On Wednesday, the Associated Press announced finalists for the end-of-season awards that are handed out at the NFL Honors show on Thursday, February 9. We already noted that Detroit Lions rookie Aidan Hutchinson is one of three candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately for coach Dan Campbell, he wasn’t as lucky to win a nomination.
The Associated Press announced finalists for 2022 Coach of the Year, and Campbell wasn’t among them. Those honors went to Giants coach Brian Daboll, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.
But here’s where things get interesting. When the official NFL Twitter account announced the finalists for the award, they listed five nominees, adding Eagles coach Nick Sirianni and Bills coach Sean McDermott. Still no Campbell.
For the record, the Associate Press’ three finalists are the accurate list. It is most likely that the NFL listed five candidates to drum up more excitement (and maybe to try and avoid angry Eagles fans). However, that likely means that Campbell was not among the top-five vote-getters, which warrants talk about a potential snub here.
First of all, I think it’s very fair to compare the resumes of Campbell and Pederson. Both took teams with horrible records last year (3-13-1 for Detroit, 3-14 for the Jaguars) and turned it into 9-8 seasons this season. Both teams survived a horrible start to the year (1-6 for Detroit, 2-6 for Jacksonville), too.
But to Pederson’s credit, he turned things around in his first season, while it was Campbell’s second. The Jaguars also won their division, made the playoffs, and won a playoff game—although the only reason they even got to the postseason was their weak division. Campbell, you could very well argue, was dealing with a much more depleted roster, and didn’t have the luxury of going on a shopping spree in free agency.
[Editor’s note: It’s also worth remembering that when the two coaches went head-to-head this season, Campbell’s team waxed Pederson’s 40-14.]
Beyond that, there are tough arguments to make. Does McDermott really belong in the top five given that the Bills have a top-three quarterback in this league? If we’re just voting for coaches with good records, why wasn’t Andy Reid a finalist?
That said, when asked during the Wild Card ManningCast, Campbell said he didn’t think he was worthy of winning the award.
“It would absolutely be an honor because there are some really good coaches that deserve that,” Campbell said. “But to me, there are better ones out there than me, by the job they did this year. Daboll would be one of those, just did a heck of a job. Doug Pederson. I can go down the list. Yeah, I’d be honored, but there are some coaches that would be really worthy of that.”
Regardless, it’s at least mildly surprising to see Campbell not don the list of five candidates. He likely wasn’t going to win the award with a team that didn’t make the playoffs, but at least one person believes he should have at least made the candidate list: