The Miami Dolphins are a Professional football team based in the Miami metropolitan area in Florida. The team is part of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Dolphins play home games at Sun Life Stadium in the northern suburb of Miami Gardens, and have their headquarters at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility in Davie, Florida.
The Dolphins team was founded by Joe Robbie, and began play in the American Football League (AFL) as an expansion team in 1966 – an example of the AFL's expanding into parts of the United States that had not possessed professional football teams (with the exception of the Miami Seahawks, who played in the AAFC in 1946 before becoming the first incarnation of the Baltimore Colts). For the first few years the Dolphins full-time training camp and practice facilities were at Saint Andrew's School, a private boys boarding prep school in Boca Raton. Then, in 1970, the Dolphins joined the NFL when the AFL–NFL merger occurred. The Dolphins are the oldest continually-operating major league professional sports franchise in the state of Florida.
The team made its first Super Bowl appearance following the 1971 season in Super Bowl VI, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys. In 1972, the Dolphins team completed the NFL's first and only perfect season culminating in a Super Bowl win, winning all 14 of its regular-season games, both of its NFL playoff games, and also Super Bowl VII. The Dolphins thus became the first NFL team to accomplish a perfect regular season. The Dolphins also won Super Bowl VIII, becoming the first team to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls, and the second team (the first AFL/AFC team) to win back-to-back championships. Miami also appeared in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX, losing both games.
For most of their early history, the Dolphins were coached by Don Shula, the most successful head coach in professional football history in terms of total games won. His Dolphins teams posted losing records in only two of his 26 seasons as the head coach of the team. Six future Football Hall of Fame members played for Miami during the 1970s, including fullback Larry Csonka, quarterback Bob Griese, and linebacker Nick Buoniconti. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dolphins' quarterback Dan Marino became one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, breaking numerous league passing records. He led the Dolphins to five division titles, 10 playoff appearances, and Super Bowl XIX before retiring following the 1999 season.
Although the Dolphins are often nicknamed "The Fish" (also used but with greater acceptance by the Miami Marlins of Major League Baseball, a former Sun Life Stadium co-tenant), this is incorrect as dolphins are mammals, not fish.
Main article: History of the Miami DolphinsThe first professional football team in Miami, and in the state of Florida, were the Miami Seahawks, who played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) during its inaugural 1946 season. They were the first major league-level sports franchise ever to be based in Miami. The Seahawks played only one season afflicted by a difficult schedule and poor ticket sales, and by the end of the season had accumulated so much debt that the league confiscated the franchise.
Florida would not have another professional football team for nearly 20 years. Then in 1965, a group in Atlanta applied for franchises in both the American Football League and the NFL, acting entirely on its own with no guarantee of stadium rights. Another group reported it had deposited earnest money for a team in the AFL. Local businessmen worked out a deal and were awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, contingent upon acquiring exclusive stadium rights from city officials. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who had been moving slowly in Atlanta matters, was spurred by the AFL interest and headed on the next plane down to Atlanta to block the rival league's claim on the city of Atlanta. He forced the city to make a choice between the two leagues. By June 30, the city picked Rankin Smith and the NFL.
When Atlanta reneged, the American Football League awarded an expansion team franchise to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas for $7.5 million. Robbie had originally wanted to establish the franchise in Philadelphia, but AFL commissioner Joe Foss suggested courting Miami due to its warm climate, growing population, and lack of a football team. Thomas would eventually sell his stake in the team to Robbie. A contest was held in 1965 to choose the name of the new Miami AFL franchise. A total of 19,843 entries were submitted with over a thousand different names. A dozen finalists were screened by a seven-member committee made up of the local media. Names considered included the Mariners, Marauders, Mustangs, Missiles, Moons, Sharks, and Suns. The winning name, "Dolphins," was submitted by 622 entrants. Mrs. Robert Swanson of West Miami won lifetime passes to Dolphin games when her nickname entry successfully predicted the winner and score of the 1965 football game between Notre Dame and the University of Miami, a scoreless tie. Ironicallly, the Dolphins became a Professional Football powerhouse, winning two Super Bowl Championships, including the perfect season of 1972, while the NFL's Atlanta team has been a perennial also-ran.
The Dolphins had a combined 15–39–2 record in their first four seasons (under head coach George Wilson and behind QB John Stofa) when Don Shula was hired as head coach. Shula was a former Paul Brown disciple who had been lured from the Baltimore Colts after first losing Super Bowl III two seasons earlier to the AFL's New York Jets and finishing 8–5–1 the following season. Interestingly, Shula got his first NFL coaching job from then-Detroit Head Coach George Wilson, who hired him as the defensive coordinator. When Shula replaced Wilson at Miami the Colts charged the Dolphins with tampering in their hiring of Shula, costing the Dolphins their first round draft pick in 1970. Shula introduced himself to the Miami press by saying that he didn't have any magic formulas and that the only way he knew to make his teams successful was through hard work. Shula's early training camps with the Dolphins, with four workouts a day, would soon be the stuff of sweltering, painful legend. But Shula's hard work paid immediate dividends, as Miami improved to a 10–4 record and their first-ever playoff appearance, losing 21–14 at Oakland.
