Top 5 Miami Dolphins Quarterbacks of All Time

Andrew Harner

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback in the history of the Dolphins, and it will take a special talent to dismount him from the top spot.© ROBERT DEUTSCH, USA TODAY

Who Are the Greatest Quarterbacks in Dolphins History?

In the 1970s, the Dolphins were one of the most successful NFL franchises, and much of that success could be attributed to the Hall of Fame quarterback at the helm of the offense, Bob Griese. The franchise then remained one of the top teams throughout most of the 1980s and '90s as another Hall of Famer, Dan Marino, built a legacy as the most prolific passer in the sport's history. Over the Dolphins' first 34 seasons, the franchise made 19 playoff appearances and won a pair of Super Bowls behind offenses powered primarily by these two Hall of Famers.

In the seasons where neither Griese nor Marino was guiding the offense, several other quarterbacks led the team through memorable postseason runs.

In the past 20 seasons, however, Miami has been to the playoffs only four times and won just a single postseason gameall while shuffling through 21 starting quarterbacks. The franchise has been trying to find a new quarterback who will lead them to another glorious stretch of successand in fact, they hope they've done so with 2020 first-round draft pick Tua Tagovailoa.

A list of the five greatest Dolphins quarterbacks of all time follows, including a handful of honorable mentions. You'll also find franchise records among quarterbacks, as well as statistics for every quarterback that has ever played for the Dolphins since the AFL franchise was born in 1966.

Selection Criteria

  • Legacy Honors (Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, retired number, etc.)
  • Single Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, league leader, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (winning percentage, winning seasons, playoff appearances, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with the Dolphins, percentage of career with the Dolphins, etc.)

Only games played with the Dolphins are factored into this list, so while Bernie Kosar is a prime candidate for a list about the Browns, his two starts and 987 yards with Miami won't make the cut here.

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill attempts a pass in a 2018 game against the Jaguars.© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ryan Tannehill

  • Years With the Dolphins: 201218
  • Regular Season Record: 4246

Ryan Tannehill was the first quarterback selected by the Dolphins in the first round of a draft since Dan Marino, but he looked like he could handle that pressure in his rookie season. He won his second start, threw for a franchise rookie record 431 yards in Week 4 against the Cardinals and by season's end, sat atop the team's rookie record book for passing yards (3,294), attempts (484) and completions (282).

He eclipsed the 4,000-yard passing mark in 2014 and '15. His best game in those seasons came against the Texans in 2015, when he posted a perfect passer rating and completed his first 18 passes. Tannehill helped put the Dolphins in position to make the 2016 postseason, but he was unable to play in the playoffs due to a torn ACL, an injury that caused him to miss all of the '17 season, as well. He didn't play a full season in 2018, but he left fans with a fond memory when he completed the Miami Miracle pass that led to a double-lateral and touchdown as time expired to upset the Patriots.

Tannehill was traded to the Titans before the 2019 season, leaving him third all-time in team history with 20,434 yards and 123 touchdowns. He holds the franchise record among quarterbacks with more than 600 attempts by completing 62.8% of his passes (1,829 of 2,911).

Ryan Tannehill: Dolphins Stats

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

2012

16

16

7–9

282

484

3294

12

13

2013

16

16

8–8

355

588

3913

24

17

2014

16

16

8–8

392

590

4045

27

12

2015

16

16

6–10

363

586

4208

24

12

2016

13

13

8–5

261

389

2995

19

12

2018

11

11

5–6

176

274

1979

17

9

4. Don Strock

  • Years With the Dolphins: 197487
  • Regular Season Record: 146
  • Playoff Appearances: 197879, 198182, '84

Don Strock is among the longest-tenured Dolphins of all time. He spent most of his time backing up Hall of Fame quarterbacks Bob Griese and Dan Marino, but when he was called upon to start, he knew how to deliver. Strock was a member of two Super Bowl squads and posted a 164 mark in his starts for Miami. In the regular season, he completed 388 of 688 passes for 4,613 yards and 39 touchdowns.

