There was no internet, no cable TV and no sports only channels. The Miami Dolphins were owned by the late Joe Robbie and Danny Thomas respectively, and were a fledgling franchise, swimming in the lazy retirement city of Miami. Not much was expected of the Dolphins; and not much was given back in return by the team coached by George Wilson. The Dolphins didn’t post a winning record through their first four seasons.
When Don Shula took over as coach in 1970 however, things changed. Throughout the decade of the 70’s, the Dolphins beat up on teams like the Buffalo Bills, winning 20 straight games against them in the decade. In fact, there were 10 teams in the NFL that had never beaten the Dolphins ever, in their history. Those teams included the Cardinals, Seahawks, Bucs, Falcons, Packers, Saints, Giants, 49ers, Lions and Bears…Oh my!!
The Dolphins made the playoffs 8 times in the decade of the 70’s, including a perfect season, while winning two of the three Super Bowls they played in.
Through the next decade of the 80’s, the Dolphins continued their winning ways, going to two more Super Bowls and playing some of the most memorable games in NFL history in the process. They made the playoffs five separate times in the decade. Unfortunately, all of those aforementioned 10 teams ultimately were able to pick up first time wins against the Dolphins, ruining their ‘other’ perfect record.
The Dolphins enjoyed further success in the decade of the 90’s. Although they didn’t play in any Super Bowls, they did make the playoffs in 7 different seasons and were always considered a contender.
But two disastrous things occurred in the 90’s, first Coach Shula retired after the 1995 season. Then Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that things just haven’t been the same since.
The Dolphins started the new Millennium by making the playoffs the first couple of seasons, but things quickly went astray after that. In the 16 seasons, since the Millennium, they have only five winning seasons and three playoff appearances. They have gone through numerous coaches, quarterbacks and one ownership change. It is safe to say the franchise as a whole, has been struggling ever since.
In days past you could look at a Dolphins schedule before the season even started, and predict with confidence, they would win ‘x’ number of games. But now, there is no one on the Dolphins schedule who is considered a ‘sure win’. In fact, other teams may be seeing the Dolphins on their schedule and checking off a victory for themselves!!!
What do the Dolphins need to do to get out of their current funk of not having a winning season or playoff appearance since 2008? If we look back on history, we see some constants, which are not anymore. During their most successful times, the Dolphins had good ownership (Joe Robbie & Wayne Huizenga), good coaching (Don Shula & Jimmy Johnson) and good quarterbacking (Bob Griese & Dan Marino) at the same times.
They have not shared this trifecta of individuals since 1999, and it is painfully obvious, this is the secret for success in the NFL.
Will owner Steven Ross, coach Adam Gase and quarterback Ryan Tannehill be able to share the same fortunes as predecessors, past? Will the Dolphins again enjoy winning records, playoffs and even Super Bowls in the near future? Well, nothing is certain except this; a few have much to prove, to many.