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Patriots' Bill Belichick Voted 2021 NFL Coach and Executive of the Year by Execs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2021

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

As the architect of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick's hard work hasn't gone unnoticed in 2021.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero polled 23 executives from NFL teams, who voted Belichick as not only the Coach of the Year but also the Executive of the Year.

"He's just kind of reinvented himself," said one executive from the AFC. "Not the scheme, but whole new free agency (approach), spent all the money, got a rookie quarterback, bunch of new pieces and it's all kind of come together. Took a year off, and now they're back. It's amazing what he's doing."

Order has been restored in the NFL. After winning seven games and missing the playoffs in 2020, the Patriots are 9-5 and first in the AFC East. 

New England's fortunes last year were inversely correlated to those of Tom Brady, who went on to win a Super Bowl in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That didn't become any larger referendum on Belichick beyond leading many to wonder whether the Pats should've tried a little harder to retain Brady.

The legendary coach showed he was in no mood for a rebuild as New England handed out $164.5 million in guaranteed money last offseason, the most in the league, per Over the Cap. The team also tabbed Mac Jones to lead the new era at quarterback.

Spending a lot of money is seemingly the most straightforward way back to contention, but it hasn't been a recipe for success in recent years for every team.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

In less than 24 hours, the Patriots have guaranteed over $137.5 million, placing them second in NFL history for most guaranteed money in a free-agent signing period. The record could be theirs before free agency officially begins at 4 pm Wednesday. <a href="https://t.co/fEyRItUjvL">pic.twitter.com/fEyRItUjvL</a>

But three of the Patriots' top four receivers (Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry and Nelson Agholor) were free-agent signings. Matt Judon has 12.5 sacks in his first year in New England. Thanks in part to the return of Trent Brown, who has been limited to six games, and the addition of Ted Karras, the offensive line has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks (25).

Brady emboldened his legacy by adding a seventh ring without Belichick. If Belichick can turn around and do the same thing, it might be the best coaching job of his Hall of Fame career.

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