NFL Coach of the Year rankings: Andy Reid, Jason Garrett lead


Each week from now through the end of the 2016 season, Bucky Brooks will be checking in on the Coach of the Year race with a snapshot of his top five candidates. Here's how the leaders shape up after Week 14.



Andy Reid, Chiefs

After watching the Chiefs reel off 20 wins in their past 23 regular-season games, it's time to acknowledge Reid's creative brilliance as a leader/team builder/play-caller. Despite missing four-time Pro Bowler Jamaal Charles at running back and receiver Jeremy Maclin for extended stretches this season, the Chiefs have found a way to win games with limited firepower on offense. Part of their success can be attributed to an opportunistic defense and a dynamic special teams unit that together have accounted for 49 percent of Kansas City's points in 2016. With Reid giving his coaches -- particularly special teams coach Dave Toub -- the freedom to push the envelope with creative play calls (see: a fake punt against Atlanta in Week 13), the Chiefs have found a way to overcome their offensive deficiencies and emerge as a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC.



Jason Garrett, Cowboys

It's hard enough to win games in the NFL when you have established veterans at marquee positions, but it's nearly impossible to vie for a championship when you have rookie starters at quarterback and running back. Garrett has found a way to coax exceptional production from his young offensive playmakers while teaching them how to play winning football on the fly. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have not only posted impressive stat totals (Prescott has a TD-to-INT ratio of 20:4, while Elliott leads the NFL with 1,392 rushing yards), but they've kept their critical errors to a minimum and made a host of clutch plays along the way. With Garrett also carefully managing the game to protect a defense devoid of superstars, the Cowboys are well-positioned to make a run at a Super Bowl as the NFC's top seed.



Jim Caldwell, Lions

Raise your hand if you thought the Lions would claim the NFC North after losing Megatron to retirement and stumbling out of the gate to a 1-3 start. Well, Detroit is now leading the division at 9-4, and Caldwell deserves a spot near the top of the list after engineering an extraordinary turnaround in the Motor City. With the help of offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, the soft-spoken leader has gotten MVP-caliber play from quarterback Matthew Stafford and crafted an offense that has explosive potential despite the lack of a true WR1 on the field. As the leader of a team with eight come-from-behind wins in 2016, Caldwell also deserves praise for his superb late-game management skills and the remarkable poise that has helped the Lions thrive under pressure.



Jack Del Rio, Raiders

The Raiders' reemergence as a force in the AFC is a direct reflection of Del Rio's confidence and team building. The ex- Pro Bowl linebacker has not only taught the Raiders how to win, but he has instilled the kind of swagger and discipline that has helped the young squad turn late-game deficits into heart-stopping triumphs. Del Rio has demonstrated faith in his charges by making daring decisions (see: the two-point gamble against New Orleans in Week 1) that have put the onus on his top players to make plays with the game on the line. Considering the team's success under his aggressive approach, the Raiders' top man deserves a spot on this list.



Bill Belichick, Patriots

You could make the argument that the four-time Super Bowl winner should claim the award every year after leading the Patriots to at least 11 wins in seven straight seasons. He has done it this season with three different quarterbacks and an ever-changing set of skill players that will play the rest of the season without the top tight end in the game (Rob Gronkowski). While some coaches would struggle crafting winning game plans without their top guys, the Patriots' continued dominance is a testament to Belichick's adaptability and preparation.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



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