It’s been 29 years since the Miami Dolphins last played in a Super Bowl. It has been 40 years since Miami actually won the big game on Jan. 13, 1974.
The Dolphins and their fans are rightfully proud of their two Lombardi Trophies. The team proudly displays both in the front lobby of its training facility. You also constantly hear about the glory days when the Dolphins were a dominant franchise that consistently competed for championships.
However, four decades have passed since Miami’s last championship, and nearly three decades since its last Super Bowl appearance. The Dolphins’ run at the top of the NFL has become a distant memory.
What will it take for Miami to get back to its once-elite status? ESPN.com’s Dolphins page has some suggestions:
Stability at head coach: The Dolphins had Don Shula, one of the greatest head coaches of all-time, at the helm during their glory years. Shula brought smarts, motivation and stability to the head-coaching position in Miami. He coached the undefeated Dolphins during the 1972 season, the Super Bowl champs again in 1973, and the two appearances in the early 1980s. Since Shula retired in 1995, Miami has gone through a litany of bad head coaches. Nick Saban, Cam Cameron and Tony Sparano all failed in Miami. Current Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is 15-17 in two seasons. It remains to be seen if Philbin is the long-term solution.
Long-term solution at quarterback: In today’s NFL, you must have an answer at quarterback. Dan Marino provided stability in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, the Dolphins have played the game of revolving doors over the years with quarterbacks such as Chad Henne, Cleo Lemon, Joey Harrington, Jay Feely and Jay Fiedler. They hope 2012 first-round pick Ryan Tannehill is the answer. He’s shown promise, but also some holes in his game. Tannehill will get a third season to prove he’s the guy. If not, Miami must look elsewhere to find their long-term solution, especially now with the NFL increasingly becoming a heavy passing league.
A better front office: Talent evaluation is a huge part of a team’s long-term success, and the Dolphins have been hit and miss in that department over the years. Miami needs a general manager who is consistently adding talent and helping provide the identity of a team. What was Miami’s identity last year? The Dolphins weren’t an offensive team or a defensive team. They didn’t pass the ball well, run the ball well, or consistently stop the pass or run. The front office needs to work with the coaching staff to bring everyone together for one mission and one focus.
These are issues three decades of owners, coaches and players have yet to figure out. Miami was 8-8 last season and made a little progress from 2012. But there is still plenty of work to be done, including the hiring of a new general manager after recently parting ways with Jeff Ireland.