The Dolphins were successful in the early 1970s, becoming the first team to advance to the Super Bowl for three consecutive seasons. They captured the AFC championship in 1971 behind quarterback Bob Griese, running backs Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick, and wide receiver Paul Warfield. The AFC Divisional Playoff Game, in which the Dolphins defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, was the longest contest in NFL history (82 minutes 40 seconds). In Super Bowl VI, however, Miami lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24–3.
In 1972 the Dolphins completed the first full undefeated season in the NFL, winning all 14 regular season games, two playoff games and Super Bowl VII, defeating the Washington Redskins 14–7. They finished the season 17–0, and are somewhat immortalized as arguably the greatest team in NFL history. QB Griese fell victim to a broken leg and dislocated ankle in Week 5 versus the San Diego Chargers and was replaced by veteran Earl Morrall for the rest of the regular season, but returned to the field as a substitute during the AFC Championship game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and then started in Super Bowl VII. The Dolphins set the NFL single-season rushing record, and running backs Csonka and Mercury Morris became the first teammates to each rush for 1,000 yards in a season. The offensive line included future Hall of Fame members Jim Langer and Larry Little and Pro Bowler Bob Kuechenberg. The 1972 Dolphins defensive unit, called the No-Name Defense because Miami’s impressive offense received much more publicity, was the league’s best that year. It was led by linebacker Nick Buoniconti, end Bill Stanfill, tackle Manny Fernandez and safeties Dick Anderson and Jake Scott.
Before the 1972 Dolphins, only the Chicago Bears, in 1934 and 1942, had finished an NFL regular season with no losses or ties. The 1934 team lost the NFL Championship Game that year to the New York Football Giants, and the 1942 team lost the Championship to the Redskins. The Cleveland Browns were undefeated in the 1948 All-America Football Conference season.
The Dolphins finished 12–2 after the 1973 regular season and repeated as NFL champions, beating the Minnesota Vikings 24–7 in Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium in Houston. Miami reached the playoffs again in 1974 but lost in the first round to the Oakland Raiders, in what has entered NFL lore as the "Sea of Hands" game, considered one of the greatest games ever played. Following the 1974 season, the Dolphins lost Csonka, Kiick, and Warfield to the World Football League.
Miami rebounded from a 6–8 record in 1976 by winning ten or more games in four of the next five seasons. Shula built a solid defense around a new set of stars, including linebacker A.J. Duhe and linemen Bob Baumhower and Doug Betters. The Dolphins went 10–4 again in 1977, but again lost the division title (and playoff spot) to the Colts. They made the playoffs as a wild card in 1978, but lost in the first round to the Houston Oilers 17–9.
Csonka returned to the Dolphins in time for the 1979 season. After winning the division with a 10–6 record, the Dolphins lost the divisional playoff 34–14 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.
The Dolphins also accomplished another feat never done before or since by another NFL team. They beat their division rival Buffalo Bills 20 consecutive times in a decade. The Bills were "0 for the seventies" against the Dolphins.
In 1980, David Woodley, an athletic quarterback out of LSU, took over for Bob Griese, who severely injured his shoulder in a game against the Baltimore Colts. Griese would never play again, retiring after the season. The Dolphins finished 8–8 and did not make the playoffs.
The Dolphins were back up on top of the AFC East in the 1981 NFL season, with an 11–4–1 record. That season, the Dolphins quarterback position was manned by both Woodley and back-up quarterback Don Strock, causing the local media to identify the Miami quarterback as "Woodstrock." They reached the divisional playoff against the San Diego Chargers, known as The Epic in Miami and remembered as one of the most memorable games in NFL history. After being down 24–0 after the end of the first quarter, Don Strock entered the game and engineered a frenetic comeback, culminating in the historic "hook and lateral" play, in which wide receiver Duriel Harris caught a pass from Strock and immediately lateraled the ball to the streaking running back Tony Nathan for the score on the last play of the half, which cut the Chargers lead to 24–17. After the Dolphins took the lead in the fourth quarter, San Diego tied it up 38–38 with under a minute to play. Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow, playing through exhaustion, blocked Uwe von Schamann's field goal try on the last play of regulation. In overtime, Von Schamann had another field goal attempt blocked, and Rolf Benirschke kicked the game-winner for San Diego (final score 41–38) after missing a chip shot field goal earlier. Strock finished the game with 403 passing yards and four touchdowns.
In the strike-shortened 1982 NFL season, the Dolphins, led by the "Killer B's" defense (Bob Baumhower, Bill Barnett, Lyle Blackwood, Kim Bokamper, Glenn Blackwood, Charles Bowser, Doug Betters, and Bob Brudzinski), held five of their nine opponents to 14 or fewer points en route to their fourth Super Bowl appearance. During the first two rounds of the 1982–83 NFL playoffs, they got revenge for previous losses, crushing the New England Patriots, 28–13 (revenge for the infamous Snow Plow game at Schaeffer Stadium played earlier in the season) and the San Diego Chargers, 34–13 at the Orange Bowl. In successive games against San Diego and the NY Jets, the ballhawking Miami defense logged ten interceptions, five each against Dan Fouts and Richard Todd. After shutting out the New York Jets in the AFC Championship 14–0 (aided by Shula's alleged instructions to the stadium's grounds crew to leave the field uncovered throughout a week-long rain in Miami, which was done to negate the Jets superior edge in team speed), the Dolphins lost Super Bowl XVII to Washington, 27–17. After enjoying success rooted in a defense-first philosophy, and employing a ball control offense to take pressure off of lackluster quarterbacks, the next 17 seasons would be marked by an average rushing game and defense that limited a great quarterback.
