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15 Most Underrated Miami Dolphins in Franchise History

Scott AltmanCorrespondent IOctober 9, 2011

15 Most Underrated Miami Dolphins in Franchise History

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    If we can learn anything from the Miami Dolphins epic failure this season, it's this: a few stars can't anchor an entire team. In order for a team to succeed, they need 53 cohesive, quality players who are committed to winning. 

    Unfortunately, the 2011 Dolphins are devoid of those unsung heroes and underrated contributors. They're missing players who can do the dirty work and execute when it counts most. 

    Whomever assumes control of this team next summer must find players who resemble the following 20. They don't have to be flashy. Instead, they just need to do their jobs and make the players around them better.  

     


    Scott Altman is a featured columnist for the Miami Dolphins and the National Football League. He is also the co-founder of GentlemensTailgate.com, a sports blog with a classy edge. Check it out and like the site on Facebook here

Jay Fiedler

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    Jay Fiedler is no household name, and his statistics don't inspire awe. But the former Dartmouth star actually enjoyed an admirable career with the Dolphins.

    The Ivy League product led Miami to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001, the team's last postseason appearance until 2008. 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. He eclipsed 3,000 yards passing in 2001.

    Granted, the Dolphins rode workhorse running back Lamar Smith for over 300 carries in both playoff seasons, but Fiedler played with a true grit that allowed him to play beyond his physical structure.

Yeremiah Bell

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    The Miami Dolphins have become synonymous with terrible draft picks. Players like Pat White, Chad Henne and Ted Ginn, Jr. have set the franchise back for years. But the team has managed to dig up a few diamonds in the rough over the past few years. 

    Miami spent a sixth round pick on Yeremiah Bell in the 2003 draft, and he hovered around the roster before breaking out in 2008. He racked up 100 tackles, solidifying himself as a stud safety.

    Bell has since earned two Pro Bowl selections and continues to thrive as a staple in the Dolphins secondary. Despite his great success, he is constantly overlooked. 

Jake Scott

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    Before Dan Marino sent the No. 13 into immorality, Jake Scott made a strong case to have it retired in his honor.

    Scott boasts one of the most impressive resumes in team history. 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. His biggest feat came in 1972 when he was named Super Bowl MVP in the Dolphins' perfect-season-capping win over the Washington Redskins

    He 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. Yet, the organization had neglected and overlooked Scott until they enshrined him into the Ring of Honor last year. 

Lamar Smith

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    Prior to joining the Dolphins in 2000, Lamar Smith was an anonymous running back who was never given a chance.

    Dave Wannstedt decided to give Smith that opportunity, and the running back delivered. During his two years with the team, he rushed the ball 622 times for 2,107 yards and 24 touchdowns. Smith is most remembered for his 40 carry, 205-yard performance against the Colts in the 2000 AFC Wild Card Game.

    After shouldering such a bruising workload, Smith's body broke down, and he was soon out of the league. Because Smith's tenure with the 'Fins was so short, he is always overlooked. However, his two spectacular seasons should be recognized more often. 

Larry Seiple

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    From 1967 to 1977, Dolphins punter Larry Seiple dispelled all kicker stereotypes. Once the team noticed his keen field vision, Miami began to let Seiple run a variety of fake punts. In 1969, he was the team's leading receiver catching five touchdown passes for 577 yards.

    After his 1969 season, defenses began to catch on, and Seiple returned to focus on punting where he averaged a respectable 40 yards per for his career.

    Seiple has one of the most interesting and unique career trajectories in NFL history, yet he is sparsely recognized for his unparalleled versatility. 

Jeff Cross

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    Jeff Cross never became a household name during his days with Miami, but he was a symbol of reliability and consistency during his tenure with the Dolphins.

    Don Shula drafted the Missouri defensive end in the ninth round of the 1988 NFL draft. He was a regular starter and contributor for Shula's defenses. Cross finished his career with 59.5 sacks and a single Pro Bowl bid in 1990.

Trace Armstrong

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    Trace Armstrong spent the first six years of his career with the Chicago Bears, but came to Miami prior to the 1995 season. He spent six seasons with the Dolphins, and although injuries cut a few of those seasons short, his presence was felt— and literally so by opposing quarterbacks.

    Armstrong accumulated 56.5 sacks as a Dolphin, including a 16.5 sack campaign in 2000, granting him his sole Pro Bowl bid. Alongside Jason Taylor, Armstrong played on some of the best defenses in team history.

    For some reason, Armstrong is never mentioned alongside names like Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Though his Dolphins career wasn't quite as special, Armstrong was still a dominant sack-artist who served a vital role for some of the franchise's all-time best defenses. 

