With the NFL celebrating its 100th anniversary this upcoming season, it is time to analyze all 32 teams and remember some of the greatest players to ever play the game for each of these respected franchises.
The next team to be analyzed is… the MIAMI DOLPHINS! Beginning in 1966, the Dolphins struggled in their first four years in the American Football League with three 10+ loss seasons under head coach George Wilson. But, after hiring Don Shula as their new head coach in 1970, the Dolphins became a playoff contender with five consecutive postseason berths from 1970-1974 along with three straight Super Bowl appearances in Super Bowl VI (loss to the Dallas Cowboys), Super Bowl VII (17-0 season, win over the Washington Redskins), and Super Bowl VIII (win over the Minnesota Vikings).
However, after winning Super Bowl VIII, the Dolphins would not experience another postseason victory until 1982 when they advanced to Super Bowl XVII, but came up short to the Redskins. But, after drafting Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft, the Dolphins advanced to their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 1984, but would fall short to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX. Despite losing two Super Bowls in three years, Don Shula still remained in control and led the Dolphins to five more playoff berths (including two AFC Championship games in 1985 as well as 1992) before retiring at the end of the 1995 season.
With Don Shula’s departure from Miami, the Dolphins could not reclaim their postseason magic despite another five consecutive playoff berth streak from 1997-2001 under head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt with only three Wild Card victories. After recording their first losing season in 16 years in 2004, the Dolphins fell in the AFC East standings over the next three years before claiming a division title in 2008 under head coach Tony Sparano. However, the Dolphins continued their struggles as the 2010’s began and made one postseason appearance in 2016 under head coach Adam Gase.
Now, after this brief history of Miami’s NFL franchise, here is my all time roster of the Dolphins using the 53-man roster the NFL uses today. I will separate each section of the team’s personnel into different parts and post each section.
Part 1: Offensive Backfield (Quarterbacks, Halfbacks, Fullbacks)
Part 2: Receiving Corps (Wide Receivers, Tight Ends)
Part 3: Offensive Line Unit
Part 4: Defensive Line Unit
Part 5: Linebacker Corps
Part 6: Secondary Unit (Cornerbacks, Safeties)
Part 7: Special Teams Unit
Let’s take a look at the Miami Dolphins all time special teams unit!
Olindo Mare, the Miami Dolphins all time leading scorer with 1,048 points, led the NFL in field goal percentage in 2001 (90.5 percent; 19 of 21 FG’s) and earned his only Pro Bowl/All-Pro selection in 1999. Mare also led the league in field goals/attempts in 1999 (39 of 46 FG’s) and finished with the 2nd most points in the NFL (144 points).
Brandon Fields has the highest yards per punt average of any Dolphins punter (46.8 yards on 593 punts) and earned his only Pro Bowl selection in 2013. Fields also led the NFL with a yard per punt average of 50.2 in 2012 and had the league’s 3rd longest punt in 2013 (74 yards (career high)) before finishing his career with the Saints in 2015.
Mercury Morris has the longest kickoff return of any Dolphins player (105 yard TD vs. Bengals in 1969) and led the AFL with 43 kickoff returns for 1,136 yards in 1969. Morris also had the 3rd most kick return yards in the NFL in 1970 (812 yards) and was a key contributor in Miami’s 1971-1973 Super Bowl runs with three Pro Bowl honors.
O.J. McDuffie has the most punt returns of any Dolphins player (127 returns (tied with Wes Welker as well as Jake Scott)) and led the NFL with two punt return TD’s in 1993. McDuffie also had the league’s 5th longest punt return in 1993 (72 yard TD vs. Steelers) and became a key receiver for Dan Marino with 90 receptions in 1998 (led the NFL).
Statistics from Pro Football Reference website