Top 10 Post-Dan Marino Miami Dolphins Quarterbacks
The sheer fact that this article can be written is pretty astonishing.
It is a true testament to the Miami Dolphins' stupefying failure to find a franchise quarterback after Dan Marino retired in 1999.
Not only are we counting down the top 10 quarterbacks in the post-Marino era, but four quarterbacks were actually left off of this list. In other words, a whopping 14 quarterbacks have started a game since Dan Marino retired in 1999.
That being said, it is worth noting that the Dolphins were not the only team that struggled to find a replacement for their franchise QB coming into the millennium.
The Dallas Cowboys searched far and wide (they even brought in Ryan Leaf!) after Troy Aikman hung up the cleats, going through eight different quarterbacks, before stumbling upon Tony Romo.
The Denver Broncos also started eight different quarterbacks before striking gold with Jay Cutler, although Jake Plummer was a pretty serviceable player.
Even the Buffalo Bills, who have never recovered from the retirement of Jim Kelly, have only started 11 different quarterbacks. They still trail the Dolphins by three, but appear to be on track to surpass that number.
But now that Chad Henne appears to be solidifying himself as a legitimate, possibly long-term solution for the Fins (fingers crossed), we can finally sit back and have a laugh at some of the names that have gone under center for the Miami Dolphins.
No. 10 A.J. Feely
A.J. Feely's one-year stint with the Dolphins was unremarkable, to say the least.
In 2004, the Dolphins sent a second-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Feely, a move they would soon regret.
At the time, however, it did appear to be a sound trade.
Late in the 2002 season, then Eagles quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer both went down with injuries, leaving Feely to take charge of Philly's offense.
Feely did so, and exceeded all expectations.
The former Oregon Duck started five games, and led the Eagles to four victories, locking up a playoff spot for the team. Donovan McNabb returned in time for the playoffs, leaving Feely's trade stock sky-high.
Although Jay Fiedler had led the Dolphins to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2000 and 2001, Feely looked like a possible long-term solution, and more importantly, a Marino replacement.
Unfortunately, Feely was abysmal in orange and aqua.
Feely began his career in Miami with three straight losses, and was replaced by Fiedler by Week Four.
In Week 11, Feely returned to the starting role, but his play remained unimpressive. And although Feely would go on to capture three wins for Miami at the tail end of the 2004 season, he was shipped off to San Diego in 2005.
No. 9 Damon Huard
Techinically, Damon Huard is not a "post-Marino" quarterback, considering his most significant role with the Dolphins was filling in for an inured Dan Marino in 1999. But Huard did start a game in 2000, so let's just bend the rules for a minute.
Anyway, Huard makes this list because of his play in 1999. While that does not necessarily make him a post-Marino quarterback, this is a potential pick.
After a Week Four victory in Indianapolis, Marino suffered a pinched nerve and was ruled out for a month.
In his placed stepped 1996 undrafted free agent Damon Huard.
Huard led the Fins to a Week Five win in New England, and continued working his magic for three consecutive weeks, capping off a four-game winning streak with a road victory against the eventual AFC Champion Tennessee Titans.
In his five games as a starter, Huard threw for 1,288 yards and eight touchdowns, and appeared to be a candidate to take the throne from Marino, especially when the Fins lost seven out of their last nine games upon his return from injury.
The following season free agent Jay Fiedler seized the starting role. Huard actually won his only start in 2000, but he soon left the Dolphins for New England, and eventually Kansas City.
Based on his play in '99, the sky seemed to be the limit for Huard. He far outperformed Dan Marino, and if he was given the chance, he could have been much higher on this list.
No. 8 Brian Griese
Strong Dolphin bloodlines might have lured Brian Griese to Miami during the 2003 offseason, but Brian never quite filled dad Bob's shoes.
Brian Griese made a strong first impression in Miami, throwing three touchdown passes in his debut; a win against the San Diego Chargers.
Just when it appeared as though Griese could be the second coming of his father, he failed to duplicate the brilliance he showed in his debut again, and finished the year with a 3-2 record as a starter.
Not terrible, but not good enough to earn a long-term deal with the Fins.
After just one year with Miami, Griese signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
No. 7 Sage Rosenfels
Like Damon Huard, Sage Rosenfels had little opportunity to showcase his skill, but when he did have a chance, he took advantage of it.
Rosenfels came to Miami in 2002, but did not get a chance to start until 2004. The Dolphins lost the game, but Rosenfels would come storming back in 2005.
Trailing 23-3 in the third quarter of a Week 13 matchup against the Bills, Rosenfels took over for an injured Gus Frerotte. Under Rosenfels, the Dolphins erased the 20 points deficit, and won the game 24-23.
Rosenfels came to the rescue again in Week 15. Tied at the half, he led Miami to a victory over the New York Jets, keeping the team's playoff hopes alive.
Although Rosenfels started only two games during his four year stint with the Dolphins, he showed flashes of greatness. That being said, Rosenfels did fail to capitalize in the games he started, tossing a combined five interceptions in his two starts.
Rosenfels headed to Houston after the 2005 season, where he again showed flashes, but was eventually plagued by the same interception problems he had in Miami.
No. 6 Joey Harrington
Although Joey Harrington's career is one marked by disappointment and losing, he actually had a pretty nice stint with the Dolphins.
