Coach of the year

I decided to conclude my preview/futures series of articles with a topic that can often be overlooked in sports, but is actually extremely important. In this sport maybe even more than others and I am talking about coaching, of course. We have two very interesting markets involving coaches and the first one is the coach of the year award. Top 3 favorites to win it are Bruce Ariens, Bill Belichick, and Mike McCarthy. I don't really agree with that. The market expects Tampa Bay to be very good this year and anything less than winning their division with a very good record will be considered an underachievement. And I really don't see how they'll do that with New Orleans Saints being their biggest rivals inside NFC South. Bill Belichick has their own set of issues after all these opt-outs he had recently. New England Patriots were arguably hurt the most so far with Cannon, Hightower and Chung opting-out of 2020 season. Mike McCarthy is on the other hand arriving into a good situation in Dallas, but I'm not sure if he'll get a lot of the credit in case of success. This Dallas team is considered a pretty good one for a long time now, but the public was feeling that Jason Garrett was slowing them down.

In my opinion there are several more likely candidates when we move down the list. First and foremost, Kyle Shanahan. Him and John Lynch as GM have resurrected the fallen giant and were a quarter away from winning a Superbowl last year. I expect them to be at the very top of the NFC conference once again, because there was nothing fluky about their success last year. They are playing good football on both sides of the ball and have kept the majority of their roster intact. Some other names that could get in the mix are Sean Payton, Andy Reid and Mike Zimmer.

Next head coach to leave

Many times in the past we've witnessed 0-4 start costing a coach his job. But I don't think this "race" will be won by a 0-4 starter. It is more complex I think. We have to take into consideration previous seasons, expectations going into this one, changes in the front office, etc. Talking about changes in the front office, it's always dangerous for a head coach when new GM is in town because he'll probably look to bring in his own guy. Adam Gase of the New York Jets is in such a situation. He was not in a great relationship with previous GM Mike Maccagnan, who got sacked just before the start of 2019 season and replaced by Joe Douglas from Philadelphia. Despite being with the Jets for only one season so far, he doesn't really have much room for mistakes. He needs to show that he can develop Sam Darnold, or he's probably gone. Bad start (that is most likely going to happen with this roster), combined with poor play of Darnold would mean game over for Adam Gase.

Another two interesting names are Dan Quinn and Bill O'Brien. Quinn had two consecutive losing seasons and they seem unable to stop that bad run in Atlanta. As I mentioned in my NFC South preview, that roster was nothing special in previous years and I think it's even worse now. Arthur Blank showed a lot of patience so far, but a bad start could prove to be fatal for Dan Quinn as the Falcons head coach. Bill O'Brien is testing his luck with the decisions that he's making. I am talking about that crazy trade when he gave up DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson and a 2nd pick round in the draft. When you make such a bold move like that, you gotta hope it will pay off, because if it doesn't, it might make you expendable. Still, I think he's still quite safe, considering that they made him a GM few months ago, meaning the owners trust him. There are only a handful of GM/head coaches in the league.

I'd keep an eye on the situation in Chicago as well. It was tough to watch the Bears last year when they underperformed heavily. Nagy is under a lot of pressure to make big improvements in 2020, or else he's in trouble. If you decide to bet some of the favorites, it would probably be smart to hedge with some older guys with a history of issues with their health. Bruce Ariens is a cancer survivor and will turn 68 soon. Getting infected by covid-19 could force him to leave his position and focus on recovering to full health.