Bill Belichick has won the NFL Coach of the Year award three times during his tenure as head coach of the New England Patriots (2003, 2007, and 2010), but this season may be his best job yet. At the moment the Patriots sit 10-3 and once again in first place in the AFC East on their way to an eighth division crown in nine years. They are also on their way to another first round bye come January which this would be the fourth season in a row New England would earn a week off.
With such a high level of consistency from Belichick, it is easy to overlook the precision the head coach has again brought to the sidelines in 2013. The adversity the Patriots have had to face make Belichick deserving of the rewards of Coach of the Year. Belichick and the Patriots had to almost entirely revamp their passing game this season after they lost Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd in the offseason. After Rob Gronkowski went down again last week against the Cleveland Browns, the Patriots are now left with a rag-tag group of undistinguished receivers. Even three of those current weapons are still hanging on the injury report (Michael Hoomanawanui-knee, Aaron Dobson-foot, Kenbrell Tompkins-hip). Yet Belichick and his team will still be favored in their last three games at the Miami Dolphins, at the Baltimore Ravens, and at home against the Buffalo Bills.
Other than the offense, the defense has been hit hard by injuries. All-Pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork went down in Week 4 and his 4-3 clog-the-hole-mate Tommy Kelly exited to the IR a game later. To counter Belichick has inserted a duo of undrafted rookies in Joe Velanno and Chris Jones and scrap-heapers Isaac Sopoaga and Sealver Siliga. Sopango and Siliga have combined for just seven games between them. The defensive tackle position has been struggling as of late, giving up an average of 169.7 yards rushing in the last three games, but it has not yet cost the Patriots a win.
The Patriots have been decimated by injuries, including All-Pro inside linebacker Jerod Mayo, which easily could have seen their record hovering at seven or eight wins and competing with the Dolphins for the AFC East. There are other coaching candidates around the NFL who could take home the hardware as Bruce Arians, “Riverboat” Ron Rivera, and Andy Reid come to mind. However, none has been faced with as young or as injured a squad as Bill Belichick, 2013 Coach of the Year.