Harrington came to Miami in 2006 as Daunte Culpepper's backup, but he soon found his way into the starting role thanks to a Culpepper shoulder injury.
Living up to his name, Harrington lost his first three starts, before reversing the tide and knocking off the undefeated and eventual NFC Champion Chicago Bears.
Harrington led the Dolphins to four straight victories, and capped off the winning streak with a Thanksgiving Day win in Detroit where he threw three touchdowns.
Although all seemed well after the Detroit win, things began to fall apart for Harrington, and he lost three of his last four starts.
The second Oregon Duck on this list found himself back on the free agent market after just one year, and he has spent the majority of his career with a headset and clipboard.
Maybe the Dolphins should have given Harrington an extended look. After all, he actually would have been a better option than the quarterback in the No. 5 spot of this list.
No. 5 Cleo Lemon
Cleo Lemon was absolutely terrible.
Look at the numbers:
So, does Lemon belong in the fifth spot? Nope.
In fact, it is probably safe to say that all of the quarterbacks ranked lower on this deserve to be higher than him.
But Lemon makes this list not because of his uniquely amusing name, but because of one single pass that effectively dug the Dolphins out of infamy. You know what I'm talking about.
Week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Dolphins sit at 0-14, and many believe Baltimore is the last team Miami has a legitimate chance of beating.
Jump to overtime. It's third-and-8 on their own 36-yard line. Lemon takes the snap out of the gun. Throws to Greg Camarillo. The rest is history.
Sure, Lemon went 1-6 as a starter in 2007, but his one win carries more significance than anything the other quarterbacks ranked lower on this list accomplished during their time in Miami.
No. 4 Gus Frerotte
Although most football fans will remember Gus Frerotte for his infamous head butt, he enjoyed one very productive season as quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
Nick Saban brought Frerotte on board to fill the Dolphins' hole at quarterback.
Frerotte got off to something off of a rocky start, posting a 3-6 record through his first nine stars.
But after a heartbreaking Week Nine loss to the New England Patriots, something clicked. Frerotte would finish the season 6-0, leaving the Dolphins just one game shy of the postseason.
Let's not ignore the fact that Sage Rosenfels did take over and win two games in place of Frerotte in 2005, but give Gus credit where credit is due.
Frerotte finished the year just four yards shy of 3,000, compiling 18 touchdown passes in the process.
Unfortunately, and like many of the quarterbacks on this list, the Dolphins never gave Frerotte an extended period to try and prove himself as a possible Marino replacement.
Instead, he was let go after just one season, and has since continued his career as a journeyman.
No. 3 Chad Henne
General consensus around Miami is that Chad Henne is, in fact, the answer to the Dan Marino replacement riddle.
Of course, it is far too early to deem Henne the savior, considering he has started only 13 games and finished with a pedestrian 7-6 record as a starter in 2009.
But Henne has shown unbelievable poise that is coupled with a rocket arm, two things that no other quarterback on this list was able to combine.
Also, Henne already has two signature wins to put on his resume.
He led the Dolphins to a Week Five win over the New York Jets in a Monday Night thriller, and later defeated the New England Patriots at home in Week 13 to keep the team's dwindling playoff hopes alive.
Now with a full offseason as the team's starter and a new weapon in Brandon Marshall, (remember, Chad Pennington started the first three weeks of 2009 before injuring his shoulder), Henne's numbers could sky rocket, and along with it, the Dolphins win total.
The jury is still out on Henne, but it looks like he might soon take the number one spot on this list.
No. 2 Jay Fiedler
Jay Fiedler is no household name, and his statistics are nothing to admire. But Fiedler actually made a considerable push for the top spot on this list.
The Ivy League product (Dartmouth) led Miami to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001, the team's last postseason appearance until 2008.
Granted, the Dolphins rode workhorse running back Lamar Smith for over 300 carries both seasons (and in effect, ending his career), but Fiedler played with a true grit that allowed him to play beyond his physical structure.
Fiedler posted a 7-3 record in 2002 and a 7-4 record in 2003, but was sidelined by injuries, and the Dolphins failed to make the playoffs without him.
If there is one Dolphin from the past decade that actually deserves some more praise than he has received, it's Fiedler.
Again, he was not flashy, he did not have a rocket arm, and he did not have blazing speed. But Fiedler led the Dolphins to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and even won a playoff game, which is more than you can say about all but one other quarterback in the post-Marino era.
No. 1 Chad Pennington
Chad Pennington had arguably the toughest task ahead of him than any other quarterback on this list.
A castoff from the New York Jets, Pennington had to fight to earn the respect of Dolfans, many of whom were reluctant to embrace the oft-injured quarterback.
Although he started only one whole season for the Dolphins, Pennington led the biggest turnaround in NFL history, leading the Dolphins from an NFL worst 1-15 record to an AFC East best 11-5.
Pennington quietly posted a remarkable statistical season as well. He may have only tossed 19 touchdowns, but Pennington threw only seven interceptions, and totaled 3,653 passing yards.
Even more impressive, Pennington posted the top pass completion percentage in the league, finished with the second highest passer rating, and even finished in the top 10 in passes completed.
The 2008 season was truly one to remember, not only for Miami's miracle run, but for Pennington's season.