The Miami Dolphins will celebrate their 50th NFL season this year, spanning from 1966 to 2015. Thousands of players have hit the field for the team over that time, helping the team appear in five Super Bowls, winning two of them, including the only undefeated season in league history. Despite spending the last decade stuck in a purgatory of mediocrity, the Dolphins are still hold the fourth highest winning percentage in the NFL at .565, behind just the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers.
The team has eight Hall of Famer players, Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Dan Marino, Dwight Stephenson, and Paul Warfield, plus one Hall of Fame coach Don Shula. Another three Hall of Famers, Cris Carter, Junior Seau, and Thurman Thomas, all had brief stints in aqua on their way to Canton.
As we all look forward to better days for the Dolphins from this rut that has been the franchise since the turn of the century, we can also look back at one of the premier franchises of the NFL as they turn 50. We will do that over the next few days as we build the Miami Dolphins' 50th Season Depth Chart.
Quarterbacks Running Backs Tight Ends Offensive Line Wide Receiver Defensive Ends
The defense continues to be built today with the defensive tackles.
Starters: Bob Baumhower, Manny Fernandez
Reserves: Tim Bowens, Daryl Gardener
Baumhower was drafted in the second round of the 1977 draft, immediately taking his position as the team's starting nose tackle. In nine seasons with the Dolphins (1977-1986), Baumhower played in 130 games, starting 129 of them. He officially recorded 14.5 sacks, with the NFL starting to count the statistic in 1982, and unofficially finished his career with 39 sacks. He also recorded an estimated 700 tackles in his career. Baumhower was the anchor in the middle of the Killer Bs defense, and was a big part of leading Miami to Super Bowls XVII and XIX. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, in 1979 and every year from 1981 to 1984, along with a one time First-Team All-Pro selection (1983).
Undrafted out of college, Fernandez played eight seasons in Miami, primarily as the starting left defensive tackle/nose tackle - one of the first players in the league to play as a nose tackle lined up over center as the Dolphins played the "53 Defense". He appeared in 103 regular season games, with 93 starts, recovering six fumbles during his career. While Baumhower anchored the middle of the 1980s two-Super Bowl appearance Dolphins, Fernandez did the same for the three-Super Bowl appearance, two-win Dolphins of the 1970s. He recorded an unofficial 35 sacks during his career. He was never selected to a Pro Bowl or was a First-Team All-Pro (twice making the Second-Team All-Pro list), and he should have been named Super Bowl MVP for a 17 tackle, 1 sack performance in the Perfect Season capping Super Bowl VII, but lost out to a 2-interception performance from safety Jake Scott. Fernandez retired from football with 28 tackles and 3 sacks - just in Super Bowls.
Bowens was the Dolphins' first-round pick in the 1994 Draft, selected 20th overall, despite having only played nine games in college. He started 15 of 16 games his rookie season, and 155 of 157 games during his 11-year career. He was selected the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1994. He recorded 22 sacks during his career, with 407 tackles, along with nine forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, and one touchdown. He was selected to the 1998 and 2002 Pro Bowls.
Gardener joined the Dolphins two years after Bowens, selected in the exact same spot as Bowens: the 20th overall selection. He then lined up next to Bowens and the two teamed up to provide a dominant center to the Miami defensive line for six years. Gardener played in 102 games, with 94 starts, in his six seasons with the Dolphins, recording 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, 15 sacks, and 252 tackles.
Tomorrow, we will look at the all-time linebackers for the Dolphins.