Sharp: Why Giants’ Brian Daboll deserves to win Coach of the Year award

To me, this is not even a close contest. It’s a landslide. Coach of the Year is not an award for the most successful coach or the best coach. It recognizes the coach who got the most out of the hand he was dealt this year and exceeded all expectations in doing so. It’s an award only for 2022. And in 2022, there’s clearly no one more deserving than Brian Daboll.

Why is Daboll the easy and logical choice? Because we’ve seen other coaches repeatedly try, and fail, with basically the same squad.

2017: 3-13 under Ben McAdoo (fired)

2018: 5-11 under Pat Shurmur

2019: 4-12 under Pat Shurmur (fired)

2020: 6-10 under Joe Judge

2021: 4-13 under Joe Judge (fired)

Over the last five years, the Giants had the worst record in the NFL (22-59). No team was worse. The Giants were also the only NFL team to never win more than six games in a season over the past five years.

And then there’s this one. The mother of all statistics. Something that seems so inconceivable that it must be pure fiction.

At no time, not in any season, during the last FIVE YEARS, did the Giants have a winning record.

They are the only team to have achieved this historically embarrassing feat.

Somehow, there wasn’t a single week in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 or 2021 when the Giants had a record above .500 or even a single week. Never 1-0. Never 3-2. Never 5-4. Never over .500 in any season.

What did Brian Daboll inherit in 2022?

The most embarrassing franchise in the NFL. Yes, the Giants are a storied franchise. But they ran themselves into the ground and were unsuccessful for the last half decade.

How impressive has Daniel Jones been this season?

How impressive has Daniel Jones been this season?

Craig Carton makes a case for Daniel Jones as one of the league’s most valuable QBs this season after the New York quarterback led the Giants to a win over the Indianapolis Colts, securing a postseason spot for the first time since of 2016.

Brian Daboll’s Giants won the first game of the season. But they didn’t stop there. There wasn’t a week in 2022 that the Giants didn’t have a record above .500.

This twist is unheard of and simply amazing.

Beyond the results, consider the context in which Daboll has made this turnaround. The Giants were left in a state of complete disrepair by former GM Dave Gettleman. In February, the Giants had the fourth-lowest cap hit of any team in the NFL. They also had the ninth-fastest place to replace in free agency.

Both their starting QB and starting RB were highly drafted, but so questionable that both were in line to play out their rookie deals and leave in free agency. His fifth-year option had also not been picked up.

Of the 30 QBs with 1,000 attempts between 2018 and 2021, Daniel Jones ranked between No. 25 and No. 30 in virtually every common metric, including completion percentage, yards per attempt, passer rating and ratio TD:INT.

In more advanced metrics, he also ranked 29th in expected points added per attempt (-0.06) and 29th in completion percentage (41%) among those 30 qualified QBs. Understandably, ownership had no interest in expanding it.

This was the hand Daboll was dealt.

A team with the worst record in the NFL over the previous five years (that never had a winning record of any kind during any of those seasons), a team with an inferior QB quarterback, a bottom four slot, and a top 10. Snaps that needed to be replaced, as well as a variety of other messes left behind from a regime run over by Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman.

And in Year 1 on the job, Daboll did what none of the other coaches (and many were hired and fired trying to do) with this roster: win. And make the playoffs.

This is a classic example of a coach getting things right when other coaches tried and failed repeatedly. This is clearly Coach of the Year material.

The Daboll-led Giants also played in the NFC East. The East is the ONLY division in the NFL that has two teams with more than 11 wins (Philadelphia is 13-3, Dallas is 12-4) and the ONLY division where the worst team is just a half game behind .500 (Washington is 7-8-1).

Still, he guided the Giants to a playoff berth a full week before the season ended. His Giants have been so good this season that they are locked in the playoffs and can rest players in the final week of the season.

Imagine saying that, no, thinking about it, at any time in the previous five years.

What is the right criteria to win coach of the year? To recognize the coach who got the most out of his hand, this year he has shown himself and exceeded all expectations in doing so.

What better measure than sports betting lines.

This offseason, the Giants were -275 to miss the playoffs, which translates to a 73% chance of missing the playoffs.

The odds of the Giants making the playoffs were 27% before the season.

And before the last week of the season, they sat at 100%. How’s that for exceeding all expectations?

What about exceeding expectations week after week?

Look again at the betting lines for each game, which predict the winner and the margin of that victory (spread). The Giants covered the spread in 12 of their 16 games (75%).

