5. Bill Belichick, Patriots: Consistent greatness keeps him from winning this award as often as he should. He’s won three times. Don Shula holds the record of four. Shula won two Super Bowls. Belichick has won two of his five Super Bowls since 2010, the last time he was named coach of the year.
The Patriots were allowing 32 points per game when they started 2-2. As usual, everyone overreacted to New England’s early-season struggles. And, as usual, Belichick positioned his team to win home-field advantage. The Patriots have allowed 14.7 points per game while going 10-1 the past 11 games.
4. Doug Pederson, Eagles: He has the league’s best record (13-2) and went from worst (7-9) to first in the NFC East.
3. Doug Marrone, Jaguars: It took Gus Bradley 62 games to win 14. Marrone, his successor, has 11 wins in 17 tries.
The Jaguars went from 3-13 to 10-5 and division champions for the first time this millennium. They had posted nine straight losing seasons, including seven with 11 or more losses.
Marrone’s case would be stronger if he had quarterback Blake Bortles playing better than mediocre. Three Bortles interceptions, including a pick-six, led to 21 points in last week’s 44-33 loss to a 10-loss 49ers team.
2. Mike Zimmer, Vikings: Fans jumped ship after Week 2 when backup Case Keenum looked overwhelmed in a blowout loss at Pittsburgh. Two weeks later, the Vikings fell to 2-2 as dynamic leading rusher Dalvin Cook blew out an ACL in another loss to Detroit.
Since then, the Vikings are 10-1 with a surprisingly effective top-10 offense and a vintage Zimmer defense that ranks No. 1 in both points (16.1) and yardage allowed (280.9).
1. Sean McVay, Rams: As impressive as Zimmer has been — including a 24-7 win over the Rams — his team began 2017 much further up the stability ladder than the dysfunctional disaster that then-30-year-old McVay inherited in Year 2 of the Rams’ return to Los Angeles.
The Rams had strung together 13 consecutive losing seasons, including last year’s 4-12 debacle. Jeff Fisher’s offense was so putrid last year that its league-low scoring average of 14 points per game was 2.5 fewer than the 1-15 Browns.
Enter McVay, the former Redskins offensive coordinator, and the Rams have gone from worst to first (11-4) in the NFC West standings and in leaguewide scoring average (31.0). The Rams have scored 30 or more points nine times in 15 games after reaching that mark only five times in the previous 48 games under Fisher.
Then there’s the job McVay has done with Jared Goff. In 15 games, Goff has gone from apparent No. 1 overall bust to a respected young franchise quarterback who’s playoff-bound. He’s gone from 0-7 with a 63.6 passer rating under Fisher to 11-4 with a 100.5 rating under McVay.
Goff’s development has helped Todd Gurley become the best back in theNFL, not to mention a MVP candidate.
And just as impressive was McVay having the self-confidence to bring in 70-year-old Wade Phillips to essentially be co-coach in charge of all things defense. Phillips, who began coaching 10 years before McVay was born, has elevated the Rams from 23rd in scoring defense (24.6) to eighth (19.7).
“What makes Sean Sean is not that he’s young, and it’s not that he’s this brilliant offensive mind,” Kevin Demoff, Rams chief operating officer, told reporters recently. “It’s his ability to communicate and build a culture and get players to buy in.”
Recently, Gurley was asked why McVay should win NFL Coach of the Year. Perhaps he put it best when he said, “What’s understood don’t need to be explained.”