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Ranking Miami Dolphins Starting Quarterbacks (since Dan Marino) #19-11

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: DaunteCulpepper.net

If this were an exam, every answer would be wrong.

Most of these decisions were wrong the moment they were made. They were all wrong for the future of the Miami Dolphins. If there is one thing Dolphins fans are used to this century, it’s the team’s unequivocal failure at the quarterback position.

If you have a squeamish stomach, this list may not be for you. There are going to be plenty of miserable memories and instances of false hope provided in the text below.

To start, here’s a quick breakdown of every starting quarterback since Dan Marino retired:

Note: Games Started, Starting Record and Winning % only depict regular season #s (not like there are too many playoff numbers to add). Passing TDs, INTs, Passing yards and Completion % take into account every regular season throw by that quarterback, whether they were a starter or if they came in as a backup.

A couple things to keep in mind with this list:

  • Rankings are based on a multitude of aspects:
    • What did the player cost?
    • What was their lasting impact with the team?
    • Their overall statistical performance and starting record with the team

If this were based solely on stats, it would take mere moments to create this list. But a lot more goes into the decision to start a quarterback, and we need to take it all into account.

See how the Dolphins’ starting quarterbacks stack up since the greatest quarterback of all time, Dan Marino, retired after the 1999 season:

19) Daunte Culpepper

It isn’t his piss-poor attitude, his pathetic stats, his inability to lead the offense, or the 2nd-round draft pick the team traded away that has him ranked dead last. In fact, it’s not entirely his fault either. But we all know the story by now:

Daunte Culpepper over Drew Brees. A franchise bust over a franchise savior. Super Bowl aspirations (thanks, Peter King) versus Super Bowl champions.

The Miami Dolphins could have been set for the next decade; instead, the Dolphins grew into an afterthought while the New Orleans Saints became “America’s team” for a good stretch of Brees’ career. Daunte Culpepper can thank Nick “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach” Saban, the Dolphins’ medical staff and Randy Moss for ending up in Miami.

Culpepper is by no means “worse” than most of the quarterbacks ranked higher than him, but the decision to sign him cost the franchise more than petty cash – it cost us a decade of futility and frustration. Frustration that we still feel to this day.

18) John Beck

If Chad Henne was a waste of a second-round pick, then what do we call John Beck?

A quarterback who should have never been drafted as high as he was (40th-overall), Beck performed admirably in college, but no one projected him to be an NFL starter (think Brandon Weeden).

Beck never won a game for Miami, and completed just one touchdown pass in his 2-year Dolphins’ career – a career in which he was active for just 5 games in 2007 and inactive for the entire 2008 season. He was released the following offseason, and made several starts for the Washington Redskins….3 years later. Fittingly enough, he lost all 3 of those starts with the Redskins, though he did end up throwing 2 touchdown passes during that time. Progress.

17) A.J. Feeley

Another 2nd-round pick thrown straight into the garbage, A.J. Feeley was the Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback who accumulated a 4-1 record when Donovan McNabb went down for a stretch in 2002. He didn’t play a single snap in 2003 and yet somehow, the Dolphins thought he would turn into a franchise quarterback. He didn’t.

The most memorable thing A.J. Feeley did was get traded to the San Diego Chargers for Cleo Lemon in the middle of the 2005 season. And it’s solely because Lemon completed that iconic pass to Greg Camarillo that we even know this trade existed. Otherwise, he returned to the Eagles in 2006 and got passed over by Jeff Garcia when the Eagles needed to replace McNabb again.

A 3rd-string quarterback acquired for a 2nd-round pick is the reason why Feeley is so low on this list. If it wasn’t for an even bigger waste of a 2nd-round pick, it’s quite possible he’d be lower.

16) Cleo Lemon

Cleo Lemon didn’t stand much of a chance.

Starting for a team with minimal talent at wide receiver and at running back, Lemon was left with a barren cupboard of playmakers. While it’s not entirely his fault the team went 1-15 during that season (he only started 8 games that year), he is one of the main reasons this offense was so incompetent.

I mean, lets face it, Chad Pennington came in a year later and won a division title with almost the same cast of characters. The fact that he didn’t cost much (he cost us A.J. Feeley…good riddance) puts him a step ahead of our bottom 3 players. His statline is the reason why he’s below just about everyone else.

~~~

This next group can be as interchangeable as you’d like. They’re all equally as forgettable as they are incapable of being starting quarterbacks in this league. They were mainly thrust into the role due to various other injuries or incompetencies, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they were never able to solve Miami’s quarterback problem.

~~~

15) Tyler Thigpen

After Chad Pennington suffered a season-ending injury during the 2009 season, Tyler Thigpen was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs for a 7th-round draft pick.

A former starter for the Chiefs that went 1-10, Miami felt he could serve as Chad Henne’s backup, with the potential of replacing Henne if the sophomore quarterback didn’t pan out. Though he had an abysmal record with the Chiefs, he thew for 2,683 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. There was “some” promise to him.

Thigpen was active for just one game that 2009 season, and was thrust into the starting role for one game in 2010 when both Chad’s, once again, went down with injuries. After one, inept start, Thigpen was benched in favor of Henne, who was returning from his injury.

Frankly, there isn’t much to say about Thigpen. He was always meant to be a backup, and his starting stats predominantly reinforced that. In his one start with Miami, Thigpen completed 17 passes for 187 yards and 1 interception.

Ironically enough, he outdueled Jay Cutler that game – who completed 16 passes for 156 yards and 1 interception. The Bears won that game 16-0.

14) Trent Green

The Dolphins felt they won a steal-of-a-trade when they acquired Trent Green from the Kansas City Chiefs for a 5th-round draft pick.

The team gambled on a former starter with a history of concussions and what do you know, Green suffered a concussion while attempted to block a defensive lineman on a running play and didn’t play another snap for the Dolphins.

Green accumulated an 0-5 record as a starter, though his stats were a bit more pedestrian than some of the other quarterbacks on this list. If it weren’t for his “potential” as a former QB1 in the league, Green would be lower on this list. His cost and starting stats are worse than fellow former-Chiefs counterpart, Tyler Thigpen, but it’s safe to say that Green was always the “better” quarterback.

If you didn’t know Green’s career with the Chiefs prior to the Dolphins, you’d think he’s just as incompetent as the other quarterbacks ranked below him. Still, at 37 years old, what was Miami thinking…

13) Sage Rosenfels

Never meant to be the team’s starter or savior, Sage Rosenfels was drafted in the 4th-round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins and was subsequently traded to the Dolphins for a 7th-round pick the following offseason.

Like Thigpen, Rosenfels was intended to be a project and a backup quarterback for this team, but like plenty of other instances you’ve read so far, the lack of success (and injuries) by Miami’s other quarterbacks thrust him into a starting role. Rosenfels never got much of a chance to succeed in Miami, going 0-2 as a starter while throwing 6 touchdowns to go along with 6 interceptions.

You can argue that Miami “messed up” by not retaining him, though I guess they had enough conviction to know he wouldn’t be a franchise starter. Still, he could have made a formidable backup for this team – similar to what Matt Moore was for 7 years with Miami. Rosenfels signed with the Houston Texans prior to the 2006 season and over his 3-year Texans’ career accumulated a 6-4 record as a starter, throwing 24 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions.

So why is he so low on this list? We’re ranking starting quarterbacks, not backups, and Rosenfels accumulated a 49.5 completion % and a 0-2 record. Pedestrian in every sense.

For what it’s worth, Rosenfels is an enlightening person to follow on Twitter (@SageRosenfels18)

12) Ray Lucas

There’s really no reason why Ray Lucas should be this high (um, low?) on a starting quarterback list. Another career-backup, Lucas is essentially the reason why the 2002 season was derailed.

After Jay Fiedler got injured, the Dolphins (5-1 at the time) ended the season 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996 (those were the days, folks). While you can’t expect your backup to be as successful as your starter, that 2002 Dolphins team featured studs such as: Ricky Williams, Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael, Zach Thomas, Brock Marion, Jason Taylor, Patrick Surtain, Adewale Ogunleye, Tim Bowens, Sam Madison and Olindo Mare.

That team was STACKED! All Lucas had to do was play game manager; instead, I give you this excerpt from his Wikipedia page. It’s quite….glorious:

“Lucas holds the unenviable distinction of worst single game quarterback performance by any Dolphin. On October 20, 2002, in one game against the Buffalo Bills, Lucas was responsible for 6 turnovers: 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles. He completed only 13 passes to Dolphin receivers. The player that caught the most passes from Lucas was Buffalo Cornerback Nate Clements.”

11) Brian Griese

Former Super Bowl champion* and Pro Bowl starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Brian Griese – son of former Dolphins legend Bob Griese – came to Miami with a legitimate chance at being the team’s savior. It seemed poetic that Bob Griese’s son could save the Dolphins from quarterback oblivion after his father amassed a 14-year Hall of Fame career with the team between 1967 and 1980.

In 51 starts with the Broncos, Griese accumulated a 26-24 record, threw for 11,763 yards, 71 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. He signed with Miami as a free agent, and when Jay Fiedler went down with another injury during the 2003 season, it seemed like everything would come full circle for the Dolphins organization. But of course, it didn’t.

Griese did win 3 of his 5 starts with the Dolphins, but threw 6 interceptions (to 5 touchdowns) during that time, and completed just 56.9% of his passes. Like Lucas, Griese played on an elite Dolphins team, and those wins were a product of the team, not his skill. Griese lasted just one season with Miami before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For what it’s worth, Griese never had a losing record with any of the 4 teams he played with (Denver: 26-24; Miami: 3-2; Tampa Bay: 12-9; Chicago Bears: 3-3), but he never was able to take any of those teams as far as they deserved to go either.

*Griese served as the team’s backup quarterback the year they won the Super Bowl.

~~~

Check in to LockedOnDolphins.com tomorrow for our Top 10 list of starting quarterbacks since Dan Marino retired. If you thought this list was bad, get ready for an even more-entertaining list. Bottle up that frustration you still exude since the Daunte Culpepper signing, because the top-10 list may be even worse than this one.

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Seal Team 6

    June 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I know who is 1 and 2:

    Chad Pennington and then Jay Fiedler. The rest were garbage.

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      June 13, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Personally, I feel like if you swapped the teams Ryan Tannehill and Jay Fiedler played on, we would have accomplished a lot more during the Early-2000s. Though it’s fair to say that both Pennington and Fiedler were the only quarterbacks to lead us into the playoffs and if that’s the barometer, they deserve to be on top.

  2. Avatar

    Cvnt

    June 12, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    Chad P #1 and Joe F #2 everyone else is a drive by

    • Jason Hrina

      Jason Hrina

      June 13, 2019 at 1:18 pm

      The entire 21st-century has been a drive-by or a pit-stop for journeymen QBs. It’s been bad…

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Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Tua Tagovailoa

Travis Wingfield

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Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Foreword:

7,091 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

We start with the consensus number-one player, as we sit 10 months out from draft night, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Tua Tagovailoa 2018 Film Study

Searching for a third consecutive appearance in college football’s championship game, Tua Tagovailoa enters his junior campaign as the most decorated quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012.

“He does a lot of things you can’t coach — [he] sees the field, throws accurately, [he’s] athletic. He’s got a really unique package.” An anonymous NFL scout told AL.com. “He anticipates throws. He can really visualize a throw. Guys don’t have to be open, he sees openings before they happen.”

Jim Nagy, the Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, made his proclamation that Tagovailoa would’ve been the first pick this April were he draft eligible. He was not. And so he returns to Tuscaloosa to pilot yet another loaded Crimson Tide team under the watchful eye of both Nick Saban and the entire NFL community.

What Sets Tagovailoa Apart:

Accuracy and Natural Throwing Motion –

After just a couple of throws, it’s easy to decipher whether a passer is natural or conditioned. Whether on traditional drops and, or setting up on the move, Tagovailoa’s arm shows natural elasticity. This trait makes him a threat on structured set-ups, moving left or right, and when attacking the line-of-scrimmage.

The ability to drop the arm angle without sacrificing accuracy is what sets great quarterbacks apart from the good ones — especially in the modern NFL. Regardless of the circumstance, Tagovailoa finds his way back to proper mechanics, using his base to drive the football.

Everything is hard-wired across Tagovailoa’s mechanics. From his feet to his eyes, and his hips to his shoulders, his proper alignment creates impressive torque and spin on a variety of different throw-types (touch, drive, deep). Tagovailoa is the best deep ball thrower on the planet not named Russell Wilson.

Light Feet, Escapability, Poise Under Duress –

A lot of quarterbacks excel at the professional level without seamless weight-transfer. Legends like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger make up for heavy feet with anticipation of the rush, landmark identification of the rusher, but also the poise to pick up the route progression under pressure.

Tagovailoa has that inherent poise trait, but he couples it with effortless capabilities to freely glide in crowded areas. His sound, initial lower-half mechanics put him in a position to drive off his plant foot. This puts him in a position to climb, or throw drive-leg out and flea the pocket laterally.

This marriage of exceptional traits makes Tagovailoa a difficult passer to sack, a legitimate big-play scramble threat, and most importantly, a dangerous off-script play maker.

Processing and Cerebral Aptitude within the Structure of the Offense –

Alabama’s offense is loaded across the board. Opposing defenses often have to send pressure packages to rattle Tagovailoa, but his skill set usually renders those attempts futile. The Bama offense is chocked full of NFL concepts with three-man combinations and full-field reads.

Tagovailoa not only identifies and understands most pre-snap coverages and post-snap rotations, he knows which route combinations are designed to attack those particular coverages. His photographic-like memory allows him to blindly read the backside of a play and rip through his progressions in a flash.

Designed-Run Package –

There aren’t many superlatives needed for this bullet point; Tagovailoa can scoot.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Short Memory –

Tagovailoa’s shortcomings feel like nitpicking — he’s exceptional. One universal knock on his game is the back-to-back underwhelming showings in the two championship games this past season. Tagovailoa showed a minor penchant to let bad play cavalcade and attempted to press his way through some struggles.

This wasn’t frequent enough of an occurrence to call it a habit, and that’s to be expected from a 21-year-old, but it’s something to watch this upcoming postseason when Bama is inevitably in the hunt once again.

Drive Throws –

Tagovailoa’s arm isn’t on the level of Matthew Stafford, but it’s more than adequate for the professional level. His anticipation prowess helps mask the lack of velocity on field-side drive throws, but the difficulty of those throws increases at the next level (elite athletes all over the field will do that).

Again, this is nitpicking. A good coordinator can work around something like this, but it’s a common throw in the NFL that could potentially prove problematic for Tagovailoa.

Getting Healthy –

The biggest gripe I found with Tagovailoa’s poor performances (poor relative to his early-season magic act) was the limitations of nagging knee and ankle injuries. Tagovailoa hurt the knee mid-season, and the ankle injury in the SEC Championship Game required surgery. The lingering effects were apparent in the National Title Game against a ferocious Clemson defense.

Two injuries in one season is the beginning of a red flag. Another season of nicks and bruises could give scouts pause regarding Tagovailoa’s long-term durability.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

Tagovailoa’s anticipation, processing, and recognition of leverage and soft spots in coverage makes him a fit in any scheme. Miami’s offense, under former Patriots Assistant Chad O’Shea, figures to feature a lot of variety devised to attack that particular week’s opponent.

The Patriots controlled, short passing game is indefensible at its peak, and that’s Tagovailoa’s true ceiling. His pre-snap prowess would help Miami attack vulnerable matchups and keep the offense on-schedule. Tagovailoa’s deep ball could finally unlock the true potential of Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant.

In New England, the Pats built shot plays into the structure of the regular offense. Tagovailoa’s attention to detail and general feel for the flow of the game can give the play caller (O’Shea) a set of eyes on the field to relay tendencies and weaknesses.

Conclusion:

Tagovailoa is the apple of every scout’s eye this college football season. His first colligate action — as a true freshman — was a heroic, championship rescuing performance on the game’s biggest stage. Since that game, Tagovailoa’s ascension has continued on the track of a generational prospect.

Tagovailoa is going to be the first player to hear his name called next April, should he declare (he’s eligible to return to Alabama for 2020). The Dolphins will likely have to obtain the first pick to get a crack at the Heisman hopeful.

If they do, the fortunes of this Miami Dolphins organization will change for the foreseeable future.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Georgia Junior, Jake Fromm

Additional Videos

Anticipation and recognition of three-man route combination

Perfect back-shoulder ball

Footwork to help mitigate immediate pressure

Off-script dynamics

Poor ball placement costs Bama a TD

Rare occurrence where Tua doesn’t account for backside robber coverage

Finds a passing lane, resets and throws a strike

Rare mental mistake

High-level anticipation

Aerial assault on display

One of Tagovailoa’s six interceptions

Push up, avoid pressure, throw an accurate ball

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Miami Dolphins

How did the Miami Dolphins shape up in Lindy’s NFL Preview?

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Xavien Howard USA Today Sports
Star cornerback Xavien Howard. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Lindy’s has released its annual NFL Preview. It not only covers each individual team but ranks all the best players at each position. There were some surprises, good and bad, but overall, the Miami Dolphins did not get a lot of recognition.

Lindy’s NFL Preview made its rounds on the Twittersphere on Wednesday, and with it came plenty of disagreement. The preview breaks down all the NFL rosters and ranks all the position groups of each team. So, did the Miami Dolphins fare very well with any of the position rankings? Let’s dive in and find out.

Let’s start with the quarterback. The list has three categories: Pocket Passers, All-Purpose, and Best of the Depth. I’ll give you second to think about which category might have a Dolphins QB.

Did you guess Josh Rosen in the Pocket Passer category? I hope not, because that’d be dead wrong. The winning answer is Ryan Fitzpatrick in the penultimate slot in Best of the Depth. In this case, he’s ranked fourth out of five in that category. He falls in between Jacoby Brissett and Blake Bortles.

Now, let’s move on to the pass catchers. The first ranked wide receiver on the list is Kenny Stills and he comes in at 15th on the rankings for the Deep Threat category. He’s tied with Pittsburgh’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins, but at least Stills made the first tier (The Ones). The next tier (The Twos) starts at 16 with Oakland’s Tyrell Williams.

DeVante Parker is the next name to make it on the list. He’s listed at sixth in The Twos. Parker and Stills were the only two Fins WRs to make the cut, which shouldn’t come across as a major plot twist since the Miami Dolphins receiving corps isn’t full of world beaters.

The next position on the list was tight ends. You might already know which direction this is headed since the Dolphins currently have a dearth of tight ends that is made up of B-list veterans and untapped-potential second-year players on the depth chart. Neither Mike Gesicki or Durham Smythe were mentioned, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Nick O’Leary didn’t make the list, either, but Dwayne Allen did. Allen landed on the list at third on the Best of the Depth portion of the list. Allen falls between Virgil Green at two and Cameron Brate at four. The upper echelon rankings featured 16 other tight ends, which leaves an overall ranking of 19 for Dwayne Allen.

Don’t get bent out of shape from the first three categories, the best is yet to come. But not for the running backs. There was no mention of a single Miami running back in any of the three groups: The Ones, All-Purpose, Ground-Based, and Best of the Depth. That doesn’t speak well of the Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage duo.

On to the offensive line, the rankings were separated into five categories: center, left and right guard, and left and right tackles. The Dolphins had two total representatives in those five categories. And one of them wasn’t even on the team a month ago.

Laremy Tunsil is the obvious one and he made it to number 13 on the left tackle list. That seems criminally low to me. Tunsil was behind the likes of Carolina’s Taylor Moton, Atlanta’s Jake Matthews, and New Orleans’ Terron Armstead.

The only other entrant on these rankings was Jordan Mills, who was signed earlier this year after the Buffalo Bills let him hit free agency.

Lindy’s Preview also ranks the top five passing games, running games, and offensive lines for both the AFC and the NFC. I’ll just rip this bandaid off right now; the Dolphins weren’t in any of them.

Let’s move on to the defense; that ought to lighten the mood, somewhat. There’s not anything to mention in the 3-4 Ends/Tackles, Nose Tackles, 4-3 Ends, 4-3 Tackles, 3-4 Inside Linebackers, 3-4 Outside Linebackers, 4-3 Middle Linebackers, or 4-3 MIKE Linebackers

Let’s just skip ahead to the WILL Linebacker rankings to get our next Miami Dolphins plug. And in this case, we’ve got two names: Kiko Alonso at five and Jerome Baker at nine. That’s an encouraging thing to see after going nine categories without seeing any Dolphins. I’m also surprised that I didn’t see any mention of Raekwon McMillan, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.

Another surprise was that there was no Miami safety named, either. Neither Reshad Jones nor Minkah Fitzpatrick made the cut, but I expect the latter to make his presence felt in the near future.

The biggest, and essentially only, bright spot in the Lindy rankings was Xavien Howard coming in at number one for all the corners. You read that right. While it’s certainly up for a lot of debate whether Howard is truly the best corner in the game right now, I’m not going to argue with it. I’m just going to rest on my laurels on X being recognized as the best by someone and be on my merry way.

Another smaller and less-expected surprise was the Dolphins being ranked in the AFC Best Linebackers. They came in at fourth in the conference and nine overall. That speaks volumes of the potential of the position group, namely Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan.

 

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Ranking Miami Dolphins Starting Quarterbacks (since Dan Marino) #10-1

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen both likely to start for the Miami Dolphins this year, we’re about to scream “blackjack!” when it comes to how many starting quarterbacks the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired.

No, this doesn’t win you any kind of jackpot, nor does it pay out 3-2 odds if you’re ever-so-lucky. This just means that the Dolphins have yet to solve the elusive quarterback riddle since they used to be the best quarterback-centric team of the 20th-century.

As we depicted in our #19-11 starting quarterbacks list, below is a basic chart of every starting quarterback Miami has had since that fateful 1999 season.

Note: Games Started, Starting Record and Winning % only depict regular season #s (not like there are too many playoff numbers to add). Passing TDs, INTs, Passing yards and Completion % take into account every regular season throw by that quarterback, whether they were a starter or if they came in as a backup.

A couple things to keep in mind with this list:

  • Rankings are based on a multitude of aspects:
    • What did the player cost?
    • What was their lasting impact with the team?
    • Their overall statistical performance and starting record with the team

Check out who cracked the list of top-10 “best” starting quarterback since Marino retired. Take note of the fact that it’s pretty freakin’ easy to accomplish, all you needed was a winning record (in just 40% of the cases, that is) and a positive TD/INT ratio to do so. Yeah, it’s been that bad, Dolphins fans:

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Whether it’s losing records, terrible completion %, pathetic TD/INT ratios or overall incompetence, these quarterbacks are the reasons we have so many nightmares when we think of the starting quarterback position as a whole. It’s thanks to them that we believe less-than-stellar quarterbacks are the best “solutions” we’ve had this 21st-century.

~~~

10) Chad Henne

Chad Henne doesn’t crack the top-10 because he was good. In fact, the only positive highlight I can remember is him throwing a perfect touch pass to Ted Ginn Jr. over three New York Jets defenders.

Outside of that one touchdown pass, as well as the “duel” he had with Tom Brady to open the 2011 season – when Brady (517 yards) and Henne (416) broke the NFL record for most combined passing yards between two starting QBs in a game with 933 (ironically enough, they broke the record previously held by Dan Mario and Ken O’Brien – 927 passing yards) – Henne was a lost cause in Miami.

Essentially destined to be a backup, Henne never amounted to much. Rumor has it, the Dolphins wanted to grab Joe Flacco in the 2008 draft, but ended up getting outsmarted by Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens. Leaving Miami with the next-best option (and apparently, an option they didn’t really want).

As a “waste” of a 2nd-round pick, Henne finds himself below most of these journeymen, even if he accumulated more starts and starting numbers than the rest.

9) Jay Cutler

Smoking Jay Cutler.

He was entertaining for the rest of America, but in the eyes of every Dolphins fan, he was a waste of $10m. It’s one thing if the team “had” to spend the money, but Miami could have carried over that $10m and set themselves up for a better 2018 season. Instead, Adam Gase thought he could salvage the season by luring Cutler out of retirement.

What a mistake.

Cutler was just as good as he was with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. That is, he was completely underwhelming. Outside of outdueling Tom Brady in Week 14 of the 2017 season, Cutler is best known for not giving a single ***k during his Dolphins tenure. And why would he? Why risk injury when you can ride off into the sunset with an easy 8-figure paycheck?

You could have given me $10m and I would have been just as successful as Jay Cutler was. In fact, I would have won 0 games for the Dolphins, and that would have actually been more productive than Cutler’s 6-8 starting record.

The world thanks you for existing, Jay Cutler. Miami Dolphins fans do not.

8) Joey Harrington

At the expense of a 5th-round draft pick, the Miami Dolphins acquired one of the biggest draft busts of all time.

As if his 18-37 starting record with the Detroit Lions wasn’t enough to deter the Dolphins, it seemed like Miami really wanted to overpay for mediocre starting quarterbacks in the mid-2000s. What started with A.J. Feeley eventually took them down the path of Joey Harrington and Trent Green.

There’s a reason why these quarterbacks were available, and it’s not because their trade partners had someone like Philip Rivers waiting in the wings.

Harrington could land anywhere on this list and you wouldn’t be wrong with your placement. Accumulating a 5-6 record during his time as a starting quarterback with the Dolphins, Harrington threw 12 touchdowns to go along with 15 interceptions and a 57.5% completion percentage. He wasn’t as bad as he was in Detroit, but he was just as worthless to this organization as he was to the Lions.

That is, he was a complete waste of time.

Harrington was actually one of the most controversial placements for me. I could have placed him somewhere in the bottom-10 and it would have been justified. My main reason for including him this high has to do with the overall number of games he started. If any of the quarterbacks below him had started 11 games, I feel like their statistics would be even worse than they already were (a big assumption to make, I know).

Jay Cutler and Chad Henne get lower ranks due to their cost, not their overall numbers.

7) Brock Osweiler

Here’s a man who nearly saved a Dolphins season after Ryan Tannehill injured himself (yet again).

Though his play was erratic, and each throw was an adventure in-and-of-itself, Brock Osweiler was (almost) what you wanted in a backup quarterback. A guy who wouldn’t sink your season if he had to spot-start a few games, and costing just $880k against the cap, his value is what propels him above most of these other starting quarterbacks on the list.

His stats don’t tell the entire story of how his starts went, but the only negative here is his 2-3 record. Everything else? Like I said, just what you want out of your backup.

Due to the Houston Texans vastly overpaying him, Osweiler has turned into a league-wide joke, but that shouldn’t nullify his admirably average performance with the Dolphins in 2018.

Any excuse I get to include this video in a post, I will take advantage of it every. single. time:

6) Damon Huard

Like Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard is a product of having a phenomenal team around him.

That 5-1 record is a sick joke when you look at the potential those Dolphins’ teams had. And when it comes down to it, it was pretty evident that the Miami Dolphins didn’t have much potential to work with at the starting quarterback position.

Huard infamously replaced Dan Marino in that fateful 62-7 playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars – Marino’s last game in a Dolphins uniform. Ironically, Jay Fiedler replaced Mark Brunell during that game and had a better statline than Marino and Huard combined (click here at your own risk).

Huard was essentially a holdover until the Dolphins found a new franchise quarterback (which they still haven’t found). It’s not that Huard did anything wrong (which is why he’s #6 on our list), it’s more the fact that he didn’t do much right.

Place Huard on the same teams Ryan Tannehill had, and you’re looking at a much lower ranking.

5) Matt Moore

The golden boy for much of the Dolphins fanbase, Matt Moore was never anything more than an overhyped backup quarterback.

Clamoring for Moore to start is all the evidence you need to notice how far this franchise has fallen since Dan Marino retired. It was more-than-evident that Moore wasn’t the answer at quarterback, but the backup quarterback is always the most popular player on your football team.

Moore didn’t offer us much hope, but he did solidify the Miami Dolphins playoff berth during the 2016 season. Taking over for an injured Ryan Tannehill after the former 1st-round pick led the team to a 8-6 record, Moore was tasked with keeping the Dolphins afloat for the final 3 games of the season.

And by George, he did just that. Winning 2 of the final 3 games of the season, Moore helped the Dolphins earn their first playoff berth since the 2008 season.

The thing is, Miami most likely would have made the playoffs if Ryan Tannehill remained under center, bringing forth the question whether or not Moore was worthy this entire time or if he was just in the right place at the right time.

Retrospect tells us, he was definitely in the right place at the right time.

4) Gus Frerotte

Gus Frerotte is probably the most-boring quarterback on this list.

Not speaking personality wise (RoboHenne was a thing for awhile), but Frerotte was just a generic starter for this team. Accumulating a 9-6 record as a starter the one year he was with the Dolphins, Frerotte was just another journeyman quarterback making a pit-stop in Miami.

Throwing for 2,996 yards, 18 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, a 52% completion percentage and a 71.9 quarterback rating, there’s really isn’t much to say about Frerotte. He wasn’t horrible, and his starting record reflects the last remnant of those stellar Dolphins teams from the early-2000s.

3) Jay Fiedler

The main reason Dave Wannstedt and his Ron Jeremy mustache failed as the Dolphins head coach.

How do you establish one of the greatest defenses since the Chicago Bears’ 1985 Monster’s of the Midway team and not advance to the AFC Championship game at least once? Answer: Jay Fiedler is your quarterback.

Forever underwhelming Dolphins fans and eternally wasting the early-2000s Dolphins teams, Fiedler was a “competent” quarterback that prevented Miami from reaching their well-deserved apex as an organization.

A 66/63 TD/INT ratio says virtually all you need to know about Fiedler’s potential. Every time you thought the team would take a step forward, you’d come to realize that they were just stuck in neutral.

Fiedler has the honor of being the last Dolphins quarterback to win a playoff game, but was it really Fiedler that earned that honor, or was it the phenomenal teams he was playing with? (rhetorical question, we all know it was the teams he played for).

And the most disappoint part is, when all is said and done, he’s the 3rd-best starting quarterback this team has had in the 21st-century. Ouch.

2) Ryan Tannehill

We all want to bury Ryan Tannehill as a starting quarterback for this team, but is it because he was such a terrible player? Or is it because we are dealing with 20 years of futility and he was just another failed “answer” at the position?

Tannehill cost this team a 1st-round pick, but drafting him really wasn’t the wrong decision. Yes, Miami should have went with their gut and drafted Russell Wilson, but we can’t fault the team for trying to solve the most important position on the gridiron. Since Marino, Tannehill was the first (and only) quarterback the Dolphins have drafted in the 1st-round. If you’re going to be cheap with the most-vital position on the team, you deserve all the failures that come with it.

Tannehill is easily the second-best quarterback the Dolphins have run out there since Marino retired, and it’s not even that close. If Tannehill played with the same teams Jay Fielder had, he would be staring at a better starting record and a much better statline than he currently has. Truth is, Tannehill is the unfortunate byproduct of a franchise that has been inept for so long.

We have rightfully concluded that you can’t bring back a quarterback who has “failed” for 7 years, but is it entirely his fault? Yes and no.

Yes, Tannehill wasn’t “good enough” to lead the Dolphins to the promise land that is productive postseason football, but he wasn’t all that detrimental to the franchise either. The most detrimental thing you can say regarding RT17 is that the team took too long to move on from him. Not his fault.

A b******t tackle during the 2016 season meant Tannehill was unable to “lead” the team to the 2016 playoff berth. Allowing him to reaggravate the knee injury in 2017 was both the fault of the team’s medical staff and his own doing for insisting he avoid surgery and heal his knee naturally (this is the same medical staff that convinced Nick Saban that Daunte Culpepper was a better option than Drew Brees; exactly how much trust do you have in them?).

If it weren’t for the fact that Tannehill’s Dolphins’ career was simply average, he would be the number one quarterback on this list. And that says all you need to know about the team’s anemic answer(s) at the position.

Tannehill threw for 20,434 yards, 123 touchdowns and just 75 interceptions – all while accumulating a 62.8% completion percentage – better than every quarterback on this list except for Chad Pennington‘s 67.6% completion percentage (known for his ability to be a game-manager, and his ineptitude to throw a deep ball) and Brock Osweiler’s minimal playing time (63.5% completion percentage). Thank you bubble screens.

1) Chad Pennington

Here you have it, Dolphins fans. The only glimmer of hope we’ve experienced over a two-decade stretch. Unless you count Jay Fiedler failing to bring Hall of Fame talent far into the playoffs during the early-2000s, we all clamor to that one season Chad Pennington had.

We easily forget that Pennington was on the Dolphins’ roster for 3 years of his career, mainly because his deteriorating shoulder prevented him from playing meaningful football throughout that time.

Instead, the best quarterback the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired gave us one magical season. ONE!

Don’t get me wrong, going from 1-15 to 11-5 is one of the most impressive story lines any team experienced in the 21st-century, but it wasn’t enough to solidify the quarterback position for this team. It wasn’t even enough to earn the Dolphins a playoff win – losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard game that 2008 season.

The runner-up MVP – and one of the most-accurate passers in NFL history – threw 4 interceptions that Wildcard game, giving the Dolphins virtually no chance at succeeding. That playoff game epitomizes the Dolphins 21st-century. Just when you think we’ve taken the next step, we get smacked in the face and put back in our place.

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