rformances of some first-year head coaches who keep on losing. Others are campaigning to get rid of an incumbent.Yet there’s an impressive number of men doing terrific jobs who deserve to be praised as we approach the halfway mark of the NFL schedule.Try Pete Carroll in Seattle. Jay Gruden in Washington (while his older brother’s return has been a fiasco in Oakland). Ron Rivera in Carolina. Anthony Lynn in Los Angeles. Matt Nagy in Chicago. And Bill O’Brien in Houston.The key measurement with that half-dozen is talent. More specifically Tyler Lockett Color Rush Jersey , none of those six has a ton of talent at his disposal, though all have some star players.But Gruden has a first-place team. So does O’Brien.Rivera’s Panthers look like a solid bet for the playoffs. Lynn’s Chargers are 5-2 and in good position to be in the postseason. Nagy’s Bears are vastly improved over John Fox’s group of 2017, and Carroll — the only Super Bowl winner in this group — might be doing his best job in a highly distinguished career with the Seahawks.In a year when so many coaches are being lambasted, from newcomers Pat Shurmur in New Jersey to Steve Wilks in Arizona to newcomer/oldtimer Gruden in Oakland, it’s worthwhile and refreshing to take a look at some jobs well done. Very well done. PETE CARROLL While the Seahawks aren’t in full-blown rebuild mode, they are remaking the roster and reaffirming themselves as a hard-hitting, run-first (and effectively), aggressive squad that doesn’t back down. Their victory at Detroit was their best in a 4-3 season during which they started 0-2.Carroll is fitting in new parts, particularly in the secondary and at running back. He’s getting strong leadership from Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin, but lots of credit needs to be thrown his way for doing quite a bit with less than usual. BILL O’BRIEN When the Texans dropped their first three games, people were placing O’Brien on a Lone Star hotseat. Now, he’s sitting atop the AFC South with a club that should win that division of underachievers.Not that Houston is underachieving. The poor start had much to do with returning players such as the Texans’ best, J.J. Watt, and quarterback Deshaun Watson not being back to full strength. Now they are.This is a balanced team when all the parts are available. O’Brien doesn’t panic, he instructs well, and his is a team on the rise. JAY GRUDEN Is Washington the most-talented team in the NFC East? Nope.Is it the most consistent? Nope.What the Redskins do is protect the ball (just five giveaways, trailing only Atlanta’s four), stymie opposing offenses, and rely on some excellent veterans such as Ryan Kerrigan Frank Clark Color Rush Jersey , Josh Norman and Alex Smith. Plus, Gruden was willing to reach out to Adrian Peterson, who has shown he has plenty left — so much so he might be the front-runner for Comeback Player of the Year.While there’s turmoil in Dallas and New York, and rumblings fostered by the mediocre performance by the defending champion Eagles, all is going smoothly in D.C. Credit Gruden RON RIVERA Yes, in 2015 he guided the Panthers to the NFC title. He still has Cam Newton and Greg Olsen and Luke Kuechly.But these Panthers, who have beaten the Eagles, Bengals and Ravens, aren’t at the level of the team that fell to the Broncos in the Super Bowl 2 ½ years ago. Their offensive line is shaky, their receivers are inconsistent, and they’ve shuffled their secondary.They’re also 5-2 and Rivera has one of the best relationships, on and off the field, with his players of any coach in football. ANTHONY LYNN Lynn’s best defensive player, Joey Bosa, has been sidelined all year. The Chargers have relied on rookies — safety Derwin James is among the top defensive newcomers in the league — and a few other youngsters, and it’s working to the tune of nine picks to three allowed, 18 sacks to 10 allowed.Philip Rivers is having one of his best seasons of a borderline Hall of Fame career, in great part because Lynn gives his quarterback lots of freedom.You hear criticism that the Chargers haven’t beaten anyone good. Well, a large number of teams would love their 5-2 record. MATT NAGY Every week, the Bears play an opponent tough. Their defense is rugged Dion Jordan Color Rush Jersey , particularly if Khalil Mack is healthy. Their offense is developing, not rapidly but steadily. Where Mitchell Trubisky has progressed in his second season and first under Nagy is where the Jets, Cardinals, Bills and Browns hope their first-rounders of this year get to in 2019.He’s aggressive with the ball and without it, playing to win rather than playing not to lose. Whether he can keep the Bears in contention in the rough NFC North is problematic, but they certainly are headed in the right direction — and in an entertaining fashion. RENTON, Wash. (AP) — After four straight weeks of playing tight, one-score games decided in the fourth quarter, Pete Carroll enjoyed spending a Monday reviewing a rare comfortable victory.