Mike McDaniel is set to make his NFL head coaching debut against arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history. Before going against Bill Belichick for the first time, McDaniel cracked a joke about their resumes heading into Sunday's showdown between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
"I mean, can there be a bigger disparity in career win-loss total?" McDaniel joked Monday. "We do our best. I know one thing that coaches in the National Football League – especially experienced NFL head coaches, especially arguably the best coach of all time, Bill Belichick – he's going to be prepared."
Is McDaniel vs. Belichick the biggest head coach win differential in NFL history? Belichick has 290 career wins entering the season, third on the all-time list (and just 10 wins away from being the third head coach to win 300 games) and McDaniel obviously has zero since he'll be making his head coaching debut Sunday.
The 290-win difference is actually not the biggest, though. George Halas holds some of those marks with the 318 wins on his resume, as he faced a few coaches where there was a 300-win differential in the 1966 and 1967 seasons. Don Shula had 327 career wins when the Miami Dolphins faced Rich Brooks and the St. Louis Rams in 1995. Brooks had seven wins on his resume, making the difference in victories at 320 when the pair faced off in Week 17 of the 1995 season (Shula's final regular season game).
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Halas had 311 victories when he faced Bud Grant and the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3 of the 1967 season. Grant, who eventually would make the Hall of Fame as a head coach, did not have a victory on his resume yet (1967 was his first year as a head coach). The 311-win difference is significantly larger than Belichick and McDaniel's 290.
Certainly Grant learned a lot from Halas in that 1967 matchup (a 17-7 loss) on his way to four Super Bowl appearances. McDaniel will look to do the same against Belichick.
"You know that as a head coach, you better prepare your team and leave no stone unturned. Otherwise, you'll end up kind of coaching with regret after the fact," McDaniel said. "Luckily, the schedule came out a long time ago, so I digested that and knew what Week 1 was, and luckily it's the Miami Dolphins versus New England Patriots and not a one-on-one square-off between head coaches."