POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:43 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
DALLAS » Bill Belichick is closing in on Don Shula.
The New England coach won the Associated Press 2010 NFL Coach of the Year award yesterday, 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.
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 11 1/2 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 much of the 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. "You can make an argument for a lot of different things. In the end, it's each individual team and that collection of players that particular year and that particular time during the season or whatever it is, that was able to go out there and be successful."
NASHVILLE, Tenn. » The Tennessee Titans have received permission to talk with Mike Mularkey and Perry Fewell as coaching candidates to replace Jeff Fisher, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Mularkey is Atlanta's offensive coordinator and Fewell, an African-American, is the Giants' defensive coordinator. The Titans would satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule of considering a minority by interviewing Fewell.
The Titans have confirmed that they have interviewed offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and offensive line coach Mike Munchak.
The Philadelphia Eagles searched far and wide for a new defensive coordinator. In the end, they found a familiar face right in their own back yard.
Juan Castillo, who spent 13 seasons as an Eagles offensive line coach and has been with the organization for 16 years, will switch over to the defensive side of the ball and replace Sean McDermott, who was fired on Jan. 15. The team also added Howard Mudd as the new offensive line coach to replace Castillo.