Regular season: Consistent Success for Two Decades

By Stephen Juza

June 8th, 2020

Of the 500 head coaches in NFL history, Bill Belichick ranks third in total wins with 273. George Halas and Don Shula, the two coaches with more wins, both started their careers closer to the start of the NFL than to today. Among coaches that have started their careers in the last forty years, there are only four within a hundred wins of Belichick.

Coach Head Coaching Years Regular Season Wins Regular Season Win Percentage
Bill Belichick 1991-2019 273 0.683
Andy Reid 1999-2019 207 0.618
Marty Schottenheimer 1984-2006 200 0.613
Dan Reeves 1981-2003 190 0.535
Jeff Fisher 1994-2016 173 0.512

Winningest Coaches Since 1980

It will take a long time before a coach surpasses Belichick’s post-merger record of 273 wins. Andy Reid, the coach with the closest total wins, has more losses despite having coached in sixty four games fewer games than Belichick. The Chiefs will need to win every game between now and Week 2, 2024 for Reid to surpass Belichick.

Belichick hasn’t only accumulated his wins through his longevity in the league, he has also won them at a faster rate than almost any coach in history. There are sixty nine coaches that have coached ten or more seasons in NFL history. Among these tenured coaches, they have a combined average win percentage of 57%, good for a consistent nine win season. Good, even playoff worthy, but not great. Belichick ranks fifth overall for win percentage (68%), good for an average of an 11 win seasons.

Eleven wins every season means that team is likely to win their division, and potentially a first-round bye. To maintain this consistency for 25 years is incredible, which is exactly what Belichick has achieved.

Belichick’s teams have consistently achieved greatness in the regular season. In his career, his team has made the playoffs eighteen times, tied for second in history. Only once did his team sneak into the playoffs with a wild card. Every other trip has been via a division title. His seventeen titles is the most in NFL history, surpassing the vast majority of other teams.

Not only has he won the AFC East division consistently, but the Patriots have the record for most consecutive division titles. For many years, the record for most consecutive division titles was seven, set by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1970s. The Patriots tied this feat in 2015, broke the record in 2016, and have extended the record to an active streak of eleven straight division titles.

In fact, not only have the Patriots won the division, they have achieved it with remarkable ease. Only once, the Jets in 2009, during the streak of division titles has another team finished within one game of the Patriots. During the current run, the Patriots have consistently won the division with more than three games separating them from the second place team. Put another way, they could have been playing 14 game seasons under Belichick and still set the record for most division titles in a row at 10.

Overall, Belichick has consistently coached his team through decades of success without a bad season. Some teams experience a lack of motivation in the season following a Super Bowl victory, but Belichick has kept the Patriots at the top of the game for much longer than anyone else in history.

Part 1: Bill Belichick: Greatest NFL Coach

Part 2: Regular season: Consistent Success for Two Decades

Part 3: Playoff Success, When the Competition is the Strongest

Part 4: Succeeding in the Most Challenging Era

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