How Bill Belichick can break Don Shula's all-time coaching wins record

Darren Hartwell
NBC Sports Boston

The NFL community lost its most successful head coach Monday.

Former Miami Dolphins head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula died Monday at age 90, the Dolphins confirmed.

New England Patriots fans may not have fond memories of Shula, who took several jabs at the Patriots over their Spygate and Deflategate cheating scandals.

But two cornerstones of Shula's legacy remain intact: He's the NFL's all-time leader in regular-season wins (328) and total wins (347) and remains the only coach to complete an undefeated season, which the 1972 Dolphins remind us of annually.

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick came closest to matching Shula's '72 Dolphins in 2007, when New England went 16-0 in the regular season but lost in the Super Bowl.

As for Shula's wins record? That's still very much on the table.

Belichick currently has 273 regular-season wins, 45 behind George Halas and 55 behind Shula.

How many more seasons would Belichick need to coach to tally 55 more wins? If Tom Brady was still in New England, five seasons would seem reasonable: 11 wins per year for a franchise that's won 12 games in seven of its last seasons.

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But the Patriots are expected to start 23-year-old Jarrett Stidham in 2020, and many project them to hover around .500. With those tempered expectations in mind, let's break down how long it would take Belichick to catch Shula if New England averaged ...

... 10 wins per season: 5.5 seasons (Week 8 of the 2025 season)
... 9 wins per season: 6.1 seasons (Week 1 or 2 of the 2026 season)
... 8 wins per season: 6.9 seasons (Week 15 or 16 of the 2026 season)

So, there you have it. Assuming Belichick can keep the Patriots above .500 for the next half-decade, he'll match Shula's all-time wins record by 2026.

Of course, that begs the question: Will Belichick, who turned 68 in April and is the NFL's second-oldest active head coach behind Pete Carroll, still be coaching at age 75?

If so, he'd break another NFL record: Halas and Marv Levy are the only head coaches in NFL history to coach past 70, and both retired at age 72.

Belichick is a football lifer who shows no intention of retiring anytime soon. With Brady headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons in New England, though, it's worth wondering if the 68-year-old head coach has five-plus more years of coaching in him.

Then again, the late Shula's lasting legacy gives Belichick more history to chase.

How Bill Belichick can break Don Shula's all-time coaching wins record originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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