(Jay Gruden photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)
(Andy Reid photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)
Talk of Fame Network
Your team opens the season 2-4 and finds itself down 24-0 at home in the second quarter of your seventh game. So what do you do?
If you’re Jay Gruden, you go on to win NFL Coach-of-the-Year honors – at least by vote of the Talk of Fame Network. In last week’s poll, we asked out listeners and readers to vote on the coach who did the best job this season, and we presented six options: Gruden, Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals, Bill O’Brien of the Houston Texans, Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers, Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings.
Gruden won – and it wasn’t close. He received a whopping 95.2 percent of the vote. Rivera, Reid, O’Brien, Arians and Zimmer followed in Gruden’s rear-view mirror.
Talk of Fame Network co-host Ron Borges went with O’Brien.
“He did the most with the least,” Borges said. “Most coaches can’t win with two quarterbacks. He won with four!”
Talk of Fame Network co-host Rick Gosselin went with Zimmer.
“In a quarterback-driven league, Zimmer won a division title with a quarterback who threw only 14 touchdown passes,” Gosselin said. “He did it the old-fashioned way — run the ball and play defense.”
Talk of Fame Network co-host Clark Judge went with the only one of the six candidate who did not win a division title.
“Andy Reid in a photo finish with Ron Rivera,” Judge said. “Andy circled the bases after losing five straight and his best player. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Now he’s on an 11-game roll with Alex Smith and a couple of no-names at running back. Go the head of the class, Andy.”
All were deserving. But Gruden overcame impressive odds. His Redskins were picked to finish last in the NFC East, and he made the controversial decision to start Kirk Cousins at quarterback over former first-round draft pick Robert Griffin III.
Cousins struggled early, throwing eight interceptions in the first seven games that contributed to that 2-4 start. Then came Washington’s bye, and Cousins threw only three more interceptions over the final nine games. The Redskins won six of their final eight games to storm to an NFC East title, and Cousins was named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for December. He also finished fifth in the NFL in passing this season with a with a 101.6 efficiency rating. He threw 20 touchdown passes over the last nine games.
Take a bow, Kirk Cousins. And take a bow, Jay Gruden.