Through The Years: The Quarterbacks of the Miami Dolphins

There are other National Football League teams that may have a longer history in pro football than the Miami Dolphins, but the Dolphins have definitely had some of the better quarterbacks in the league when compared to many of their competitors. The Dolphins are still the only team ever to go undefeated through the regular season, the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl. They have a proud history, and they owe much of it to the great quarterbacks that have played for the team.

The 1960s
Dick Wood threw for the most yards as a quarterback for the expansion Miami Dolphins in 1966, but the player who started the most games at quarterback was George Wilson, his father George Wilson Sr. was the head coach of the team at the time. 1966 would be the younger Wilson’s only season of professional football. Other quarterbacks to see time that first year were Rick Norton and John Stofa. The quarterback position would look better almost immediately when the very next year the team drafted future Hall of Famer Bob Griese out of Purdue University. Griese would remain the starter for many years to come, including the rest of the 1960s.

The 1970s
With a quarterback the quality of Bob Griese at the helm, it wouldn’t be long before the Dolphins would turn their team around. 1970 would mark the first year after the AFLNFL merger and the Dolphins ran off a record of 10-4 proving they were a team that couldn’t be taken lightly. In 1972, after a key injury to Griese, veteran (38 years old!) backup quarterback Earl Morrall would step in and help lead the team to a perfect regular season record and a Super Bowl victory. 1973 would see the Dolphins repeat as Super Bowl Champions, this time with Griese starting all but one game. 1973 would also see the Dolphins draft quarterback Don Strock who would remain with the team for 14 years. The Dolphins would finally see their streak of six consecutive seasons with double digit victories come to an end in 1976 when they would post a record of 6-8. The team would then post three consecutive 10+ win seasons to end the decade. 1979 would be the final season with Bob Griese as the primary starting quarterback.

The 1980s
The new decade would see the Dolphins with a new starting quarterback as David Woodley would take over the team and lead them to a 6-5 record his first year with the team, an 11-3-1 record in 1981, and a 7-2 record in the strike-shortened 1982 season. Dolphins legend Bob Griese stayed with the team in 1980 as David Woodley’s backup, but would retire following the season. A new rookie quarterback would show up in Miami in 1983 and it would spell the end of David Woodley’s time with the team. Dan Marino would start nine games during his rookie season and the team would go 7-2 in those games. Following that season, Woodley would move on to play two more years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers before calling it a career. Marino however would lead the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl following the 1984 season, only to lose it to the San Francisco 49ers. The remaining years of the decade would see Marino not only be solid in his position as the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, but see him join the elite quarterbacks of his day. 1987 would be the last year that longtime backup quarterback Don Strock would be with the team.

The 1990s
The 1990s would begin the way the 1980s ended with Dan Marino as the starting quarterback, being backed up by Scott Secules. In 1992 Scott Mitchell would join the team as the backup and due to an injury to Marino the following season, he would be thrust into the role of starter. Mitchell would make the most of his seven starts at quarterback and leave the following season to become the highly paid starting quarterback of the Detroit Lions. Steve DeBerg would also start games during the 1993 season. Marino would return to the starting quarterback position in 1994. Longtime Cleveland Browns star Bernie Kosar would backup Dan Marino in 1994 and 1995, with Craig Erickson joining him in 1996. Erickson would be Marino’s backup in 1997, followed by Damon Huard to end the decade as the backup in 1998 and 1999. Dan Marino would retire following the 1999 season having put up a career regular season record of 147-93 as the Dolphins starting quarterback. During his career he led the league in completions six times, attempts five times, yards five times, and touchdowns three times.

The 2000s
The new millennium would start out with a whole new look for the Dolphins with Jay Fiedler as the starting quarterback. He would remain in that position for three seasons before splitting time with Brian Griese in 2003 and A.J. Feeley in 2004. During Fiedler’s stretch as the starter some of the people that served as backups included Damon Huard, Ray Lucas, and Sage Rosenfels. Gus Frerotte would be the starting quarterback for the Dolphins in 2005. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons the team saw games started by five different quarterbacks, they are Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, and John Beck. The team would turn the job over to Chad Pennington for the 2008 season.

For a team that had basically three starting quarterbacks (Griese, Woodley and Marino) from 1967 through 1999 to go to having ten different starting quarterbacks in less than a decade, is quite a change. It is obvious to see that the Miami Dolphins experienced their most success when they had stability at the position of starting quarterback. With the change to Pennington for 2008, maybe the Dolphins are embarking on a new era of stability that will bring them back to the top of the league.


  1. Michael says:

    I’ve got a copy of Lindy’s Pro Football ’95 Annual. I liked the comment they made about Dan McGwire [along with Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar]:

    “Completes perhaps the slowest trio of quarterbacks in NFL history.”

  2. Mark says:

    That is hilarious… only because it is so true. Could you imagine those three in practice and Shula ordering the quarterbacks to run sprints? That’s a video I’d like to see. Nice comment.

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