Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins
Although the Miami Dolphins fell just short of the playoffs this past season, there has been a lot of talk about the quarterback position.
This past season, rookie Tua Tagovailoa had an up-and-down campaign as Miami finished 10-6 — its best record since 2016. The Alabama rookie went fifth overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. To say fans are mixed on him right now, would be an understatement.
In this piece, we rank the five rookie seasons for Miami quarterbacks to start at the position. To qualify, the signal caller needed to make at least five starts and attempt at least 100 passes. Omitted are John Beck, who made just four starts in 2007 and George Wilson, who was in his first AFL season in 1966 but was actually selected in the 1965 NFL Draft.
5. David Woodley (1980)
Starts: 11 starts (6-5 record)
Stats: 54% completions, 1,850 yards passing, 14 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions, 3 rushing touchdowns
Overview: David Woodley spent four years with the Miami Dolphins — mostly as a starter. He threw more interceptions than touchdowns for his career, but was largely serviceable for Miami, including as a rookie. Woodley was an average passer, but a pretty good athlete. During his rookie season, Miami finished just 24th in the NFL out of 28 teams in points per game.
4. Bob Griese (1967)
Starts: 10 starts (3-7 record)
Stats: 50% completions, 2,005 yards passing, 15 touchdown passes, 18 interceptions, rushing touchdown
Overview: Bob Griese would go on to have a Hall of Fame career. He made eight Pro Bowls and led Miami to its only two Super Bowl victories. The beginning of his career however, was quite humble. As a rookie in 1967, Griese had the fewest yards per pass attempt during his 14-year career and the most interceptions.
3. Ryan Tannehill (2012)
Starts: 16 starts (7-9 record)
Stats: 58% completions, 3,294 yards passing, 12 touchdown passes, 13 interceptions, 2 rushing touchdowns
Overview: Like Woodley, Ryan Tannehill had an up-and-down career, but as a rookie, he did provide some hope for the future. Although he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, Miami raised its win total by one during Tannehill’s rookie year. Tannehill was a 6-year starter and finished with a record of 42-46.
2. Tua Tagovailoa (2020)
Starts: Nine starts (6-3 record)
Stats: 64% completions, 1,814 yards passing, 11 touchdown passes, 5 interceptions, 3 rushing touchdowns
Overview: As mentioned before, Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie season was a mixed bag. He had very few weapons and was plagued by drops, but didn’t always look comfortable in the pocket and was at times, too willing just to throw the ball in the flat. The No. 5 overall pick from Alabama, Tagovailoa won six of his nine starts and set a Dolphins record for rookie quarterbacks with three rushing touchdowns.
1. Dan Marino (1983)
Starts: Nine starts (7-2 record)
Stats: 58% completions, 2,210 yards passing, 20 touchdown passes, 6 interceptions, 2 rushing touchdowns
Overview: When it comes to Miami quarterbacks, it’s hard to find a list where Dan Marino isn’t No. 1. Marino didn’t take the reins from Woodley until midway through the 1983 season, but led the Dolphins to an AFC East title. Despite making just nine starts, Marino finished 11th in the NFL in touchdown passes and third in passer rating. Miami averaged 27 points per game in Marino’s starts, which would’ve led the AFC. Marino would spend all 17 years of his career with Miami and retire as the NFL’s all-time leader in every major passing category.