New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is currently third all-time in the NFL in regular-season wins. Belichick’s 280 wins trail only Chicago Bears legend George Halas’ 318, and Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins legend Don Shula’s 328.
If the Patriots average ten victories per season over the subsequent five campaigns, Belichick could become the all-time leader in 2026. Don’t count Dolphins Hall-of-Fame quarterback Dan Marino as someone rooting for Belichick to usurp his former coach.
In an interview with ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, Marino was asked how he felt about Belichick potentially breaking Shula’s record.
“I hope he don’t get it,” Marino said bluntly. “I’m a Dolphin for life. Coach Shula for life. I don’t want him to get it.”
Marino’s Take is To Be Expected
While Marino’s take may have raised a few eyebrows, it should come as no real surprise. Dolphins greats have long clung tightly to the franchise’s records during Shula’s 26 year-career with the organization.
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team in history to complete an undefeated season while also winning the Super Bowl. For years, the surviving members of that team would have a celebration whenever the league’s last undefeated team took their first loss.
Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka lit his victory cigar in December when Washington knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers and pushed them from the unbeaten ranks.
Belichick’s Patriots came close in 2007 when they went 16-0 but were upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. With that being the closest call, and with the Dolphins’ hated rivals the Patriots being the team that nearly broke Miami’s record, there was a great sigh of relief amongst old Fins players.
Similar energy might play with Marino openly hoping that Belichick fails in his quest to surpass Shula.
How Realistic is the Goal for Belichick?
At one point, ten wins seemed like an automatic for the Patriots. Some might have considered that a down year for a team that has won six Super Bowls in 20 seasons. However, after the 7-9 finish in 2020 and the departure of Tom Brady, Patriots fans were smacked with a dose of reality.
Winning ten games is far from automatic in the NFL, but there is still reason to be optimistic Belichick will ultimately be No. 1. Belichick and the Patriots went to great lengths to fill out the thin roster that managed just seven victories in 2020. Belichick has gotten younger on both sides of the ball while still positioning the team to have a bounce-back season in 2021.
With a potential blockbuster trade for Julio Jones seemingly a real possibility, the 2021 season suddenly has a ton of potential. Also, factor in the extra game added to the schedule, and Belichick will have additional opportunities to add to his career total. If the Patriots manage 13 wins in 2021 and Belichick is at 293 wins heading into 2022, the conversation gets a lot more serious.
Belichick just turned 69 in April, but he isn’t even the oldest coach in the NFL. That’s the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, who is 71. Halas and Bills legend Marv Levy coached until they were 72 years old. If Belichick and the Patriots can regain their winning ways in 2021 and sustain it over the next few years, Belichick would be on pace to break the record when he’s 73, or at the latest 74.
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