During the third game of the 1983 season at the Los Angeles Raiders on Monday Night Football, Shula replaced quarterback David Woodley with rookie Dan Marino, who went on to win the AFC passing title with a ratio of 20 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions. Seldom sacked by defenders, Marino was protected by an outstanding offensive line as he passed to receivers such as Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Despite the regular season success (the Dolphins went 12–4 winning their last five regular season games, the only team in the AFC East with a winning record), they were upset in the divisional playoff by the Seattle Seahawks at the Orange Bowl. Defensive end Doug Betters was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 1984, the Dolphins won their first 11 games en-route to a 14–2 season (the franchise's best 16-game season to date). Marino, in his first full season, produced the most impressive set of passing statistics in NFL history, setting single-season records for most yards (5,084), touchdown passes (48), and completions (362). He was voted NFL MVP. Miami avenged the Seahawks loss from the previous year 31–10 and crushed the Steelers 45–28 in the AFC Championship to advance to Super Bowl XIX. In the title game, however, Miami lost to the San Francisco 49ers 38–16. It would be Marino's only Super Bowl appearance.
Miami finished 12–4–0 in 1985 and, in an epic Monday Night Football showdown, handed the previously-undefeated Chicago Bears their only defeat of the season. After rallying from a 21–3 third quarter deficit in the divisional playoffs to beat the Cleveland Browns 24–21, many people were looking forward to a rematch with Chicago in Super Bowl XX. The Cinderella New England Patriots, the Dolphins' opponents in the AFC Championship, had different plans. New England forced six turnovers on the way to a 31–14 win – the Patriots' first in Miami since 1966. The Patriots had lost 18 games in a row at the Orange Bowl. In 1969, the Boston Patriots had beaten the Dolphins at Tampa Stadium.
In 1986, the Dolphins, hampered by defensive struggles, stumbled to a 2–5 start and finished 8–8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1980. The Dolphins lost their final game at the Orange Bowl to the New England Patriots 34–27 on Monday Night Football. The problems continued in 1987, with an 8–7 (7–5 in non-strike games) record in a strike-shortened year, their first at new Joe Robbie Stadium. Miami had their first losing season (6–10) since 1976 in 1988, and finished 8–8 following the 1989 regular season.
By 1990, the Dolphins had shaped up on defense and finished with a 12–4 record, second in the AFC East. They came from behind to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17–16 in the Wild Card round, but lost to the Buffalo Bills 44–34 in the divisional playoffs. The team struggled with defensive injuries in 1991, and narrowly missed the playoffs in an overtime loss to the New York Jets during the final week of the season, losing the AFC's final playoff berth to their arch rivals from New York.
The Dolphins rebounded in 1992 and started the season 6–0 and then finished 11–5 and capturing the AFC East title behind a career year from running back Mark Higgs and tight end Keith Jackson, newly acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles as an unrestricted free agent. They crushed the Chargers in the divisional playoffs 31–0, but were defeated by the Buffalo Bills 29–10 in the AFC Championship.
A season-ending Achilles injury to Dan Marino led to the team missing the playoffs in 1993 despite a league-leading 9–2 start. Marino returned in 1994 to lead the Dolphins to a 10–6 record and the AFC East title. After defeating Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, the Dolphins gave up a 15-point halftime lead and suffered a 22–21 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Pete Stoyanovich missed a 46-ard field goal on the last play of the game and denied Marino a chance to play the Steelers in his hometown of Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.
In 1995, Marino broke the career passing records held by Fran Tarkenton for yards (48,841), touchdowns (352), and completions (3,913), though two of the games where he broke those records were losses to the Indianapolis Colts. The Dolphins finished 9–7, second in the AFC East, but still made the playoffs as a wild card, losing to Buffalo in the first round. Following the 1995 season, Shula retired and became an executive in the Dolphins’ front office. Jimmy Johnson, who had won a collegiate national championship at the University of Miami and two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, was named as Shula’s replacement. At the press conference announcing his retirement, Shula said that he "agreed to step aside", leading some to speculate that Huizenga had all but fired him.
In 1996, Miami finished 8–8 and out of the playoffs, with rookie Karim Abdul-Jabbar's 1,116-yard rushing season and the standout play of rookie linebacker Zach Thomas serving as two of the few bright spots. In 1997, Miami stumbled late and backed into the playoffs with a 9–7 season, losing to the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round.
Miami had a solid 10–6 season in 1998 with a career season for receiver O.J. McDuffie, but it was not enough to get past the New York Jets into first place in the division. The Dolphins beat the Bills in the Wild Card round, but lost in the next round to the eventual champion Denver Broncos. (The Broncos lost only two regular season games in 1998, one of which was to the Dolphins.)
In 1999, the team advanced to the playoffs at 9–7. After a close win at Seattle in the Wild Card round 20–17, they suffered the second-worst playoff loss in NFL history against the Jacksonville Jaguars: 62–7. Noteworthy, in the 1940 NFL Championship game, the Chicago Bears beat the host Washington Redskins 73–0 for the worst playoff game loss in history. After the season, Jimmy Johnson left the team and Marino retired.
