Next up for the 2015 POD Awards is the category for the Detroit Lions' Coach of the Year. Here are the nominees:
Jim Bob Cooter
When Cooter took over after the Lions fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, he drew everyone's attention because of his name. By the season's end, Cooter had earned league-wide attention because of the turnaround he helped create in Detroit.
The Lions offense ranked 20th in passing and 32nd in running in DVOA when Cooter took over the offense in Week 8. Those units finished 15th and 27th after Cooter was done with them. That may not seem like a lot, but considering those are cumulative stats, that's actually very impressive work in just nine games. Under Cooter's tutelage, Matthew Stafford finally looked improved, the Lions had a manageable running game, and the Lions actually scored some points.
It may seem weird to have a coach who was very nearly fired nominated for Lions' Coach of the Year, but Caldwell definitely deserves some consideration. After the Lions' 1-7 start, Martha Ford declared she did not want the team to throw in the towel for 2015. "I also want to make clear that we have no intention of giving up on the season. We expect our team to compete, improve and win," Ford claimed. Caldwell delivered on all three of those goals, keeping morale of the team high and turning a pathetic-looking team into a competitive -- and more importantly winning -- team. He obviously deserves a lot of blame for the 1-7 start, but the 6-2 turnaround arguably makes up for it.
Never heard of Tony Oden? You've undoubtedly seen his impact on the team. The Lions' defensive backs coach has only been with the team since 2014, but since then the Lions have seen remarkable play from their secondary, specifically their young cornerbacks. Darius Slay broke out into the shutdown corner that many were expecting him to become. Sixth-round pick Quandre Diggs was the biggest surprise of the year. Even Nevin Lawson saw a big improvement in his game.