Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Everyone's gonna be handing out their holiday-time hardware soon enough in the National Football League - we already know Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has his name engraved on the league's MVP award -- but who have really cranked out the best coaching jobs in the league where they play for pay?
Glad you asked!
As we head into Saturday/Sunday action here in mind-December, here's how we see it ...
MIKE McCARTHY, Green Bay Packers - Just because the defending Super Bowl champion Packers have won every game this year that they are "supposed to win" doesn't mean McCarthy should be overlooked in this Jim Sez report. The fact of the matter is the Pack is well-prepared for every outing as GB's 9-4 ATS (against the spread) en route to this sizzling 13-and-oh start. Better yet, McCarthy has made sure QB Rodgers has improved on a weekly basis - some star quarterbacks stagnate but not Rodgers who carries out all his coach's ideas on the field.
JIM HARBAUGH, San Francisco 49ers - No doubt the temptation will be to vote this first-year Niners boss-man as the 2011 NFL Coach of the Year but we claim he's gonna likely have to settle for the "silver medal". Harbaugh's enthusiasm for the position can't be beat - we'll give 'em that - and it's great that he has adapted his principles to the talent at hand. Obviously, Harbaugh would love to have a gun-slinger quarterback making big plays downfield but he's realized a grind-it-out offense and blue-collar defense is the real key to this club's success.
JOHN FOX, Denver Broncos - Just in case you had forgot who's running the show in the Mile High City, it's this first-year Broncos boss and not QB Tim Tebow. Yes, the Broncos roared back from a sallow 1-4 SU (straight-up) start to go 8-5 SU while heading into Sunday's home game against New England and Fox has worked around Tebow's unorthodox style while shaping this defense into one of the toughest in the land. Betcha didn't know the Broncos have held four of their last five opponents to 13 points or less?
KEN WHISENHUNT, Arizona Cardinals - Admittedly this one-time Super Bowl head coach (see 2008 season) is amongst our personal favorites but what a wow job he's done in the desert this year. The Redbirds - who are 6-7 SU while entering Sunday's home game against the woeful Cleveland Browns - were left for dead weeks ago with a 1-6 SU mark but Whisenhunt's stayed the course even with all kinds of roller-coaster play at quarterback as Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have gone back-and-forth under center and not always with great results.
GARY KUBIAK, Houston Texans - Count us among the folks that were shocked that this sixth-year head coach wasn't axed following last season's late-season meltdown. Good thing the AFC South club stayed with Kubiak - right, it didn't hurt matters that Wade Phillips was brought in as the defensive coordinator - but the truth is Kubiak's steered the ship neatly despite the well-chronicled quarterback injuries to starter Matt Schaub and back-up Matt Leinart and that rollicking comeback win in Cincinnati last week proved to be the coach's finest hour.
NFL NEWS & NOTES: FINAL BYE-BYE TO HALEY AND SPARANO
Okay, we gotta admit that we're not really big fans of firing NFL coaches this late in the season - if you are gonna make an in-season move that it would seem to us you do it by mid-season so that possibly your club can salvage the year - what was really to gain here earlier this week by Kansas City firing Todd Haley and Miami axing Tony Sparano with only three games left in their 2011 seasons?
No doubt we've heard the rumblings that both teams want to get an early start at examining what else is out there - but did they have to fire coaches that actually had re-energized their respective teams in recent weeks?
Guess it's Haley's fault that starting QB Matt Cassel went down with a finger injury weeks ago and guess Sparano gets zero credit for the fact the Dolphins had covered six games in a row prior to last Sunday's admittedly poor showing in the 26-10 home loss against Philadelphia.
No, you're not going to get us to sit here and tell you Haley and Sparano were the modern-day re-incarnations of Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry but the fact of the matter is these guys are playing with "short decks" and yet combined they exited their NFL stays this year with a combined pointspread mark of 13-13 ATS.
Not bad at all.
Do the Chiefs (5-8) really think naming defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as their head coach for season-ending games against 13-and-oh Green Bay, Oakland and at Denver will make a pronounced difference?
Do the Dolphins think interim Todd Bowles will remind folks of Bill Walsh in year-ending games at Buffalo, at New England and home to the New York Jets?
The truth of the matter - and we've been saying this for years now at Jim Sez - is that two-thirds of the NFL head coaches lose more games than they win and Haley and Sparano fall into that two-thirds category but at least these AFC teams should have given these gentlemen a little longer leash and the benefit of ending the year before pulling the plug on 'em - no wonder both franchises have not been relevant the past 25 years (or more)!