2021 NFL COTY Predictions
Mike Nowak, Los Angeles Times

2021 NFL COTY Predictions Heading Into The Season

The NFL head coach is the most important coaching position amongst all sports. NFL head coaches gameplan and create the scheme, and their decisions can be the difference between winning and losing a game. Kevin Stefanski took home the Coach of the Year award in 2020 after landing the head coaching job in Cleveland and turning a joke of a franchise into a playoff contender in a year. Could we see another first-year head coach win or will a veteran take home the award? Here are my 2021 NFL COTY predictions ahead of the season.

2021 NFL COTY Predictions- #1 Brandon Staley

Brandon Staley is entering his first year as head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers after leaving the Rams to take the place of Anthony Lynn. Staley served as the DC under Sean McVay and was mentored by Vic Fangio.

Staley’s rise to NFL head coach is impressive as he was coaching at John Carroll University only five years ago. The Chargers have all the ingredients to be a winning football team, and unlike others here at Vendetta, I believe Staley will lead them to success.

The Chargers have a stacked roster: A young star quarterback in Justin Herbert, two great receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and a number of defensive stars including Joey Bosa and Derwin James. The Chargers won seven games in 2020 but were in every game late, so if Staley gets this team to 10 wins, the award is his to lose.

2021 NFL COTY Predictions- #2 Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule had a brutal first year in Carolina but he showed signs that he belongs as a coach in this league. The Panthers went 5-11 last season but fought hard in their games. The addition of Sam Darnold should make the team’s offense more competitive and dynamic as a whole.

The defense, not the offense, is the questionable aspect of Carolina. They drafted an elite cornerback prospect in Jaycee Horn, Derrick Brown is a stud, and Jeremy Chinn showed he was the steal of the 2020 draft, but I doubt those three can carry this otherwise underwhelming defense.

I think the Panthers could win eight or nine games depending on what version of Sam Darnold we get. Joe Brady should help Darnold get out of his slump and he has a plethora of weapons to work with: Two receivers in Robby Anderson and DJ Moore, an elite running back in Christian McCaffrey, and a decent o-line. In a very top-heavy NFC, the Panthers could sneak in and snag the last wildcard spot.

2021 NFL COTY Predictions- #3 Kyle Shanahan

I still think Shanahan was robbed of the award in 2019 as the 49ers went 13-3 and hosted an NFC Championship game on their way to the Super Bowl, but 2021 could spell redemption for Shanahan.

This roster is loaded on both sides of the ball. On offense, Brandon Aiyuk is a stud, Deebo Samuel is an elite receiver, and George Kittle might just be the best tight end in the league. On defense, Fred Warner just became the highest-paid linebacker, Nick Bosa returns from injury, and Arik Armstead is a force up front.

Shanahan is facing the first significant coaching turnover of his career in 2021. Robert Saleh had been the defensive coordinator for four years and Mike LaFleur was his right-hand man when it came to the offensive scheme. If Shanahan can get this team back to the playoffs in the toughest division in football with a whole new staff, he certainly deserves some votes.

2021 NFL COTY Predictions- Dark Horse- Bill Belichick

I never thought I would see the day when Bill Belichick could be a dark horse to win COTY, but here we are. 2020 was a disaster for Belichick and the Patriots, as they were hit with COVID opt-outs, a QB who could not throw the ball, and a severe lack of talent. That they were able to still go 7-9 last year is a testament to Belichick’s coaching – this team should have won four games.

New England re-tooled the entire roster and brought in a number of new faces through the draft and free agency. The Pats have their work cut out for them in the division, as the Bills are a dominant force and the Dolphins are an underrated team as well. In addition, the AFC is deeper and more talented than in previous years.

I think Belichick is a long shot to win the award because the football world has come to expect greatness from him, but he deserves his flowers if he gets this team to the playoffs.



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