Bill Belichick Should Win Coach of the Year Honors for a Smart Piece of Self-Scouting That’s Turned the Patriots Into the Most Dangerous Team in the NFL
Despite being widely viewed as the greatest coach of all time, Bill Belichick hasn’t received as much individual recognition for his accomplishments as you’d expect. At least, not from voters who decide the winner of the annual NFL Coach of the Year award.
Perhaps that has to do with getting involved in scandals. Maybe it has to do with his cold approach to press conferences. It might even stem from people growing bored of seeing the same coach win double-digit games and division titles on a yearly basis.
Whatever the case may be, Belichick hasn’t captured Coach of the Year honors since 2010 — a stunning fact considering the New England Patriots won three Super Bowl titles during the last decade. But thanks to his ability to diagnose and fix a major problem that threatened to ruin his team’s season, the architect of the most successful dynasty in NFL history deserves to take home some hardware for his efforts.
Bill Belichick has a prime opportunity to capture NFL Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his career
In early October, the odds of Bill Belichick winning his fourth Coach of the Year award seemed as close to zero as possible. As the calendar flips to December, though, it would be a mild surprise if he doesn’t capture the honor.
After all, the Patriots have quickly gone from pretenders to top Super Bowl contenders despite having a rookie quarterback, many new faces on both sides of the ball, and a coaching staff that isn’t nearly as experienced as in years past.
Following a 2-4 start that included close losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys, Belichick’s squad finally flipped a switch and found a way to win again. With Mac Jones making tangible progress, the offensive line rounding into form, and the defense getting big-time contributors from new faces like Matthew Judon and Christian Barmore and familiar ones like Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, and J.C. Jackson, the Patriots have surged up power rankings and the AFC East standings.
Have they benefitted from facing inferior opponents?
But there’s no doubt the Patriots have executed at a high level during their six-game winning streak. Not only have they cut down on penalties and mental mistakes, but they’ve also made more big plays on offense, defense, and special teams. Part of that has to do with being in the right position, which stems from smart coaching and game planning.
And by revealing how he and his staff identified and attempted to fix a clear area of weakness, Belichick should be viewed as an even stronger candidate to earn Coach of the Year honors.
New England’s longtime leader deserves the honor for a smart piece of self-scouting that’s made his team incredibly dangerous
And no current or past NFL head coach understands and values that more than William Stephen Belichick.
Need further proof?
He provided exactly that in the aftermath of the Patriots’ 36-13 win over the Tennessee Titans by speaking about the coaching staff’s plan to address a lack of forced fumbles and the team’s own ball-security issues.
“We hadn’t gotten any fumbles out in, I don’t know, however many games it was,” Belichick explained during his post-game press conference. “We went back and looked at a lot of things and tried to address it. We were losing the ball as well, so we just tried to address things as a team. I think we’ve done a better job of coaching. The assistant coaches and myself, I think we’ve all done a better job of coaching it.”
To no surprise, he also gave credit to his players.
“I think the players understand what we’re trying to do,” Belichick said. “There’s much more evidence of them doing what we’re asking them to do, and they’re having better results. If we had probably coached it better at the beginning, we might’ve had better results in the beginning. I don’t know.”
The 69-year-old coach also discussed how the coaches teach players specific moves to gain or prevent extra yards— another testament to New England’s detail-oriented approach.
As for the results?
The numbers speak for themselves.
From Week 1-6, the Patriots fumbled eight times compared to only three for their opponents. Since Week 7, however, they’ve recorded just three, with their opponents putting the ball on the ground a whopping 10 times.
Clearly, Belichick and his staff drove home the point about the importance of securing the ball on offense and taking advantage of opportunities to steal possessions on defense. And with New England sitting at 8-4 and looking capable of winning a championship with a first-year quarterback, it’s time for voters to give the greatest coach of all time his due.
Belichick should also be the top candidate for the NFL Executive of the Year Award
Not only should Belichick earn Coach of the Year honors, but he should also earn Executive of the Year honors.
After making some truly terrible decisions in the draft — including taking Sony Michel over Nick Chubb and selecting N’Keal Harry instead of Deebo Samuel — the highest-paid coach in American sports helped himself out by having an A+ offseason as a general manager.
Belichick, a notoriously value-driven roster builder, went in the opposite direction this spring. Instead of taking the bargain approach to free agency, he spent a record-setting amount of Robert Kraft’s money to fortify a roster that clearly needed an infusion of talent. And while Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith haven’t justified their pricey contracts yet, it’s clear the Patriots invested wisely on Matthew Judon (team-high 11.5 sacks), Kendrick Bourne (team-high 623 receiving yards), and Hunter Henry (team-high seven touchdown receptions).
But the reason New England fans have so much hope about the future doesn’t have to do with that expensive haul of free agents.
Rather, their optimism stems from a 2021 draft class that carries special potential.
Mac Jones clearly has the command, intelligence, accuracy, and toughness needed to be the true heir to Tom Brady. Christian Barmore’s week-to-week growth has totally transformed the Patriots’ veteran-laden defense. And fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson has quickly eaten into talented third-year running back Damien Harris’ snaps by showcasing an uncanny combination of strength, balance, and agility.
Needless to say, it’s a good time to be Bill Belichick.
And if the legendary coach continues to pile up wins, he should be able to add a few individual accolades to his resume in the coming months.
Of course, that won’t matter to him if his team falls short of winning the Lombardi Trophy.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.