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 voted on NFL.com for the head coach whose game planning played the greatest role in his team's success this season. Voting took 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.
The winner is determined by a fan vote, so do your part to support the two Ravens playmakers.
Flacco is coming off a stellar rookie campaign. The former University of Delaware passer stepped into the starting role from Day 1 and has since flourished. Over the last 11 regular season games – when Baltimore went 9-2 – Flacco registered a 90.2 quarterback rating while tossing 13 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Fans can vote for Flacco for the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year from now through Jan. 27 at 6 p.m.
In addition, Flacco supporters can using phones with Sprint wireless service – an opportunity available only to Sprint customers. This fast, convenient voting method involves texting the wordPEPSI to short code7777. Sprint customers will then receive an interactive text message that links fans to the ballot with the five finalists. Data and text messaging rates may apply.
The winner will be presented the 2008 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award during a press conference in Tampa Bay, the site of Super Bowl XLIII, on Thursday, January 29.
Meanwhile, Reed continually made a name for himself as one of the most feared ball-hawks on the field. The former University of Miami standout led the league with nine interceptions and even broke his own NFL record with a 107-yard interception return for a touchdown in Week 12.
Reed scored three touchdowns during the regular season, notching a fourth in last Sunday's 27-9 playoff win over the Miami Dolphins (the first of his two picks).
Fans can vote for Reed through 3 p.m. on Jan. 29 to determine the top defender.
The winner of the 2008 GMC SIERRA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR will be announced on Jan. 29 on NFL.com.
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.
Each week, five nominees were chosen for Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com and via Sprint wireless. Those results were used to help determine the finalists.
Following is a closer look at the five 2008 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR finalists:
- JOE FLACCO (Baltimore Ravens) – As the Ravens' first round draft choice in 2008, Flacco propelled Baltimore's air attack passing for 2,971 yards, completing 257 of 428 attempts and scoring 16 total touchdowns (14 passing, two rushing). In the season's final 11 games, Flacco guided the Ravens' to a 9-2 record and a playoff berth, registering a 90.2 QB rating, throwing for 2,127 yards and 13 TDs. Flacco threw at least one TD in eight straight games between 10/19-12/7, tying Joe Namath (1965) and Babe Parilli (1952) for the third-longest streak ever among rookie QBs. Flacco tossed at least one TD pass in each of the Ravens' last six road games, totaling nine TDs and a 101.8 passer rating. Flacco, who attended the University of Delaware, was nominated for 10 Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning twice.
- MATT FORTE(Chicago Bears) – As one of eight rookies since 1970 to lead their team in rushing yards and receptions, Forté established new rookie records for the Chicago Bears in the areas of total rushing yards (1,238), total scrimmage yards (1,715) and receptions (63). He joins an elite group of running backs as one of eight rookies with 1,000 rushing yards and 50-plus receptions in NFL history. Forté scored eight rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns over the course of the season and posted three 100-plus yard rushing performances. Forté, who attended Tulane University, was nominated for four Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning once.
- CHRIS JOHNSON(Tennessee Titans) – The 24th selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, Johnson's 1,228 rushing yards earned him a Pro Bowl selection. With 1,488 total yards from scrimmage, Johnson finished fifth in the AFC. Proving his versatility as an offensive force, Johnson added 43 receptions and scored 10 touchdowns (nine rushing, one receiving). Johnson posted four games with 100 or more rushing yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Johnson registered a career-high 168 rushing yards against Kansas City, the second most rushing yards for a rookie running back in franchise history. Johnson, who attended East Carolina University, was nominated for eight Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning twice.
- MATT RYAN(Atlanta Falcons) – The third selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, Ryan passed for 3,440 yards, completing 265 of 434 passes for 16 touchdowns while posting an 87.7 passer rating. Ryan added 104 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. His 3,440 passing yards secured his spot in NFL history as the second rookie quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards. Under Ryan's leadership, the Falcons achieved an 11-5 record, making him the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to win 11 games. Ryan opened his pro career with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins and continued to propel the offensive effort as he totaled a streak of nine consecutive 200-yard passing games from Weeks 6-15 and notched eight contests with a 65.0 completion percentage or higher. He ranked second in the league in yards per completion with a 12.98 average. Ryan, who attended Boston College, was nominated for nine Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning three times.
