Happy Holiday Season to all of you Phinsider Phaithful! This has been a thrill joining this sea of Aqua and Orange and I appreciate the warm welcome as if it came with gingerbread, eggnog, or if its an 8 night party, latkes, baby!
*A little oil, low and slow on the pan and then some homemade apple sauce with a touch of cinnamon on the side…L’Chiam*
While we all celebrate the Miracles of the most festive time of the year, it’s ironic that some of the most miraculous moments in Dolphins history have come on or post-Thanksgiving, the official kickoff to the holiday season.
Most recently, December has seen Miracles in each of the last two seasons. One being a buzzer-beating lateral crazed godsend from Kenyan Drake and his disciples. The other being just a few weeks ago as “The Mountaineer Shot” was heard around the world.
December is also home to the Fantasy Playoffs and admittingly, through all my leagues, this is the first season since Nick Saban roamed the Miami sidelines that I will not be playing for a trophy
I am not having a Josh Houtz-ian fantasy season. I’m convinced he has a Life Model Decoy for all he does.
Anyway, I thought with my week of found time, which I am not going to lie is a tad refreshing, I’d like to have some fun with you all. Afterall, I can use the lowered blood-pressure with a sane Week 16.
All I have to worry about is Draft Position against the Bengals…
(3 hours later after the wife administers smelling salts)
I thought I would do a Phinsider Phantasy Phin roster of 53 players I would have been in awe to watch weekly. Now, like any list please pardon if I omit a favorite or two of yours, but this is again, a fantasy team so take it with a grain of sea-salt here. This is my team mixed of players and personalities through the history of the Dolphins, and I will even throw in a practice squad of seven.
Here we go.
This is simple in our starter, Dan Marino, as I am playing Captain Obvious at the time of these keystrokes. Backing him up is the precursor to Marino at the position for Miami, that being the great Hall-of-Famer, Bob Griese. A can’t miss, Canton 1-2 punch that could move the offense in the air or on the ground, likely always be in control, and chances are with these two, we’re talking Super Bowls.
(a thank you)
Now that we are grooving and feeling good, let’s balance it out like the Holiday drunk uncle and kill the buzz, as my clipboard holder is Ryan Tannehill. Happy, New Year?
This is going to be like Hanukkah because I wish I can have 8 gifts here believe it or not, but I may have to trim that in half. Did you ever negotiate with your parents like I did as a teen for 2-4 “big gifts” instead of “8 small gifts rising in value from clothing to anything that requires a power source?”
Even at a young age, I was using a draft pick trade-up mindset.
Go with the studs.
I digress... again.
Leading my RBBC, is the power of Ricky Williams and the silky smoothness of Mercury Morris. Throwing a Wildcat in this deck is Ronnie Brown, who invented an aspect of the game along with a mix of assistant coach David Lee and Head coach Tony Sparano, god rest his soul.
Adding to the mix of this Holy Trinity of runners are a pair of do-it-all fullbacks in Keith Byars and of course, Sir Larry Csonka. This pair hits harder than an open bar at the holiday office party.
This is easy and may I say, as enjoyable as re-watching Die-Hard the next two weeks, which yes, is a Christmas movie.
Let’s split the Marx Brothers, Mark Duper and Mark Clayton, out as our “X” and “Z” bookends . Moving around in the slot is 1998’s NFL Receptions King, O.J. McDuffie. He will also act as the kick and punt returner as an efficient roster space move. He did score his 1st NFL touchdown on a punt return that started with hurdle over a Colt.
Let’s add in Hall-of-Famer Paul Warfield for those four wide receiver formations, and in the two-minute drill let’s send in the sideline clock specialist, Mr. Toe-drag swag, Chris Chambers. Adding to the depth of the group is Nat Moore to make the room of receivers a six-pack.
