Saturday a panel of NFL analysts were asked in their ‘Way too early NFL honors’ segment for their picks for 2016 NFL coach of the year. The first two picks were not surprising. The third one may raise some eyebrows.
Chris Canty led out, choosing his former Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer from the Minnesota Vikings. Then Jamie Dukes was up and he went with 2-time NFL coach of the year, Bruce Arians. No surprises there.
Then it was Elliott Harrison’s turn to make his pick and he went with what he called “like trying to pull an outside pitch over the wall.”
“I do believe in this guy; dark horse candidate Jack Del Rio for the Oakland Raiders.” Harrison said of his pick for coach of the year. “I like what the Raiders are building. I think a lot of people like what the Raiders are building, but whenever we mention the Raiders we don’t ever cite that Jack Del Rio might be the reason that they might be an improved team. We point to Bruce Irvin being signed, we look at the young quarterback. But I don’t think you can always put it just on the players, I mean part of Derek Carr developing in Jack Del Rio’s staff. Obviously the whole staff doesn’t get the award, the head coach does. I think the Raiders win the AFC West and Jack Del Rio gets coach of the year.”
Del Rio has never won Coach of the Year before. Last season was his 10th as an NFL head coach – the previous 9 coming with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Overall he has a 75-80 career record as a head coach with three winning seasons (2004, 05, 07).
Last season, his first with the Raiders, the team improved by four wins from the previous season (3-13). Their 7-9 record was the team’s best since 2011 when they went 8-8.