Although the 2013-14 NFL season didn’t quite end the way that head coach Chuck Pagano and his team would have liked, it’s still hard to dispute that the season was a success. In his second season as a head coach, Pagano helped lead the Indianapolis Colts to an 11-5 record, a victory in the AFC Playoffs, and an AFC South title. Pagano could very well have been named the 2013 NFL Coach of the Year.
However, the honor went to Ron Rivera, third-year head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Rivera’s team finished the 2013 regular season with a 12-4 record, which was five more wins than the previous year. The Panthers won the NFC South, got the second seed in the NFC Playoffs, but lost their first postseason game.
As accomplished as these two teams and head coaches were this season, there were several other considerations for Coach of the Year. Another strong contender for the award was Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the Chiefs fell in the AFC Wild Card round to Pagano and the Colts, their turnaround in 2013 was nothing short of amazing. In 2012, injuries and inconsistent play led Kansas City to a dismal 2-14 record, which was the worst record in franchise history. In his first season with the Chiefs, Reid’s team improved to 11-5, in the same division with the eventual AFC Champion Denver Broncos. Kansas City started 9-0, which tied the best start in franchise history.
Any of these three coaches (and even a few others) could have easily walked away with the Coach of the Year award this season. The NFL is a horse race every year, and different teams make strides each season. In 2013, the race was as close as it had been in quite some time.