|Established 1966 |
Play in Hard Rock Stadium,
Miami Gardens, Florida, U.S.
American Football League (1966-1969)
National Football League (1970–present)
|Team colors||Aqua, Orange, and White|
|Fight song||"Miami Dolphins #1"|
|Owner(s):||Stephen M. Ross|
|Team President||Tom Garfinkel|
(Vice Chairman, President, & CEO)
|General Manager||Chris Grier|
|Head Coach||Brian Flores|
Team Nicknames The Fins
|League Championships (2)
|Conference Championships (5)
|Division Championships (12)
The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team who play in Miami, Florida metropolitan area. They play their home games in the Miami suburb of Miami Gardens at "Hard Rock Stadium". Currently, the Dolphins are members of the Eastern Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Dolphins began play in the American Football League as an expansion team in 1966, and joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger.
- 1 Early years: Don Shula, Bob Griese, and Larry Csonka
- 2 Dan Marino in charge
- 3 Logos/Uniforms
- 4 Head Coaches
- 5 Notes and references
- 6 External links
Early years: Don Shula, Bob Griese, and Larry Csonka
Founding the team
Miami joined the American Football League (AFL) when an expansion team franchise and was awarded to lawyer Joseph Robbie and actor Danny Thomas in 1965 for $7.5 million, although Thomas would eventually sell his stake in the team to Robbie. A contest was held in 1965 to find the name of the new Miami franchise for the American Football League. A total of 19,843 entries were submitted with over a thousand different names. A dozen finalists were screened through 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.
The first years
The Dolphins had a combined 15–39–2 record in their first four seasons (under head coach George Wilson) 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. The Colts charged the Dolphins with tampering in their hiring of Shula, costing them 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 early 70s: dominance
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 NFL's first perfect season, winning 14 regular season games, two playoff games and Super Bowl VII, defeating the Washington Redskins 14-7. 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 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.
Late 70s: fall from the top
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.
80s: Marino and the return to the top
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 actually 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, back-up quarterback 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 4th 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 4 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 playoffs, they got revenge for previous losses, crushing the 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. After shutting out the New York Jets in the AFC Championship 14–0 (aided by Shula's instructions to the Stadium's grounds crew to leave the field uncovered throughout a week long rain in Miami). This was done to negate the Jets superior edge in team speed. They 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.
Dan Marino in charge
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 get 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 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 last ever 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 finally 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 crown. 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 heart-breaking 22–21 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Pete Stoyanovich missed a 46 yard 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 formerly 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, Don 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 in history. After the season, Jimmy Johnson left the team and Marino retired.
- Image gallery
Miami Dolphins current roster
Rookies in italics
AFC rosters → NFC rosters
- 42 Paul Warfield, WR, 1970-74, elected 1983
- 39 Larry Csonka, RB, 1968-74 & 1979, elected 1987
- 62 Jim Langer, C, 1970-79, elected 1987
- 12 Bob Griese, QB, 1968-80, elected 1990
- 66 Larry Little, G, 1969-80, elected 1993
- 347 Don Shula, Head Coach, 1970-95, elected 1997
- 57 Dwight Stephenson, C, 1980-87, elected 1998
- 85 Nick Buoniconti, LB, 1969-76, elected 2001
- 13 Dan Marino, 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 Dolphins Stadium. So is team founder-owner Joe Robbie, who has not yet 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, 276 of them as Dolphins head coach.
- 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) 
- 57 Dwight Stephenson, C, 1980-87
- 62 Jim Langer, C, 1970-79
- 85 Nick Buoniconti, LB, 1969-76
Dolphins Honor Roll
The Dolphins Honor Roll consists of all the Hall of Famers listed above, plus WR Mark Duper, WR Mark Clayton, G Bob Kuechenberg, WR Nat Moore, founder and owner Joe Robbie, and a special entry for the entire undefeated 1972 team.
Other notable alumni
- Joe Auer, RB
- Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar, RB
- Trace Armstrong, DE
- Larry Csonka, FB
- Bob Baumhower, DE
- Doug Betters, DE
- Tim Bowens, DT
- Jimmy Cefalo, WR
- Mark Clayton, WR
- Vern Den Herder
- A.J. Duhe, LB
- Mark Duper, WR
- Manny Fernandez
- Irving Fryar, WR
- Bob Griese, QB
- Keith Jackson, TE
- Jim 'Crash' Jensen, RB, WR
- Jimmy Johnson, Coach
- Jim Kiick, RB
- Sam Madison, CB
- Dan Marino, QB
- O.J. McDuffie, WR
- Mercury Morris, RB
- Tony Nathan, RB
- John Offerdahl, LB
- Reggie Roby, P
- Joe Rose, TE
- Jake Scott, FS, PR
- Junior Seau, LB
- Don Shula, Coach
- Keith Sims, OL
- Bill Stanfill, DE
- Troy Stradford, RB
- Patrick Surtain, CB
- Richmond Webb, OL
- David Woodley, QB
- Cris Carter, WR
- Oronde Gadsden, WR
- Ricky Williams, RB
- George Wilson (1966-1969)
- Don Shula (1970-1995)
- Jimmy Johnson (1996-1999)
- Dave Wannstedt (2000-2004)
- Jim Bates (interim) (2004)
- Nick Saban (2005-2006)
- Cam Cameron (2007)
- Tony Sparano (2008-2011)
- Todd Bowles (interim) (2011)
- Joe Philbin (2012-2015)
- Dan Campbell (interim) (2015)
- Adam Gase (2016-2018)
- Brian Flores (2019-present)
Miami Dolphins current staff
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
Notes and references
- Miami Dolphins Team Capsule. 2018 Official National Football League Record and Fact Book. NFL Enterprises, LLC (August 9, 2018).
- "Miami Dolphins Uniforms: Historically Modern", NFL Enterprises, LLC, April 19, 2018.
- Miami Dolphins Logo History. 2019 Miami Dolphins Media Guide. NFL Enterprises, LLC.
- Dolphins History Griese retired jersey information. Accessed 15 April 2006.
- Dolphins History Marino tribute section. Accessed 15 April 2006.
- Dolphins History Csonka retired jersey information. Accessed 15 April 2006.
- Miami Dolphins article at Wikipedia
- Miami Dolphins official web site
- Sports E-Cyclopedia.com
- Miami Dolphins at the English Wikipedia