Thursday, March 26, 2015

Paul Domowitch: Is Andy Reid coach of the year?

After signing a contract extension, an argument can be made that Andy Reid is the best coach in the NFL. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)
After signing a contract extension, an argument can be made that Andy Reid is the best coach in the NFL. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

THIS PROBABLY isn't going to go over too well with those of you out there still shoveling down Prilosec to quiet the acid reflux caused by the announcement of Andy Reid's contract extension a few weeks back. But a pretty good case can be made for "Big Red" to be the NFL's coach of the year.

There are a lot of good candidates out there this year. The Colts' Jim Caldwell is 14-1 in his first season as head coach, though Peyton Manning has had a little something to do with that.

The Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt managed to avoid the letdown that so often has struck Super Bowl runners-up and has guided Arizona to its first double-digit-win season in 33 years.

The Chargers' Norv Turner righted a ship that was 2-3 in mid-October and has it riding a 10-game win streak.

More coverage
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  • Eagletarian: News and notes from Eagles practice
  • Eagles, Cowboys closely matched
  • Eagles Pro Bowlers are thinking Super
  • In memoriam: Jim Johnson
  • Birds' Eye View: Sheldon Brown left out of Pro Bowl
  • Should Andy Reid be the NFL's coach of the year?
    Yes
    No
    Not sure

    The Bengals' Marvin Lewis resuscitated an 11-game loser and won just the franchise's second division title since sometime around the birth of Jesus.

    Bill Belichick has the Patriots back in the playoff saddle and Sean Payton's Saints have won an NFC-best 13 games and Mike McCarthy has transformed the Packers from double-digit loser to double-digit winner and Brad Childress has the Vikings back in the playoffs for the second straight year and Jeff Fisher nearly got the Titans into the playoffs after an 0-6 start.

    But Reid deserves to be right there in the discussion. While many of you continue to think he's the village idiot because he doesn't save his timeouts for a rainy day, or throws the ball a little too much, or seldom is forthcoming in press conferences, the truth is he probably has done one of his best coaching jobs this season.

    In case you haven't noticed, the Eagles have rebuilt their team without missing a beat. Nineteen of the 53 players on their roster are in their first year in midnight green. Another nine are in only their second season here. Eight of their 22 starters last week against Denver either weren't with the team or didn't start in last January's NFC Championship Game loss to the Cardinals. Four of those eight were rookies.

    Reid lost his defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson, to cancer during the summer. He has had to deal with a nonstop flurry of injuries. Starters and key role players have missed 79 games this season to injury.

    And yet, and yet, the Eagles are going to the playoffs for the eighth time in the last 10 years. They have reeled off six straight wins. If they make it seven Sunday against the Cowboys, they will earn a first-round bye.

    I don't know whether Reid will win coach of the year or not. I don't even know yet whether he'll get my vote. I've narrowed it down to three - Reid, Turner and Whisenhunt. But he certainly deserves to be in the discussion.

     

    Around the league

     

    * I know how much the Vikings' Brad Childress values protecting the football. So it has got to be killing him to have a running back like Adrian Peterson who is so incredibly talented, and yet so turnover-prone. Peterson's game-costing fumble against the Bears Monday night in overtime was his seventh of the season. He's lost all seven. Last year, Peterson fumbled nine times and lost seven of them. That's 14 lost fumbles in two seasons. By comparison, the Eagles' Brian Westbrook has lost just five fumbles in the last 6 years.

    * Jon Runyan got his first extended playing time Sunday for the Chargers in their 42-17 win over the Titans. He played a series in the first and third quarters, then replaced Brandyn Dombrowski at right tackle in the fourth quarter when coach Norv Turner made mass substitutions. Runyan signed with the Chargers last month after their starting right tackle, Jeromey Clary, suffered a season-ending ankle injury, but he hasn't played very much. Dombrowski has started all five games since Clary got hurt. "Every week, Jon is getting back into it," Turner said. "Getting to play as much as he did the other night was good. We're going to need him."

    * Eagles center Jamaal Jackson should eventually make a complete recovery from his torn ACL. But there is no guarantee that he'll be ready to go by the beginning of next season. His replacement, Nick Cole, is in the final year of his contract. He will be a restricted free agent if there is no new collective bargaining agreement by March, and an unrestricted free agent if there is a new deal in place. At the moment, the chances of a new labor deal by March appear slim.

    * Many players aren't crazy about the league's decision to move the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before it. "[The Pro Bowl] always has been more of a vacation to wind down and enjoy after everything else is over," Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Now it's a little different with it being before the Super Bowl. The guys don't really have that luxury of treating it like a vacation."

    * It's still uncertain who new Browns president Mike Holmgren will hire as his general manager. But you can pretty much narrow the field down to Bob LaMonte clients. LaMonte represents Holmgren and numerous other NFL head coaches and executives, including Andy Reid and Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. Heckert isn't believed to be interested in the Browns job because he wouldn't have final say in personnel matters there. Holmgren will have that. Two more likely possibilities are Packers director of football operations John Schneider and Patriots pro personnel director Jason Licht. Both are La-Monte clients.

     

    2-minute drill

     

    FROM THE LIP:

    * "I'm not coaching [in the NFL in 2010]. The only team I'm coaching is my 13-year-old's flag-football team." - ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on the possibility of returning to the NFL sidelines next season.

