Best Dolphins team of the last 30 years?

Adam Strange

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What do you think is the best Dolphins team of the last 30 years?

I’m basing my picks on performance on the field during the season. So, whether or not the 2002 team was stacked, I’m not going to name them one of the best when they couldn’t even get a win when they needed it to secure a wildcard. I’m not asking what the most talented team on paper was— I’m asking about the team that was the best when the games were played. I’m also starting with the 1990 season because I think the results will be more interesting if the 1984 team is excluded (and because I’d expect general agreement that the dynasty teams of the early 70s were the best Dolphins teams in their history).

I definitely think the best teams of the last three decades were in the early 90s— particularly 1990 and 1994.

The 1990 team was the last Dolphins team to win 12 games and, I think, one of the best teams in football that year (notwithstanding the fact that the Bills were clearly better, as were the best NFC teams). The Dolphins had started to draft better and the results were evident as 1990 was the beginning of a mild Dolphins rebirth in that decade.

The 1994 team was bolstered by a host of big names acquired in free agency— Fryar, Jackson, Byars— and the blossoming of home grown talents— Webb, Sims, Vincent, McDuffie, Bowens. Overall more talented than the 1990 team and boasting a seemingly reinvigorated Dan Marino, the team won the division before suffering a last minute loss in the second round.

My honorable mention is the 1992 team, i.e. the only Dolphins team to win a divisional playoff game in the last three decades. Team looked like the best in football through mid-October, but played .500 football down the stretch. Similar story in the playoffs where they throttled San Diego in the divisional round, before looking like jobbers in the AFC championship game against the Bills.
 
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Austin Tatious

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Was it 2002 or 2003 when Fiedler got hurt and Lucas totally wet the bed? I’d vote for that team. They could have done some real damage. There were a number of top shelf players that were at their peak. That team had an identity.
 

Dolph N.Fan

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I would say that 2003 team, finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs. That one bad loss to 2nd year Houston was a real killer towards missing the playoffs. Outside that, Miami beat everyone they were better than and their other 5 losses were to teams that finished 12-4 or better.
 

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It was 2002. That team had the goods, had already beaten the SB bound Raiders. Feidler got hurt, and Lucas played as bad at qb as I had ever seen. Then Chris Carter drops a game winner at Minnesota and miamis defense was hit with a criminal pass interference call late in the NE game, followed by 3 straight pass play calls with the leagues leading rusher in the backfield.

It was the (im)perfect storm. What could've been.
 

Dolph N.Fan

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It was 2002. That team had the goods, had already beaten the SB bound Raiders. Feidler got hurt, and Lucas played as bad at qb as I had ever seen. Then Chris Carter drops a game winner at Minnesota and miamis defense was hit with a criminal pass interference call late in the NE game, followed by 3 straight pass play calls with the leagues leading rusher in the backfield.

It was the (im)perfect storm. What could've been.
I remember that 2002 team scored exactly 100 pts after their first 3 games.
 

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Its a great question. For some reason, 1992 was the first one I thought of. But I need to go back and research it a little more. I think that team was better than the 1994 squad.
 

Adam Strange

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I would say that 2003 team, finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs. That one bad loss to 2nd year Houston was a real killer towards missing the playoffs. Outside that, Miami beat everyone they were better than and their other 5 losses were to teams that finished 12-4 or better.
You’re right about the week 1 loss costing them the playoffs, but I always remember 2003 as the year the Patriots definitively vanquished the Dolphins as a rival.

Miami had actually bounced back from the Houston game when they matched up against the Patriots at home. Then they choked away that game with missed kicks and the defense allowed Brady to beat them deep in overtime. Then, at the rematch in NE late in the season, the defense played very well and didn’t allow a touchdown, but the offense didn’t show up, Rickey had less than 70 yards and Fiedler threw a couple of picks, and the team was shut out.

Before 2003, the Dolphins were the Patriots’ main antagonists in the division. But afterwards Miami didn’t really challenge NE for the division again until Brady was hurt in 2008 and not again since.
 

