Carolina’s Ron Rivera, who led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and the NFC South title, was selected as the 2013 Coach of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Kansas City general manager John Dorsey, who made several strategic moves that molded the Chiefs into a playoff team in his first season at the helm, was selected as the 2013 Executive of the Year.
Former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who helped revitalize the career of quarterback Philip Rivers, was selected as the 2013 Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Panthers started 1-3 on the season, and Carolina had dropped to 2-14 in games decided by a touchdown or less under Rivera since he took over as head coach in 2011. After Carolina’s rough start, Rivera begin to take more calculated risks. The move worked, and it earned him the nickname of “Riverboat Ron.”
The Panthers went on to win 11 of their final 12 games, including eight straight at one point. The Panthers converted on 10 of 13 fourth-down attempts (77 percent), which led the league for teams with 10 or more attempts. Several of his players said the decisions led to them playing with more confidence. The Panthers qualified for the NFC playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.
Rivera is the first Panthers head coach to earn the PFWA’s Coach of the Year award since Dom Capers won it in back-to-back years in 1995-96. He also earned the PFWA’s Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2005 while with the Chicago Bears. The PFWA has named a NFL Coach of the Year since 1990 and gave separate AFC and NFC awards from 1970-89.
The Chiefs were tied for the worst record in the league in 2012, and Dorsey made successful personnel moves on all levels. His trade for quarterback Alex Smith helped to stabilize the offense. He also drafted tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick, who started 13 games. He also made several low-profile free-agent moves that helped the Chiefs race out to a 9-0 start on the way to an 11-5 record and an AFC playoff berth for the first time since 2010. The nine-game turnaround was the greatest one-season turnaround in club history.
In the front office, Dorsey hired Chris Ballard as the Chiefs’ director of player personnel, Will Lewis as director of pro scouting and Marvin Allen as director of college scouting.
Dorsey is the second Chiefs staffer to earn the PFWA’s Executive of the Year award, which began in 1993. Scott Pioli won the 2010 award.
In his first season in San Diego, Whisenhunt worked with Rivers and quarterback coach Frank Reich, and blended the talents of running back Ryan Mathews and rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen – who won the PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award – behind an already stout offensive line to help first-year head coach Mike McCoy guide the Chargers to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Whisenhunt’s offensive unit finished fifth in the NFL in yards per game at 393.3 and fourth in passing yards per game at 270.5. The former Arizona Cardinals head coach from 2007-12 was hired as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans on January 13.
Whisenhunt is the first Chargers assistant to receive the PFWA’s Assistant Coach of the Year award, which began in 1993.
PFWA NFL COACH OF THE YEAR: 1970 AFC – Paul Brown, Cincinnati Bengals; 1970 NFC – Dick Nolan, San Francisco 49ers; 1971 AFC – Don Shula, Miami Dolphins; 1971 NFC – George Allen, Washington Redskins; 1972 AFC – Don Shula, Miami Dolphins; 1972 NFC – Dan Devine, Green Bay Packers; 1973 AFC – John Ralston, Denver Broncos; 1973 NFC – Chuck Knox, Los Angeles Rams; 1974 AFC – Sid Gilman, Houston Oilers; 1974 NFC – Don Coryell, St. Louis Cardinals; 1975 AFC – Ted Marchibroda, Baltimore Colts; 1975 NFC – Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys; 1976 AFC – Chuck Fairbanks, New England Patriots; 1976 NFC – Jack Pardee, Chicago Bears; 1977 AFC – Red Miller, Denver Broncos; 1977 NFC – Leeman Bennett, Atlanta Falcons; 1978 AFC – Walt Michaels, New York Jets; 1978 NFC – Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles; 1979 AFC – Don Coryell, San Diego Chargers; 1979 NFC – Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles; 1980 AFC – Chuck Knox, Buffalo Bills; 1980 NFC – Leeman Bennett, Atlanta Falcons; 1981 AFC – Forrest Gregg, Cincinnati Bengals; 1981 NFC – Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers; 1982 AFC – Tom Flores, Los Angeles Raiders; 1982 NFC – Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins; 1983 AFC – Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1983 NFC – Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins; 1984 AFC – Chuck Knox, Seattle Seahawks; 1984 NFC – Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers; 1985 AFC – Raymond Berry, New England Patriots; 1985 NFC – Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears; 1986 AFC – Marty Schottenheimer, Cleveland Browns; 1986 NFC – Bill Parcells, New York Giants; 1987 AFC – Ron Meyer, New England Patriots; 1987 NFC – Jim Mora, New Orleans Saints; 1988 AFC – Sam Wyche, Cincinnati Bengals; 1988 NFC – Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears; 1989 AFC – Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1989 NFC – Lindy Infante, Green Bay Packers; 1990 – Art Shell, Los Angeles Raiders; 1991 – Wayne Fontes, Detroit Lions; 1992 – Bobby Ross, San Diego Chargers; 1993 – Dan Reeves, New York Giants; 1994 – Bill Parcells, New England Patriots; 1995 – Dom Capers, Carolina Panthers; 1996 – Dom Capers, Carolina Panthers; 1997 – Jim Fassel, New York Giants; 1998 – Dan Reeves, Atlanta Falcons; 1999 – Dick Vermeil, St. Louis Rams; 2000 – Jim Haslett, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – Dick Jauron, Chicago Bears; 2002 – Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles; 2003 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2004 – Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears; 2006 – Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints; 2007 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2008 – Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals; 2010 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2011 – Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers; 2012 – Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers.
PFWA EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: 1993 – George Young, New York Giants; 1994 – Carmen Policy, San Francisco 49ers; 1995 – Bill Polian, Carolina Panthers; 1996 – Bill Polian, Carolina Panthers; 1997 – George Young, New York Giants; 1998 – Front Office, Minnesota Vikings; 1999 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2000 – Randy Mueller, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – Charley Armey, St. Louis Rams; 2002 – Al Davis, Oakland Raiders; 2003 – Scott Pioli, New England Patriots; 2004 – A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2006 – Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints; 2007 – Scott Pioli, New England Patriots; 2008 – Bill Parcells, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2010 – Scott Pioli, Kansas City Chiefs; 2011 – Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers; 2012 – Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – John Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs.
PFWA ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: 1993 – Ray Rhodes, Green Bay Packers; 1994 – Dom Capers, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1995 – Pete Carroll, San Francisco 49ers; 1996 – Dave Campo, Dallas Cowboys; 1997 – John Fox, New York Giants; 1998 – Brian Billick, Minnesota Vikings; 1999 – Dom Capers, Jacksonville Jaguars; 2000 – Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals; 2001 – Mike Mularkey, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2002 – Monte Kiffin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2003 – Romeo Crennel, New England Patriots; 2004 – Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2005 – Ron Rivera, Chicago Bears; 2006 – Rex Ryan, Baltimore Ravens; 2007 – Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys; 2008 – Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2009 – Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati Bengals; 2010 – Marty Mornhinweg, Philadelphia Eagles; 2011 – Wade Phillips, Houston Texans; 2012 – Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego Chargers.
ABOUT THE PFWA: The Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams on a daily basis. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Atlanta Falcons, is the organization’s president for 2013-15, while ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, is the PFWA’s first vice-president and long-time national writer Dan Pompei is the organization’s second vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.