Best Miami Dolphins Quarterbacks of All Time: From Dan Marino to Tua Tagovailoa

Who are the best Miami Dolphins quarterbacks of all-time? The top 10 list includes two Hall of Famers, plus some of the quirkier characters in team history.

Rarely has a list been so easy to start. But ranking the Miami Dolphins‘ quarterbacks after the top two is challenging.

There’s a significant dropoff between the Hall of Famers — Dan Marino and Bob Griese — and everyone else. The criteria we used in determining the order were statistics, longevity, the impact on the team’s success, and how they compared to players of their era.

So who are the best quarterbacks in Dolphins history? Here are the top 10.

Ranking the Greatest QBs in Miami Dolphins History

10) Matt Moore

This list — not to mention recent Dolphins history — might look quite a bit different if not for Matt Moore’s strong finish to the 2011 season.

While the fan base was hoping the Dolphins would continue to “Suck for Luck” after an 0-7 start, Moore came off the bench to lead Miami to wins in six of their last nine games, turning a potential No. 1 overall pick to eighth overall — which of course took them out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Moore was back on the bench in 2012 but did start the Dolphins’ only playoff game of the Adam Gase era in 2016. His 86.0 career passer rating with the team is sixth among quarterbacks with at least six starts.

9) Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Dolphins caught the tail end of FitzMagic, but they certainly weren’t cheated. Ryan Fitzpatrick, like Moore, played better than expected in a Dolphins tank year, winning five games in 2019 with arguably the worst roster this franchise had ever constructed.

Fitzpatrick’s larger-than-life persona made him a fan favorite, but he was always a placeholder for those who followed (more on that later).

Still, no one can ever take away his Boxing Day miracle in Las Vegas. Fitzpatrick directed go-ahead scoring drives twice in the last four minutes to propel the Dolphins to their 10th win of the season.

The lasting memory? His deep sideline pass to Mack Hollins, which Fitzpatrick somehow completed despite having his head nearly twisted off by Arden Key.

8) David Woodley

Only three quarterbacks have started a Super Bowl for the Dolphins. David Woodley, the former eighth-round pick out of LSU, was one of them.

Woodley was the bridge between the Griese and Marino eras and did a solid job maintaining Miami’s standard of winning.

The Dolphins went 27-12-1 in his 40 regular-season starts from 1980-84. Woodley had a couple of excellent performances in the Dolphins’ 1982 run to the AFC Championship, including a stellar game in Miami’s Wild Card round win over the New England Patriots, when he completed 16 of 19 passes for 246 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

7) Chad Pennington

Oh what could have been had Chad Pennington not suffered a shoulder tear early in the 2009 season. Pennington had just won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and finished second in MVP voting after leading the Dolphins in 2008 to what is still their only AFC East title since the divisions were shrunk and realigned in 2002.

Who knows what the next few years would have held if Pennington had stayed healthy? Perhaps Tony Sparano’s run as Dolphins coach would have extended past the 2011 season. We’ll never know, as Pennington would start just one more game before calling it a career after the 2011 season.

But let’s not forget how good Pennington’s one full season as Miami’s QB1 was. He led the NFL in completion percentage (67.4) and posted what at the time was the second-highest passer rating in a season in franchise history (97.4).

6) Jay Fiedler

For four years, if Jay Fiedler was starting, the Dolphins were winning. Miami went 36-17 in Fiedler starts during that period, and while he was rarely spectacular, he was always the steady hand the Dolphins needed with their suffocating defense.

More than two decades after his retirement, Fiedler still ranks in the top five all-time among Dolphins players in passing yards (11,040) and passing touchdowns (66).

And he still is the last Dolphins quarterback to start a playoff win (a 23-17 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts). He’s also one of two Dolphins quarterbacks in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (Sage Rosenfels is the other).

5) Earl Morrall

You know you’re big time when there’s a road named after you. Earl Morrall Pass is down the street from the site of the Dolphins’ former training facility in Davie, Fla.

He deserves it. Without a few timely Morrall passes, the perfect 1972 season might never have happened. Morrall was a seasoned 38-year-old when a broken leg and dislocated ankle shelved Griese for more than two months.

Morrall came off the bench and reeled off 11 straight wins, including two in the postseason, before ceding the starting job back to Griese in Super Bowl VII. In 12 career regular-season starts for the Dolphins, Morrall went 11-1, averaging a robust 8.2 yards per attempt.

4) Ryan Tannehill

From a pure statistical standpoint, only Marino and Griese have had more prolific careers than Ryan Tannehill, the only Dolphins quarterback drafted in Round 1 between 1984 and 2019.

Tannehill ranks third in franchise history in passing yards (20,434) and touchdowns (123), and seventh in adjusted yards per attempt (6.7). Like Pennington, Tannehill suffered significant injuries that kept him from reaching his potential in Miami, but at his best, he was pretty darn good.

He’s just one of three Dolphins quarterbacks to throw for 4,000+ yards in a season. Before mangling his knee late in the 2016 season, Tannehill put the Dolphins in position for their only playoff appearance in the 2010s, completing 67.1% of his passes and averaging 7.7 yards per attempt in his 13 starts.

3) Tua Tagovailoa

There’s a fun Hard Knocks clip of Mike McDaniel — standing next to Tua Tagovailoa on the sidelines before a 2023 regular-season game — chirping at Marino: “We’re coming for your records, Dan.”

What gave the Dolphins coach confidence he could talk trash to perhaps the best pure passer in NFL history? Miami’s offense, with McDaniel calling plays and Tua Tagovailoa under center, has been reminiscent of Marino’s high-flying 1980s teams.

KEEP READING: Dolphins Feel Best is Yet to Come From Slimmer Tua Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa, in just four seasons, already ranks fourth all-time in passing yards (12,639) and touchdowns (81). He’s first in career-adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.7) and passer rating (97.1). And his 4,624 passing yards in 2023 are the third-most in a season in Miami history.

2) Bob Griese

Here’s Griese’s résumé:

  • Two-time Super Bowl champion (including the only quarterback to finish off a perfect season in NFL history)
  • Two-time first-team All-Pro
  • Six-time Pro Bowler
  • One of just three Dolphins to have his jersey number (12) retired

Griese played in a far stingier statistical era, and yet, he still ranks second all-time in passing yards (25,092) and touchdowns (192). And, oh yeah, he called his own plays, too.

Iconic.

1) Dan Marino

Since Dan Marino’s retirement in 1999, the question has never been and probably will never be if he’s the best quarterback in Dolphins history.

That’s a given, with his remarkable 61,361 career passing yards and 420 touchdowns — which still rank eighth and seventh all-time, respectively.

Rather, Marino deserves to be in the conversation of the best to ever throw a football.

KEEP READING: Ranking the Best QBs in NFL History: Where Does Marino Rank?

At his peak, Marino lapped the field. In his iconic 1984 season, Marino had an astounding 16 more touchdown passes than anyone else in football.

It’s of course a different game now than a quarter-century ago. Regardless of the era, no one could or can sling it like Dan the Man.

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