Dungy and staff have done best coaching job of '07
By Michael Smith
Tony Dungy is taken for granted. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he coaches one of the best quarterbacks of all time, kind of like the way some don't give Phil Jackson much credit for winning nine NBA titles with Jordan and Pippen, then Shaq and Kobe.
Dungy brought respectability to the Tampa Bay Bucs franchise and a title to Indianapolis. With their Week 15 win at Oakland, the Colts became -- get this -- the first franchise in league history to win at least 12 games in five consecutive seasons. So he's accomplished a lot in a short time. And yet in 12 seasons (10 of which his teams have been in the playoffs) Dungy never has been selected as the Associated Press' coach of the year. He been the Maxwell Football Club's and Sporting News' coach of the year, but never the AP's.
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The pressure to repeat and a slew of injuries haven't altered Tony Dungy's approach.
Dungy probably won't get the award this year, but no coaching staff has done a better job. The Colts didn't experience a hint of a Super Bowl hangover, and that starts with the consistent approach of the head coach.
The Colts lost defensive tackle Anthony McFarland
before the season started. Defensive end Dwight Freeney
's season ended after nine games. Linebacker Rob Morris
' season ended after four games. Receiver Marvin Harrison
has missed nine of the past 10 games. Rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh
and weakside linebacker Freddie Keiaho
have missed five games each. Right tackle Ryan Diem
has missed the past five contests. In Week 15, the Colts started only two players on defense who started in the Super Bowl.
The front seven has been ravaged with injuries, and yet Indy has the league's second-ranked defense and has allowed the second-fewest points. So why don't more people mention defensive coordinator Ron Meeks as a potential head-coaching candidate?
Give Manning plenty of props for having the remarkable season he's had despite injuries to his line and having to play without Harrison for the first time in his career. But save some praise for Tom Moore, who coordinates an offense that's still managed to score almost 29 points a game.
Another Colts staffer who doesn't get enough attention nationally is assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. All that information Manning processes so well? He gets it from Caldwell, who deserves to be one of the next off the Dungy coaching tree to get a head-coaching opportunity. He even has seven years' head-coaching experience at the college level (Wake Forest, 1993-2000).
Bill Belichick's Patriots will likely make history by posting a perfect regular-season record (at least). And Brad Childress, Romeo Crennel, Jack Del Rio and Mike McCarthy have done "the most with the least." But no head coach has done a better job through adverse circumstances than Dungy, whose Colts were 10 minutes against New England and a last-second missed field goal against San Diego from being 14-0 themselves.