Work in Sports
Top Coach: Week 5
Indianapolis' comeback nets Mora weekly honor
Each week during the 2000 regular season Pete Carroll and Pat Kirwan will team up to select their Top Coach in the NFL. They'll also pick their four weekly runners-up for the honor. They'll take into account opponents faced, injuries, play calling, home-field advantage, the final margin of victory and any other pressures coaches may be dealing with at the time. The drum roll, please:
Three head coaches took teams with no victories on the road against good football teams and won. The Bears, Steelers, and Patriots put the "losing fire" out at least for a week and definitely started a blaze in the towns they visited. Green Bay, Jacksonville and Denver won't have nice weeks of practice after these home defeats.
Fourth runner-up: Dick Jauron, Chicago Bears. Jauron was able to go into Green Bay for the second consecutive year and grab a victory. With an even temperament, Jauron doesn't panic and his team will get better as the year goes on. The Bears got an early lead and held on against a fast-charging Brett Favre. Cade McNown delivered a gutsy performance and Marcus Robinson is one of the legitimate deep threats in the NFL. Making the painful decision to stop thinking Curtis Enis can carry the ball has helped the attack as Chicago rushed for 178 yards to Green Bay's 44.
Third runner-up: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots. Getting a victory at Mile High Stadium is no small feat. The Patriots lost the battle of first downs, rushing yards, passing yards, time of possession and return yardage but they won the war -- and that's what counts
Second runner-up: Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh's 23-20 loss to reigning AFC champion Tennessee a week ago was an indication that there was some life left in the Steelers franchise. This week, Cowher took his team -- minus starting quarterback Kent Graham -- into Jacksonville and got after Mark Brunell, sacking him seven times. But the biggest thing Pittsburgh did was win the rushing battle (209 yards to 26 yards). Remember, Fred Taylor is back for the Jags -- on his 15 carries, he got 24 yards. Cowher could get this thing turned around with a victory next week against the Jets.
First runner-up: Steve Mariucci, San Francisco 49ers. This team has been wiped out of its talent by the salary cap and retirements. Still, Mariucci has put back-to-back wins together against Dallas and Arizona. What is interesting about the Niners this year is without Steve Young they are still the tied for second in the league in scoring. And the maligned offensive line has given up a league-low three sacks in five games.
Top Coach: Jim Mora, Indianapolis Colts. After a big emotional victory on Monday Night Football the week before against Jacksonville, Mora had a short week to get ready for Buffalo. The Bills had a bye and two weeks to prepare for the Colts, never mind home-field advantage. In holding Buffalo to 16 points, the Indianapolis defense showed that it is starting to come together -- they forced the Bills to kick three consecutive field goals in the first half rather than give up touchdowns, consequently giving the Colts offense a chance to come back ... which they obviously did.
Pat Kirwan spent 12 years as a pro football coach, scout and personnel adminstrator and is an NFL analyst for CNNSI.com. Pete Carroll is the former head coach of the New England Patriots and New York Jets.