The 5 Moves That Put the Miami Dolphins into Mediocrity
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It's hard to fathom that the Miami Dolphins were once a winning franchise. The perfect season in 1972 and the numerous playoff runs in the '80s and '90s seem like a figment of the imagination. The Dolphins recent mediocrity can be attributed to a number of people or events, but I give you five moves (or non-moves) that landed the Dolphins were they are today.
1. The Retirement of Dan Marino
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Since Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have made the playoffs only three times (2000, 2001, 2008). The Dolphins haven't had a quarterback half as good as Marino since he left. Dolphin fans have had the privilege of watching the likes of Cleo Lemon, John Beck and Sage Rosenfels. The quarterback position for the Miami Dolphins has been unstable to say the least; they have had 16 different starting quarterbacks since 1999.
2. Dave Wannstedt's Burnout of Ricky Williams
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Wannstedt acquired Ricky Williams from the New Orleans Saints for a hefty price, and he wanted to make sure he got the most of it. In 2002, Williams was the NFL's rushing leader with 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns. He followed that in 2003 with 1,372 yards and nine touchdowns (via pro-football-reference.com).
In those two years combined, Williams carried the ball an astonishing 775 times. Wannstedt was all in on the popular mantra, “Run Ricky Run!” That ideal had Ricky Williams running all the way to retirement right before the 2004 season, in which the Dolphins would finish 4-12.
3. Acquiring Daunte Culpepper Rather Than Drew Brees
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We all know hindsight vision is 20/20, but if the Dolphins acquired Drew Brees rather than Daunte Culpepper in 2006, things would be drastically different. It’s hard to blame the Dolphins since Brees was coming off shoulder surgery and Culpepper a knee surgery. However, Culpepper played just four games in 2006 before being shut down because of his lingering knee injury. Culpepper's last job was in the UFL; Brees has won a Super Bowl and is one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL today.
4. Hiring Bill Parcells
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One of the most overrated moves in Dolphin history is undoubtedly having Bill Parcells become Executive Vice President of Football Operations. He is the reason why the Dolphins are in the mess they are currently in. He drafted busts such as Pat White, Chad Henne and Patrick Turner. Passing on a quarterback with the first pick in the 2008 NFL Draft was also a bad move, which leads to my last point.
5. Passing on Matt Ryan and Drafting Jake Long in 2008
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Jake Long is one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but worthy of the first overall pick? Most teams coming off a 1-15 season with no quarterback would definitely go for one, but not the Dolphins. Later in 2008, the Dolphins would add Chad Pennington and finish 11-5 in what would turn out to be a fluke year. You can't help but wonder where the Dolphins would be today if Matt Ryan's name was called rather than Jake Long.