This is where things get trickier. For me, on this team I am going to be very happy with the construction of the offensive line, so I am thinking vertical threat pass-catchers over stay-at-home blockers. The starter is Keith Jackson. He was a pleasure to watch in the middle of the field in the 1990’s and would mesh incredibly with this WR core. Randy McMichael, Miami’s all-time tight-end leader in yards and receptions, will spell the veteran on 3rd and long plays, while Jackson would be a master of goaline and short-yardage chain-moving pickups. Let’s get some grit with Bruce Hardy, the Dolphins all-time tight-end leader in touchdowns.
Make no mistake about it, the absolute strength of the Miami Dolphins all-time anything, is a line littered with Hall-of-Famers current, and to-be.
We will start with the to-be.
Richmond Webb kept Dan Marino’s jersey pristinely clean, as did Keith Sims, so let’s set that left side. I’m also going to try to convince the Big Guy, #78, to open up a dry-cleaning service.
Remember when Bruce Smith passed out on live television? I don’t remember exactly when it was, but he was likely wondering how to get by Webb.
The man in the middle is Hall-of-Famer, and outstanding glare-actor, Center Dwight Stephenson. The mad was so smart, he read coverages and defensive plays as easily as he saw through Ace Ventura’s sickly-child disguise.
Dwight still gave him the Autograph.
On the right side let’s get some interior run help with another Gold-Jacket wearer in Larry Little. A man who is better at life than football and truly an all-timer in every sense. At right tackle, we will throw in the ultimate offensive line flex in yet another bronze-buster in the late Jim Langer.
Any championship level offensive line must have depth, so I need a backup center who is downright nasty, and that’s lifelong Dolphin, Tim Ruddy. More depth at guard and tackle will be provided by Jake Long, and Bob Kuechenberg.
Are we having fun yet? I sure am and we are getting to my Glory Days as a fan, the defensive side of the ball. This line is anchored by a quiet wall of a player who spent his entire career in Miami and that is Tim Bowens. He let his play do the talking and no running back argued back. Let’s build on that line with “Killer Bee” Bob Baumhower as I’m running a 4-3 defense.
On the edges, we have Canton card holder Jason Taylor, Miami’s most recent inductee to the Hall. With 131 sacks in Miami Aqua, and 139.5 in his career, JT is the heart of this defense. Across the way from Taylor is his protégé, Cameron Wake, the undrafted stud, who became Miami’s 2nd leader in career sacks behind Taylor.
Depth is back, and we need a few interior defensive linemen and I am thinking Daryl Gardener to plug the holes. Adding to the pass-rush will be Jeff Cross and Trace Armstrong and yet another “Killer Bee,” Doug Betters.
In my world, as we move from tier of defensive areas of the field, it gets better and better. This linebacking corp. is going to be straight nasty, and led by Miami’s next Hall-of-Famer, Zach Thomas!
Backing Thomas up in the middle is the late-legend, Hall-of-Fame person and player, Nick Buoniconti. While Nick was not a “Bee,” rather part of the “No-Name Defense,” Bees hang in swarms. Let’s add some more to the core. Kim Bokamper was Mayor of the bunch and Bob Brudzinski was a welcomed addition in the early ‘80s via the Rams.
Here comes the depth, and here comes trouble with Bryan Cox saying a hello to us respectfully, and a hello to Bill’s fans, well, not so much so. Thankfully, social media was not a thing then when Cox made his grand entrance to Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Rounding out this bunch is A.J. Duhe, the Jet-slayer, as well as Bokamper food rival John Offerdahl.
Finally, this team needs a voice, a leader, a Holy Spirit.
We all love Dan Marino, so it is easy to say the QB and the WR are favorite positions for Fin fans, and there is no argument. However, I love the defensive backfield, and that isn’t Dolphin specific. No all-time team of overall corners really can’t be discussed without perhaps the greatest duo of shut-down corners in league history. Yea, Sam Madison and Pat Surtain were islands in their own right.
