Nationally, Mike McCoy’s name may not come up in the Coach of the Year conversation. The conversation is lead by guys like first time NFL head coach Chip Kelly, Andy Reid who has revived the Kansas City Chiefs, Pete Carroll who may coach the best team in the league, or “Riverboat” Ron Rivera who finally appears to have righted the Carolina Panthers ship. While all the aforementioned coaches may be worthy, what McCoy has had to deal with in his first season as San Diego Chargers coach ranks right up there.
For starters, in the preseason, many pundits thought the Chargers were one of the worst teams in the NFL. CBSSports.com writer Pat Kirwan had the Chargers slated to go 6-10. BleacherReport.com and ESPN.Com also had the Chargers locked in at 6-10.
Right now the Chargers sit at 7-7, just one game ahead of those predictions. However, their record is not the whole story. The Chargers may have suffered more injuries to projected starters than any other team in the league. Newly acquired pass rushing threat Dwight Freeney tore his quad and is on IR. Malcom Floyd suffered a neck injury and is on IR. Larry English tore his biceps and is on IR. Denario Alexander suffered a knee injury and is on IR. Johnny Patrick suffered an ankle injury and is on IR.
When injuries pile up on a team in such devastating fashion it becomes easy for players to feel snake bitten. McCoy has found a way to keep his players focused and in the playoff hunt. He has had to count on a few players that were not expected to be heavy contributors to the team. Former Cal standout, rookie Keenan Allen, was perceived to be a slot receiver prior to the season. Injuries to the receiving core thrust him into a starting role and he has thrived. Through 14 games he had 63 receptions for 931 yards and seven touchdowns.
Cornerback Derek Cox was supposed to come in and help solidify the secondary. He struggled all season long and McCoy had to go to Richard Marshall. Marshall is not an elite corner but has shown that he will not get lost in coverage and is not allergic to tackling.
If the Chargers can find a way to win their next two games, they will finish 9-7. Although unlikely, if they get some help they could find themselves in the playoffs. Regardless, McCoy has done a more than admirable job in a season which most considered a rebuilding year.
A running back who appeared to be on his way to being labeled a bust has found his confidence under McCoy. A quarterback who had struggled for the past two seasons has found his poise again under McCoy. An offensive line that appeared on paper to be the weakness of the team has turned into a strength under McCoy. He may not win the award but to not be at least considered for it would be a mistake.
Photo Courtesy: AP