Miami Dolphins' History: Top 10 Defensive Backs of All Time
Through loathsome quarterbacks and dreadful head coaches, the Miami Dolphins have forever boasted consistently great secondaries.
Since their 1966 inception, the Dolphins have produced 22 top-10 defenses, 11 of which ranked in the top-five in the league, thanks in large part to the "No Name" defense of the early 70s and the "No Fly Zone" of the early 2000s.
Not ironically, four of the defensive backs, or the entire starting secondary of the "No Name" defense made this list, and are accompanied by some of the finest defensive backs of their time.
Yet, astonishingly, no Hall of Famers. Not yet, anyway.
Still, every one of the following 10 players left an everlasting mark and impression on both the Miami Dolphins and their fans. And while only one Dolphins defensive back has ever been enshrined into the Dolphins' Ring of Honor, with another one slated for induction in 2010, a case could be made for a select few additional players.
Without further ado, here are the top-10 defensive backs in Miami Dolphins' history.
(Note: Google Images is not a big fan of a few of these players, so bear with the quality of some of the photos.)
No. 10: Brock Marion
After winning a Super Bowl with the 1996 Dallas Cowboys, Brock Marion came to Miami in 1998 as the safety blanket to Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.
Marion arrived in Miami the same year as Patrick Surtain, allowing the duo to team up and grow with corner Sam Madison to create arguably the league's best secondary from 1998 until Marion's departure in 2003.
Marion intercepted 20 passes during his five year stay in Miami, while also racking up 372 tackles and making three Pro Bowls, enough to mark him as one of the best safeties in team history.
No. 9: Terrell Buckley
Cornerback Terrell Buckley arrived in Miami in 1995 after a three year stint with the Green Bay Packers.
One year later, Buckley became the Dolphins' starting cornerback and led the league in interception return yards.
Buckley went on to post back to back stellar seasons in 1997 and 1998, intercepting a combined 12 passes.
However, upon the emergence of Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain in 1999, Buckley became a backup, and soon bolted for New England where he would win two Super Bowl rings. He returned to Miami in 2003, starting five games and intercepting two passes before once again leaving for another AFC East rival in the New York Jets.
In retrospect, Buckley had an incredible career with the Dolphins. Considering he played only four full seasons as a starter and picked off 21 passes in that span, Buckley is one of the best defensive backs in Fins' history.
No. 8: Louis Oliver
Louis Oliver is the ultimate Florida football player.
After starring at Glades Central High School, Oliver walked on and eventually starred as a captain at the University of Florida.
He was then selected in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft by none other than the Miami Dolphins.
Oliver started 13 games as a rookie for the Fins, and soon became a force at safety. He started every game until 1993 when he missed five, and then left Miami for Cincinnati in 1994.
He returned to Miami after just one season with the Bengals, but started just five games in 1995 before resuming his role as a starter in 1996, his final NFL season.
Oliver finished his Dolphins' career with 24 interceptions and 449 tackles.
No. 7: Tim Foley
During his 11 year career with the Dolphins, Tim Foley put up very humble statistics. In fact, Foley's best season came at the very end of his career, in 1978, when he intercepted a career-high six passes.
But numbers aside, Foley's role as one of the Dolphins' starting cornerbacks during the team's three Super Bowl appearances in 1971, 1972, and 1973, is enough to make him one of the best in franchise history.
Foley was moved back to strong safety in 1977, and made his first and only Pro Bowl in 1979. He finished his career with 22 interceptions, matching the No. 6 player on the list.
No. 6: Curtis Johnson
Curtis Johnson teamed up with Tim Foley to give the "No Name" defense one of the league's best duo of corners.
Johnson and Foley played alongside each other, and in the same secondary, for virtually their entire careers.
Johnson gets the nod over Foley on the countdown only because of his superior durability. Johnson missed only three games during his nine-year career with the Dolphins, while Foley missed 17, although that was due mainly to an injury-plagued 1976 season.
The former Toledo Rocket started in all three of the Dolphins' 1971-73 Super Bowl appearances, and finished his career with 22 interceptions.
