Coach of the Year: Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
After starting the 2018 season 1-5 under rookie head coach Frank Reich, the Indianapolis Colts rattled off nine wins in their remaining ten games to make the playoffs and then knocked off the AFC South Champion Houston Texans in the Wildcard round.
While part of the Colts’ turnaround can be attributed to a healthy Andrew Luck and the miraculous work of GM Chris Ballard, the remarkability of the team’s culture change in a single season stems directly from Reich. Reich is the quintessential player’s coach.
Before hearing the shocking news that Andrew Luck would retire before the start of the 2019 season, I had the Colts penciled in as my Super Bowl Champion. Now, with Jacoby Brissett set to take over for Luck, that seems like a lofty goal.
With that being said, I stand by PFN’s prediction of Frank Reich as Coach of the Year for this upcoming season. There is no denying that Luck was the team’s best player at the most important position and is undoubtedly irreplaceable. But both Reich and Ballard have done such a good job of developing a complete roster that I don’t think the Colts are going to fall quite as hard as people might expect in their first post-Luck season.
If they can win this division – or just remain competitive in this division – after facing such adversity just weeks before the season begins, Reich will deserve to be the Coach of the Year.
-Eric Roddy, AFC South Editor
Other Finalists: Freddie Kitchens, Kyle Shanahan, Doug Pederson
Comeback Player of the Year: Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz was named our preseason Comeback Player of the Year and there’s plenty of reason to believe he will be at the end of the season.
Wentz certainly wasn’t 100% in 2018, throwing for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns in 11 games last season. Back problems ended his season those 11 games, marking the second consecutive year his season was cut short. But now he enters 2019 completely healthy and ready to man what looks to be, on paper, like one of the strongest offenses across the NFL.
Wentz will work behind arguably the best offensive line in the league, with Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson in front of him. He gets to throw to a host of receivers that other quarterbacks can only dream of having. He has Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
And even behind him, the Eagles’ running back room features former Bears’ running back Jordan Howard and star-in-the-making rookie, Miles Sanders.
Wentz has the makings of having a potential MVP-caliber season in Philadelphia’s offense and is poised to have his best season as a pro in his fourth year in the league.
-Bill Riccette, PFN NFC East & NFC South Writer