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NFL: Coach of the Year Contenders

Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles is the clear leader in the field for the NFL's Coach of the Year, but there is another contender coming up on the rails for the prestigious award.

Sirianni's done a great job in his second year with the Eagles, although he will be aware that things can change quickly in this league, with two of the last six winners of the award no longer in head coaching positions.

Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles) -400

The Eagles hired Sirianni to replace Super Bowl-winner Doug Pederson, who they fired after a 4-11-1 season in 2020. Sirianni had no play-calling experience when he arrived in Philly, but it's fair to say the Eagles' front office are not regretting their move to install the former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator.

In his first year, he completely revamped the offense after a slow start, utilizing a run-heavy attack that took the Eagles to the playoffs.

Coming into 2022, Philadelphia were not even favoured to win the NFC East, but they have established the best record in the NFL and, last week, became the first team to clinch a postseason berth.

Following Sunday's 48-22 trouncing of the New York Giants, Sirianni insisted his team have "way bigger goals".

The 41-year-old has a fiery personality that has occasionally been unleashed on officials, but his players seem to respect his approach and there is no doubt that he has put almost all of them in positions to succeed.

Although known for his toughness, Sirianni has also shown enough empathy to demonstrate he cares about his players too.

Robert Saleh (New York Jets) +1200

Robert Saleh could scoop the award if he pilots the New York Jets to the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and thus ends the longest postseason drought of any franchise in the NFL.

The former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator too over a team that had gone five seasons without a winning record and finished 2-14 in 2020.

The roster was in the midst of a major overhaul and he had a rookie quarterback to coax along in his first season in the Big Apple, which had some ups and downs.

But the improvement from that 4-13 first year to this season is a testament to his coaching and leadership as the Jets have been in the playoff mix for most of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest advance has been on the defensive side of the ball as the Jets have gone from ranking dead last in the league to being a top-3 unit against the pass and a pass-rushing force to be reckoned with.

Saleh's fatherly nature has helped a very young roster cope with the demands of the NFL and his nurturing of that talent has put college stars like Ahmed 'Sauce' Gardner and Garrett Wilson in line to win the Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year awards respectively.

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Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions) +1200

A late riser, Dan Campbell will be a major rival to Sirianni if he can lead the Detroit Lions into the playoffs. Even posting a winning record will be enough to gain some votes as the Lions won only three games last season.

Campbell's first year in Motor City was not without it's positive moments, however, as the Lions won three of their last six games to show that were not about to quit on their coach or each other.

That team spirit has been expertly fostered by the likeable and quotable former New Orleans Saints assistant, whom the LIons plucked from a pool of candidates for his leadership and motivational ability.

Five wins from their last six games have put Detroit in a position where they could sneak a wild card berth if they go 3-1 from here while a 4-0 finish should almost guarantee it.

Only one coach has won Coach of the Year with a losing record - Jimmy Johnson in 1990 - so it seems unlikely that Campbell will be honoured unless the Lions continue to win.

Kevin O'Connell (Minnesota Vikings) +2000

Just three days after his Super Bowl LVI victory as OC for the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin O'Connell was hired by the Minnesota Vikings to make them a force again.

Four seasons of gradual decline under Mike Zimmer had persuaded them to go in another direction with a younger, offensive-minded coach.

The Vikings are currently on course to win the NFC North, but some doubts remain about whether they have made a great leap forward in 2022.

Minnesota are up from 14th in 2021 to 10th in scoring offense, but down from 12th to 17th on a yards-per-game basis.

Defensively, the stats state that they have regressed and currently have the worst unit in the league when measured by yards allowed per game.

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