In addition to Harbaugh, who captained the Ravens to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth one year after the team was a disappointing 5-11, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Atlanta's Mike Smith, Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin are also in contention.
Fans can vote on NFL.com for the head coach whose game planning played the greatest role in his team's success this season. Voting will take place through 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 21 to determine the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year. The winner will be announced at a press conference in Tampa Bay during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLIII.
A closer look at the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year nominees:
- JOHN HARBAUGHled the Ravens to a playoff berth and 11 regular-season wins this year, third most in franchise history. Coming off of a 5-11 record in 2007, the rookie head coach successfully developed the offensive attack using rookie QB Joe Flacco, who passed for 2,971 yards and 14 touchdowns, and the Ravens AFC leading rushing attack which averaged 148.5 yards per game. The Ravens' 11 victories are an NFL record for most regular season wins by a team with a rookie QB and first-year head coach (tied by 2008 Atlanta Falcons). The Ravens captured a 5-1 record on the road during their past six away games, were second overall for total defensive yards allowed and were also second league-wide for their pass defense, propelled by Ed Reed's NFL-best nine interceptions. Harbaugh was nominated for two Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards.
- Despite the loss of several key players to retirement, injury or trade, TOM COUGHLIN led the 2008 Giants to a 12-4 regular season record, the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the Playoffs. Under Coughlin's leadership, the Giants set an NFL record (tied by Miami) with only 13 turnovers in a 16-game season, including three lost fumbles all year. They ranked fifth in total defense and seventh in offense and were one of just three teams to be in the top 10 on both. Coughlin's Giants led the NFL and set franchise records in rushing yards (2,518, or 157.4 a game) and in yards-per-carry (5.0). This season, the Giants scored more points, gained more yards and picked up more first downs than they had in any year since Coughlin's arrival prior to the 2004 season. They also allowed fewer points, yards and first downs than in any other season under Coughlin. Coughlin was nominated for four Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards, winning once.
- JEFF FISHERextended his franchise record for wins by a head coach, leading the Tennessee Titans to a 13-3 record, the AFC South title and the top seed in the AFC for the Playoffs. The Titans' 13-3 record matched the franchise's best record in history. Fisher's Titans finished in the Top 10 in rushing offense (seventh), yards allowed (seventh), points allowed (second) and third-down defense (sixth). Fisher successfully made the switch to veteran quarterback Kerry Collins who passed for 2,676 yards and 12 touchdowns and orchestrated an offense that utilized the ground attack of running backs LenDale White and Chris Johnson who combined for 2,001 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Titans finished the season ranked second in the league in scoring defense (allowing their opponents an average of 14.6 points per game) and third in the AFC in total defense (313.6 yards per game). The Titans joined an elite list of teams that started 10-0 and established a 13-game winning streak, the longest in team history. Fisher was nominated for three Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards, winning twice.
- As a rookie only in title, MIKE SMITHsuccessfully led the Atlanta Falcons to an 11-5 record and the team's first playoff berth since 2004. Smith led a seven game win improvement coming off of the Falcons' 4-12 record in 2007. Under Smith's leadership the Falcons improved in the areas of points per game average, rushing yards per game average, pass touchdown to interception ratio and sacks allowed. Smith oversaw the development of rookie QB Matt Ryan who became Atlanta's first QB to win 10 games in his first season while becoming the Falcons' first rookie QB to surpass the 3,000 passing yards mark, as he threw for 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns. Smith was able to continue the development of running back Michael Turner, who rushed for a career high 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns, and wide receiver Roddy White, who set a team single-season record with 1,382 receiving yards. This offensive group led the league in first quarter points scored. DE John Abraham led the Falcons defense totaling 16.5 sacks. Smith was nominated for three Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards.
- In his first year as the Dolphins' head coach, TONY SPARANOled Miami to a single-season turnaround matched just once in NFL history. Sparano successfully orchestrated an improvement from 2007's 1-15 record to the AFC East title, a playoff berth and an 11-5 record. The Dolphins' resurgence is the best record posted by any team coming off of a 1-15 record. Sparano's Dolphins bounced-back from a 2-4 start to win nine of their last 10 games. Sparano and his staff introduced the "Wildcat" offense, which led to 580 yards and eight touchdowns. The Dolphins' set an NFL record (tied by the Giants) committing only 13 turnovers in a 16-game season and led the NFL in takeaway-giveaway ratio (plus-17). Sparano continued the development of veteran QB Chad Pennington and LB Joey Porter. Pennington finished the season second in the NFL with a quarterback rating of 97.4. Porter's 17.5 sacks set a new Dolphin single season sack record for linebackers. Sparano was nominated for four Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards, winning once.
- MIKE TOMLINcontinues to rewrite the record books in Pittsburgh becoming the only head coach in Steelers' history to win division titles in his first two seasons as he established a franchise record with 22 wins in that time. The Steelers secured the second seed in the AFC, captured the AFC North Division title for the second year in a row, and posted a 6-0 record within their division as part of their 12-4 record. Under Tomlin's leadership, the Steelers led the NFL in total defense, pass defense, scoring defense and finished second in rush defense. The defense was bolstered by the team's 51 sacks, including James Harrison's team-record 16. The Steelers offense included QB Ben Roethlisberger's air attack passing for 3,301 yards and 17 touchdowns. Tomlin was nominated for three Motorola NFL Coach of the Week awards, winning all three.