There was a time when the Miami Dolphins were one of the powerhouses of the NFL. While the team may not have won a Super Bowl since the back-to-back glory days of the 1972 and 1973 seasons, they did consistently make the playoffs for the next 25 years or so thereafter. Of course, there were blips along the way, but nothing in comparison to today.
Remember the great Don Shula? As soon as Don Shula walked through those doors in 1970, he turned a sinking ship into a dynasty. Shula never professed himself to be a miracle worker, but he promised his team would be successful through sheer hard work. Hard work meant four workouts a day under the unforgiving Floridian sun, and his methods quickly paid off when the Dolphins improved to a 10-4 record in their first ever playoff appearance.
Soon, two Super Bowls would be won in back-to-back years. Miami had clearly made the big time. But was all this set to unravel when Bob Griese announced his retirement in 1980? Of course it didn't. The Dolphins continued to make the postseason under quarterback David Woodley, and then Dan Marino, who helped steer his team to continued success, and broke numerous records along the way.
Even when Shula left, the team was left in good hands under Jimmy Johnson and Marino. While Johnson didn't live up to expectations, in hindsight his tenure wasn't exactly a disaster. Then, all of a sudden, the dark clouds started to swarm around Sun Life stadium, and the unthinkable happened to a fanbase bread on success.
For the past five seasons, the Dolphins have failed to post a winning season. Failure to do so again this season, and change will certainly be abound. Even worse, the team have failed to make the divisional playoffs since the 2000 season, and have only made the postseason another two times after that. To put things into perspective, during the past fourteen seasons, Miami have posted 5 winning records, 7 losing records and one 8-8 record.
Will the shadow of Don Shula, Bob Griese and Dan Marino haunt this storied franchise for many more years to come? Lets hope not. Lets hope this season will be a defining moment for Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill. However should the unthinkable happen, and Miami's winless streak continue, many may start to believe the Miami Dolphins really are a poisoned chalice.
Alex Parish is an Associate Editor at The Phinsider. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AlexParish89.