The finest game of his career came in a 1981 AFC divisional round playoff game, when he came off the bench and nearly erased Miami's 240 deficit against the Chargers. Strock threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns, but the Chargers prevailed 4138 in overtime in one of the greatest games in NFL history.

Don Strock: Dolphins Stats

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

1974

1

0

0–0

0

0

0

0

0

1975

6

3

2–1

26

45

230

2

2

1976

4

1

1–0

21

47

359

3

2

1977

4

0

0–0

2

4

12

0

1

1978

16

7

5–2

72

135

825

12

6

1979

16

4

3–1

56

100

830

6

6

1980

16

2

1–1

30

62

313

1

5

1981

16

1

0–1

79

130

901

6

8

1982

9

0

0–0

30

55

306

2

5

1983

15

2

2–0

34

52

403

4

1

1984

16

0

0–0

4

6

27

0

0

1985

16

0

0–0

7

9

141

1

0

1986

16

0

0–0

14

20

152

2

0

1987

12

0

0–0

13

23

114

0

1

3. Earl Morrall

  • Years With the Dolphins: 197276
  • Regular Season Record: 111
  • Playoff Appearances: 1972
  • Playoff Record: 20
  • All-Pro: 1972

When Earl Morrall came to the Dolphins in 1972, it was to reunite with coach Don Shula and serve as the backup to future Hall of Famer Bob Griese. Little did anyone know, however, Morrall would become the primary quarterback for the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, the only team in NFL history to complete a 170 season.

While Griese recovered from injuries during the 1972 season, Morrall started 11 games and led the Dolphins to a pair of playoff victories. Griese, however, would return for the Super Bowl. In 1975, Morrall started against the Patriots, and at age 41 became the oldest quarterback to win a start. In five seasons with the Dolphins, Morrall completed 153 of 284 passes for 2,335 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Earl Morrall: Dolphins Stats

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

1972

14

9

9–0

83

150

1360

11

7

1973

14

1

0–1

17

38

253

0

4

1974

14

1

1–0

17

27

301

2

3

1975

13

1

1–0

26

43

273

3

2

1976

14

0

0–0

10

26

148

1

1

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Former Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese observes the team prior to a 2018 game against the Titans.© Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2. Bob Griese

  • Years With the Dolphins: 196780
  • Regular Season Record: 92-56-3
  • Playoff Appearances: 197074, '78, '79
  • Playoff Record: 65
  • Pro Bowl: 1967, '68, '70, '71, '73, '74, '77, '78
  • All-Pro: 1971, '77
  • AFL All-Star: 1967, '68
  • Major Awards: Bert Bell Award (1977)
  • Legacy Honors: Hall of Fame (1990), Dolphins No. 12 retired, Dolphins Honor Roll

The first great player for the Dolphins was Bob Griese, who was also one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL. Griese was known for becoming the first quarterback to lead his team to three straight Super Bowls (197173), and he was a fixture on the Miami offense for 14 seasons. He finished his career in 1980 with 92 victories, and he held every major passing record for the franchise at the time of his retirement.

In 1972, Griese's Dolphins were undefeated through four games, but he suffered a broken leg in Week 5. His backup, Earl Morrall, kept Miami undefeated and won a first-round postseason matchup. When Miami struggled to get the offense moving in the conference title game, Griese came off the bench and led them to a win over Pittsburghand then threw a touchdown as Miami defeated Washington in Super Bowl VII to complete an undefeated season. Griese and the Dolphins defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl VIII the next season.

Throughout the 1970s, the Dolphins had the second-best winning percentage in the NFL, and much of the credit for that went to Griese's guidance of the offense. He retired after completing 1,926 of 3,429 passes for 25,092 yards and 192 touchdowns, and he is tied for the single-game franchise record of six touchdown passes.

