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New AP award to recognize top NFL assistant coach

It's time to thank the men in the shadows.

The Associated Press announced Wednesday that it will unveil a new award this season to recognize the NFL's top assistant coach.

Serving as The AP's eighth annual NFL honor, The Assistant Coach of the Year award will be chosen by a panel of 50 media members and eligible to coordinators on down to quality control coaches.

"Every head coach is an extension of his staff," New York Jets coach Rex Ryan told The AP. "That's the absolute truth. I don't care how good one man is, he can't get the job done without an outstanding set of assistant coaches. And this is a way to recognize them. There are a lot of great assistant coaches out there who deserve to be recognized."

It feels long overdue considering the contribution NFL aides make throughout a season. The Dick LeBeaus of the world are core to team preparation and success, while younger assistants such as Greg Roman and Adam Gase are too often overlooked because of the attention heaped on their head coaches.

We struggle with the concept of media members voting on such an award simply because so much of what assistants do happens away from the cameras.

They won't be asking us to vote, but if I could, I'd roll with Dan Quinn, Seattle's defensive coordinator who helped cook up one of the more masterful Super Bowl schemes in recent memory against Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

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