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2002. No doubt. Not only did we lose Fiedler after the Broncos sunday night game, we lost Chambers for a few weeks due to a concussion, we lost Gadsden I believe for good at that point.
Lucas stunk. We lost the following week to an inferior Bills team. Lost something like 10-7 or some crazy low scoring affair to the Jets in a prime time game. The dropped pass vs Minnesota has already been referenced, and the choke/BS pass interference vs the Patriots. That loss vs the Patriots is one of my all time Top 3 Most Impossible Games/Losses To Get Over (Super Bowl 17 and the 22-21 playoff loss to the Chargers after the 1994 season when we were winning 21-3 are the others) because it cost us what truly could have been a Super Bowl run. And that Patriots loss- it looked like we had been paid to throw that game. Like at 4:59 left to go, someone reminded the players and coaches they had already been paid to lose the game, so they better finish the job choking because if not some thug was going to break all their kneecaps. It was THAT BAD.
I don't think in 1994 we could have won the Super Bowl. The 49ers would probably have embarrassed us.
In 1992, we would have played Dallas in Jimmy's first SB appearance. I don't think we were as good as advertised, I don't know if we could have beaten them, but man would I have loved to have seen them try. Buffalo was too mentally damaged, that once that Super Bowl started snowballing against them, they just cracked. That game/Super Bowl would not have gone like that against Miami.
 
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Dolph N.Fan

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You’re right about the week 1 loss costing them the playoffs, but I always remember 2003 as the year the Patriots definitively vanquished the Dolphins as a rival.

Miami had actually bounced back from the Houston game when they matched up against the Patriots at home. Then they choked away that game with missed kicks and the defense allowed Brady to beat them deep in overtime. Then, at the rematch in NE late in the season, the defense played very well and didn’t allow a touchdown, but the offense didn’t show up, Rickey had less than 70 yards and Fiedler threw a couple of picks, and the team was shut out.

Before 2003, the Dolphins were the Patriots’ main antagonists in the division. But afterwards Miami didn’t really challenge NE for the division again until Brady was hurt in 2008 and not again since.
Yeah Miami was 17 point favorites vs Houston. Also snapped Miami’s 11 game winning streak for season openers.

Yeah I remember that first New England game vividly. New England had never won in Miami in September/October at 1pm. I was hoping for a tie because there was only 5 minutes left New England was at their own 20 before Brady hit that 80 yard bomb to Troy Brown. As soon as brown crossed the end zone, belicheat threw up his headset in jubilation. Never seen him that happy after a win.
 

Adam Strange

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2002. No doubt. Not only did we lose Fiedler after the Broncos sunday night game, we lost Chambers for a few weeks due to a concussion, we lost Gadsden I believe for good at that point.
Lucas stunk. We lost the following week to an inferior Bills team. Lost something like 10-7 or some crazy low scoring affair to the Jets in a prime time game. The dropped pass vs Minnesota has already been referenced, and the choke/BS pass interference vs the Patriots. That loss vs the Patriots is one of my all time Top 3 Most Impossible Games/Losses To Get Over (Super Bowl 17 and the 22-21 playoff loss to the Chargers after the 1994 season when we were winning 21-3 are the others) because it cost us what truly could have been a Super Bowl run. And that Patriots loss- it looked like we had been paid to throw that game. Like at 4:59 left to go, someone reminded the players and coaches they had already been paid to lose the game, so they better finish the job choking because if not some thug was going to break all their kneecaps. It was THAT BAD.
I don't think in 1994 we could have won the Super Bowl. The 49ers would probably have embarrassed us.
In 1992, we would have played Dallas in Jimmy's first SB appearance. I don't think we were as good as advertised, I don't know if we could have beaten them, but man would I have loved to have seen them try. Buffalo was too mentally damaged, that once that Super Bowl started snowballing against them, they just cracked. That game/Super Bowl would not have gone like that against Miami.
I agree we wouldn’t have beaten SF in the Super Bowl, but the 1994 team was the last reasonable chance this team has had to get to the Super Bowl. They fell apart against the Chargers, but had the FG been made at the end, the team was certainly capable of beating Pittsburgh (not that it was a lock or anything).
 

Adam Strange

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49 vs Detroit Week 1
21 vs Indianapolis Week 2
30 vs Jets Week 3

49+ 21 + 30= 100
Checks out. I’d forgotten precisely how well they opened that season.

Similar to 1995: won the first three games and scored 95 points— the rest of the season was less positive.
 

Dolph N.Fan

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Checks out. I’d forgotten precisely how well they opened that season.

Similar to 1995: won the first three games and scored 95 points— the rest of the season was less positive.
And that 30-3 beatdown of the Jets in 2002 snapped a miserable 8 game losing streak to them. And after winning in Indianapolis and outscoring their first 3 opponents 100-37 I thought for sure we were in for a good season.
 
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