NFL Miami Dolphins

Dan Marino: Best NFL QB Ever

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

I am 37 years old. If you are younger than me then I envy your youth, but it could mean that you were not witness to the 17 Hall Of Fame career of Dan Marino. This article is a look at why I consider Marino the best Quarterback ever...I come across conversations often about who is the best QB so I submit the following for your consideration...

Marino at one time or another has held 31 NFL passing records. We will look at his career, and we will look at the fact that Marino put up mega passing numbers, consistently, during a 17 year stretch where no one else was doing what he was doing. We will look at some stats, and some modern-era QBs info to get a look at Marino's status historically.

For starters, his arm strength and quick release, combined with his elusiveness in the pocket gave Marino an amazing skill set. Countless pass-rushers were frustrated snap-after-snap as they could get this close to Marino, only to have that quick release of his render their pass-rush mute. His football IQ combined with those skills to the tune of 61,000+ yards and 420 career TD passes

Envision that you are the head coach and/or defensive coordinator in the Marino era. On your schedule this week are the Dolphins. When putting together your defensive game-plan, and explaining to the players the main points, what is written on the chalkboard\whiteboard? For a whopping 17 years opponents of the Miami Dolphins walked into those strategy sessions every single week and the #1 thing written on the board was "Dan Marino". Every coach and coordinator put together game plans\schemes set-up to stop Marino specifically, and for 17 years, he amazingly shredded those defenses

And there is more... for all of my Miami Dolphins articles...Follow me on twitter @craigballard77 and the new sports show @RantingBenCraig

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Several of Marino's records are falling in recent years. This is because the NFL is in an unprecedented passing-era. When Marino was putting up his numbers (record numbers) he was doing it in an era where no one was passing with anywhere near the success Marino enjoyed.

If you did not see Marino play, check out these #s...

From 1984 to 1999 (Marino's 17 seasons) there were a total of 31 QB seasons with 4,000+ passing yards (Marino responsible for 6 of those, plus throw in 2 seasons with 33 total yards keeping him under 4,000). Marino was the only QB ever with a season north of 5,000 yards. In the past 4 years alone the NFL has had 31 QB seasons of 4,000+, and 4 of those went north of 5,000. More passing yards going on these past 4 years (and counting) than in the entire 17 year Marino-era. Wow.

All due respect to the careers-in-progress of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees. And all due respect to the recently ended (record setting) career of Brett Favre...but...These guys put up massive #s in an era where a lot of QBs were putting up massive #s. It is like in MLB when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig hit 60 and 47 home runs in 1927, the next highest was 18. These two were awesome when no one else was being awesome. Marino was torching defenses when no one else was torching defenses. Consistently too. These days a lot of QBs torch defenses!

The days of pass-first and have multiple WRs in on each formation are here, and have been for about a decade+ now. Marino's days were not like that at all. for all of my Miami Dolphins articles...Follow me on twitter @craigballard77 and the new sports show @RantingBenCraig is every Saturday from 8-9pm ET on

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Other QBs have put up numbers over the years too, but those guys had help. The sort of help not available to Dan Marino. Any other historic QB you could mention had (at some point, or for entire career), an outstanding running game to the point where teams had to game plan to stop the run as much as the pass. Other great QBs also had Hall Of Fame WRs and great TEs to throw to, plus legendary offensive lines to protected them.

If you were game planning for the San Francisco 49ers of the Joe Montana-era your chalkboard would of course have Montana on there, but you were also going to have to account for a running game of Roger Craig and Tom Rathman behind a great offensive line (maybe best ever). There is also going to have be a plan for TE Brent Jones. Add WR John Taylor to the mix. We know Montana also had the greatest WR ever in Hall Of Fame inductee Jerry Rice.

Against Troy Aikman and the Dallas Cowboys you had to deal with an amazing offensive line who opened holes for Hall Of Fame RB Emmit Smith . Add Moose Johnston and TE Jay Novacek, plus how about another Hall Of Fame WR in Michael Irvin. Weapons-galore. Another example where you cannot just try to stop one guy (aka Marino).

Some will want to make a case for John Elway. Wonderful QB. Wonderful career. Worthy of mention, but he too benefited from more talent around him then Marino ever had. RB Terrell Davis had a string of seasons for Elway and the Broncos that were up there on a historic level. Davis was awesome, and how about Hall Of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe. Throw offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman in the mix as yet another Hall Of Fame inductee helping these historic QBs.

How about Favre? His career was clearly wonderful, but the last few seasons were damaging to Favre as he threw too many interceptions overall, and especially in key-situations. Favre now owns most of the passing records but the fact that he has done it in so many more games, and the interception reputation he has will likely hurt his best ever chances. Favre had guys helping him out, and guys you had to game-plan for. As a Green Bay Packers QB Favre benefited from 9 seasons where his RB went for 1,000+ rushing yards. Marino had that only 1 time.

