Coach of the year down to three viable choices

The criteria and voting for coach of the year is weird, no matter the sport. More on that in a few. 

There are three viable candidates left for NFL coach of the year award, according to BetMGM’s odds: Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals and Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers are co-favorites at +160 odds. Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans is third at +350. Everyone else is at least 30-to-1 odds.

All three have good arguments. But it’s a bit odd why Vrabel trails the other two by so much. 

A three-man race

Here’s the breakdown for all three coaches still in the race: 

LaFleur: Dismissing LaFleur because he coaches Aaron Rodgers sums up how bad coach of the year arguments can be. LaFleur is 39-9 and his .813 winning percentage would be best in NFL history for any coach with more than 50 games. The Packers were 13-18-1 in Mike McCarthy’s last two seasons, before LaFleur. One of those seasons Rodgers was hurt most of the season, but the last season Rodgers started all 16 games and Green Bay was 6-9-1. Let’s not ignore that the Packers didn’t have an easy 2021. The Rodgers trade drama dominated headlines. Davante Adams is unhappy too. LaFleur kept the focus on winning. He also dealt with injuries to left tackle David Bakhtiari, cornerback Jaire Alexander and edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, three elite players. And the Packers still have the NFL’s best record. You’d think that would matter. LaFleur has done a fantastic job. 

Taylor: Taylor’s candidacy is another great example of how weird coach of the year voting can be. The reason Taylor is up there isn’t because he has the best team like LaFleur, or even the best team in his conference. It’s because the Bengals had low preseason expectations. Instead of admitting everyone might have had a bad process in projecting the Bengals to be under .500, it had to be that Taylor did an unbelievable job as coach. It can’t be that anyone was wrong before the season, of course. Taylor has done a good job. Joe Burrow has…

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