Miami Dolphins Since 12/30/2000
The Miami Dolphins last won a playoff game on December 30, 2000. On that date, the Fins beat the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 23 to 17 in overtime. That victory came the first year after Dan Marino so it was looking like maybe that life without Dan was going to be as bad as we all feared. That turned out to be false hope. Miami got eliminated the next week by the Oakland Raiders as they got shutout 27-0. The Dolphins have been shut out of playoff victories ever since.
This is not intended to be negative or positive. It is not going to be a real deep dive into everything but just pointing out some key decisions during this playoff win drought. Missing on QBs along the way is the focus of this blog.
What Has Gone Wrong with the Miami Dolphins Since the Last Playoff Win?
There have been multiple head coaches, multiple general managers, and even two ownership groups since the last playoff win for the Dolphins. So, there is plenty of blame to go around. Miami has only appeared in the postseason 4 times (2001, 2008, 2016, 2022) since that victory against the Colts. They were eliminated in the 1st game in each case.
2001 NFL Draft: The Bumps Begin
As the 2001 NFL Draft was approaching, there were whispers that the Dolphins’ front office (GM Eddie Jones) had an interest in selecting Perdue QB Drew Brees with the team’s first-round pick (Pick 26). Yet, there were also rumors that the head coach, Dave Wannstedt, felt that Miami was close so he wanted to improve on the already solid defense.
Wannstedt got his way and the Dolphins selected DB Jamar Fletcher with their first-round pick. Brees was selected by the San Diego Chargers with the first pick of the second round. It would not be the last time that Miami passed on Brees when given the opportunity. If the Fins had picked Brees, the time between Marino and their next franchise QB would have been short.
2005 NFL Draft
Nick Saban was now coaching the Dolphins. Miami was coming off a 2004 season where Wannstedt was fired during the campaign and was replaced by interim HC Jim Bates. The Dolphins finished 4-12 in 2004. Dolphins fans were hoping that Saban would have the magic that Jimmy Johnson had when he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys after being a championship-winning coach in college.
The thought was that Saban would have the pulse of who was the best among the college prospects entering the 2005 NFL Draft. Due to the poor 2004 season, the Dolphins had the 2nd overall pick of the draft. Once again, fans were hoping for a quarterback. QB Alex Smith went off the board with the first pick of the NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers. We will never know if Miami would have picked Smith if he was on the board.
The Dolphins chose to draft running back, Ronnie Brown out of Auburn. Saban was familiar with Brown since he had coached against him while in the SEC. Brown had even been recruited by LSU while Saban was the coach. It should be noted that Brown was a solid section for the Dolphins, He played in Miami for 6 seasons as part of an 11-year NFL career. However, the Dolphins passed on a quarterback that would have changed the future of the franchise for the better.
The Aaron Rodgers drop during the 2005 NFL Draft is well documented. Miami was not the only team, to pass on Rodgers as many felt he would be a top-10 selection. Rodgers ended up being selected with the 24th pick of the 1st-round by the Green Bay Packers. The Packers already had an All-Pro-level quarterback (Brett Favre) on their roster but they knew the value of the position. Their gap from one franchise QB to the next was going to be 0 seasons. I do not know why Rodgers fell, but Miami missed the boat once again. Their gap between franchise QBs continued.
2006 QB Options
The Dolphins were given a second chance to land Drew Brees but they passed on him for the second time. This one hurts the most to this day of all the moves. Brees wanted to play for Miami and the Dolphins had a glaring need for a QB. He was a free agent so no trade was needed. Seemed like an easy choice but it was not easy for Miami it seems.
Daunte Culpepper was a QB available in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. The Dolphins decided to give the Vikings a second draft pick instead of signing Brees. Brees was only available because his 2005 season had not been as productive as his other ones. Brees also ended up injuring his shoulder in the final game of the regular season. Culpepper was also injured though. He had an injured knee.
Miami decided that a QB with an injured shoulder was riskier than one with an injured knee. It was a bad choice to put it kindly. Brees has a Super Bowl ring and will be wearing a gold jacket in 2026, Culpepper played a grand total of four games as a member of the Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins Since Marino
In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins had the first overall pick of the NFL Draft. They still needed a QB but chose to go with left tackle Jake Long. It is hard to argue with the selection of Long because if not for injuries, he would have had a long career with Miami. He was voted into the Pro Bowl his first 4 seasons as well as one 1st team All-Pro honor.
Matt Ryan was selected with the 3rd overall pick of the draft by the Falcons. Ryan is not at the level of Brees or Rodgers but he would have been an improvement over anyone Miami had at QB since Marino left. The Dolphins did select Chad Henne with of one their 2nd-round selections during this draft.
The main reason I listed this draft was just to show even with a front office change to Bill Parcells/Jeff Ireland. Miami still did not seem to place much emphasis on the need for a high-quality QB. Yes, Ryan would have been a much riskier pick than the Long selection but at times you have to risk it.
Fast Forward to 2012
The Miami Dolphins finally select a QB in the 1st round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The two top-ranked QBs, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were already off the board when Miami was on the clock with the 8th pick. This was the year that most mock drafts were right with their mock drafts. Ryan Tannehill was linked to the Dolphins throughout the draft process. Tannehill was indeed the pick of the Dolphins.
Tannehill was not a bust but never lived up to the status that many fans were expecting of a pick within the top ten. He did get a second contract from Miami and played under two head coaches. Once Adam Gase was fired after the 2018 season, Tannehill was traded to the Tennesse Titans for a 5th-round pick.
Russell Wilson was drafted in the 3rd-round. I just mentioned that part because the word was that the Dolphins liked Wilson but that Ireland preferred bigger QBs.
2020 NFL Draft
You know the story here. The fanbase had been wanting Tua Tagovailoa even when he was still playing for Alabama. Tua sustained a major hip injury in the final season he played at Alabama. It did not damper the desire among fans for the Dolphins to make Tua their selection with the 5th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Dolphins had won too many games in 2019 to have the 1st overall pick which clearly would have been Joe Burrow. Burrow was selected by the Bengals with 1st pick. The Dolphins had the choice among Tua, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love. The choice was Tua. When healthy, Tua has shown signs that he can be a quality starter in the NFL. But, injuries have kept him off the field too often. Herbert has been the more stable starter at this point mainly due to his availability. Love will get his chance to be the starter with the Packers in 2023.
The jury is still out on Tua entering the 2023 NFL season. The coaching staff has done everything possible to show Tua that they have faith in him. The front office has gotten him weapons. If they can develop an OL that can play at high levels then there will be more evidence for the jury to decide Tua’s future. The team has picked up the 5th-year option so they have control of Tua though the 2024 season.
Tell Dolphins Thirsty what you think on here or via Twitter.
You might like: