Mike Vrabel, who led the Tennessee Titans to a 12-5 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed, is the 2021 NFL Coach of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
New England head coach Bill Belichick, whose personnel moves helped the Patriots back to the postseason after a one-year absence, is the 2021 NFL Executive of the Year.
Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who oversaw one of the most dynamic units in the NFL that improved in several categories during a run to the NFC East title, is the 2021 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
The Titans were 12-5 in 2021, won the club's second consecutive AFC South title and captured the AFC's No. 1 seed for the first time since 2008 under Vrabel's leadership. Tennessee was fifth in rushing offense (141.5 yards per game), first in goal-to-go situations (87.5 percent), second in average time of possession (32:40) and fifth in red-zone percentage (63.93 percent) on offense. Defensively, Tennessee was second in rush yards allowed per game (84.6), tied for fifth in average points allowed per game (20.8) and sixth in third-down percentage allowed (36.67 percent). Safety Kevin Byard was a PFWA All-NFL and All-AFC selection.
This is the first PFWA Coach of the Year honor for Vrabel, and the second Coach of the Year honor for the Titans' franchise. Sid Gilman won the AFC award in 1974 with the then-Houston Oilers.
Belichick oversaw a rebuild of the Patriots roster after New England was 7-9 in 2020 and missed the playoffs. During the offseason, the Patriots added 11 veteran free agents, including wide receiver Nelson Agholor, defensive lineman Davon Godchaux, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Matthew Judon and linebacker Kyle Van Noy and also engineered trades for three other players. New England also selected PFWA All-Rookie quarterback Mac Jones in the first round, and PFWA All-Rookie defensive lineman Christian Barmore in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Patriots started the season 3-5 and won seven straight games from late October through early December. New England qualified for the postseason for the 19th time under Belichick as head coach, which tied Don Shula for the most by a head coach in NFL history. Three players – cornerback J.C. Jackson, Judon and special teamer Matthew Slater were selected to the PFWA's All-AFC team.
This is the first PFWA Executive of the Year honor for Belichick, and the third Executive of the Year honor for the Patriots (GM Scott Pioli in 2003 and 2007) since the award was established in 1993.
Quinn joined the Cowboys as the club's defensive coordinator in 2021. Under the 18-year NFL coaching veteran, the Cowboys improved in several major statistical categories despite having to use 34 different players due to injury and COVID-19 throughout the season. Dallas forced a league-high 33 takeaways, and the Cowboys scored an NFL-best and franchise-record six defensive touchdowns. The Dallas defense also led the NFL in third-down defense (32.2 percent) and opponent three-and-out drives (41). Opponents were only able to average 20.8 points per game, seventh in the NFL. Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons, who had 13 sacks, was the PFWA Rookie/Defensive Rookie of the Year, the lone rookie on the PFWA All-NFL team and was both an All-NFC and All-Rookie team selection. Cornerback Trevon Diggs, who had 11 interceptions, was an All-NFL and All-NFC selection
Quinn is the third Cowboys assistant (Dave Campo in 1996 and Jason Garrett in 2007) to receive the PFWA award established in 1993.
2021 COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans
2021 EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
2021 ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys
PFWA NFL COACH OF THE YEAR: 1966 – Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys; 1967 AFL – John Rauch, Oakland Raiders; 1967 NFL – Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers; 1968 AFL – Weeb Ewbank, New York Jets; 1968 NFL – Don Shula, Baltimore Colts; 1969 AFL – John Madden, Oakland Raiders; 1969 NFL – Bud Grant, Minnesota Vikings; 1970 AFC – Paul Brown, Cincinnati Bengals; 1970 NFC – Dick Nolan, San Francisco 49ers; 1971 AFC – Don Shula, Miami Dolphins; 1971 NFC – George Allen, Washington Redskins; 1972 AFC – Don Shula, Miami Dolphins; 1972 NFC – Dan Devine, Green Bay Packers; 1973 AFC – John Ralston, Denver Broncos; 1973 NFC – Chuck Knox, Los Angeles Rams; 1974 AFC – Sid Gilman, Houston Oilers; 1974 NFC – Don Coryell, St. Louis Cardinals; 1975 AFC – Ted Marchibroda, Baltimore Colts; 1975 NFC – Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys; 1976 AFC – Chuck Fairbanks, New England Patriots; 1976 NFC – Jack Pardee, Chicago Bears; 1977 AFC – Red Miller, Denver Broncos; 1977 NFC – Leeman Bennett, Atlanta Falcons; 1978 AFC – Walt Michaels, New York Jets; 1978 NFC – Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles; 1979 AFC – Don Coryell, San Diego Chargers; 1979 NFC – Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles; 1980 AFC – Chuck Knox, Buffalo Bills; 1980 NFC – Leeman Bennett, Atlanta Falcons; 1981 AFC – Forrest Gregg, Cincinnati Bengals; 1981 NFC – Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers; 1982 AFC – Tom Flores, Los Angeles Raiders; 1982 NFC – Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins; 1983 AFC – Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1983 NFC – Joe Gibbs, Washington Redskins; 1984 AFC – Chuck Knox, Seattle Seahawks; 1984 NFC – Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers; 1985 AFC – Raymond Berry, New England Patriots; 1985 NFC – Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears; 1986 AFC – Marty Schottenheimer, Cleveland Browns; 1986 NFC – Bill Parcells, New York Giants; 1987 AFC – Ron Meyer, New England Patriots; 1987 NFC – Jim Mora, New Orleans Saints; 1988 AFC – Sam Wyche, Cincinnati Bengals; 1988 NFC – Mike Ditka, Chicago Bears; 1989 AFC – Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1989 NFC – Lindy Infante, Green Bay Packers; 1990 – Art Shell, Los Angeles Raiders; 1991 – Wayne Fontes, Detroit Lions; 1992 – Bobby Ross, San Diego Chargers; 1993 – Dan Reeves, New York Giants; 1994 – Bill Parcells, New England Patriots; 1995 – Dom Capers, Carolina Panthers; 1996 – Dom Capers, Carolina Panthers; 1997 – Jim Fassel, New York Giants; 1998 – Dan Reeves, Atlanta Falcons; 1999 – Dick Vermeil, St. Louis Rams; 2000 – Jim Haslett, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – Dick Jauron, Chicago Bears; 2002 – Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles; 2003 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2004 – Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears; 2006 – Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints; 2007 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2008 – Tony Sparano, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals; 2010 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots; 2011 – Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers; 2012 – Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers; 2014 – Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals; 2015 – Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers; 2016 – Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys; 2017 – Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams; 2018 – Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears; 2019 – John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens; 2020 – Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns; 2021 – Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans.
PFWA EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR: 1993 – George Young, New York Giants; 1994 – Carmen Policy, San Francisco 49ers; 1995 – Bill Polian, Carolina Panthers; 1996 – Bill Polian, Carolina Panthers; 1997 – George Young, New York Giants; 1998 – Front Office, Minnesota Vikings; 1999 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2000 – Randy Mueller, New Orleans Saints; 2001 – Charley Armey, St. Louis Rams; 2002 – Al Davis, Oakland Raiders; 2003 – Scott Pioli, New England Patriots; 2004 – A.J. Smith, San Diego Chargers; 2005 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2006 – Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints; 2007 – Scott Pioli, New England Patriots; 2008 – Bill Parcells, Miami Dolphins; 2009 – Bill Polian, Indianapolis Colts; 2010 – Scott Pioli, Kansas City Chiefs; 2011 – Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers; 2012 – Ryan Grigson, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – John Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs; 2014 – Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys; 2015 – Mike Maccagnan, New York Jets; 2016 – Reggie McKenzie, Oakland Raiders; 2017 – Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles; 2018 – Chris Ballard, Indianapolis Colts; 2019 – John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers; 2020 – Brandon Beane, Buffalo Bills; 2021 – Bill Belichick, New England Patriots.
PFWA ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR: 1993 – Ray Rhodes, Green Bay Packers; 1994 – Dom Capers, Pittsburgh Steelers; 1995 – Pete Carroll, San Francisco 49ers; 1996 – Dave Campo, Dallas Cowboys; 1997 – John Fox, New York Giants; 1998 – Brian Billick, Minnesota Vikings; 1999 – Dom Capers, Jacksonville Jaguars; 2000 – Marvin Lewis, Baltimore Ravens; 2001 – Mike Mularkey, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2002 – Monte Kiffin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2003 – Romeo Crennel, New England Patriots; 2004 – Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2005 – Ron Rivera, Chicago Bears; 2006 – Rex Ryan, Baltimore Ravens; 2007 – Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys; 2008 – Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh Steelers; 2009 – Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati Bengals; 2010 – Marty Mornhinweg, Philadelphia Eagles; 2011 – Wade Phillips, Houston Texans; 2012 – Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts; 2013 – Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego Chargers; 2014 – Todd Bowles, Arizona Cardinals; 2015 – (tie) Hue Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals and Wade Phillips, Denver Broncos; 2016 – Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons; 2017– Pat Shurmur, Minnesota Vikings; 2018– Vic Fangio, Chicago Bears; 2019 – Greg Roman, Baltimore Ravens; 2020 – Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills; 2021 – Dan Quinn, Dallas Cowboys.
ABOUT THE PFWA: In its 58th season in 2021, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams daily. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic is the PFWA president for the 2021-22 seasons and the organization's 30th president. Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated is the PFWA's first vice-president, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News is the second vice-president and Mike Sando of The Athletic is the secretary-treasurer. At-large board members include USA Today's Mike Jones, ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold, The Athletic's Dan Pompei and ProFootballTalk.com's Charean Williams. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.