- STEVE SLATON(Houston Texans) – Propelled by 508 total rushing yards in the month of December, Slaton led a deep rookie running back pool in total rushing yards, amassing 1,282 ground yards and establishing his total as the fifth-highest this decade. Slaton posted five 100-plus yard rushing games including three consecutive 100-yard rushing games (12/1-12/14) to lead all rookies in both categories. Slaton accounted for 27 percent of the Texans' franchise record 6,113 total yards from scrimmage and notched nine rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown over the course of the season. Slaton, who attended West Virginia University, was nominated for eight Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
Each week, five nominees were chosen for GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com. Those results were used to help determine the finalists.
Following is a closer look at the five 2008 GMC SIERRA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR finalists:
- ED REED (Baltimore Ravens) – Reed registered an NFL-best nine interceptions in 2008, including two returned for touchdowns. Reed set an NFL record with his 107-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the Ravens' 36-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12. Reeds' 264 total return yards ranked second in the NFL. Reed recorded a staggering four dual-INT games this season, and now has eight two-pick games for his career. In addition to his two INT-TDs, he had a 22-yard fumble recovery TD in Week 14 that spurred the Ravens' 24-10 win over the Washington Redskins. Reed was nominated for four GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week awards, winning once.
- JAMES HARRISON(Pittsburgh Steelers) – Harrison recorded a career-high 101 tackles and totaled 16 sacks during the season, including three in Week 1 in the Steelers' 38-17 win over the Houston Texans. In Week 11, Harrison had a sack, forced a fumble and recorded a safety in one play, and also returned an interception 33 yards in the Steelers' 11 – 10 win over the San Diego Chargers. Harrison led the Steelers' defensive effort with nine tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles, both recovered by Pittsburgh, in the Steelers' 33-10 win over the New England Patriots in Week 13. Harrison was nominated for two GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week awards, winning twice.
- ALBERT HAYNESWORTH(Tennessee Titans) – Haynesworth finished the season with a career-high 8.5 sacks and seven quarterback pressures to contribute to the Titans' overall defensive effort. In Week 1, Haynesworth sealed the Titans' 17-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars with his nine-yard sack of David Garrard on the final play of the game. In the Titans' 30-17 Week 4 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Haynesworth recorded two sacks, six tackles and one defensed pass to propel the defensive effort. Haynesworth was nominated for one GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week award, winning once.
- JOEY PORTER(Miami Dolphins) – Porter led the Dolphins with 17.5 sacks for a total of 96 yards in losses in 2008, the highest single season sack total by a Dolphins linebacker and first in the AFC and second in the NFL. Porter contributed 47 tackles and four forced fumbles to the defensive effort and notched four multiple sack games this season bringing his career total to 17 multiple sack games. In the Dolphins' 38-13 win in Week 3 over the New England Patriots, Porter sacked QB Matt Cassel four times. Porter has a total of 81 career sacks, the most among linebackers since becoming a full-time starter in 2000 and the fourth-most overall over those nine years (2000-2008). Porter was nominated for three GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week award, winning once.
- DeMARCUS WARE(Dallas Cowboys) – Ware has established himself as one of the top pass rushers in the league, collecting a league-best 53.5 sacks since 2005. With his 20.0 sacks in 2008, Ware became the first Cowboys defender to reach 20 sacks in a season since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Ware's 2008 sack total also ties Derrick Thomas for the second-most sacks in a season by a linebacker in league history. With at least one sack in each of the last three games of the 2007 season and the first seven games of the 2008 season, Ware tied a league record of consecutive games with at least one sack (10). Ware tied his career-high with 3.0 sacks three times this season and added 84 tackles and six forced fumbles. Ware was nominated for two GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week awards, winning once.