There is no question that Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL, and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer after he decides to end his legendary career. Despite that, Belichick has been named the league’s Coach of the Year on only three occasions: he won the trophy in 2004, 2007 and 2010.
Since that 2010 season, Belichick’s New England Patriots made the playoffs nine times — thrice as owners of the best record in football. He also has won three Super Bowls, although they do not factor into the Coach of the Year equation.
Still, the fact remains: Belichick only having won the award on three occasions is, quite frankly, ludicrous. The problem is that the trophy does not honor the best coach in the game — if so he would win it almost every year — but the best turnaround.
Take last year’s award: Kevin Stefanski won after leading the Cleveland Browns to an 11-5 record in his first year; the team had finished the previous season 6-10. Turnarounds like these are regularly rewarded by the voters, which in turn has made it near-impossible for Belichick to win the trophy.
2021 is different, though. The Patriots went just 7-9 last year, creating an opportunity for Belichick to manufacture his own turnaround. He appears to be doing just that: New England currently owns a 9-4 record as well as the top seed in the AFC playoff race — all while starting a rookie at the quarterback position.
The story is a compelling one, which is why Belichick is now the favorite to be named Coach of the Year (according to DraftKings Sportsbook). At +125, the oddsmakers see Belichick as the frontrunner for the award. Only the Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury (+350) and the Green Bay Packers’ Matt LaFleur (+750) are close at the moment.
A lot can and will change over the next few weeks, but Belichick at least being in the conversation for Coach of the Year again speaks for itself: he has helped the Patriots turn around quickly after their disappointing 2020 campaign.