The Associated Press announced five finalists for its Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, as usual. The quintet of candidates – the GiantsBrian Daboll, de AccountsSean McDermott, the JaguarsDoug Pederson, the 49ersKyle Shanahan, and the EaglesNick Sirianni – each earn in their own way. Daboll and Pederson led great turnarounds in the first year. Shanahan led a team as third quarterback to the NFC Championship, McDermott guided his team through one of the most terrifying injuries in NFL history, and Sirianni guided Philadelphia to a franchise-record 14 wins.
Three other coaches, however, can plausibly be turned down for the league’s most prestigious coaching award. Here’s a look at who else could have made it onto the list of AP Coach of the Year finalists.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks
The Sea hawks were left for dead by many ahead of the 2022 season. In March, Seattle handed out quarterback Russell Wilson– the face of the franchise for a decade – at the Broncos for an assortment of players and drawing capital. Seattle appeared to start again in a minefield of an NFC West with three 2021 playoff teams, including the defending Super Bowl champion Rams.
Then domino after domino fell towards the Seahawks. Los Angeles fell off the face of the earth. The Cardinals stranded. Quarterback Gene Smith became a revelation as Wilson played the worst football of his career. The result was a playoff bid for a young team and vindication for Carroll in his 13th season in Seattle.
Dan Campbell, Lions
Coaching stability is something that has been sorely lacking in Detroit for the past few decades. Since Wayne Fontes’ tenure ended in 1996, Jim Schwartz has been the Lions’ longest-serving coach, leading the franchise from 2009-13.
Dan Campbell seems destined to change that pattern in the near future. In his second year with Detroit, Campbell reversed from 3-13-1 to 9-8. With the help of offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—a finalist for the AP’s Assistant Coach of the Year—Campbell managed the league’s fifth-most points per game off a quarterback offense from Jared Goff.
Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Even prior to 2022, Tomlin was hailed as one of the most consistent regular season winners in NFL history, if not the history of American sports. That reputation grew after guiding the former Steelers team of the postalBen Roethlisberger era to a turnaround for all ages.
On October 30, Pittsburgh was a miserable 2-6, caught in a quagmire at quarterback Kenny Pickett worked through rookie growing pains. Using a soft stretch in late November and early December, the Steelers caught fire. wins the Panthers, Raiders and Raven late December and early January brought them into the final week of the season in postseason contention, and even elimination couldn’t dull the glow of a 16th non-losing season in 16 years for Tomlin.