they’ve missed 63 (trading Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn didn’t help). The Bears have a history of trading away defensive superstars who ask for new contracts. With seven picks in the 2023 Draft, they should have a stronger defense next year; the Colts drafted Shaq Leonard in the 2nd round. 

It might seem odd to suggest a team with just three wins have a good coach but Eberflus has provided something the last three coaches haven’t: a high-scoring offense. In their last seven games, they have averaged 25 points per game, if they maintain that sort of production next season, they’ll be in the top 10.

Chicago leads the league in rushing yards and is fifth in terms of the number of touchdowns scored on the ground. In 2021, they were 23rd for rushing yards and only scored the 11th-most rushing touchdowns, so the improvement under Eberflus has been drastic. 

Robert Saleh 

All four teams in the AFC East are currently in the playoff picture but the Jets are the real surprise of the season. 12 months ago, they had just three wins. In 2022, they won seven of their first 11 games. Despite losing Mekhi Beckton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, they could still make the playoffs.  

Unsurprisingly, given Saleh’s background as 49ers defensive coordinator, this year’s success is built on defense. The Jets have the fifth-best run defense, allowing 4.1 yards per carry, and the fourth-best pass defense, having given up 2462 yards on the ground (second best in the RedZone, conceding just 12 rushing touchdowns). In 2021, their run defense was 29th (32nd in the RedZone) and the pass defense was ranked 30th.

If Breece Hall hadn’t torn his knee ligaments after just seven weeks of the season and both starting tackles hadn’t landed on IR, the Jets would be pushing the Bills for first place in the AFC East. 

Mike McDaniel 

Similar to Eberflus in Chicago, the Dolphins have found a head coach who believes in their young quarterback. McDaniel brought his talents to South Beach and his ability to scheme receivers open has allowed Tua Tagovailoa to settle in. McDaniel’s predecessor, Brian Flores, reportedly told Tagovailoa, “if I knew you were going to be this bad, I would’ve taken Mac Jones” in a move that only piled pressure on a 23-year-old quarterback.  

Last year, Miami won nine games. This season, they just need to beat the Packers to match that number. The 2021 Dolphins were ranked 17th in the league for passing yards. This season, they have the second-best passing offense. Last season, the offense was 22nd in terms of scoring, McDaniel has improved that to ninth this year. 

Brian Daboll 

The 2021 Giants won just four games under Joe Judge; Daboll’s Giants won seven of their first nine in 2022. He has been able to use Saquon Barkley more than Judge but Daniel Jones’ development (assisted by the superstar back) has significantly improved results. Jones has the best completion rate of his career and his lowest interception percentage under Daboll. Jones also has the most rushing touchdowns of his career in 2022 but the fewest fumbles too. 

New York currently sits in a wildcard spot and if they get enough receivers healthy (three are on IR and three more on week 15’s injury report) to help Jones, they could be interesting in the postseason. 

Nick Sirianni 

The guy whose team has only lost once is absolutely nailed on to win the coach of the year award, however. If Sirianni’s Eagles team continues their dominant season, he will be the first coach of the year recipient to lose just one game since Ron Rivera in 2015.  

Philadelphia actually has the same average yards per carry as 2021 (4.9). Last season, that was the fourth highest in the league but this season it is just sixth. Last season they lead the league in rushing yards and this season they’re currently ranked second. The two things that are most improved in Philadelphia this season are the defense and their quarterback.  

They have the best pass defense in terms of yards allowed, average net yards allowed, and interceptions. In 2021 they were ranked 11th, 14th, and 20th in those categories, respectively. Signing a couple of veteran free agents has helped the run defense too. 

Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith have benefited from A.J. Brown’s arrival (Smith has more catches but Brown has more yards). Hurts has thrown six more touchdowns than last season already and has his lowest interception rate ever, including his College career. 


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