Nothing against Ron Rivera, the Carolina Panthers had an incredible season, going 12-4 and making the playoffs as a No. 2 seed in the stacked NFC. The Panthers were even coming off of a 7-9 season and were not on many radars coming into 2013. Rivera did an incredible job with his team. That being said, Bill Belichick should have been the NFL Coach of the Year.
There were plenty of good options to take home the Coach of the Year award this season. Rivera, Belichick, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs, just to name a few. All of the other candidates would have been well deserving in a normal season, but this year, the decision was obvious and the voters got it wrong. In fact, Belichick finished third behind both Rivera and Reid.
Nobody in the NFL over came more adversity than the New England Patriots. It really is not even close. They lost key offensive weapons in Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead last offseason.
On top of that, New England battled through injuries throughout the season. Every NFL team has injuries, but the Patriots seemed to lose key players on a regular basis. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski only played in seven games, defensive leaders Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo only played four and six games respectively and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly missed all but five games.
Also, running back Shane Vereen missed eight games in the middle of the season and WR Danny Amendola (who was brought in to replace Welker) was never able to stay fully healthy, as he missed time and played hurt all season long. Cornerback Aqib Talib established himself as an elite corner in the league, but he also struggled with injuries throughout the season, including leaving the AFC Championship Game with a rib injury in the first half.
Like I said before, every team has injuries and I hate when people use them as an excuse, but what the Patriots did with what they had to work with this season was incredible. Tom Brady was throwing to a rag tag group of receivers and the defense was being held together with chewing gum and bailing wire. Even with all of this adversity, the team went 12-4 in the regular season, nabbed the No. 2 seed in the AFC, before losing in the championship game to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Belichick is a three-time defending NFL Coach of the Year, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. I believe that the voters almost expect this out of Belichick at this point, and his past success hurt him in the voting. Regardless, Belichick is an incredible coach, and what he did with the Patriots in 2013 was nothing short of amazing.