BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick’s reputation as a head coach took a slight hit last year, when the Patriots finished 7-9 in the franchise’s first season in the era of “Life After Brady.” But that doesn’t mean that Belichick isn’t still near the top of the NFL’s coaching totem pole.

Pro Football Focus released its ranking of Best NFL Coaches heading into the 2021 season, and Belichick sits at No. 6 on the list.

Here is what PFF’s Eric Eager had to say about the HC of the NEP:

I’ll admit that there is some legacy built in here, as Belichick has lagged behind for the past decade in terms of making correct decisions on fourth downs, with the 2020 Patriots going for it on just 39% of admissible situations. That ranked 24th in football, and the team surrendered 0.5 expected points in the process.

That said, last year’s team earned just the 21st-most wins above replacement in the NFL but still managed to win seven games in a division where the Bills and the Dolphins reached double-digit victories. It remains to be seen if they can win with Cam Newton or Mac Jones moving forward. But if someone can, it’s likely Belichick.

Based on that write-up, maybe No. 6 is a little high for Belichick. But then when you go off his overall track record, it’s pretty understandable why Belichick is ranked so high. Plus, that free agent spending spree to boost New England’s depth at receiver, tight end, linebacker and along the defensive line also probably helps Belichick’s cause in 2021.

Here are the head coaches who rank ahead of Belichick:

1. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
2. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
3. Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers
4. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
5. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns was ranked immediately after Belichick at No. 7. The only real argument in the Top 5 is likely on LaFleur, whose questionable call at the end of the NFC Championship Game, when he opted to kick a field goal with the Packers trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by eight points in the closing minutes. Aaron Rodgers would probably have a few thoughts to share on LaFleur being so high on the list — if anyone could find him at the moment.

CBSBoston.com Staff