No. 5: Glenn Blackwood
Of all the players on this list, Google Images probably hates Glenn Blackwood the most. While that is beside the point here, it is puzzling considering Blackwood was a great player during his days with the Dolphins.
An eighth-round pick in the 1979 NFL Draft, Blackwood rode the pine his rookie year until becoming Miami's starting strong safety in 1980.
Blackwood made an immediate impact and hit his peak in the 1984 and '85 seasons, intercepting a combined 12 passes.
In 1981, Blackwood's brother Lyle joined the Dolphins, and the two became known as the "Bruise Brothers." Lyle and Glenn played alongside each other at free and strong safety for four seasons.
Blackwood retired in 1987 with 29 career interceptions.
No. 3/4: Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain
It is only fitting that one of the NFL's all-time great cornerback duos goes in together.
After all, it's nearly impossible to speak of either Sam Madison or Patrick Surtain without mentioning the other.
Surtain and Madison were drafted with the 44th overall pick in back to back drafts (Madison in '97, Surtain in '98), and quickly became the anchors of arguably the league's best defense from 1998 until Surtain left in 2004.
The duo combined to make seven Pro Bowls and three First-Team All-Pro selections. Madison and Surtain finished their Dolphin careers with 31 and 29 interceptions, respectively, good enough to place them third and fourth in team history.
This duo, combined with safety Brock Marion, linebacker Zach Thomas, and defensive ends Jason Taylor and Trace Armstrong led the way for top-five overall defensive rankings in 1998 and 2002. Unfortunately, head coach Dave Wannstedt and a sub-par Dolphins offense prevented this Super Bowl-ready defense from reaching the promised land.
Still, Surtain and Madison have and will forever remain Dolphins' fans' favorites. In due time, the organization should pay respect to the pair and induct them into the Dolphins Ring of Honor.
No. 2: Dick Anderson
From 1968 to 1974, Dick Anderson was one of both the AFL and NFL's most productive safeties.
After intercepting eight passes as a rookie with the Dolphins in 1968, Anderson started a storied career that would bring him two Super Bowl rings, three Pro Bowl appearances, and two First-Team All-Pro honors.
Anderson was also named AFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1968, earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1973 after intercepting a league-high eight passes, and was even elected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
The former Colorado Buffalo and third-round pick also served as president of the NFLPA from 1975 to 1977.
Anderson was an integral leader of the "No Name" defense that brought the Dolphins a perfect season and two Super Bowl rings. The Dolphins have honored him thoroughly, and the team awarded Anderson the first spot on the Ring of Honor to a defensive back.
Anderson intercepted eight passes in a season three separate times and totaled 34 for his career.
No. 1: Jake Scott
Although virtually every Dolphins' fan connects the No. 13 to Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, there's another Dolphins' alumni who deserves arguably equal recognition.
Jake Scott led the "No Name" defense from 1970 to 1975 at safety, and became the best at the position in the league over that span.
Scott is one of the all-time great draft steals. The Dolphins selected the former Georgia Bulldog and BC Lion with the 159th overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft.
He started immediately, intercepting five passes his rookie season before earning league-wide recognition in 1971. From 1971 to 1975, Scott made five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and earned a spot on the 1973 and 1974 All-Pro First-Team rosters, as well as the 1972 and 1975 All-Pro Second Team.
Scott's biggest feat came in 1972 when he was named Super Bowl MVP in the Dolphins' perfect-season-capping win over the Washington Redskins. He intercepted two passes.
While he wreaked havoc at safety, Scott also earned a reputation as one of the NFL's best punt returners, leading the league in punt return touchdowns in 1970 and punt return yards in 1971.
Scott is considered by many to be one of the most deserving players not yet inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. This is attributed mainly to his relatively short eight-year career and his reclusive lifestyle.
While Scott may have to wait for the Senior Committee to vote him into the Hall and make him only the second player from the "No Name" defense inducted (Nick Buoniconti is the lone member), he will be enshrined into the Dolphins' Ring of Honor in 2010.
Scott still holds the Dolphins' career interception record with 35, and combining that with his infinite list of accomplishments makes him the best defensive back in Miami Dolphins' history.