After a sharp decline last year, the Miami Dolphins seek a fresh start in 2012 with new coach Joe Philbin and new quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Frustrated fans have long voiced disapproval at the manner in which the team has been handled since its last playoff appearance in 2008. Despite recent hard times, Miami still possesses passionate supporters who remain proud of the franchise's history and traditions. In order to get ready for the 2012 NFL season, here is a profile of the Miami Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins : Established in 1966. Currently compete in the AFC East Division.
All-Time Record: 400-300-4
Super Bowl Championships: The Dolphins captured consecutive NFL titles by triumphing in Super Bowl VII and Super Bowl VIII from 1972 to 1973. The historic 1972 squad remains the only team in NFL history to post a perfect season with a flawless record of 17-0. Miami has further experienced losing efforts in Super Bowls VI, XVII, and XIX.
Dolphins in the Hall of Fame: 9 players have entered Canton as members of the Miami Dolphins. These include Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Jim Langer, Bob Griese, Larry Little, Coach Don Shula, Dwight Stephenson, Nick Buoniconti, and Dan Marino.
Greatest Dolphin: While Griese and Csonka were prolific members of championship teams, most fans consider quarterback Dan Marino to be the greatest Dolphin ever. Marino spent his entire career in Miami, from 1983-1999, and passed for 61,361 yards and 420 TDs -- both NFL records at the time of his retirement. Appearing in the Super Bowl during his second season, the legendary quarterback never returned to the big game and failed to deliver a title for the Dolphins.
Team Colors: Aqua and coral are the team's primary colors. White and navy also appear in the Dolphins' uniforms.
Mascot: Naturally, Miami's playful mascot is the image of "T.D." or "The Dolphin." Human supporters of the club are lovingly called "Dolfans" by the team.
Home Stadium: Sun Life Stadium -- Located in the Miami Gardens neighborhood, this 75,000+ seat facility has been home to the Dolphins since 1987, when they left the Orange Bowl. While the team's headquarters are located at their practice facility in nearby Davie, this multi-purpose stadium is familiar with the bright spotlight. Sun Life Stadium has additionally hosted 5 Super Bowls, 2 World Series, and 4 BCS Championship Games.
Owner: Stephen M. Ross -- The New York real estate developer lived in South Florida as a child and returned to purchase a majority interest in the Dolphins in 2009.
General Manager: Jeff Ireland -- Appointed by former team president Bill Parcells, the embattled executive has guided Miami since 2008. Though his regime began with an AFC East division title, the team has since under-achieved and 2012 is likely make-or-break for the former college kicker.
Head Coach:Joe Philbin -- The longtime offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers was named the 10th coach in Miami Dolphins' history in January. He replaced Tony Sparano, who was frequently criticized for his conservative offense. The 51-year-old Philbin selected Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the 1st round of 2012 NFL draft and wasted little time in naming the rookie as the Dolphins' starter by training camp. With Tannehill considered a prized prospect, Philbin will be expected to open up the offense, as he tries to construct a winning team in Miami.
Top Players:Running back Reggie Bush finally emerged during the latter part of 2011, when he rushed for 100+ yards in the team's final 4 contests. Bush possesses top-level speed and is always dangerous for his game-changing playmaking ability. His durability, however, has been questioned throughout his pro career. On defense, no Dolphin puts more fear into an opposing quarterback than defensive end Cameron Wake. The 30 year-old has played for Miami since 2009, when he was discovered toiling in the Canadian Football League. He has since posted an impressive 28 sacks in 3 seasons.
2012 Outlook: The rival New England Patriots are overwhelming favorites to again capture the AFC East Division. Making matters worse by trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall due to repeated off-the-field problems, the Dolphins enter 2012 without their top offensive producer. Philbin must rapidly develop new weapons, including Tannehill and rookie tight end Michael Egnew. Despite a 6-10 record, the Dolphins only surrendered 313 points last year, less than both Super Bowl participants. The team's defense should be the strength of the team, but lost veteran defensive end Jason Taylor to retirement and safety Yeremiah Bell to free agency.
Yahoo! Sports, MiamiDolphins.com, Pro-Football-Reference.com, Sun-Sentinel.com.
Jeff Briscoe is a longtime resident of Florida and supporter of the Miami Dolphins. Legendary quarterback Dan Marino remains his favorite football player.