The reigning National Football League Coach of the Year is Jason Garrett. Just reminding the class before we begin.
Perhaps NFL.com didn’t take 2016 NFL Season 101, because it doesn’t seem like they remember this. Elliot Harrison, who is actually really great and one of the OG Tony Romo defenders, is in charge of all of their weekly power rankings, and he recently waived that wand over the current landscape of NFL head coaches.
A lot of things about Elliot’s ranking are very fair. He has the four newbies at the tail end, Todd Bowles is the lowest ranked “veteran”, and Bill Belichick is number one. No qualms there. As you scroll through this list, dramatically built in ascending order, you may raise your eyebrows when you finally land on Jason Garrett at 13th.
I’m not going to sit here and say that Jason Garrett is the greatest coach ever or anything because that simply isn’t true; however, saying he’s the 13th best head coach in the game does seem a little farfetched.
Maybe you don’t think that, and maybe you really do think that’s fair. But I challenge you to look at this list of the 12 coaches ranked ahead of him and say that it’s all good with a straight face:
- 12: John Fox, Chicago Bears - WHAT! I repeat... W H A T !
- 11: Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons - Alright I guess the NFL Top 100 guys made this.
- 10: Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings - Was this written during Weeks 1-5 of last season?
- 9: Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints - Three straight 8-8 seasons get you criticized, but three straight 7-9 seasons with Drew Brees as your QB is cool?
- 8: Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers - Riverboat Ron’s a good coach, I’m not touching this one.
- 7: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals - Why did the Cardinals regress in 2016? Not BA’s fault?
- 6: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens - Harbaugh’s declined a bit, but this is fair to me.
- 5: Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs - Red isn’t his color, but this makes sense.
- 4: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers - Fair enough.
- 3: Mike McCarthy,
Aaron RodgersGreen Bay Packers - Better than Garrett? I suppose, but third is too high for Double M.
- 2: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks - NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF OCTOBER 2014 but definitely overall.
- 1: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots - Duh.
Now let’s take into consideration what Elliot had to say about Jason Garrett:
In August, the season appeared lost following injuries to Tony Romo and backup Kellen Moore. By January, Garrett had his guys in the playoffs. Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott and NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott had much to do with the overall success, but you can't take credit away from Garrett, who lets his assistants coach. That includes offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who worked wonders with Prescott. Garrett's steady hand and experience as a journeyman quarterback should serve Prescott and this Dallas team well going forward.
If you read the first two sentences of this you should immediately be unbelievably impressed. It’s interesting how so much of the 2016 Cowboys’ success is relegated to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Scott Linehan, and other unnamed assistants. The head honcho is just a puppet (stop me if you’ve heard that before)?
Again, there’s no one here saying that Jason Garrett deserves to be ahead of Darth Belichick or anything similarly crazy. Bill, Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin, Andy Reid, John Harbaugh, and Ron Rivera are coaches who I fully understand being ahead of Garrett.
Is it not fair to protest Bruce Arians, Sean Payton, Mike Zimmer, Dan Quinn, and JOHN FOX though? Mike McCarthy is in a weird hard-to-properly-rank place because it seems like Aaron Rodgers does everything for him, especially convert 3rd and 20s (sobs forever).
Let me remind you again that Sean Payton has gone 7-9 in three consecutive seasons. In that same stretch of time Jason Garrett has done all of these things twice:
- Won at least 12 games.
- Gotten his team past the wildcard round of the playoffs.
- Had a player finish top five in MVP voting (Romo AND Murray in 2014, Zeke in 2016).
- Had a running back lead the league in rushing.
- Had a rookie be named First-Team All-Pro.
This doesn’t just push Jason Garrett pass Sean Payton. This puts him ahead of coaches like Bruce Arians, Mike Zimmer and Dan Quinn.
Bruce Arians is awesome, he really is. I loved him on Amazon’s All or Nothing last season, but nobody will question his coaching prowess. Why? Because he’s insanely cool. He’ll curse, say his team sucks, come up with clever catchphrases, and he wears a Kangol hat! That doesn’t mean he’s better than Jason Garrett entering 2017. Last season with an opportunity to improve on an NFC Championship Game appearance, his team folded.
People love Mike Zimmer because he’s really nice. He’s got that Tony Dungy quality to him. People also love to, rightfully so, credit him for how his team overcame injuries last season. Well I guess it’s not like Jason Garrett lost Tony Romo, Kellen Moore, Darren McFadden, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Orlando Scandrick, and more at various points in 2016. Nope that didn’t happen.
Dan Quinn is great, and what he’s done in Atlanta over two years is impressive; however, his wagon is hitched to a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan and an all-world receiver in Julio Jones. Jason Garrett almost beat Quinn with Brandon Weeden in 2015!
Jason Garrett isn’t a top five NFL head coach (yet), but he’s definitely in the top 10. Jason Garrett is also indisputably, unequivocally, and undeniably a better head coach than John Fox (he’s 9-23 in his two seasons in Chicago). It’s the season for silly narratives, and boy oh boy does that one take the cake.