Main articles: 2000 Miami Dolphins season and 2001 Miami Dolphins seasonZach Thomas contributed heavily to the Dolphins 2000 and 2001 playoff runs.Before the 2000 season, Dave Wannstedt, formerly of the Chicago Bears, became the new coach, and ex-Jacksonville Jaguars backup Jay Fiedler became the new quarterback, even though former Marino backup Damon Huard had been considered the favorite. Despite lowered expectations, the defense broke through with Jason Taylor and Trace Armstrong each getting 10 sacks, and four players (Sam Madison, Brian Walker, Brock Marion and Patrick Surtain) tallying at least five interceptions. All-pro linebacker Zach Thomas also contributed many tackles. In addition, Lamar Smith rushed for 1,139 yards, and Miami finished atop the AFC East with an 11–5 record. In the first round of the playoffs, Miami took the Indianapolis Colts to overtime and won on a Lamar Smith touchdown run. Smith finished with 209 yards on 40 carries, but in the next round, the Dolphins were shut out by the Oakland Raiders, and a worn-out Smith was barely able to run.
The 2001 offseason brought in rookie Chris Chambers at wide receiver, but Trace Armstrong left, as did two offensive linemen, Richmond Webb, a Pro Bowl anchor since 1990, and Kevin Donnalley. During the 2001 season, the Dolphins relied on a strong defense to finish 11–5, earning a Wild Card spot and finishing second in the AFC East behind the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. The Dolphins lost in the first round of the playoffs 20–3 to the Baltimore Ravens.
Main article: 2002 Miami Dolphins seasonRicky Williams on August 8, 2005 at his first game back from retirementMiami revitalized its running game in time for the 2002 season by trading for New Orleans Saints running back Ricky Williams. In addition, rookie tight end Randy McMichael made his presence felt. The Dolphins, behind a new offensive scheme under freshly hired offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and a power running game led by Williams, quickly rushed out to a 5–1 start, including an incredible last minute comeback by Fiedler against the Broncos. However, Fiedler injured his thumb and would be out for an extended period of time. This intrigued some Dolphins fans, who believed backup Ray Lucas could outdo the much-maligned Fiedler. However, Lucas was abysmal in his first two games and merely average in his third, and the team dropped three straight. Miami rebounded with wins over Baltimore and an impressive thumping of San Diego, but lost to Buffalo. Still, Miami pulled off an impressive win over the Oakland Raiders and sat at 9–5 with two weeks left in the season, in prime position to steal the AFC East. However, despite dominating the New England Patriots for most of the game in Week 17, the Dolphins blew an 11-point lead late in the fourth quarter of a devastating loss. Due to a tiebreaker, both the Dolphins and Patriots lost out on the playoffs as the Jets took the AFC East title. Many fans called for Wannstedt's firing, but he was kept on for the 2003 season. Despite it all, the team believed it had plenty to look forward to, as Ricky Williams broke team records with 1,853 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.
Main article: 2003 Miami Dolphins seasonThe 2003 Miami Dolphins were a hard team to pin down. The defense was again solid and forced a lot of turnovers, and opposing offenses found running the ball extremely difficult. However, poor offensive line play (despite most of the starters returning) gave little room for Williams to run, and the offense was stagnant. The Dolphins began with a repeat of 2002's season end, with a complete meltdown against the Houston Texans, but they rebounded to win four straight games. During a crushing overtime loss at the hands of the Patriots, Jay Fiedler was injured, forcing newly acquired backup Brian Griese to lead the Dolphins to victory the next week over San Diego. That, however, was Griese's high point, and after a good showing against Indianapolis in a losing effort, he was poor against the Titans and highly ineffective against the Ravens. When Griese and the Dolphins fell behind to the Washington Redskins, Fiedler came off the bench and saved their season, leading them to a comeback victory, 24–23. Miami looked like it might rebound thanks to a victory over the Dallas Cowboys that took them to 8–4, but two key losses to the Patriots and the Eagles ended Miami's postseason hopes. Miami finished 10–6.
Main article: 2004 Miami Dolphins seasonThe 2004 offseason was disastrous for the Dolphins. Tight end Randy McMichael was arrested for domestic violence and wide receiver David Boston (signed from San Diego) suffered an injury in training camp and missed the entire season (Boston also failed a drug test for steroids later in the season). But the biggest shock came when Ricky Williams retired for then-unspecified reasons, until it was eventually revealed that a) Williams had recently suffered his third strike under the NFL's substance abuse policy, and b) to a lesser degree felt he was unnecessarily overused by Wannstedt. Many experts predicted a disastrous season for the Dolphins. These predictions proved right as Miami dropped its first six games of the 2004 season, marking the worst start in franchise history at the time. After the team fell to 1–8, Wannstedt resigned on November 9, 2004. He was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Jim Bates. The Dolphins fared slightly better under Bates, winning three of their final seven games, including a 29–28 upset victory over the defending champion Patriots on December 20 in a nationally televised Monday Night Football contest. Despite this, the Dolphins decided not to hire Bates for the permanent coaching position.