No team has covered the spread in more games. (The Bengals have also covered 12 as the defending Super Bowl champions with franchise QB Joe Burrow at the helm.)

Daboll’s Giants had a 27% chance of making the playoffs. They got there. Daboll deserves the award.

Check out some of the other top contenders:

Nick Sirianni: Undoubtedly a great coach. But he’s in Year 2 and has been handed a Super Bowl-caliber roster by one of the NFL’s best GMs, Howie Roseman. The Eagles made the playoffs last year. Before the season started, the Eagles had a 66% chance of making the playoffs. That percentage skyrocketed when Dak Prescott got injured.

The Eagles have covered the spread in 8 of 16 games so far this year. It’s been a great year to be an Eagles fan, but that’s not the kind of resume that wins Coach of the Year. There was nothing remarkable or too unexpected about a team that, when Week 1 began, was expected to win the NFC East and make the playoffs for the second year in a row by winning a couple more games.

Kyle Shanahan: Shanahan is one of my favorite coaches in the NFL. I love their offensive scheme and their game. But there’s no way he’s close to winning coach of the year. This 49ers team won 13 games in 2019 and made the Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB. And he’s the QB that led the team to 12 wins in 2022.

Last year, this team made the NFC Conference Championship game with Jimmy Garoppolo posting double-digit wins. Entering 2022, they are projected to make the playoffs 69% of the time. Shanahan has been there for years, helping build this roster with “his” players. None of this fits the mold of winning coach of the year by posting completely unexpected results in a far below average situation.

Dan Campbell: Campbell is in Year 2 and has his hand-picked QB at the helm. The Lions’ change from 3-13-1 to 8-8 does fit the criteria. But entering the year, the Lions had plenty of cap space and didn’t have to replace many additions in free agency.

They were expected to finish third in the NFC North and they did. They’re not even in the playoffs in the final week of the season and could be eliminated before their game even starts. Campbell would be my #2 candidate, but he doesn’t have a more compelling case than Brian Daboll. It’s not even close.

Doug Pederson: In year 1 of the job, like Daboll. That means a lot. A coach who exceeds expectations in his first year really shows what a difference he made. Because of that, Pederson has an edge on some of those other non-Daboll candidates listed above. But that’s where it ends for me. Pederson has a golden boy QB in No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, seen as a generational talent.

Jacksonville is 8-8 right now. They have to win their last game to even make the playoffs. And if they weren’t in the terrible AFC South, there’s a good chance their record wouldn’t even get them into the playoffs except for the fact that the division winner gets an automatic berth. The Jaguars have gone 8-8 against the spread this year, meaning they haven’t even exceeded expectations on a game-by-game basis.

One of those wins was over Justin Herbert days after his rib injury where he shouldn’t have played. Pederson’s other wins? Those came against Zach Wilson, the Davis Mills/Jeff Driskel combo, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott. And then there are two undeniable facts that keep Pederson from being close to winning this award:

1. The Jaguars had the third-most cap space entering the season and spent an absurd $272,115,000 on free agents, not only the most of any team, but the second-highest going down with 192 millions of dollars. The Giants spent all $54 million. Pederson was able to pick and add top players this offseason to build his roster, a luxury not possible for Daboll.

2. Pederson was outplayed by Daboll when Daboll came into Jacksonville as an underdog and beat the Jaguars straight up on the road.

The top five contenders in the betting market for manager of the year are Daboll and the four mentioned above.

There isn’t a single candidate who has been handed a worse slate, in their first year, with excuses everywhere for a bad season, and has gotten more.

Taking a team that not only had the worst record in the NFL the previous five years, but was never above .500 at any point in that span, to never be below .500 in its first year, with a horrible tight end situation, the second-worst QB in the NFL the previous four years, with the most carries against the spread in the NFL while closing out a playoff seed with a week to go and could rest the last week of the season?

Coach of the year.

Do something with a squad that no other coach in New York could do, without having the space to change the squad?

Coach of the year.

This is simple. While the betting markets have yet to catch up, they soon will.

There is no one with a better case for coach of the year than Brian Daboll.

What he has done in New York in his first year, with the remains of Dave Gettleman, has been nothing short of amazing.

Not only did he change the entire culture of the building, but he won games in the process and already punched a ticket to the postseason.

He is our coach of the year.

Warren Sharp is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He is the founder of Sharp Football Analysis and has worked as a consultant for major league franchises, while also previously contributing to ESPN and The Ringer, among other outlets. He studied engineering before using his statistical acumen to create predictive football models. You can follow Warren on Twitter at @SharpFootball.

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