Ever since their Super Bowl runs in the early 1970’s, the Miami Dolphins have almost always had a talented defense. The franchise has produced some of the best defenders of all time at their respective positions. Trying to rank them has proven both fascinating and extremely difficult. That being said, here are my top five Miami Dolphins defenders of all time.
5. CB Sam Madison and CB Patrick Surtain
Just like you can’t have apple pie without a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, I couldn’t put Sam Madison without Patrick Surtain, or vice versa. The outstanding cornerback duo played together in South Beach from 1998 until 2004, when Surtain left for the Kansas City Chiefs. In their seven seasons together, they combined for 57 interceptions, 122 defended passes, 15 forced fumbles, five touchdowns, 7.5 sacks and 639 total tackles. The Dolphins haven’t seen that kind of production in their secondary since this dynamic duo split up. Madsion was a four time pro-bowler and two time All-Pro, and Surtain was a three time pro-bowler and one time All-Pro recipient. They were extremely talented individually and almost unstoppable when paired together. Check out this video of Surtain completely destroying a wide receiver while playing at Southern Miss.
4. DE Cameron Wake
Given his performance thus far in his NFL career, it is shocking to think that Cameron Wake went undrafted out of Penn State back in 2005. His 63 sacks in just six seasons lands him second all time for the Miami Dolphins behind Jason Taylor. He has been the face of the Dolphins’ defense since his arrival to the team in 2009, and Wake has logged at least 8.5 sacks in every season except one. In addition to his enormous sack total, Wake has 12 defended passes, 12 forced fumbles and 202 total tackles to his name. Wake is a four time pro-bowler and has been named first team All-Pro once. He has shown no side of slowing down, as he had 11.5 sacks last season. There should be plenty more to come from this current Dolphins defensive legend.
3. DB Dick Anderson and DB Jake Scott
Few NFL fans realize just how many interceptions Scott and Anderson had in their careers. Both were members of the Miami Dolphins back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1972 and 1973. Anderson, who played all nine seasons with the ‘Fins from 1968-1977, amassed 34 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and one touchdown in his career. He had a stunning three seasons with eight interceptions and was both a pro-bowler and All-Pro each season from 1972-1974. Anderson was named to the 1970’s All-Decade Team. As for Scott, in just six seasons with the Dolphins he totaled 35 interceptions and recovered 13 fumbles. He was voted the MVP of Super Bowl VII, made the Pro Bowl in five consecutive years from 1971 to 1975 and was first team All-Pro in 1973 and 1974. His 49 career interceptions place him 40th all-time in NFL history. Imagine a Dolphins secondary with Anderson and Scott at safety, and Madison and Surtain at cornerback. Kevin Coyle can only dream.
2. MLB Zach Thomas
No surprise here. Nobody expected the former fifth rounder out of Texas Tech to become one of the NFL’s greatest linebackers by the end of his career. Number 54 quickly became the heart and soul of the Miami’s defense for over a decade from 1996 to 2007. Along with Jason Taylor, Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison, Thomas led what can be argued as the toughest defense in the history of the organization, and was known for being all over the field. In his 12 seasons as a Dolphin, Thomas totaled a ridiculous 17 interceptions (four of which were returned for touchdowns), 35 passes defended, 16 forced fumbles, 19.5 sacks and 1,035 tackles. He is a seven time pro-bowler, five time first team All-Pro selection, two time second team All-Pro selection and a member of the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll. His numbers are Hall of Fame worthy, and one of the most popular Dolphins players among fans.
1. DE/OLB Jason Taylor
It is only fitting that Jason Taylor follows Zach Thomas on this list. Teammates, best friends, brothers-in-law and the two best Dolphin defenders in history in my book. Careers like Jason Taylor’s do not come around often. The linebacker/defensive end hybrid started 186 games over thirteen seasons with the Dolphins, totaling eight interceptions, 62 defended passes, 43 forced fumbles, nine, touchdowns, 131 sacks and 479 tackles. In addition, he was a six time pro-bowler and four time first team All-Pro selection. He won the AFC Defensive Player Year of the Award twice, and won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2007. His 139.5 total sacks rank him 6th all-time in NFL history. His prolific numbers pale in comparison to what he meant as a leader and as a fan favorite throughout his time as a Dolphin, and it should not be long before he solidifies his greatness as a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
Honorable Mention: Manny Fernandez, Tim Bowens, Nick Buoniconti