Main articles: 2005 Miami Dolphins season and 2006 Miami Dolphins seasonInstead of retaining Jim Bates, the Dolphins hired LSU coach Nick Saban. With the second pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Nick Saban elected to go with Auburn running back Ronnie Brown. And with that, the Nick Saban era kicked off with a 34–10 win against the Denver Broncos. From there, however, the Dolphins struggled, losing seven of their next nine games to fall to 3–7. The two wins came over the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, a game that took place in Tiger Stadium due to Hurricane Katrina. After a frustrating two months, however, the Dolphins would rally late in the season, as they won their final six games, including a win to end the season over the New England Patriots. The team finished the year 9–7, and narrowly missed the playoffs.
In Saban's second season, the Dolphins were expected to contend for a playoff spot. The season, however, turned out to be a major disappointment. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper never recovered from his devastating knee injury from the previous season, and was ultimately benched after the fourth game of the season and eventually put on injured reserve. After starting the season 1–6, they won four straight games, back in the playoff hunt at 5–6, but a few losses later ended their playoff hopes. This was Saban's first and last losing season as a head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
On January 3, 2007, Saban announced that he had accepted a contract for eight years and a guaranteed $32 million to coach at the University of Alabama. Saban left despite making several public statements in the preceding weeks assuring fans and owner Wayne Huizenga that he would be staying on as coach.
Main article: 2007 Miami Dolphins seasonCam Cameron, previously the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, was hired as the new head coach. The Dolphins began their season with Trent Green as their starting quarterback but after four games, Green was put on the injured reserve. For the rest of the way, the Dolphins went with Cleo Lemon and rookie John Beck as their quarterbacks. The Dolphins also suffered another setback when then-NFL leading rusher Ronnie Brown went down for the season with a knee injury.
Midway through the 2007 season, the NFL scheduled the Dolphins' home game against the New York Giants to be played in London's Wembley Stadium; this was the NFL's first regular-season game to be played outside of North America. The Giants defeated the Dolphins, 13–10. Shortly afterward, one of Miami's top wide receivers, Chris Chambers, who was acquired in 2001, was traded to the San Diego Chargers. On December 16, the Dolphins ended a 16-game losing streak by defeating the Baltimore Ravens at home 22–16 in overtime on a 64-yard touchdown from Cleo Lemon to Greg Camarillo, making the wideout an instant cult hero with the fans. Despite the win over the Ravens, the team would lose its next two games to finish an NFL-worst 1–15, which tied the then NFL record for most losses in a season with 15, a record shared by 7 other teams. The record for most losses broken only year later, by the 2008 Detroit Lions with an 0–16 record.
Main article: 2008 Miami Dolphins seasonLate in the 2007 season, two-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells was named Executive Vice President of the Dolphins football operations. Shortly after the season finale, Parcells fired general manager Randy Mueller and on January 3, 2008, head coach Cam Cameron was fired along with almost all of his staff. That same offseason, the Dolphins also parted ways with two Pro Bowlers and long-time Dolphins, releasing linebacker Zach Thomas (who later signed with the Dallas Cowboys) and trading defensive end Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins for a second round draft pick.
Parcells then hired Tony Sparano, who was previously an assistant under Parcells during his days as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The Dolphins ultimately took Jake Long, star offensive lineman out of the University of Michigan with the first pick of the 2008 draft and drafted quarterback Chad Henne with their second round pick (the second consecutive year they drafted a QB in the second round). After the New York Jets traded for Brett Favre and released quarterback Chad Pennington the same day, the Dolphins quickly signed Pennington, who was a former Parcells draft pick.
On September 21, 2008, the Miami Dolphins used the "wildcat" offense against the New England Patriots on six plays, which produced four touchdowns (three rushing and one passing) in a 38–13 upset victory. The wildcat offense or single-wing was a "new" formation that allowed the Dolphins to utilize their two best offensive players, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, both of which played the same position.
Early on, Miami suffered the narrowest of defeats when they lost 29–28 to the Houston Texans. The team, however, would bounce back with four consecutive victories over the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, and Oakland Raiders. After a crushing twenty point loss to New England, the Dolphins fell to third in the AFC East division. Again Miami rebounded to win their next four games, against the (St. Louis Rams, the Bills in Toronto, Ontario, the 49ers, and the Chiefs). This brought their record to 10–5 and let them control their destiny against the New York Jets in the regular season finale.
Pennington, the former Jet, outdueled Brett Favre to lead the Dolphins to victory 24–17 to win the AFC East past the New England Patriots. A year after going 1–15, the Dolphins completed a turnaround under first-year coach Tony Sparano, joining the 1999 Indianapolis Colts as the only teams in NFL history to make 10-win improvements. Miami, which ended the regular season by winning five straight and nine of 10, made the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. It was the Dolphins' first AFC East title since 2000. However, the Dolphins lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens, 27–9.
Main article: 2009 Miami Dolphins seasonOn March 25, 2009, ESPN reported that the Dolphins intended to have Chad Henne as the starting quarterback by the 2010 season. That left current starting quarterback Chad Pennington's future with the team in doubt after the 2009 season. Henne was originally scheduled to receive at least 12 quarters of play in the 2009 preseason to prepare him for the 2010 season. However, Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury against the San Diego Chargers and was out for the rest of the 2009 season. Henne replaced him as the starting quarterback.