Bob Griese: Dolphins Stats

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

1967

12

10

3–7

166

331

2005

15

18

1968

13

13

5-7-1

186

355

2473

21

16

1969

9

9

2-6-1

121

252

1695

10

16

1970

14

14

10–4

142

245

2019

12

17

1971

14

13

9-3-1

145

263

2089

19

9

1972

6

5

5–0

53

97

638

4

4

1973

13

13

12–1

116

218

1422

17

8

1974

13

13

10–3

152

253

1968

16

15

1975

10

10

7–3

118

191

1693

14

13

1976

13

13

5–8

162

272

2097

11

12

1977

14

14

10–4

180

307

2252

22

13

1978

11

9

6–3

148

235

1791

11

11

1979

14

12

7–5

176

310

2160

14

16

1980

5

3

1–2

61

100

790

6

4

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino holds his commemorative ball during a halftime ceremony at Sun Life Stadium in 2015 after being named a member of the franchise's all-time team.© Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

1. Dan Marino

  • Years With the Dolphins: 198399
  • Regular Season Record: 14793
  • Playoff Appearances: 198385, '90, '92, '94, '95, 199799
  • Playoff Record: 810
  • Pro Bowl: 198387, '91, '92, '94, '95
  • All-Pro: 198486
  • Major Awards: MVP (1984), Offensive Player of the Year (1984), Comeback Player of the Year (1994), Man of the Year (1998)
  • Legacy Honors: Hall of Fame (2005), NFL 100th Anniversary Team, Dolphins No. 13 retired, Dolphins Honor Roll

After an extraordinary 17-year career, Dan Marino retired as the best quarterback in Dolphins history as well as the greatest NFL passing quarterback of all time. When he retired in 1999, he held a slew of NFL recordsand while many of those have been eclipsed by quarterbacks in the pass-happy offenses that overtook the league, Marino is still regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He pushed the Dolphins into the postseason 10 times.

Marino was a steal for the Dolphins, who selected him at No. 27 in the 1983 NFL Draft. That draft famously saw five other quarterbacks selected in the first roundincluding fellow Hall of Famers John Elway and Jim Kelly. In 1984, Marino was named the league's MVP after posting the greatest season ever seen by a quarterback. His career-highs of 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns were NFL records at the time and remain franchise records. In the AFC championship game, he threw 421 yards and four touchdowns to advance to his only Super Bowl.

Into the 1990s, Marino continued to keep the Dolphins relevant and regularly in the postseason. He'd become the first quarterback ever to throw for 50,000 yards, as well as the first to fire 400 career touchdowns. Many years likely will go by before a quarterback eclipses Marino's career records with the Dolphins. Throughout 242 games, he completed 4,967 of 8,358 passes for 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns. Each of those marks were NFL records when he retired, and all currently rank fifth all-time in league history. Marino played in 18 postseason matchups, completing 385 of 687 passes for 4,510 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Dan Marino: Dolphins Stats

Year
G
GS
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

1983

11

9

7–2

173

296

2210

20

6

1984

16

16

14–2

362

564

5084

48

17

1985

16

16

12–4

336

567

4137

30

21

1986

16

16

8–8

378

623

4746

44

23

1987

12

12

7–5

263

444

3245

26

13

1988

16

16

6–10

354

606

4434

28

23

1989

16

16

8–8

308

550

3997

24

22

1990

16

16

12–4

306

531

3563

21

11

1991

16

16

8–8

318

549

3970

25

13

1992

16

16

11–5

330

554

4116

24

16

1993

5

5

4–1

91

150

1218

8

3

1994

16

16

10–6

385

615

4453

30

17

1995

14

14

9–5

309

482

3668

24

15

1996

13

13

7–6

221

373

2795

17

9

1997

16

16

9–7

319

548

3780

16

11

1998

16

16

10–6

310

537

3497

23

15

1999

11

11

5–6

204

369

2448

12

17

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Chad Henne walks to the field during training camp in 2019. From 2008 to '11, he was a quarterback for the Dolphins and became a journeyman backup after leaving Florida.© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions

Though the best quarterbacks in Dolphins history are featured above, the following players also left an indelible mark on team history.

