The Miami Dolphins have not been one of the more dominant NFL franchises as far as recent memory goes. However, prior to nearly two decades of mediocrity and mostly less than stellar play, the Dolphins were one of the top teams in the league during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. With stability and perennial playoff appearances previously serving as the staples of this once heralded organization, the Dolphins are looking to return to their winning ways of old with the 2020-21 campaign currently looming large. Even though the Dolphins have only reached the postseason twice since 2001-02 while failing to win a postseason game in exactly 20 years, Miami has produced some incredibly talented players over the course of the franchise’s history — especially under center at the quarterback position.
1. Dan Marino (1983 – 1999)
Not only is longtime Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino the best to ever play the position for the AFC franchise, he is no doubt the best overall player in team history as well. One of the best signal callers of all-time with his playing career ultimately leading him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Marino’s lone downfall is that he was unable to capture a Super Bowl title during his lengthy stint in Miami. Suiting up for the Dolphins between 1983 and 1999, Marino is no doubt the most recognizable player thay Miami has ever produced while continuing to serve as the face of the franchise even more than 20 years after his retirement from the NFL. Notably spending his entire NFL playing career in Miami, the legendary Dolphins quarterback made nine Pro Bowl appearances in addition to tallying three All-Pro selections, a Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, an Offensive Player of the Year Award, a Comeback Player of the Year Award and NFL MVP honors. Marino led the Dolphins to one Super Bowl appearance and 10 total trips to the playoffs as well. It is also worth mentioning that Marino still serves as the team’s all-time leader in passing attempts, completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. He threw for 61,361 yards to accompany his 420 passing touchdowns, 252 interceptions, 33 comebacks and 47 game-winning drives, all of which came over the course of 242 career appearances as a member of the Dolphins.
2. Bob Griese (1967 – 1980)
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese was a key piece of the puzzle for the organization as it infamously rolled to three straight Super Bowl appearances between 1971-72 and 1973-74. Winning a pair of titles as a result of those final two seasons, Griese and the Dolphins most notably tallied a perfect 17-0 season in 1972-73 as Miami remains the only team to ever accomplish such a feat in NFL history. Even though Griese was injured for the majority of that undefeated campaign, he remained a focal point of the organization and eventually returned to complete the historic run. Griese was originally selected by Miami with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft while it took the eventual staple of the franchise a few years to get things moving in the right direction en route to creating the highest points in Dolphins history. Once introduced to Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Don Schula, Griese would help change the Dolphins franchise forever.
3. Earl Morrall (1972 – 1976)
Although fellow Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese was the team’s bonified starter under center, it was actually another signal caller by the name of Earl Morrall that started nine of the franchise’s 14 regular season games during its historic run in 1972-73. With that 1972-73 Dolphins team going a perfect 17-0 with Morrall being forced to step in after Griese suffered a significant injury before eventually returning to the fold, Miami remains the only team in league history to win all of its regular season and postseason games en route to a Super Bowl title. Following a lengthy stint with the Baltimore Colts, among several other teams, Morrall went on to last five seasons in Miami while primarily serving as Griese’s backup. He started only three more games following that memorable 1972-73 campaign, though his service at just the right time solidifies him as one of the best quarterbacks in team history as the Dolphins have not had much success since in addition to not winning anymore Super Bowls either. Morrall’s final NFL stop would be in Miami with the journeyman signal caller winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Dolphins when all was said and done.
4. Ryan Tannehill (2012 – 2018)
Even though his time in South Florida didn’t really go as originally planned, longtime Miami Dolphins quarterback was a staple of the AFC East franchise for seven seasons, which is no easy feat atop the NFL level. Originally selected by the Dolphins with the No. 8 overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, Tannehill most notably led Miami to a postseason appearance in 2016-17, which was highlighted by the team’s 10-6 regular season record. Although Tannehill and company were immediately routed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, that 2016-17 campaign currently serves as the team’s latest postseason appearance and only its second postseason appearance since 2001-02. Tannehill threw for more than 20,000 yards and 145 touchdowns in a Dolphins uniform despite the fact that the team as a whole wasn’t very successful during him time in Miami — which can be said about quite a few quarterbacks that have been employed by the AFC franchise.
5. Chad Pennington (2008 – 2010)
After beginning his NFL playing career with eight seasons as a member of the rival New York Jets, quarterback Chad Pennington then finished his professional tenure with three go-rounds with the Miami Dolphins. However, his first season in Miami will always be his most memorable as Pennington wasted absolutely no time in finding success. Starting all 16 regular season games in 2008-09, Pennington led the Dolphins to the postseason by way of an AFC East title and an 11-5 regular season record. With the Dolphins serving as the only other AFC East Champion during the Tom Brady era with the New England Patriots, Pennington was eventually rewarded for his efforts by being selected as the league’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2008-09.