We need a corner to play the Nickle-spot, and let’s put Troy Vincent in. Gone way too soon, as he spent just a few seasons in Miami before becoming a Philadelphia Eagle fan favorite. We have to add the lone current Dolphin, Xavien Howard, who could go down as the Franchise’s best in all hopefulness.
If this collection of island-owners played together, their nickname would be “The Florida Keys.”
I realize I sound like a broken Queens hip-hop record when I mention I am a New Yorker, but this tells a major tale in my Findom. Growing up in the 1990’s the lack of internet, streaming, smartphones, and all things easy football viewing made out of state fandom hard. One of the first games I remember catching a cut-in highlight of was a Dolphins at Bills game from October 4th, 1992. Louis Oliver took a Jim Kelly pass 103 yards to the house for a touchdown, one of a trio of picks that day from #25.
I was 11.
He is my 5th favorite Fin all-time on my “list.” Oliver gave me one of my first, “freak-out moments,” and I was at a friend’s house. I started to become…that guy.
I was 11.
Oliver was mainly a free safety, but played the strong side here and there so let’s lock him in there.
The Oliver 2.0 in my life was an import from Dallas. The great Brock Marion. The free safety was probably the league’s premier at the position from 2000 to 2003, with three Pro-Bowls in those four seasons.
Adding to the group of football centerfielders is “Perfectville resident” Dick Anderson. Anderson was a perennial Pro-Bowler for Don Shula’s championship defense and could play either safety position.
John Denney - The G.O.A.T. ‘Nuff said...
I will invite three to training camp, and they will kick-it-out. Late Perfectville place-kicker, Garo Yepremian and Pete Stoyanovich will face-off in the 1st round, with all time Fin percentage and field-goal made leader Olindo Mare earning a bye.
Unfortunately, Stoyanovich missed his final try-out kick wide right (ugh) and come to think of it, we know Garo can’t throw in a breakdown of a play, so the job is Mare’s.
Here’s a chuckle...That tough miss against San Diego on January 8th 1994 happened a few months before a movie premiered that featured a missed field goal...February 4th, 1994, Ace Ventura come out.
Oh, if Miami won that game, it would have been a Pittsburgh matchup in Marino’s hometown for the AFC crown. Brandy or Manischewitz time!
Only in Hollywood folks...or Miami.
The late fan-favorite was a guarantee for two things. Hang time, and that digital watch.
Perhaps the greatest story in Fin-lore, or at least mine, is new coach Jimmy Johnson going through the recipients of their earned “jersey.” Their official “you made the team,” from the man who took over Don Shula’s roster.
Everyone knew Dan Marino had a jersey, but I can imagine not many expected to hear from Coach Johnson to shout, “Izzo, call your Mama! Tell her you made the Miami Dolphins!!”
The undrafted rookie from 1996, and Zach Thomas BFF and clone, made his name as a Special Teamer and a league best at that. A Pro-Bowler with Miami as well as New England, Izzo even as some rings to his credit from his Patriot days.
Izzo is currently a special team’s assistant coach for the Seattle Seahawks.
If we need that “next-man-up” mindset, or playing a Brian Flores scheme, we need more bodies. Forget the lockdown corner now, we got those. We need a ballhawk, a risk-taker, a “Gambler.” With the safeties I am about to drop in this fantasy, Terrell Buckley is my back-up corner. T-buck always went for broke but cashed out with three interception touchdown run backs as well as a fumble return score for his career. Let’s say he played in an earlier version of Hard Rock…the one a few miles north of the football field, metaphorically speaking of course. Who doesn’t love T-Buck?
We need to round it out with some special players to mix it up on the practice field. Let’s add the Killer Bee brothers of Lyle and Glenn Blackwood. Throw in offensive lineman Mike Pouncey for some trenching at practice and if we need a few “X-Factors” let’s throw in Jim “Crash” Jensen for an X-factor. Everyone needs guys to get the party started in the locker room after a victory, right? Enter Jim Rose and Channing Crowder. Those AM Radio guys know how to throw party.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy and a Healthy New Year!