David Woodley (198083)

As the 214th selection in the 1980 NFL Draft, David Woodley was a literal afterthought going into his rookie season. Entering the preseason as the fourth quarterback on the depth chart, Woodley could hardly have envisioned making the team, let alone taking over for a Hall of Famer and eventually leading the Dolphins to a Super Bowl. After a trade and two injuries in 1980, Woodley got the starting job in Week 4, and by Week 7 he was cemented as the starter. He wouldn't relinquish the job until 1983 when Hall of Famer Dan Marino was drafted and took over five games into the season. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, Woodley became the youngest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl. He completed 508 of 961 passes for 5,928 yards and 34 touchdowns with the Dolphins.

Jay Fiedler (200004)

Jay Fiedler was tasked with the near-impossible in 2000take over the starting quarterback role from legendary Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who had retired in 1999 as the NFL's all-time leading passer. Working in tandem with a stellar defense, Fiedler did enough to get the Dolphins into the postseason in each of his first two seasons, and he remains the last Miami quarterback to win a playoff game. In 62 games with the Dolphins, he completed 936 of 1,603 passes for 11,040 yards and 66 touchdowns. All of those marks rank fourth in franchise history.

Chad Henne (200811)

The Dolphins drafted Chad Henne with the intention of turning him into the next great quarterback in team history, but he struggled with injuries and never reached superstar status when healthy. He recorded a career-high 416 yards against the Patriots in 2011, but never threw for more than two touchdowns in a game. Still, he's among the statistical career leaders in franchise history, despite only playing for four seasons. In 31 starts, Henne completed 646 of 1,065 passes for 7,114 yards and 31 touchdowns.

top-5-miami-dolphins-quarterbacks-of-all-time
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick dives past the goal line for a touchdown against the Colts. After starting a game in 2019, he became the 20th player to start for the Dolphins since Hall of Famer Dan Marino retired in 1999.© Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins Quarterback Facts and Trivia

Here are a handful of facts and trivia about Dolphins quarterbacks.

How many starting quarterbacks have the Dolphins had?

The Dolphins have used 36 starting quarterbacks throughout their 54-year history.

How many quarterbacks has the franchise drafted?

In total, the Dolphins have drafted 28 quarterbacks.

Who is the current starting quarterback for Miami?

Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is the incumbent starting quarterback for the franchise. The Dolphins selected Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5 in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he served as the backup.

Who was the first quarterback for the Dolphins?

Dick Wood was the first starting quarterback for the franchise, though he was replaced in the second week of the season by rookie Rick Norton.

How many quarterbacks have the Dolphins had since Dan Marino retired?

Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have used 21 starting quarterbacks in 20 seasons, and they may see a 22nd in 2020 after drafting Tua Tagovailoa in the first round. That's a stark contrast to the franchise's first 34 seasons, when only 16 different quarterbacks were used as a starter.

The Dolphins were spoiled by finding Hall of Famer Bob Griese so early in franchise history. They then doubled down on the spoils when they drafted Marino just three seasons after Griese retired. From Griese's debut season of 1967 to Marino's final season in '99, only three other quarterbacks served as the primary starter for the Dolphins (Earl Morrall in 1972, David Woodley from 1980 to '82, and Scott Mitchell in 1993).

First-Round Draft Picks

The Dolphins have selected five quarterbacks in the first round of the NFL draft, but they have never taken a quarterback with the No. 1 pick.

  • 2020: Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5)
  • 2012: Ryan Tannehill (No. 8)
  • 1983: Dan Marino (No. 23)
  • 1967: Bob Griese (No. 4)
  • 1966: Rick Norton (No. 2)

Dolphins Quarterback Records

  • Career Yards: 61,361, Dan Marino (198399)
  • Single Season Yards: 5,084, Marino (1984)
  • Single Game Yards: 521, Marino (Oct. 23, 1988)
  • Career Touchdowns: 420, Marino (198399)
  • Single Season Touchdowns: 48, Marino (1984)
  • Single Game Touchdowns: 6, Marino (Sept. 21, 1986); and Bob Griese (Nov. 24, 1977)
  • Career Completion Percentage: 62.8%, Ryan Tannehill (201218)
  • Single Season Completion Percentage: 67.4%, Chad Pennington (2008)
  • Single Game Completion Percentage: 94.7%, Tannehill (Oct. 25, 2015)

