Tirico: Rivera deserves to be in Coach of the Year conversation originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
After leading the Washington Football Team -- a club that finished with three wins one season ago -- to the NFC East crown, Ron Rivera has made a good case for himself as the NFL's Coach of the Year.
Longtime NBC Sports' play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico was asked his thoughts on the award Wednesday and said Washington's head coach deserves to be considered for the honor.
"Absolutely," Tirico said during an NBC Sports group conference call.
"Just personally with him, what he's had to deal with and overcome," Tirico said. "Obviously, everything with the team, four quarterbacks during the year, the breakout stars not as abundant as other teams, and his leadership."
What Rivera has been able to accomplish with the Burgundy and Gold, on the field alone, is impressive.
The team has played four different quarterbacks this season and dealt with multiple injuries to their best offensive players. Yet, the club still found a way to go 4-2 within the NFC East and win the division crown.
Tirico mentioned that this Washington team reminded him of the 2014 Panthers, another Rivera-coached club that made the playoffs despite similar struggles.
"The first playoff game I got to do play-by-play for was Ron Rivera vs. Bruce Arians," Tirico said. "It was Carolina team that was [7-8-1]. A lot of these same conversations were had about that team at that point. I think it speaks to Ron's steadiness over the years and what's he's been able to do to his team to the postseason."
Rivera's Coach of the Year candidacy goes far beyond his team's success on the football field, too.
Over the first several months on the job, Rivera was forced to deal with several organizational issues based on things that happened before his arrival. The head coach saw two staff members and one executive all leave this summer amidst sexual misconduct allegations, leading to an NFL investigation placed on the team shortly after.
Then in August, as Rivera was in the middle of his first training camp in Washington, the head coach was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a form of cancer.
Despite all the organizational turmoil and his own cancer diagnosis, Rivera kept coaching. His players bought in, even at 2-7, and finished the season with five wins over their final seven games to clinch the team's first division title since 2015.
Combining Rivera's incredible personal journey along with his unexpected first-year success in Washington, Tirico feels the head coach certainly deserves to be on the shortlist for the award.
"Absolutely he deserves to be in that conversation for what he's done this year," Tirico said. "Not just the personal story, but with his team on the field and amidst all the turmoil in the organization."