This season saw Bill Belichick waltz through the regular season without his legendary quarterback for 25 percent of the games. It saw Dan Quinn lead a team that was beaten down a year ago by a crippling losing streak all the way to the Super Bowl.
But, per the voters, no coach shouldered more and succeeded than Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys.
Garrett took home the 2016 Associated Press Coach of the Year honor at Saturday's NFL Honors. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera earned the nod a year ago. He finished with 25 votes to get the honor after Belichick finished second in voting with 14 votes.
While the Cowboys did not make it past their first playoff game this postseason, the award continues a fantastic offseason tour for the NFC East Champions. The team sent a half dozen players to the Pro Bowl and quarterback Dak Prescott took home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Prescott stiffest competition, Ezekiel Elliott, was on his own team.
Although Cowboys fans might be disappointed the team didn't reach the Super Bowl, Dallas excelled in a situation where sheer terror can hit a team after their starting quarterback goes down. Tony Romo injured his back in the preseason, giving way to Prescott, a fourth-round pick who was well down the Cowboys' wish list of potential backup options in this past year's draft.
Garrett receives the award for crisis management as much as anything else. Not only did his team rally around the talented Prescott, but the Cowboys kept a calm head after a 11-1 start; a time when the media narrative turned to comparing Dallas to the great Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin teams of the 1990s.
In addition, Garrett was behind the scenes when Romo came back and pushed to get his starting job back.
This was a recipe for chaos, granted none of the other coaches on the list struck the same goldmine in last year's NFL draft. Anyone following the Cowboys should be willing to admit that this year's team was a fantastic combination of scouting, coaching and luck. Garrett was the glue that held it all together.