“It was a little different than the games we’ve been playing in,” Carroll said. “It was nice to see us get out ahead and hang onto it and work with the lead and play in that fashion.”Seattle’s blowout win over San Francisco on Sunday only strengthened what is becoming another late playoff push by the Seahawks, and after a day in which they got results that helped in trying to get back to the playoffs after missing last season. Seattle is currently in command of one of the wild-card spots in the NFC and its hopes were strengthened by Carolina and Minnesota suffering losses. Seattle holds the tiebreaker over Carolina and can have that in place over Minnesota with a win at home next Monday night against the Vikings.The only teams Seattle (7-5) could end up in wild-card contention with that it won’t face head-to-head are Washington and Philadelphia. But if the Seahawks continue winning, it won’t matter. They’ll be in the postseason.“These are must-win games for us. Every week, we approach it like that,” Seattle left tackle Duane Brown said after the win. “We approach every week like a playoff game and that’s the kind of intensity guys came out with from kickoff on.”Seattle’s current roll is reviving memories of 2015, when it was 4-5 after nine games. But this time, success is coming a different way. That season, the Seahawks leaned on the passing arm of quarterback Russell Wilson as he threw for 24 touchdowns and just one interception over the final seven games as Seattle went 6-1 down the stretch and made the postseason. Wilson averaged 272 yards passing and 31 pass attempts per game during that stretch.So far, it’s been balance and efficiency that’s defined Seattle’s offensive performance during its current three-game win streak, although his overall numbers aren’t that dissimilar. Wilson has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions during the stretch, averaging about 250 yards passing. But there’s been no fall-off with Seattle’s run game of late Tedric Thompson Color Rush Jersey , meaning Wilson isn’t being forced to carry the offense.In Sunday’s 43-16 win over San Francisco, Wilson attempted just six passes in the first half. He threw for touchdowns on three of them. Seattle will take that kind of efficiency — even with reduced numbers — all the time.“I think that the development of the pass protection has been really obvious and Russ has taken advantage of that,” Carroll said, noting Wilson’s movement on a 52-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett on Sunday. “That’s why he’s been able to be more effective getting the second looks and sliding up in the pocket and hitting Tyler on the big play was a perfect example of that. Really good protection, he gets to move to give one more beat to get Tyler a chance to get behind him and deliver the throw. I just think it’s connected with what’s going on up front, but his overall command of what we’re trying to get done communication-wise has really helped the other guys play well.”Seattle did come out of the win over the 49ers with one major injury concern after guard D.J. Fluker suffered a hamstring strain. Carroll said Fluker had a “grade 1” strain and would likely miss a couple of weeks. When Fluker was unable play last month against the Rams, it was Jordan Simmons who stepped in to start.“He seems to be moving in the right direction to be a really, really viable option for us,” Carroll said of Simmons. “He doesn’t get that much practice time, so when he does get the practice time like he did in the Rams week, he did a very good job with it. So, we’re going to count on him playing and see how that goes.”NOTES: Seattle waived LB Emmanuel Ellerbee on Monday, clearing a roster spot for LB Mychal Kendricks after his suspension was lifted. Kendricks has been practicing with the Seahawks for the past two weeks, but next Monday against Minnesota will be the first time he’s eligible to play. He could end up moving into a prominent role with K.J. Wright still out due to knee troubles, although Austin Calitro has played well. Carroll said he believes Kendricks could play a significant amount of snaps, if needed. … Carroll expects RB Chris Carson (finger), FB Tre Madden (chest) and DT Shamar Stephen (foot) to be able to play next Monday. Carson suffered a dislocated finger in the win over San Francisco, while Madden and Stephen were both inactive.