NEW YORK (AP) -- In the Year of the Coach, the job Jim Haslett did in New Orleans was the most outstanding.
Haslett, in his first season coaching the Saints, beat a strong field to win The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award, announced Saturday.
Haslett, who took over a perennially underachieving team that had reached rock bottom and turned it into the NFC West champion, easily beat Philadelphia's Andy Reid in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcaster who cover pro football.
"Guys that had been here a long time, that had never won, never had a winning season, that takes a toll on you," said Haslett, who stepped into the mess Mike Ditka created. "The franchise wasn't in great shape, after four bad years.
"I think the No. 1 thing we had to do was get them on board with what we were trying to do, and that was to build a team and an organization that people could be proud of ... to try to change people's thinking inside by learning how to win, learning how to deal with adversity, learning how to deal with success. It wasn't easy.
"I don't think we're where we want to be yet, but I think we have a good start, a good foundation," added Haslett, whose Saints went 10-6 to supplant the defending NFL champion St. Louis Rams in the NFC West.
New Orleans then beat St. Louis last week for its first postseason victory, earning a spot against Minnesota in Saturday's playoffs.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.