Historical Perspective Part 3 - 1970

Ronald Martinez

Continuing a re-publication of my Historical Perspective series, looking back at the history of the Miami Dolphins. Today, we go back to the 1967-1969 seasons. This was originally published as a Fan Post March 22, 2009.

Okay, so things start getting better for the Dolphins with the 1970 season. As such, I have expanded these next few posts into single year contributions.

As always, thank you to all of the websites from which I gathered this information. These include. www.pro-football-reference.com, www.miamidolphins.com,www.nfl.com, and www.wikipedia.org. Any that I forgot, I apologize.

1970

A new era was starting for the NFL and for the Miami Dolphins. Suddenly, the AFL had ceased to exist, as the two major football leagues combined to form the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference within the National Football League. At the same time, the Dolphins were searching for a new head coach.

While continuing the coach search, the Dolphins took part in the 1970 NFL Draft, held 27-28, 1970. The first day started off quickly for the Dolphins, as they traded the third overall pick to the Cleveland Browns for Wide Receiver Paul Warfield.

The rest of the draft looked like this:

Rnd

Overall Pick

Name

Position

School

Games Played

Season Stater

All-Pro 1st Team

Pro Bowl

HOF

Remarks

1

3

To Cleveland for WR Paul Warfield

2

29

Jim Mandich

TE

Michigan

119

1

0

0

No

3

55

Tim Foley

DB

Purdue

134

8

0

1

No

4

81

Curtis Johnson

DB

Toledo

125

9

0

0

No

5

107

To New England for LB Nick Buoniconti

6

132

Dave Campbell

DE

Auburn

0

0

0

0

No

7

159

Jake Scott

DB

Georgia

126

9

2

5

No

8

185

Narvel Chavers

RB

Jackson State

0

0

0

0

No

9

211

Hubert Ginn

RB

Florida A&M

90

0

0

0

No

10

237

Dick Nittenger

G

Tampa

0

0

0

0

No

11

263

Brownie Wheless

T

Rice

0

0

0

0

No

12

289

Mike Kolen

LB

Auburn

84

6

0

0

No

13

315

Dave Buddington

RB

Springfield

0

0

0

0

No

14

341

Gary Brackett

G

Holy Cross

0

0

0

0

No

15

367

Pat Hauser

WR

East Tennessee St

0

0

0

0

No

16

393

Charlie Williams

G

Tennessee St

0

0

0

0

No

17

419

George Myles

DT

Morris Brown

0

0

0

0

No

Just under a month after the draft, the Dolphins found their Head Coach. After seven years in Baltimore, during which he compiled a 71-23-4 record and twice got the team to the NFL Championship/Super Bowl (losing the 1964 NFL Championship to the Cleveland Browns 27-0 and Super Bowl III 16-7 to the New York Jets (Joe Namath's guaranteed victory and first for the AFL over the NFL) in the Orange Bowl), the Dolphins introduced Don Shula as the team's Head Coach on February 18th.

The signing of Don Shula proved to be controversial, however. The contract negotiations between team owner Joe Robbie and Don Shula began prior to the official merger of the two leagues, but did not conclude until after the 1969 season's Super Bowl which marked the official merger (January 11). If Shula's hiring had been completed prior to the merger, the hiring would have been an NFL coach being hired by a rival AFL team. However, since both teams were aligned with the NFL at the time of the hiring, the Baltimore Colts immediately filed tampering charges against the Dolphins. On April 13th, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle awarded the Dolphins' first round draft pick in 1971 to the Colts as compensation for the Shula hiring.

The turnaround of the Dolphins, from the previous season's 3-10-1 record, would be dramatic. During the press conference announcing his hiring, Don Shula stated that he had no magic formulas for winning, and the only way to make the team successful was through hard work. The team's hard work was evident through the four-a-days throughout training camp, held for the first time at St. Thomas University.

The regular season would see vast improvement:

Date

Team

Score

Result

20 September

@ Boston

27-14

Loss

27 September

@ Houston

20-10

Win

03 October

Oakland

20-13

Win

10 October

@ New York Jets

20-6

Win

18 October

@ Buffalo

33-14

Win

25 October

Cleveland

28-0

Loss

01 November

Baltimore

35-0

Loss

08 November

@ Philadelphia

24-17

Loss

15 November

New Orleans

21-10

Win

22 November

Baltimore

34-17

Win

30 November

@ Atlanta

32-7

Win

06 December

Boston

37-20

Win

13 December

New York Jets

16-10

Win

20 December

Buffalo

45-7

Win

Finishing 10&4, the Miami Dolphins made their Playoff debut by claiming the AFC Wildcard. On December 27th, the Dolphins traveled to the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum to face the AFC West Champion Raiders. Miami struck first with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bob Griese to Paul Warfield to open the game's scoring in the second quarter.

The Raiders, however, would respond, scoring one touchdown in each of the last three quarters of the game. The first, a 22-yard pass from Daryle Lamonica to Fred Biletnikoff, tied the game at seven. In the third quarter, Willie Brown returned an interception 50-yards for a touchdown, to give the Raiders a 14-7 lead.

The fourth quarter would see the teams trade touchdown passes, with the Raiders scoring first on an 82-yard pass from Lamonica to Rod Sherman. The Dolphins would finally score again on a 7-yard pass from Griese to Willie Richardson, but it proved to be too little. The Raiders, as they did in the Dolphins' first regular season game three seasons prior, would hand the Dolphins a loss in their first playoff game. The final score would be 21-14.

The Dolphins' first playoff game would end with the following box score:

Name

Team

Completions

Attempts

Yds

TDs

INT

Bob Griese

MIA

13

27

155

2

1

Darryl Lamonica

OAK

187

2

0

Name

Team

Rushing Attempts

Yds

TDS

Jim Kiick

MIA

14

64

0

Mercury Morris

MIA

8

29

0

Larry Csonka

MIA

10

23

0

Marv Hubbard

OAK

18

58

0

Charlie H. Smith

OAK

9

37

0

Hewritt Dixon

OAK

8

31

0

Pete Banaszak

OAK

1

-6

0

Name

Team

Receptions

Yards

TDs

Paul Warfield

MIA

4

62

1

Jim Kiick

MIA

4

34

0

Willie Richardson

MIA

2

30

1

Mercury Morris

MIA

2

15

0

Howard Twilley

MIA

1

14

0

Rod Sherman

OAK

1

82

1

Raymond Chester

OAK

2

47

0

Fred Biletnikoff

OAK

3

46

1

Charlie H. Smith

OAK

1

9

0

Hewritt Dixon

OAK

1

3

0

Although the season finished with a loss, the Dolphins had taken a huge step forward. Now with playoff experience, the team would soon find its way to much loftier heights.

The Dolphins would send three players to the 1970 Pro Bowl, WR Paul Warfield (1st), Larry Csonka (1st), Bob Griese (3rd), though the team would have no First Team All Pros.

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