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Thursday open thread: Is Jim Caldwell a legit Coach of the Year candidate?

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Could Jim Caldwell really win Coach of the Year this season?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After the loss to the Bears in Week 4, the Detroit Lions were 1-3 and the season was on the verge of collapse. Lions fans were already starting their coaching search, while our own Ryan Mathews tried to fend off those marching with pitchforks. Many considered Jim Caldwell a lame duck coach the minute that the Lions hired Bob Quinn, and the slow start was the final nail in his coffin.

But since then, the Lions have rallied off seven wins in eight games and are closer than they’ve been in over two decades to clinching a division title. The turnaround has been as shocking as it has been exciting. Caldwell deserves a lot of credit for weathering the storm both on the field and behind the podium.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Is Jim Caldwell a legit Coach of the Year candidate right now?

My answer: Candidate? Yes. Leading candidate? No. As of right now, I would put Jack Del Rio ahead of Caldwell. Not only do the Raiders have the best record in the AFC, but a handful a very bold, very progressive decisions from Del Rio have helped them along the way, including passing up a game-tying extra point for a two-point conversion attempt on the road against the Saints.

Del Rio would be my first choice, but Caldwell may be my second. Bill Belichick always deserves a ton of credit, and I suppose you could make a fair case for Jason Garrett. But I think Caldwell has done more with less than both of those coaches and deserves serious consideration for the award. That is, if the Lions don’t have an epic collapse down the final stretch of the season.