2023 NFL Season: Three darkhorse Coach of the Year candidates

Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports) /

There’s a pretty good idea of the top candidates in the 2023 NFL season to win the Coach of the Year award, but who is flying under the radar here?  There’s always going to be surprises in the NFL, and that does not stop with the coaches.

Last year, Brian Daboll and Doug Pederson surprised some with their coaching jobs.  Daboll helped lead the Giants to a winning record and the playoffs in his first season, while Pederson did the same.

In the 2023 NFL season, could we see a few more coaches emerge as some under the radar candidates to win the Coach of the Year award, and who would they be?

2023 NFL Season: Three darkhorse Coach of the Year candidates

Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers

Frank Reich is an excellent head coach and should not have been fired by the Indianapolis Colts.  He was rightly hired by the Panthers to be their next head coach, and be brought over an excellent staff as well.

I think Carolina’s roster is better than people think and I also believe that Bryce Young is a perfect fit for Reich and this offense.  I see quick success from Young and the offense and a top-10 defense led by Ejiro Evero.  This could propel the Panthers to a 10 win season, division title, home playoff game, and a CotY award for Reich.

Matt Eberflus, Chicago Bears

I had no idea what GM Ryan Poles was doing in his first year as the Chicago Bears’ GM.  Now, the plan seems to be very clear and I think the Bears have positioned themselves nicely in a NFC North division that quickly turned into a weaker one.  If the Bears decide that 2023 is the year they breakout, then they can challenge the Vikings and Lions for the division title.

They have the highest-ceiling player at QB, very good weapons on offense, an improved offensive line and a defense that also seems to be better than it was last year.

I personally think that 2024 is the year that we should be paying attention to the Bears, but 2023 could be a sneaky good year for them.

Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints

While I think the Carolina Panthers are the team to beat in the NFC South this year, I think the Saints have a great case themselves.  They were able to sign Derek Carr in free agency, who should provide an immediate upgrade over Jameis Winston.

Michael Thomas appears to be returning healthy, which could then form a nasty trio with Chris Olave.  Their offensive line is solid as well and their defense is filled with quality veterans like Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and an excellent trio in the secondary of Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye, and Marshon Lattimore.

Their roster really doesn’t have many hole at all, and if Derek Carr could be a stable solution for them, they should have a relatively easy time winning double digit games and winning the division.