At 7 p.m. ET Wednesday, The Associated Press will announce its Coach of the Year.
The Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards already have been awarded to New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu. But the coaching category might be the first award where the NFC South has a chance at a winner.
You have to at least consider Atlanta’s Mike Smith and Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris. Smith won an NFC-best 13 games. Morris guided a turnaround as the Bucs went from 3-13 in 2009 to 10-6 this year. Kansas City’s Todd Haley and a few other coaches are going to be in the mix as well. But I don’t think Morris or Smith would be a bad choice.
The question I struggle with is who had the better year of the two? Back when I did our All-NFC South postseason awards, I went with Smith as Coach of the Year. In all honesty, that call was basically a coin flip and part of the reason I went with Smith was to create some balance in representing the NFC South teams (although Carolina was in a different class than New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa Bay).
Truthfully, I see the jobs Smith and Morris did this year as equal. Smith took a talented team with high expectations and won 13 games. He could have put himself over the top with a playoff victory or two, but that didn’t happen. Morris engineered a tremendous upward swing by the Buccaneers. He could have put himself over the top with a playoff berth, but that didn’t happen.
I basically see it as a tie between Smith and Morris. But let’s hear what you have to say. Hit the mailbag or the comments section below.