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Only one time in Dan Marino's 17 year career did he have a 1,000 yard rusher. Karim Abdul-Jabbar had 1,116 in 1996, but his 3.6 yards-per-carry average is amongst the lowest ever for a 1,000 yard rusher. The only reason Abdul-Jabbar even reached 1,000 is because head coach Jimmy Johnson committed to the run even though it did not have much success.

Take a look at the leading rushers Marino had over his career. Is there a name on this list that you would game-plan for ahead of Marino? Tony Nathan, Troy Stradford, Lorenzo Hampton, Sammie Smith (pictured above fumbling the football as he attempts to score a TD vs Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers in 1991...I remember this play and I can tell you the Oilers recovered the fumble and took it back 99 yards for a defensive TD! Ouch) Mark Higgs, Bernie Parmalee, Abdul-Jabbar, J.J. Johnson. Quite the underwhelming list, but despite it Marino was still able to romp.

Tom Brady has had 3 1,000+ yard rushers (and counting?).

Peyton Manning has had 9 seasons where he was supported by 1,000+ yard rushers. He has done this through 4 different RBs (and counting?).

Brett Favre had 3 different RBs provide him with 9 seasons north of 1,000 rushing yards.

Joe Montana had 4 seasons where his RB went for over 1,000+ rushing yards, plus Tom Rathman (and he also had 1 season where Roger Craig and Joe Cribbs combined for over 1,400 rushing yards).

Troy Aikman got a whopping 10 seasons from Emmitt Smith where Smith went for over 1,000 rushing yards.

John Elway used 4 different RBs over his Denver Broncos career to help him with 8 seasons on 1,000+ yards rushing.

We see that there are/were plenty of other players to game-plan for in addition to having to game-plan for these fine QBs. Marino had no other players who required attention. For 17 seasons the focus was solely on him. The defenses were designed to solely stop him. Yet there he was dissecting and torching those defenses for 17 years. Awesome.

Thank you for your read! Pass it on...

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Inevitably the knock against Marino as a best ever candidate is the fact that Dan was a part of zero Super Bowl winners. In my opinion there are three units on a NFL team. 11 men on each unit, plus in-total a 53-man roster. Marino was 1 player on one 11 man unit. Can 1 player out of 53, or 1 player on a 11-man unit be thee difference between winning the championship or not?

Marino never made a tackle a day in his life, or more importantly missed a key tackle. Marino never made a game-winning field goal a day in his life, or missed one in a critical point of a critical game. All Dan could be is 1 player on an 11-man unit. It was not Marino's fault that the Miami defenses consistently stunk. There are examples such as Pete Stoyanovich missing a game winning Field Goal to send Miami to the 1994 AFC Championship game. 1 person cannot carry you to a Super Bowl.

Check these calculations as an example of my point here...

In Marino's 17 years as a Dolphin the defense averaged being ranked #18 in the NFL. A) that is clearly bad, and B) remember much of this was in a 28 team NFL so the bad defensive numbers are magnified even further.

From 1984 to 1999 (Marino's career) the average rank of the Super Bowl champs defense was Top 5. Again Miami was ranked #18.

Even if you add in the dozen Super Bowl winners since Marino retired we see the average defense is still in the Top 10. Again, Marino's average defense was allll the way down at #18 (average...Bottom 5 a whopping 5 times...No wonder the 'Phins did not stack Super Bowls in the Marino-era)

If Super Bowl victories are the be-all-and-end-all in your best ever QB analysis then that means you have Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Mark Rypien, Jim McMahon, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler in the same breath as Dan Marino (if not elevated above Marino as they have won Super Bowls) and that just can't possibly be accurate. ...@craigballard77...@RantingBenCraig

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Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Dan Marino = Best QB Ever

Despite retired on the eve of the passing-era Marino still has not been caught in several NFL QB records

Most games of 400+ passing yards (13).

Only QB ever with multiple 40+ TD seasons.

51 game-winning drives in 4th quarter, or OT. (as usual the situation calls for the defense to defend the Marino passing attack, but as usual he is too darn good for them).

Marino led the league in completions 6 times (NFL record).

It took Marino just 44 games to get to 100 career TD passes, and 89 games to reach 200 TD passes (both are NFL records that still stand).

He is tied for quickest ever to 300 TDs with Peyton Manning (157 games)

A lot of Marino's records were eclipsed by Brett Favre. Not so much because Favre was better, but his longevity allowed for most of those records to become his. Favre played 302 games, which is 60 games more than Marino, or almost 4 full seasons more.

Most seasons leading the league in passing yards (6).

Most games in a season with 4+ TD passes (6 in 1984...tied with Peyton who also had 6 such games in 2004)

30,000 career yards in just 114 games (tied for best ever here with Kurt Warner, and remember Warner ushered in the passing-era with the greatest show on turf. Ironically that started with the 1999 St. Louis Rams which is the season Marino retired).

Ultimately I do know that I may remain in the minority with thinking that Dan Marino is the best QB ever, but I do hope that I have at least provided you with things that you perhaps had not considered otherwise. Food for thought is usually a good thing! for all of my Miami Dolphins articles