Under Henne, the Dolphins defeated the Bills in week 4 and the Jets in a Monday Night classic. After their bye week, the Dolphins lost to the Saints after leading 24–3 towards the end of the first half. The Dolphins finished the rest of the season without a key player, Ronnie Brown, due to a Lisfranc foot injury that required surgery. Ricky Williams was the starter again finishing the season with 1,121 yards, beating his own rookie year at the age of 32. Miami was 7–6 on the season after a 22–21 win over the New England Patriots and a 14–10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but ended the season with three consecutive losses to finish 7–9 and out of the playoffs.
Main article: 2010 Miami Dolphins seasonAfter another disappointing season, the Dolphins looked to make a strong comeback the next season by acquiring Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos for two second-round draft picks, Karlos Dansby from free agency. Ronnie Brown was also back from his leg injury the previous year, and Ricky Williams also returned (while many speculated he would retire). During the 2010 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected Jared Odrick with their first-round draft pick.
The Dolphins started out 2010 by winning their first two games against the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings(teams that did not make the playoffs) at Buffalo and Minnesota, respectively. The Dolphins then lost the following two games at home. The first, a close loss to the New York Jets, and the second, to the New England Patriots, amidst disastorus special teams play. After the bye week, the Dolphins came back with a win in overtime against the Green Bay Packers, Green Bay would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. In week 7, the Dolphins played against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a very competitive game. They lost however, due to a controversial call that gave the Steelers the ball. It was not clear that the Dolphins had recovered the ball, so the Steelers retained possession, and scored the game-winning field goal. The Dolphins then went on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, and won 22–14. The following week the Dolphins faced another AFC North team for the third straight week, the Baltimore Ravens a poor outing by Chad Henne ultimately sealed the game and gave the Dolphins their fourth loss of the season by throwing two interceptions (he ended the game with three).
On November 10, Coach Sparano in a news conference said that Chad Henne would be benched and Chad Pennington would start in their home game against the Tennessee Titans and for the rest of the season; also, after waiving Jason Allen, Al Harris, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, was signed. The Dolphins went on to defeat the Titans 29–17 despite losing both Chad Henne and Chad Pennington to injuries during the game and playing Tyler Thigpen. Chad Henne ended up only missing one game while Pennington was done for the year. The Dolphins would next go primetime in a Thursday night game against the Bears with Tyler Thigpen starting. Miami lost the game 16–0 and Brandon Marshall left the game with a hamstring injury. Marshall would miss the next two games for Miami. The Dolphins next defeated the Oakland Raiders, 33–17. Miami then lost to the Cleveland Browns, 13–10 in a last-minute field goal. The Dolphins surprised many when they defeated the New York Jets, 10–6. Miami, then signed veteran WR Kevin Curtis after he finished battling cancer. A loss to the Buffalo Bills followed, 17–14. That loss put their record at 7–7 and officially eliminated them from the playoffs for the 8th time in 9 years. In week 16, the Dolphins were at home against the Lions, but lost 34–27. Miami was up 27–17 with about 5 minutes left to play but Chad Henne threw two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown, that ultimately led to the Lions comeback. That loss put their record at a league worst 1–7 at home, and 7–8 on the season. Miami wrapped up their season by being blown out by the New England Patriots 38–7. Much like the 2009 season, a 7–6 Miami team lost three consecutive games to the end season and finished 7–9. On the plus side, Miami finally got a WR who hit the 1000-yard receiving mark with Brandon Marshall finishing with 1014 yards receiving. That was Miami's first WR to hit 1000 yards since Chris Chambers did it in 2005.
In September 2010, Bill Parcells, stepped down as Vice President of Football Operations, but remaining as a consultant. He was later criticised for not making the right choices to improve the team.
Main article: 2011 Miami Dolphins seasonFor their first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and 15th selection overall, the Dolphins selected center Mike Pouncey from Florida. For their second pick, the Dolphins selected running back Daniel Thomas. The Dolphins also acquired Reggie Bush from the New Orleans Saints in a trade. Dolphins would then cut Channing Crowder and add Kevin Burnett to replace him. Jason Taylor re-signs for his third stint. The Dolphins started out the season at home on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots, but falling 38-24. It was also the first time that Chad Henne threw for over 400 yards in his career. It quickly went downhill from there, as the Dolphins lost the next three games, losing to the Texans at home, and the Browns and Chargers on the road, falling to 0-4 and putting themselves closer to the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Henne was also injured with a separated non-throwing shoulder during the first half of the Chargers game, and was placed on Injured Reserve days after the game. The team later reached an agreement with QB Sage Rosenfels to backup starting QB Matt Moore, who was on day-to-day after an injury he suffered against Denver, but Rosenfels was soon placed on the reserve/non-football illness list. That opened the door for QB Matt Moore to take the starting role. After an 0-7 start, Moore led the team to 4 victories against the Chiefs, Redskins, Bills and the Raiders. They became the 3rd team in NFL History to win 3 straight after starting season 0-7 ('78 Cardinals & '86 Colts). During this streak they allowed fewer than 10 points in 3 straight games for the first time since 1990. They then narowly lost to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving before turning 4-8 with a comprehensive victory over the Oakland Raiders.
The Dolphins originally played all home games in the Orange Bowl in Miami. They moved to the new Joe Robbie Stadium after the 1986 season. Later the stadium's name was changed to Pro Player Stadium, Dolphins Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, LandShark Stadium, and, as of January 2010, Sun Life Stadium. The facility is located in Miami Gardens, a suburb of Miami located approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of downtown Miami.
Main article: Miami Dolphins Training FacilitySt. Petersburg Beach hosted the Dolphins' first training camp in 1966. The Dolphins subsequently trained in Miami Gardens at Biscayne College, later renamed St. Thomas University, from 1970 until 1993. The players were housed next to Sea World.
In 1993, the Dolphins opened the Miami Dolphins Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida. In 2006, the facility added a domed field which allows the team to practice during thunderstorms which are common during the summer.
Miami Dolphins uniform combinationThe Dolphins logo and uniforms have remained essentially the same since the team's founding. The team's colors are aqua and coral; navy was added as a trim color in 1997. The logo consists of a sunburst with a leaping dolphin wearing a football helmet bearing the letter M. At their debut in 1966, the dolphin's head was near the center of the sunburst. By 1974, the dolphin's body was centered on the sunburst. The most substantial revision took place in 1997: the sunburst was simplified and the dolphin was darkened and given a more serious game-face expression. The uniform features white helmets with either white or aqua jerseys and either white or aqua pants. Navy drop shadows were added to the uniform numbers in the 1997 redesign.
For much of their history, the Dolphins have worn their white jerseys at home for daytime games, thus forcing their opponents to suffer in their darker jerseys in the humid weather of South Florida. The aqua jerseys are typically worn for night games at home, and on the road when the other team has chosen to wear their white jerseys. The Dolphins began this tradition during the perfect season of 1972 and have continued it ever since. Miami is one of a few NFL teams who usually wear their white jerseys at home (the others being the Redskins and Cowboys). In 2003, the Dolphins introduced an alternate coral (orange) jersey worn for some home night contests. The Dolphins have worn white jerseys during night time home games on very few occasions, such as a 1997 contest against the Chicago Bears. During these games, the white jerseys were worn because the games were intended to be played Sunday afternoon (the 1997 Bears game was moved to Monday night due to game 7 of the 1997 World Series).
In 2009, The Dolphins also switched to black shoes for the first time since the glory days, following a trend among NFL teams as of recently. However, by 2011, they returned to wearing white shoes.
The song was written and composed by Lee Ofman. Ofman approached the Dolphins with it before the 1972 season because he wanted music to inspire his favorite team. The fight song would soon serve as a good luck charm for the Dolphins that season. The Dolphins became the first team in NFL history to record an undefeated season, going 17–0 en route to victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. The following season, Miami posted an equally-impressive 15–2 record and capped the season with another title, defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl VIII. The back-to-back championship runs, coupled with the popularity of the fight song amongst Dolphins fans, have ensured the song's longevity. The Dolphins revealed a new fight song by T-Pain & Jimmy Buffett featuring Pitbull on August 7, 2009 which was introduced for the '09/10 NFL season. The fight song was played during the preseason home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 17, 2009, but was not played during the second preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on August 22, 2009 after being booed heavily in the first game. Furthermore, the team has preferred to play Buffett's song "Fins" after scores during the 2009 regular season instead of the traditional fight song. The Dolphins shorthand nickname, "The Fins," has been recognized and used by the team.
Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders in performanceThe team's cheerleaders are known collectively as the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders. The company had its debut in 1978 as the Dolphins Starbrites. (The name referred to the co-sponsor, Starbrite Car Polish.) The cheerleaders' founding choreographer was June Taylor, famed colleague of Jackie Gleason, who led the squad until her retirement in 1990.
The Dolphin Dolls, a 125-member pep squad of girls aged 8 to 18, cheered the team at home games from 1966 to 1977.
In April 2010, the Dolphins started the first Volunteer Program in the NFL. Special Teams is a unique volunteer organization created to enlist and mobilize the ongoing services of the community with the Dolphins staff, players and alumni. The mission of the Special Teams is to offer hands-on services to communities and families in need, to partner with existing organizations on worthwhile social, civic and charitable programs, to provide assistance at Miami Dolphins Foundation events, and to support community efforts in times of emergency. This program is headed by Leslie Nixon and Sergio Xiques. Since its inception, Special Teams has given over 40,000 community services hours to the South Florida community.
("The Dolphin") On Friday, April 18, 1997, the first "official" mascot of the Miami Dolphins was introduced. The seven-foot mascot made his public debut on April 19 at Pro Player Stadium during the team's draft day party. The team then made a "Name the Mascot" contest that drew over 13,000 entries covering all 50 states and 22 countries. 529 names were suggested. The winning entry was announced at the annual Dolphins Awards Banquet on June 4, 1997.
Denny Sym cheered on the Miami Dolphins for 33 years as a one-man sideline show, leading Miami crowds in cheers and chants in his glittering coral (orange) and aqua hat from the Dolphins’ first game in 1966 until 2000. Sym died on March 18, 2007. He was 72.
Main article: FlipperFrom 1966 to 1968, a live dolphin was situated in a water tank in the open (east) end of the Orange Bowl. He would jump in the tank to celebrate touchdowns and field goals. Flipper was removed from the Orange Bowl after 1968 to save costs. In Ace Ventura, Snowflake, a live dolphin who does special behaviors after the Dolphins score a touchdown, was the basis of the film after he is kidnapped as part of a revenge plot against Dan Marino.
