Lions’ Campbell not a finalist for Coach of the Year; Hutchinson, Johnson in mix for awards

Detroit News

Allen Park — The Associated Press released a list of finalists for its offseason awards on Wednesday, and Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell didn’t make the cut for the group’s Coach of the Year honors. That award will be given to Brian Daboll, of the New York Giants, Jacksonville’s Doug Pederson or San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan when announced early next month.

All three of the finalists led their teams to the playoffs.

Daboll, in his first year with the Giants, took the franchise from four wins last year to a 9-7-1 mark in 2022. The team also bested the Minnesota Vikings on the road in the Wild Card round of the postseason before getting dumped by NFC East-rival Philadelphia in the divisional round last weekend.

Pederson, in his second coaching stint after previously winning a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, led a similar turnaround in Jacksonville to Daboll’s in New York. After finishing with the worst record in football each of the past two seasons, the Jaguars won the AFC South and pulled off a stunning 27-point, come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the playoffs before exiting in a tightly contested game against the conference’s top seed, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Shanahan, in his sixth season with the 49ers, is being recognized for navigating adversity with his roster, particularly at the quarterback position. The team lost starter Trey Lance and former starter Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injury, leaving the team to lean on a rookie, seventh-round draft pick Brock Purdy.

Despite low, outside expectations, Purdy excelled, as the 49ers finished the season on a 10-game winning streak. They’ve stayed hot in the postseason, topping the Seahawks and Cowboys to set up a matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game on Sunday.

In addition to Campbell, who led the Lions from a 1-6 start to the cusp of a playoff berth, Buffalo’s Sean McDermot, Philadelphia’s Nick Sirianni, Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Minnesota’s Kevin O’Connell all had cases to be included in the conversation.

Beyond Coach of the Year, the AP named Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Bill quarterback Josh Allen, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson as finalists for MVP. A quarterback has won the award nine straight years, while a receiver has never been named the league’s top player.

Additionally, two Lions, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson were named finalists for the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively.

Hutchinson finished his debut campaign with 9.5 sacks and three interceptions, while Johnson turned around Detroit’s offense, transforming a unit that averaged 19.1 points per game in 2021 into one that finished top-five in both yards and scoring this season.

Hutchinson faces stiff competition in the form of Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, who led the NFL with 20 PBUs and was named the PFWA Rookie of the Year earlier this week.

Johnson is up against 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Ryans led the NFL’s best defensive unit, while Steichen oversaw massive improvements by Hurts and a unit that finished third in the league, averaging 28.1 points per game.

The winners will be announced at NFL Honors on Feb. 9. Here are the other categories and finalists:

Defensive Player of the Year

▶ 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa

▶ Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones

▶ Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons

Comeback Player of the Year

▶ Giants running back Saquon Barkley

▶ 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey

▶ Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith

Offensive Rookie of the Year

▶ 49ers quarterback Purdy

▶ Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker

▶ Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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