A case for Pete Carroll as NFL coach of the year
Kansas City’s Andy Reid appears to be the favorite for coach of the year but Pete Carroll shouldn’t be neglected just because the Seahawks are as good as they were predicted to be.
Seattle Times staff reporter
If there’s one seeming certainty in an NFL season in which the Colts can beat the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos and then lose by 30 at home to the Rams, it’s this — Andy Reid as coach of the year.
The case for Reid appears almost airtight.
A year after the Chiefs went 2-14 and endured some of the worst that an NFL team can experience — including the suicide of a player in the team’s parking lot — Reid has Kansas City humming along at 9-0 in his first year there after leaving Philadelphia.
Read (Reid?) any early projection of the NFL awards, and it seems like a done deal.
But here’s a thought: Why not Pete Carroll?
OK, so a Seattle guy touting Carroll might seem as predictable as a Miley Cyrus National Enquirer cover.
But it’s also hardly a controversial call with Carroll leading the Seahawks to a 9-1 mark, and coaching a team that by the end of the weekend could have the best record in the NFL.
While Seattle is playing host to Minnesota as a two-touchdown favorite, the Chiefs are traveling to Denver, where danger usually lurks with or without Peyton Manning.
Obviously, there remain lots of games to be played for this to be sorted out.
And those who think the Chiefs — whose statistical profile paints a picture of a team that has often been getting it done with mirrors — are due for a stumble still have time to be proven right.
Kansas City has seven games left to Seattle’s six. Four of those games for the Chiefs are on the road, beginning with the trip Sunday to Denver. In an odd bit of scheduling, five of Kansas City’s remaining games come against AFC West foes — home and road with the Broncos and Chargers and a game at Oakland.
The other two are far from gimmes — at Washington and home against Indianapolis.
Seattle, meanwhile, definitely will be favored to win five of its last six games, and depending on what happens between now and then, might also be favored in the one game it was assumed all along it would not be — at the 49ers on Dec. 8.
With Percy Harvin and a healthy offensive line, the Seahawks have it legitimately in their grasp to become just the sixth team in NFL history to finish 15-1 (the only better record, in a 16-game season, being the 16-0 of New England in 2007).
Only two of those six coaches won what the NFL regards as its coach of the year award, the one voted on through The Associated Press. Mike Ditka won in 1985 with the Bears and the Patriots’ Bill Belichick won in 2007. (Winning instead of Bill Walsh, when he coached the 15-1 49ers to the Super Bowl in 1984, was Seattle’s Chuck Knox, who led the Seahawks to a 12-4 record in the season when Curt Warner was lost for the year in the first game.)
That history illustrates what’s often at the heart of these debates — specifically, whether to reward the coach of a team perceived to have overachieved, or a coach of a team that was predicted to be good and lived up to the billing.
Many in the profession would argue the latter is the harder coaching task.
Voters in all sports, though, usually trend toward favoring the former, rewarding the coach whose team goes from a losing season to winning.
In trying to judge something so subjective and nebulous as who did the best coaching job, it’s often the easiest route to take.
Of the past 10 NFL coaches of the year, seven fit the bill of having led their team to a winning record a year after it had a losing record. None won the Super Bowl or even got there. The other three all went to Belichick, in 2003, 2007 and 2010 — a year he did not reach the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks, to be sure, were expected to be good.
Still, it’s hardly been a straight line, with Harvin yet to play, Sidney Rice out for the year, the offensive line issues, etc.
Carroll likely doesn’t care much — Lovie Smith would surely give back his 2005 award for a Super Bowl title and a job right now — and a vote for either Carroll or Reid can be well justified.
Carroll, though, shouldn’t be ignored simply because the Seahawks appear to be who everyone thought they were.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.