Dolphins QB Stats: Complete History

Player
From
To
G
Record
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
Int

Dick Wood

1966

1966

14

0–4

83

230

993

4

14

Rick Norton

1966

1969

31

1–10

156

377

1751

6

30

John Stofa

1966

1970

17

2–0

61

135

862

7

6

George Wilson

1966

1966

14

2–5

46

112

764

5

10

Bob Griese

1967

1980

161

92-56-3

1926

3429

25092

192

172

Archie Roberts

1967

1967

1

5

10

11

0

1

Kim Hammond

1968

1968

3

13

26

116

0

2

George Mira

1971

1971

6

1–0

11

30

159

1

1

Earl Morrall

1972

1976

69

11–1

153

284

2335

17

17

Jim Del Gaizo

1972

1972

4

5

9

165

2

1

Don Strock

1974

1987

163

14–6

388

688

4613

39

37

Guy Benjamin

1978

1979

7

9

12

119

1

1

David Woodley

1980

1983

42

27-12-1

508

961

5928

34

42

Dan Marino

1983

1999

242

147–93

4967

8358

61361

420

252

Kyle Mackey

1987

1987

3

1–2

57

109

604

3

5

Scott Stankavage

1987

1987

3

4

7

8

0

1

Ron Jaworski

1988

1988

16

9

14

123

1

0

Scott Secules

1989

1991

45

33

70

393

2

5

Scott Mitchell

1991

1993

31

3–4

135

241

1805

12

9

Steve DeBerg

1993

1993

5

2–2

113

188

1521

6

7

Doug Pederson

1993

1993

7

4

8

41

0

0

Bernie Kosar

1994

1996

14

0–2

105

152

987

5

6

Dan McGwire

1995

1995

1

0

1

0

0

0

Craig Erickson

1996

1997

9

1–2

68

127

945

4

3

Damon Huard

1998

2000

34

5–1

170

288

1691

9

8

Scott Zolak

1999

1999

1

0

4

0

0

0

Jay Fiedler

2000

2004

62

36–23

936

1603

11040

66

63

Ray Lucas

2001

2002

17

2–4

94

163

1090

4

6

Sage Rosenfels

2002

2005

13

0–2

54

109

776

6

6

Brian Griese

2003

2003

5

3–2

74

130

813

5

6

A.J. Feeley

2004

2004

11

3–5

191

356

1893

11

15

Gus Frerotte

2005

2005

16

9–6

257

494

2996

18

13

Daunte Culpepper

2006

2006

4

1–3

81

134

929

2

3

Cleo Lemon

2006

2007

13

1–7

211

377

2185

8

7

Joey Harrington

2006

2006

11

5–6

223

388

2236

12

15

John Beck

2007

2007

5

0–4

60

107

559

1

3

Trent Green

2007

2007

5

0–5

85

141

987

5

7

Chad Pennington

2008

2010

20

12–8

373

552

4085

20

9

Chad Henne

2008

2011

36

13–18

646

1065

7114

31

37

Tyler Thigpen

2009

2010

6

0–1

37

70

518

3

4

Pat White

2009

2009

13

0

5

0

0

0

Matt Moore

2011

2017

27

8–9

359

591

4298

29

19

J.P. Losman

2011

2011

2

6

10

60

0

0

Ryan Tannehill

2012

2018

88

42–46

1829

2911

20434

123

75

Jay Cutler

2017

2017

14

6–8

266

429

2666

19

14

David Fales

2017

2017

2

29

43

265

1

1

Brock Osweiler

2018

2018

7

2–3

113

178

1247

6

4

Josh Rosen

2019

2019

6

0–3

58

109

567

1

5

Ryan Fitzpatrick

2019

2019

15

5–8

311

502

3529

20

13

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