The Giants undoubtedly underwent a remarkable turnaround this season, from 6-10 last year (and coming off three straight losing season) to 11-5. It was about as good a debut as anyone could have expected from rookie head coach Ben McAdoo.
And that's why, in an interview on WFAN on Wednesday, Giants running back Rashad Jennings said "When people talk about the Coach of the Year award, I'm wondering why nobody mentions my coach."
It's true, almost no one mentions McAdoo in connection with the NFL Coach of the Year award, which will be handed out Saturday night in Houston during the NFL Honors awards show. The reality is he's not going to win it and that's probably fair. There are several candidates with stronger cases to make for the awards.
What's odd, though, is what seems like a complete lack of support for a man who engineered such an impressive turnaround. In fact, when Bovada released odds on who would win the award, it listed six possible candidates. McAdoo wasn't even on the board.
So here's a look at Coach of the Year cases that can be made for those six candidates, as well as the case for McAdoo. I'll even add in my prediction for who will win, below.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
The NFL took away his starting quarterback - one of the greatest of all time - for four games, and not only did the Patriots survive, they went 3-1. Then, after the return of Tom Brady they went on their usual tear through the regular season. Also, Belichick hasn't won this award since 2010. Yet he's been to the AFC championship game six straight times, reached the Super Bowl three times in those six years and has a chance to win his second in that span. Unfortunately for him, some still consider him a cheater. It also doesn't help that this award often goes to coaches whose teams start with lower expectations.
Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders won 12 games for the first time since 2000, and it was their first winning season since 2002. In two years he's helped turn around this franchise from a 3-13 mess to an AFC power. His case might have been strengthened if they had won the AFC West, though they probably would have if quarterback Derek Carr didn't hurt in Week 16. The Raiders surge wasn't a complete surprise since they've long been one of the NFL's biggest underachievers, but Del Rio deserves credit for succeeding where so many others have failed.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys went 4-12 a year ago, mostly because they lost Tony Romo to injury. Then the first thing that happens to them this year is they lose Romo again. But this time, Garrett guided them to an 11-1 start and a 13-3 record overall. Yes, they lucked out with Dak Prescott who was better than expected and was a fourth-round quarterback that everyone overlooked. Garrett still gets credit for helping his quick development and transition. And even though they had been building this team - and it's powerful offensive line - for some time, Garrett's job seems even more impressive when you consider he had a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back and had more than a few run-ins with the mercurial Dez Bryant.
Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins
The rookie head coach took over a team that hadn't had a winning season or been to the playoffs since 2008 (their only playoff berth in a span of 15 years) and guided them to a 10-6 record and wild-card berth. And it wasn't easy. He had to bench his star running back (Jay Ajayi) early and he lost his quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) in Week 14 and he somehow got Matt Moore to guide them the rest of the way. They got off to a very rocky 1-4 start, but went 9-2 the rest of the way.
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
This was the third time in four seasons that the Chiefs had double-digit wins (12-4) under Reid, and that won't help his case. What should help his case is that despite a team that had plenty of injuries and a very average quarterback in Alex Smith, they won a division that featured the defending Super Bowl champs (Denver Broncos) and the upstart Raiders. It helped that Carr got hurt in Oakland, but the Chiefs rode a 5-1 surge at the finish to the AFC West title.
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
After finishing a disappointing 8-8 a year ago, this former defensive coordinator put it all together with the help of his MVP-worthy quarterback (Matt Ryan). Getting to 11-5 wasn't as easy as it looked either, considering they lost three of five before their bye week and were just 6-4 at Thanksgiving. Boy, did they kick it into gear after that, though, finishing 5-1 and putting on the best offensive show in the NFL. Yes, they had more weapons than anyone in the NFL, but they've had those before and still not won.
Ben McAdoo, New York Giants
It certainly helped that he was the beneficiary of a $200 million offseason spending spree on defense - and that probably hurts his chances more than anything - but he took what had become a losing franchise and instilled a new confidence and positive attitude. His changes in schedule and his conditioning program also helped keep his team healthy for the first time in years. The result was team that was fresh at the end of the season and at the end of games - protecting fourth-quarter leads they routinely blew a year ago. If he could have ever gotten his offense on track, he might have ended up a lock for this award. His team could have ended up in the Super Bowl, too.
And the winner is …
The PFWA writers gave the award to Jason Garrett, and he remains the favorite to win the big award on Saturday night. The nine-win turnaround after again losing his starting quarterback and having to navigate a season with rookie starters at quarterback and running back will be hard to beat. My vote, if I had one, would've gone to Jack Del Rio for succeeding in a place that has been a pit of failure for more than a decade. He had a more accomplished quarterback than Garrett did, but only slightly, and he was working with less talent overall in poor conditions with a franchise that might have had one foot out of Oakland's door. There's a reason no one has been able to succeed there. Winning there is an amazing feat.