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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 head coach Adam Gase. Unfortunately, the next two seasons saw Miami barred from the postseason and Gase was let go following the 2018 season. Unshaken by this major change, the Dolphins are singularly focused on making their way back to the postseason. To do so, they will need everyone to pull their weight. Their new coach, Brian Flores, will have to galvanize this franchise. A longtime employee of the New England Patriots, Flores is no stranger to winning and hopes to establish a new and successful culture for his squad.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is still viewed as the starter for this team going forward, but many are beginning to get worried about him being injury-prone. He missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL and several games this year with a shoulder injury. However, when healthy, Tannehill plays at a high level and keeps Miami in the hunt for a ring.
The Dolphins organization has been working to put the pieces around him to make success a real possibility. DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills are still in the lineup at wide receiver, but are joined by the veteran presence of Danny Amendola (from New England). Kenyan Drake is preparing to be the feature back this year and is learning from one of the best to ever play the position in Frank Gore, who was added to the roster for the 2018 season. The starting line, including Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Wuan James, is focused on wrapping up their opponent and doing their best to keep Tannehill upright and healthy.
Defensively, this team is led by Cameron Wake. He sets the tone for the rest of the squad as a tenacious pass rusher that causes major problems for the opposing team. His tandem with N’damukong Suh has come to an end now that Suh has been released by Miami and signed with the Los Angeles Rams. However, the Dolphins did receive Robert Quinn via a trade with LA and hope to plug him in to pick up right where Suh left off. Reshad Jones is in charge of the Miami backfield, making opposing quarterbacks think twice about going deep.
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.