    * "We've seen some shams [of interviews], I'm not going to try to tell you we haven't seen some shams. We've seen them. And there will be more. But that won't take us away from the methods we know work and the best methods that we've been doing." - John Wooten, president of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors the NFL's Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview at least one African-American for every head-coaching and top front-office vacancy.

    * "I get hit with 'The Look,' and I get all that. I just have to press on. I have to push forward. I'm going to stay focused and see this through. And I'm having, I truly am having, a great experience. It's not fun, but it is a great experience. There are better days ahead." - Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who is expected to be fired next week.

    * "If I could cuss right now, I would. This sucked. We're playing bad right now. We've got to play better. Each man on this team needs to go home and look himself in the mirror and figure out what we want to be this year: an 11-5 team or a 12-4 team that makes noise in the playoffs. That's just the bottom line." - Vikings defensive end Jared Allen after Monday night's loss to the Bears.

    NUMBERS CRUNCHING:

    * With Sunday's win over the Rams, the Cardinals are 10-5. It's their first double-digit-win season since 1976. They've posted three straight seasons with a .500 record or better for the first time since 1982-84.

    * The Chargers have won an NFL-record 18 straight games in December.

    * Peyton Manning became the fourth quarterback in NFL history Sunday to throw for 50,000 yards, joining Brett Favre, Dan Marino and John Elway. Manning reached the mark the fastest, needing just 191 games to do it. Marino did it in 193 games.

    * Texans QB and West Chester East High product Matt Schaub leads the NFL with 4,467 passing yards. He's had five 350-yard passing games this season.

    * The Texans' Andre Johnson leads the NFL with 1,504 receiving yards. He had a league-best 1,575 last year. He and Marvin Harrison are the only players in NFL history to notch back-to-back 1,500-yard receiving seasons.

    * The Patriots' Wes Welker, who has an NFL-high 122 receptions, is the first player in history to record three straight 110-catch seasons.

    * The Titans' Chris Johnson has 3,100 rushing yards in his first 30 NFL games. He's just the seventh player to rush for 3,000-plus yards in their first 30 games.

     

    Thumb things to ponder

     

    THUMBS DOWN:

    To Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who actually had the guts to interview one of head coach Jim Zorn's assistants - secondary coach Jerry Gray - several weeks ago for Zorn's job. It's been clear for a while now to everyone, including Zorn, that he's a dead man walking. But Snyder apparently wants to humiliate him as much as possible before he cans him. He could at least have the decency to wait until he fires Zorn to start interviewing replacement candidates. Snyder has absolutely no intention of hiring Gray. But the NFL requires teams to interview at least one African-American candidate for all head-coaching and top front-office positions. Guess he thought he'd get it out of the way early.

    THUMBS DOWN:

    To the NFL for moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl. I know they're trying to find a way to get more people to pay attention to this game. The problem is, by moving it up, they are effectively devaluing the significance of playing in the game. Every year, there are at least a dozen players selected to the Pro Bowl who back out because of injuries, real or imagined. Well, that number is going to swell now that the game is being moved up 2 weeks. Also, the Pro Bowl players on the two Super Bowl teams, which could feasibly number as many as 15 or 20, won't be playing in the game. By game time, they might have to raid some Arena2 rosters for players.

     

    NFL rankings

     

    1. Colts 14-1

    2. Chargers 12-3

    3. Eagles 11-4

    4. Saints 13-2

    5. Patriots 10-5

    6. Vikings 11-4

    7. Packers 10-5

    8. Bengals 10-5

    9. Cardinals 10-5

    10. Cowboys 10-5

    11. Falcons 8-7

    12. Ravens 8-7

    13. Titans 7-8

    14. Texans 8-7

    15. Broncos 8-7

    16. Panthers 7-8

    17. Steelers 8-7

    18. Giants 8-7

    19. Jets 8-7

    20. Dolphins 7-8

    21. Niners 7-8

    22. Jaguars 7-8

    23. Bears 6-9

    24. Browns 4-11

    25. Bucs 3-12

    26. Redskins 4-11

    27. Raiders 5-10

    28. Chiefs 3-12

    29. Lions 2-13

    30. Bills 5-10

    31. Seahawks 5-10

    32. Rams 1-14

     

    Domo's NFL All-Pro team

     

    OFFENSE

    QB Peyton Manning, Colts

    RB Chris Johnson, Titans

    RB Steven Jackson, Rams

    FB Leonard Weaver, Eagles

    WR Andre Johnson, Texans

    WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

    TE Dallas Clark, Colts

    T Michael Roos, Titans

    T Michael Oher, Ravens

    G Carl Nicks, Saints

    G Chris Snee, Giants

    C Andre Gurode, Cowboys

    PK David Akers, Eagles

    Ret. Josh Cribbs, Browns

    DEFENSE

    DE Julius Peppers, Panthers

    DE Trent Cole, Eagles

    DT Pat Williams, Vikings

    DT Jay Ratliff, Cowboys

    ILB Patrick Willis, 49ers

    ILB Curtis Lofton, Falcons

    OLB Elvis Dumervil, Broncos

    OLB LaMarr Woodley, Steelers

    CB Charles Woodson, Packers

    CB Darrelle Revis, Jets

    S Darren Sharper, Saints

    S Jairus Byrd, Bills

    P Shane Lechler, Raiders

     

    Paul Domowitch Daily News NFL Columnist
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