Chris Chambers

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    So many Dolphins receivers of the 2000s were hampered by the constant and endless rotation of quarterbacks.

    Chris Chambers, however, seemed to be a rare exception to the trend. Although he clearly struggled formulating chemistry with so many different quarterbacks, he still produced at a Pro Bowl level, and by the latter part of his Dolphins career, seemed to have grown accustomed to new quarterbacks.

    At only 5'11", Chambers did not tower over many defenders, but he played like he was 6'4". His best year with the Dolphins came in 2005 when he caught 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns, securing a Pro Bowl selection in the process.

Tim Ruddy

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    Tim Ruddy was to Dan Marino what Jeff Saturday is to Peyton Manning. Ruddy was a rock along the Dolphins offensive line for 10 seasons, most of which came with Marino under center.

    Ruddy was a gritty and incredibly gifted player. After playing a reserve role his rookie season, Ruddy went on to play 156 games until his 2003 retirement, missing only four games along the way.

    Had the Dolphins won a Super Bowl—or at least made a deep playoff run—during Ruddy's tenure, he would be recognized as a stellar lineman more often today. 

Garo Yepremian

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    Most remember Garo Yepremian for botching the Dolphins' Super Bowl VII shutout. Unfortunately, that play has overshadowed an amazing career. 

    Upon joining Miami in 1971, Yepremian quickly became one of the league's best kickers, notching a First Team All-Pro selection that season.

    Yepremian went on to play in two Pro Bowls and earned another First Team All-Pro selection during his eight years in Miami. Most notably and impressively, Yepremian was named to the NFL 1970s All Decade Team and won Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1974. He finished his career as the leading points scorer in team history, and his record was broken by Olindo Mare almost 30 years later.

Keith Jackson

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    When's the last time the Dolphins had a Pro Bowl tight end? Bet you can't recall. 

    Well, the answer is Keith Jackson all the way back in '92. 

    After four standout seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami acquired Jackson. He was with the team from 1992 to 1994, compiling 146 receptions for 1,880 yards and 18 touchdowns.

    Believe it or not, Jackson might be the best tight end in team history. Considering the Dolphins' recent failures to acquire another great tight end, Jackson's success is even more special. 

Earl Morrall

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    By the time Earl Morrall landed in Miami, the quarterback had already played for five different teams over a 17-year span.

    So, naturally, when Don Shula took the Dolphins job and began searching for a backup to Bob Griese, the savvy veteran Morrall made for an obvious choice. Despite Morrall's wild success filling in for an injured Johnny Unitas in Baltimore, Shula claimed his former quarterback off waivers for just $100. It was the best $100 the team ever spent.

    During the Dolphins' 1972 perfect season, Earl Morrall filled in for an injured Bob Griese, going 9-0 in the process. His unlikely success is often overlooked, but without him, the perfect season may have escaped Miami's grasp.

Reggie Roby

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    If the NFL Hall of Fame voters ever decide to begin voting kickers and punters into Canton, Reggie Roby will be on everybody's radar.

    The Dolphins drafted the 6'3", 250-pound Iowa Hawkeye punter with their 1983 sixth-round pick. Roby used his mammoth size to boot massive punts, booming a career-long 77 yarder in 1987.

    For his Dolphins career, Roby averaged 43.3 yards per punt, and went on to to earn three Pro Bowl and two First Team All-Pro selections. Roby was also named to the NFL 1980s All Decade Team—a monumental achievement that should be recognized more. 

Davone Bess

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    The Trifecta may driven the Dolphins into the ground with horrible draft classes, but in 2008, they made arguably their best move: signing Davone Bess. 

    Bess, an undrafted free agent from Hawaii has epitomized consistency and reliability in his young NFL career. After 52 NFL games, Bess has already amassed 224 receptions for 2,339 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    Bess' numbers increased during each of his first three NFL seasons, and he could become a 100-reception caliber receiver if the Dolphins ever find a quality quarterback. 

Brock Marion

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    Three years after winning a Super Bowl with the 1995 Dallas Cowboys, Brock Marion came to Miami. Starting in 1998, Marion served 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. Collectively, the three formed one of the league's best secondaries for five years. 

    Marion intercepted 20 passes during his five year stay in Miami. He also racked up 372 tackles and made three Pro Bowl rosters, enough to solidify his legacy as one of the best safeties in team history.

    While Madison and Surtain have gone down as an illustrious tandem, Marion tends to be overlooked, but that shouldn't be the case. 

     


    Scott Altman is a featured columnist for the Miami Dolphins and the National Football League. He is also the co-founder of GentlemensTailgate.com, a sports blog with a classy edge. Check it out and like the site on Facebook here

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