Main article: List of Miami Dolphins broadcastersIn August 2010, the team launched its own regional TV “network.” The Dolphins Television Network comprises 10 South Florida TV stations that agreed to carry the team-produced coverage. Games are broadcast on the radio by the Miami Dolphins Radio Network of affiliated stations across Florida.
The English-language TV broadcasts for preseason are called by Dick Stockton with Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Bob Griese and former Dolphin Nat Moore. The radio team features Jimmy Cefalo, Joe Rose and Bob Griese. The Spanish radio team features Raul Striker, Jr. and Rafael Hernandez Brito of the Univision radio network.
|Belle Glade, Florida||WSWN-AM||900 AM|
|Fort Myers, Florida||WRXK-FM||96.1 FM|
|Gainesville, Florida||WGGG-AM||1230 AM|
|Key West, Florida||WCNK-FM||98.7 FM|
|Melbourne, Florida||WIXC-AM||1060 AM|
|Miami, Florida||WINZ-AM||940 AM|
|Miami, Florida||WBGG-FM||105.9 FM|
|Ocala, Florida||WMOP-AM||900 AM|
|Tampa, Florida||WQYK-AM||1010 AM|
|Vero Beach, Florida||WCZR-FM||101.7 FM|
|West Palm Beach, Florida||WJNO-AM||1290 AM|
|West Palm Beach, Florida||WZZR-FM||94.3 FM|
|Miami, Florida||WQBA-AM||1140 AM|
|West Palm Beach, Florida||WRLX-FM||92.1 FM|
|Miami Dolphins roster
|‹See Tfd›AFC East: BUF · MIA · NE · NYJ • North: BAL · CIN · CLE · PIT • South: HOU · IND · JAC · TEN • West: DEN · KC · OAK · SD NFC East: DAL · NYG · PHI · WAS • North: CHI · DET · GB · MIN • South: ATL · CAR · NO · TB • West: ARI · STL · SF · SEA|
Players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
- Paul Warfield 42, WR (1970–74), Elected 1983
- Larry Csonka 39, FB (1968–74, 1979), Elected 1987
- Jim Langer 62, C (1970–79), Elected 1987
- Bob Griese 12, QB (1968–80), Elected 1990
- Larry Little 66, G (1969–80), Elected 1993
- Don Shula, Head Coach (1970–95), Elected 1997
- Dwight Stephenson 57, C (1980–87), Elected 1998
- Nick Buoniconti 85, LB (1969–76), Elected 2001
- Dan Marino 13, QB (1983–99), Elected 2005
Each of these players is honored with a placard on the facing of the upper level of one end zone at Sun Life Stadium. So is team founder-owner Joe Robbie, who has not been elected to the Hall of Fame. In place of a uniform number, Shula has the number 347, representing his record number of NFL coaching victories, 274 of them as Dolphins head coach.
The Dolphins have played in five Super Bowls, going 2–3 in that span. The following are the players who have been named Super Bowl MVP:
- 12 Bob Griese, QB, 1967–80 (retired May 6, 1982, at the Dolphins' annual awards banquet)
- 13 Dan Marino, QB, 1983–99 (retired September 17, 2000, at halftime of the Dolphins-Baltimore Ravens game)
- 39 Larry Csonka, FB, 1968–74, 1979 (retired December 9, 2002, at halftime of the Dolphins-Chicago Bears game)
The Miami Dolphin Honor Roll is a ring around the second tier of Dolphins Stadium that honor former players, coaches, owners and contributors who have made significant contributions to the franchise throughout their history. Bold indicates those elected to the NFL Hall of Fame. The inductees as of 2011 include:
- Joe Robbie, Owner/Founder (1966–1989), inducted 1990
- Larry Csonka 39, FB (1968–74, 1979), inducted 1990
- Bob Griese 12, QB (1967–80), inducted 1990
- Jim Langer 62, C (1970–79), inducted 1990
- Paul Warfield 42, WR (1970–74), inducted 1990
- Nick Buoniconti 85, LB (1969–76), inducted 1991
- 1972 Undefeated Team, (1972), inducted 1992
- Larry Little 66, G (1969–80), inducted 1993
- Dwight Stephenson 57, C (1980–87), inducted 1994
- Bob Kuechenberg 67, G (1970–1984), inducted 1995
- Don Shula, Head Coach (1970–1995), inducted 1996
- Nat Moore 89, WR (1974–1986), inducted 1999
- Dan Marino 13, QB (1983–1999), inducted 2000
- Mark Clayton 83, WR (1983–1992), inducted 2003
- Mark Duper 85, WR (1982–1992), inducted 2003
- Dick Anderson 40, S (1968–1977), inducted 2006
- Richmond Webb 78, OT (1990–2000), inducted 2006
- Bob Baumhower 73, DT (1977–1986), inducted 2008
- Doug Betters 75, DE (1978–1987), inducted 2008
- Jake Scott 13, S (1970–1975), inducted 2010
- Bill Stanfill 84, DE (1969–1976), inducted 2010
- Jim Mandich 88, TE (1970–1977), inducted 2011
Main article: List of Miami Dolphins head coaches
|Name||From||To||Regular Season Record||Post Season Record|
|George Wilson (AFL)||1966||1969||15||39||2||--||--|
|Jim Bates (interim)||2004||3||4||0||--||--|
|Todd Bowles, interim||2011||Present||0||0||0||0||0|
|Miami Dolphins staff
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning