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Sunny South Florida is represented in the NFL with a franchise in the AFC East. This team, winners of two Super Bowls (including the 1972 season with their undefeated record) is known as the Miami Dolphins.
Following their inception into the NFL in 1965, the team struggled for their first four years under head coach George Wilson. Once the decision was made to replace him with Don Shula, the trajectory of the team changed dramatically. This single move led to huge changes in Miami. Shula’s brutal workouts whipped his team into shape and subsequently earned them their first winning season, with a record of 10-4 and their first playoff berth.
Shula built upon this framework for his sophomore campaign at the helm of the Dolphins, leading them to a 10-3-1 record and their first Super Bowl appearance, where they lost to the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 24-3. Undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow, Shula and the Dolphins were determined to learn from their experience, and proved it in unprecedented fashion in 1972. Completing the regular season with a record of 14-0, the Dolphins returned to the Super Bowl and defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7 to capture their first Super Bowl championship and the league’s only undefeated season to date. Repeating as champions after the 1973 season by defeating Fran Tarkenton and the Minnesota Vikings 24-3, the Miami Dolphins were NFL royalty.
Though it seemed like the Dolphins were poised for a dynasty that won reign for years to come, 1973 marked the last Super Bowl victory in Dolphins history. They did make one more appearance in the big game, with a young Dan Marino led squad losing to the San Francisco 49ers. Shula stayed on to coach the team through the 1995 season. In all of the time he only had two losing seasons. Whether it was with the teams of the 1970s or those when paired with Dan Marino, the Miami Dolphins were always a playoff contender.
Marino stayed a few more years after Shula left, retiring in 1999 with an impressive list of records (some of which have since been surpassed). A consummate Hall of Famer, Marino is remembered as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game. That said, it only makes sense that Miami would endure a major setback after losing him. However, in the 17 seasons since his departure, the Dolphins have only played five playoff games, with only one win.
Their most recent playoff appearance was in 2016 under new head coach Adam Gase. A longtime assistant and coordinator around the league, this is Gase’s first opportunity as the head coach of an NFL team. He inherited a team that had gone 6-10 and turned them around to a 10-6 record, good enough for a Wild Card berth. Gase intends to follow this up with an even stronger second season. A look at the depth chart bolsters his confidence.
Ryan Tannehill will return for his sixth season as the starting quarterback for Miami. Rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury over the offseason, Tannehill is itching to get back under center. Wide receivers Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills (with a new four year deal) are all a threat in the open field while breakout star running back Jay Ajayi looks to improve upon Pro Bowl numbers from a season ago as the full time starter. Julius Thomas moves over from the Jaguars to start at tight end this season. A starting line including Laremy Tunsil and Mike Pouncey look to keep Tannehill upright. Tight end Anthony Fasano re-signed with the team after Jordan Cameron retired due to concussion-related problems.
Defensively, this team is led by Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh, two pass rushers that can cause a major problem for the opposing offense. Additions including Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell look to revamp their careers in the Sunshine State. Nate Allen comes over from Oakland to clamp down on passes in the backfield.
Among the most revered players ever to wear the Miami Dolphins uniform are Nick Buoniconti, Cameron Wake, Dwight Stephenson, Paul Warfield, Larry Little, Zach Thomas, Bob Griese, Jason Taylor, Larry Csonka, and Dan Marino. Additional information about the Miami Dolphins franchise can be found by clicking here.