The night before Super Bowl XLVIII, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2013 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event hosted by Alec Baldwin at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Here's all the coverage information:
» Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Preview Special
» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network: NFL Honors Red Carpet Special
» Saturday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX: 3rd Annual NFL Honors
One of the awards that will be presented on Saturday night is the 2013 Coach of the Year. Who gets your vote?
How could you not be amazed by Bill Belichick's effort in 2013?The entire core of the Patriots' defense ended up on the sideline. Vince Wilfork tore his Achilles in September. Jerod Mayo tore his pec in October. And Brandon Spikes hit injured reserve just before the postseason began. Oh, and Tom Brady's offense played the entire season without four of its top five receivers from 2012 (Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Danny Woodhead) -- with the fifth, Rob Gronkowski, suiting up for a total of seven games. And this team went to the AFC title game? Exactly.
This Pats season didn't end in the Super Bowl, but it was easily Bill Belichick's finest.
Plenty of fine candidates, but Bruce Arians deserves the honor -- againIn his first year with the Cardinals, Bruce Arians doubled Arizona's win total from 2012 and posted a better record than two teams that made the playoffs -- while playing in the NFC West, the toughest division in football, to boot. Arians said he would fix the offensive line, and for the most part, he did. Arians is a mover of men, and he leads a staff that does a fine job developing talent.
Ron Rivera, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, John Fox and Andy Reid deserve mention, but Arians showed he's an exceptional coach -- for the second consecutive season.
Pete Carroll has created a monster in SeattleThere is no runaway pick here. Bill Belichick had one of his best seasons. Ron Rivera received an epiphany to be aggressive from the Football Gods. Chip Kelly delivered on the hype, making a Nick Foles-led group into one of the best offenses in the league. Andy Reid turned the Chiefs around, making Alex Smith look even better than he did in San Francisco.
But none of those men are my pick. Pete Carroll deserves the honor for the job he does on Sundays and in the offseason. He's built up the Seahawks' defense into a terrifying group by teaching his players and his staff. There's a reason that Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round pick from 2011, can step into the starting lineup and look like a Pro Bowler. He's coached up.
Belichick has enjoyed a magnificent career, but this was his finest season yetI vacillated on this all season. But my vote would go to Bill Belichick, for deftly guiding a decimated team to the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.
With each loss -- Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Aqib Talib and on and on -- Belichick plucked another player from deep in his roster and dropped him in, adjusting his team's style accordingly, from run and defense intensive, to pass-happy, to power run. In a remarkable career, this was Belichick's best season.
Chip Kelly lived up to immense hype in Year 1Chip Kelly's my selection. Talk about pressure ... For Kelly to come in with an offense that was a major curiosity with plenty of unknowns -- and go on to win the NFC East? That's special. The fact that he did it after having to change quarterbacks to someone (Nick Foles) many thought was a bad fit for his system? That's even more impressive.
Remember, halfway through the season, some pundits had him ticketed to take over for Mack Brown at the University of Texas. Now the race is on to discover the next Chip Kelly.
Andy Reid completely transformed the Chiefs into a winnerIt's tough to argue against Andy Reid for this award. He turned a 2-14 cellar dweller into an 11-5 playoff team -- with largely the same personnel. (And remember, that last regular-season loss came when Kansas City rested its starters and still darn near won.)
In the playoffs, the injury-riddled Chiefs did blow a huge lead ... but there is hardly any shame in losing by one point, on the road, when six major contributors are hurt.
"Riverboat" Ron Rivera stands out in a spectacular field of contendersAs an actual voter for The Associated Press' NFL awards, this was the toughest category for me to figure out. So many viable candidates ... I have argued that this season was the finest coaching job of Bill Belichick's remarkable career, given the way he dealt with such a depleted roster. Andy Reid changed everything in Kansas City. Bruce Arians was superb in Arizona.
But I thought the Panthers would go 6-10 this year. Ron Rivera changed his style after a 1-3 start, and Carolina responded by winning 11 of its final 12 regular-season games. Thus, "Riverboat Ron" got my vote.
Reid deserves credit for the amazing turnaround he engineered in Kansas CityAndy Reid is your Coach of the Year. He's like the modern-day Marty Schottenheimer, in that he brought instant credibility to the organization.
Reid took over a team that had the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and immediately guided it to the playoffs. There was talent there, of course, and some of the same problems that plagued him in Philadelphia (time management, for instance) followed him to Kansas City. However, the Chiefs are set up for a decade of competitive football. And you have to credit Reid for that.
After narrowing it down to five deserving candidates, I give the award to ...In judging Coach of the Year candidates, I weigh the final results against my own preseason expectations. I take into account injuries suffered during the season, too. My "finalists" are ...
» Rex Ryan: Eight wins with rookie Geno Smith at quarterback.
» Mike McCoy: Five regular-season wins over playoff teams -- as well as an actual playoff win -- plus the re-emergence of Philip Rivers.
» Bruce Arians: Ten wins, despite playing in the toughest division in football; only coach to beat the Seahawks in Seattle.
» Ron Rivera: Earned a division title and a first-round bye, despite a slow start and a ton of personal pressure.
» Bill Belichick: Yes, New England entered the year as the favorite in the division (per usual), but considering all the attrition, he did a masterful job in guiding this team all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
My choice is McCoy, thanks to San Diego's six total wins over playoff teams. Chargers GM Tom Telesco deserves great credit here, too.