When we all rung in the new year back on January 1st, we also said goodbye to another decade. As part of our "Decade in Review" series, I wanted to take a quick look back at each Miami Dolphins team/season from 2000 through 2009 and rank them. Why? Well, why the hell not?
So what's the criteria here? It's clearly subjective. You could rank the teams simply on record if you'd like. You could rank the teams on how enjoyable the season was. Or how disappointing it was. It's totally up to you.
My rankings are below, with a short paragraph explaining why. Be sure to tell us your own rankings as well.
Number 10: The 2007 Dolphins (1-15)
This one is easy. Not only were the 2007 Dolphins the worst team in the decade, they put together the worst season in franchise history. While they did lose six games by just thee points, there's still no excuse for the kind of dreadful season we had to go through. Cam Cameron looked completely overwhelmed as head coach and the Dolphins were lucky to even get the one win they did get.
Number 9: The 2004 Dolphins (4-12)
The year began with Ricky Williams and his surprise "retirement." And it ended with just four wins. But in between, we did at least get to witness a miraculous win on Monday Night Football over the Patriots late in the season. And Dave Wannstedt did step down. So it wasn't all bad.
Number 8: The 2006 Dolphins (6-10)
Many fans had high hopes for the '06 season. Nick Saban had just led the '05 team to six consecutive wins to close the season and we had a shiny new quarterback named Daunte Culpepper who was supposed to be the missing piece. The year ended with Saban showing how much of a coward he is by lying about his interest in the Alabama coaching job and then high-tailing it out of town as soon as the season was over. At least Jason Taylor won the AP Defensive Player of the Year award, though.
Number 7: The 2002 Dolphins (9-7)
A season that started out with so much promise ended with such disappointment. Ricky Williams had just come to Miami and set a franchise record with over 1,800 rushing yards. The Fins started off by winning five of their first six. Then, at 9-5, fans were thinking playoffs. That is, until the Dolphins lost their final two games (to the Vikings and Patriots) - both by three points. Wannstedt showed how bad of a coach he was in that season finale, with bad play calling and decision making leading to Miami blowing an 11 point fourth quarter lead. Ugh.
Number 6: The 2005 Dolphins (9-7)
It was Saban's first year and we all had high hopes for the direction of this team. Their 24 point blowout win to open the season only strengthened those feelings. But a rocky mid-season hurt the Dolphins and kept the team out of the playoffs despite winning their final six games.
Number 5: The 2009 Dolphins (7-9)
If nothing else, this past season was definitely an entertaining season. It was a roller coaster ride, to be exact. But in all the ups and downs, we got a chance to see some possible glimpses into the future - with guys like Chad Henne, Brian Hartline, Sean Smith, and Vontae Davis making their first career starts. But their disappointing end to the year cost this team - and hurt how we'll all reflect back on this season in the future.
Number 4: The 2003 Dolphins (10-6)
This has to be one of the most unlucky teams in franchise history. Ricky Williams put together his second terrific season and led the Dolphins to a 10-6 record that included an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys. But an opening day loss at home to the Texans by one point turned out to cost the Dolphins a playoff appearance.
Number 3: The 2001 Dolphins (11-5)
This team got off to a great 9-3 start and were lead by a talented defense that finished the year ranked 5th in the league in yards allowed. Jay Fiedler was also solid, if unspectacular. But they split their final four games, costing this team the division title and a first round bye. They then hosted the Ravens on Wildcard Weekend and got totally dominated by Baltimore's defense.
Number 2: The 2000 Dolphins (11-5)
Again, this team got off to a hot start, winning eight of their first ten games. But they split their final six, barely holding on to win the AFC East. Then behind one of the greatest single game performances in franchise playoff history, Lamar Smith ran for 209 yards rushing and two touchdowns - including the game-winning touchdown in overtime - to lead the Dolphins past the Colts. Unfortunately, the team was crushed by the Raiders the following week to end any potential playoff run.
Number 1: The 2008 Dolphins (11-5)
By far, this was the single most enjoyable season of my lifetime - mostly because of how improbable it was. Coming off the worst season in franchise history, Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown (and, of course, the 'Wildcat') led the Dolphins to 11 wins and the most unexpected division title in team history. And to win the division, Pennington had to go on the road in week 17 back to the Meadowlands and knock off the team that had just kicked him to the curb just months earlier. I don't have to explain it - you all witnessed it. Simply amazing - and nothing can take that division title away from us.