The biggest lies in human history are as follows:
1) “Just tell me the truth. I won’t be mad.”
2) “Here’s a giant, wooden horse to show that our nation holds no ill will toward you anymore.”
4) “The Coach of the Year Award goes to the best coach in the NFL.”
Believe it or not, there is still a faction of fans who believe the best coach in the NFL wins the award every year. How innocent, beautiful, and pure they are. They haven’t yet been destroyed by the harsh reality of sports, that is, understanding that the name attached to each end-of-season award is rather misleading. This isn’t just a symptom in the NFL either. This is common across all major American sports. If it wasn’t, Gregg Popovich would’ve won NBA Coach of the Year for the entirety of the 2000s and Matt Nagy wouldn’t have an NFL Coach of the Year Award gathering dust on his mantle as he coasts through the easiest job in football — making sure Patrick Mahomes doesn’t suck.
This season, many fans believe New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll deserves the award. Why? Well, because despite the Giants being an objectively horrible team with zero receiving talent, an inconsistent quarterback, and an offensive line that still somehow ranks near the bottom of the league in adjusted line yards, the team improved by 5.5 games. Much of that improvement has been pinned on rookie head coach Brian Daboll, as well as Saquon Barkley remaining healthy all year. The G-Men even won their first playoff game, even if it was against the fraudulent Vikings. Those facts alone should put Daboll into consideration for the award, right? While I absolutely agree with the sentiment, Jolly Blue Brian has no chance of winning the award.
Since 1990, there hasn’t been a single Coach of the Year winner to lead his team to fewer than 10 wins (aside from Bruce Arians in 2012, because he wasn’t the head coach for the whole season). There seems to be a forcefield preventing coaches from earning the award without securing double-digit victories, and that’s honestly the least of Daboll’s obstacles. I’m sure voters would be willing to look past a sub-10-win season if Daboll made a dent in the postseason standings. He coaches for New York after all, one of the biggest markets in the world; he’s bound to get tons of attention, and that could be what gives him the edge in the Coach of the Year race. However, he still only finished third in his own division. Yes, he won a playoff game, but the two teams that finished above his Giants in the NFC East are still in the playoffs as well, with Philadelphia earning a first-round bye and Dallas winning its first road playoff game since 1992 in absolutely dominant fashion. If you can’t outshine more than half of your own division, you’re probably not going to win Coach of the Year.
Finally, there’s still the argument that the Giants improved so drastically that Daboll deserves the award. While Daboll was certainly a massive upgrade, by that measure, he still falls short of one Doug Pederson. Not only did Pederson take the worst team in the league to the playoffs in his first year with the team and win a playoff game — just like Daboll did — but he also won his division, including a pivotal Week 18 “win or go home” matchup against division rival Tennessee. Where Daboll’s Giants went 1-4-1 in the division and 2-4-1 in their final seven games, Pederson’s Jags turned on the burners in crunch time, going 4-2 in the division and 6-1 in their final seven. Yes, Jacksonville was in a much weaker division, but that’s not going to matter to voters, who have proven that they often only care about the number under the W column. The Jaguars had come last in their division every year since reaching the AFC Championship Game in 2017. Pederson pulled the Jags out of the gutter and made every NFL fan believe in the hype that Trevor Lawrence brought to the table prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. While he also didn’t win 10 games, he certainly has a better shot at winning the award than Daboll.
Of course, that last paragraph was only under the assumption that voters would actually consider a head coach whose team didn’t win 10 or more games, which seems stupid to even hope for. The betting favorites for the award are San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan and Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni. They’ve been great, obviously, but they didn’t overcome the horrible situations that were handed to both Daboll and Pederson. In a perfect world, this would be a two-horse race with Daboll leading the team with the worst record in the NFL over the previous five seasons to the playoffs and Pederson making the NFL more or less forget about the travesty that was Urban Meyer. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. This is a messed up, unforgiving cesspool of incompetence. I’d absolutely love it if Daboll won the award. He (almost definitely) won’t though.