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DALLAS (AP) — Bill Belichick is closing in on Don Shula.
The New England coach Bill Belichick won The Associated Press 2010 NFL Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, the third time Belichick has earned the honor. Belichick, who also won in 2003 and 2007, now trails only Don Shula, a four-time winner of the award.
For leading the Patriots to a 14-2 record, the best in the league, Belichick received 30 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. That easily beat Raheem Morris, who led a turnaround in Tampa Bay and got 11½ votes.
Belichick has overseen a transition in New England to a younger team, particularly on defense. Of course, he still has Offensive Player of the Year Tom Brady at quarterback.
“I will say the foundation of the Patriots organization, which starts with Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick, has not changed since the day I arrived,” Brady said. “They have and will always do what is in the best interest of the team, and they will continue to find selfless players that love to work hard, compete and strive to be the best they can possibly be.”
Then Belichick makes them even better.
“He really stays on top of us,” wide receiver Wes Welker said. “He makes sure that we’re not getting overconfident or believing in the noise outside the locker room and understand that every game’s tough in the NFL.”
Belichick’s record with the Patriots is 126-50, plus a 14-5 mark in the postseason, with losses in the last three tries with teams that went a collective 40-8. His career winning percentage of .716 ranks eighth, tied with Hall of Famer Paul Brown, and no other coach has four 14-victory regular seasons.
This might have been Belichick’s most impressive work as the Patriots retooled their roster, yet had a dominant regular season in which they won their final eight games.
“When you have so many things that go into a team, so many things that go into what’s happened over the last decade, which ones do you point to?” he said.