Brandon Marshall on Dolphins tenure: 'We were a quarterback away'

DAVIE, Fla. -- Five-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall provided a candid analysis of his tenure with the Miami Dolphins on Wednesday. He put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons but those Dolphins teams were a combined 13-19 (.406 win percentage) in 2010 and 2011.

“On the football field I think we were a quarterback away from having a [good] team,” Marshall said bluntly on a conference call with the Miami media. “I think our defense were studs. Offensively, maybe we were missing a piece on the O-line. But Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, myself, Reggie Bush, I really thought we had a young group of guys that really could have done some special things if we came together. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that opportunity.”

Marshall’s statement was an immediate flashback to the Tony Sparano era. Marshall, who plays the Dolphins Sunday, had some rocky times on and off the field in Miami and didn’t get along with former teammate and quarterback Chad Henne.

Clearly, Marshall hasn't forgotten about Henne flaming out in Miami, despite both players moving on to other teams. Henne is now a backup quarterback with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

But Marshall is clearly a happier person now that he's moved on to Chicago. (“I love Chicago,” Marshall said.) He’s playing with a talented quarterback in Jay Cutler. The pair grew together with the Denver Broncos and reunited in Chicago. Marshall’s numbers got even better with Cutler. He’s caught at least 100 passes his first two seasons with the Bears.

Even with an inconsistent Henne and a few other quarterbacks, Marshall had 167 receptions, 2,228 yards and nine touchdowns with the Dolphins. Marshall also made the Pro Bowl with Miami in 2011.

So why did the Dolphins trade Marshall to the Bears for two third-round picks before the 2012 season?

“That was a long time ago,” said Miami coach Joe Philbin, who traded Marshall upon his arrival. “We just felt like, at that point where we were as a program and organizationally, an opportunity came and that was the decision we came to.”

The conventional line of thinking is Marshall’s strong and outspoken personality led to his trade, especially in Philbin’s first year where he needed to establish his program.

Marshall was asked Wednesday if he was surprised by the trade?

“Um, was I surprised?” Marshall said after a long pause and sigh. “I was surprised but I was happy at the same time once Jeff Ireland told me where I was going. I thought it was best for me and my family.”

The Bears clearly got the best of the trade. Chicago is reaping the rewards of a more mature Marshall, who credits his two up-and-down years in Miami as part of what made him the receiver he is today.

“For me, I learned so much in Miami. I grew so much,” Marshall said. “I wish we could have made it work, but we didn’t.”