The All Paper Bag Team
I grew up a prototypical 90’s kid. Nicktoons ran on loop, I played Nintendo 64 at a Reshad Jones level and when I got home from school, I took to the backyard to play whatever sport was in season. At 7:10 pacific standard time every night I watched Ken Griffey Jr. and the Mariners. And, on Sundays, it was all about #13 for the Miami Dolphins, Dan Marino.
I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but my early joys of fandom would condemn me to a life of sports mediocrity. I remember drawing up the NFL playoff bracket on my white board and projecting the Dolphins to win their way to a Lombardi Trophy each year.
Then, that fateful day in 1999 when Miami traveled to Jacksonville for what would be Marino’s final football game happened. The fact that I was 12 years old likely jaded me to the point where I thought the team would be back next year despite losing arguably the greatest passer ever. And, in a way, I was right. I watched Lamar Smith run rampant over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2000 playoffs.
But that remains the Dolphins most recent playoff victory.
This is the post-Marino all Dolphins team. This is what you get when you win just a single post-season game for the better part of two decades. You are aptly donned the moniker:
The All Paper Bag Team.
Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill
We’re out of the gates with some controversy already. Say what you will about the team’s performance since we drafted Tannehill in 2012, but he almost gets the bid alone by the sheer fact that he’s started all 64 possible games in his career. Not even Jay Fiedler could earn that distinction. Chad Pennington was great, but for a single season. I’m not a believer in volume stats but Tannehill has eclipsed 4,000 yards the last two years, has been putting up some impressive touchdown to interception ratios and has shown moments of elite level ability. Taking the most sacks of any quarterback over the last four years has put his toughness on display and I assure you that, once the offensive line gets it together, you’ll be a believer too.
Clipboard holder: Chad Pennington
Tailback: Ricky Williams
Consider the fact that Ricky Williams ran for 10,000 yards despite missing the entire 2004 season, four games in ’05, all of ’06 and all but a half of a game in ’07. Those are prime years where the, in more ways than one, elusive back could’ve chewed up some serious yardage. Instead, he decided to pack frequent flier mileage on his rewards card by traveling to India to live in a tent and smoke the finest herb. I never saw a back that could beat a speedy corner around the edge on one play and then barrel through a middle linebacker on the next.
Spell back: Ronnie Brown
Wide Receiver 1: Chris Chambers
It’s often said that Chambers lost more than his consciousness that night in Denver when Kenoit Kennedy put him at the front of the line for CTE settlement checks. Despite the jarring blow, Chambers would go on to a sensational pro-bowl 2005 season where he caught 82 passes for 1,118 yards at 11 touchdowns from a combination of Gus Frerotte and Sage Rosenfels. Spanning from 2003-2005, only Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Torry Holt caught more touchdowns than our own #84.
Receiver #4: Jarvis Landry
Wide Receiver 2: Davone Bess
I’m hoping this article finds Davone wherever he is right now and cheers him up. Before you chastise me, consider Bess is second only to Chambers in catches for post-2000 ‘Phins receivers, and third in both yards and touchdowns. He was a crucial piece to the 2008 division championship run and picked up a number of pivotal first downs.
Receiver #5: Brian Hartline
Wide Receiver #3: Oronde Gadsden
Gadsden is probably number two if his career were three years later.
Only four of his seven years with the club took place in the 2000’s but the bulk of his statistics were accumulated in that time. He was a presence like no other in the middle of the field as a possession receiver and is responsible for two of the greatest catches made in Dolphins’ history.
Receiver #6: Brandon Marshall
Tight End: Randy McMichael
As far as numbers go, McMichael would’ve been number two on the wide receiver list and is far and away the top tight end. He led Dolphins tight ends in receptions, yards, touchdowns, and spousal dispute incidents. Way to go, Randy.
Two Tight End set: Charles Clay
Left Tackle: Jake Long
The end of his Dolphins’ tenure was unceremonious, but Long was considered one of the two best left tackles in football from the time he entered the league through the 2010 season.
He and Joe Thomas were 1a and 1b at the position. He was a force in the run game, a wall in pass pro and one of the real vocal leaders this team has had in its past, downtrodden, twenty years.
Backup: Branden Albert
Left Guard: Jaime Nails
It was really just one year of dominance for the 360 pound behemoth that played like his name suggested. He was an expert at getting outside on pulling plays and springing Ricky to some long gallops. Nails’ time was cut short due to injuries (you try carrying nearly 400 pounds around) but he was something to behold when healthy.
Backup: Mark Dixon
Center: Mike Pouncey
Being selected in the top half of the first round at center means you better make some damn pro-bowls. Pouncey’s play on the field has been up and down lately, but he’s certainly the most talented center this team has had in two decades. His character is questionable at best, his leadership is important and his tenure with the Dolphins is the most impressive thing about him.
Backup: Tim Ruddy
Right Guard: Todd Perry
If you want to sink yourself deeper into post-perfectville depression, go look at the starting right guards of the past 15 years for our Phins. Todd Perry notched a lot of starts and was on both lines that saw Ricky Williams run for 3,000 yards over two seasons.
Backup: Not dressing another RG
Right Tackle: Vernon Carey
Vernon Carey’s Dolphins career started off rather precariously because the team elected to trade up one spot in the first round to take him. But, from that point forward, he was a staple on the right side of the line and a formidable left tackle when asked to switch.
Backup: Todd Wade
Picking the offensive line was similar to choosing which members of the Special Olympics’ team are worthy of honors. Sure, they’re technically all-stars, but they’re still retarded. Now, for some real football players, the 2000-2015 Dolphins all-defense team.
Defensive End 1: Jason Taylor
Not much of a decision here. Defensive player of the year in 2006, king of the strip-sack-scoop-and-score, Taylor is arguably the second best player in Dolphins history. His 139.5 sacks are 6th in the history of the league. He’s eligible for Canton this summer.
In the Rotation: Adewale Ogunleye
Defensive End 2: Cameron Wake:
The embodiment of perseverance, hard work, determination and doing everything the right way. Cam Wake has sacked more quarterbacks than the number of carbs he’s consumed since joining the team in 2009. His speed rush made him the NFL’s premier pass rusher for a number of years as he now transitions into more of a part time role.
In the Rotation: Olivier Vernon
Defensive Tackle 1: Tim Bowens
A man that eats space for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tim Bowens played a large part in leaving Zach Thomas free to make the four billion tackles he amassed in his career. Bowens picked up 22 sacks in his 11 seasons, all with the Dolphins, and received the second of his two pro-bowl bids in 2002.
In the Rotation: Randy Starks
Defensive Tackle 2: Daryl Gardner
He spent only three years with the ‘Phins playing the three technique alongside Bowens in the middle, but he was a force. He was a pass rush nightmare for interior lineman picking up 10.5 sacks from 2000-2003. He played with a mean streak and treated quarterbacks the way Chris Brown treats his women.
In the Rotation: Ndamukong Suh
Weak Side Linebacker: Joey Porter
Outside of Zach Thomas, our linebacker player has been about as bad as the OL over the years. Porter’s 17 sacks in 2008 were one of the main reasons we’re not sitting on a 14 year playoff drought. Three of those sacks came on the opposition’s final drive to close out the game. He was the Dennis Eckersley of pass rushers that year.
Backup: Derrick Rodgers
Middle Linebacker: Zach Thomas
Without consideration to move him to safety, Zach Thomas was in the same class as Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher in their primes.
The most instinctual linebacker I ever saw play the game, #54 could cover, defend the run and was the unspoken leader of some of the league’s best defenses. He was an eight time all pro with one absence from the first or second team between the 2001-2006 season (2004.)
Backup: Karlos Dansby
Strong Side Linebacker: Channing Crowder
Crowder’s ideal place in a defense, in my opinion, would’ve been the strong side in a 4-3. He was a fiery leader that excelled at setting the edge and playing the run. He couldn’t cover worth a damn but he was always good for an excellent sound bite.
Backup: Morlon Greenwood
Cornerback 1: Patrick Surtain
The only downfall of Pat Surtain’s game was the pronunciation change he sprung on us midway through his Dolphins career. Five of his seven years with the Dolphins came in the 2000’s and all three of his pro-bowls occurred in that span. He also picked off 25 passes in that time taking two back for scores.
Nickelback: Brent Grimes
Cornerback 2: Sam Madison
It is extremely close between him and Surtain but the latter’s ball hawking ability gives him the nod. Madison stuck around one year longer and picked off 15 passes in that six year span. If this team went back to 1998, Madison would’ve double his count intercepting eight passes in ’98 and seven in ’99.
Dimeback: Will Allen
Free Safety: Brock Marion
When I was a kid, I cut out a picture of an inverted Dolphins player with his back to the cameraman. I read the 3 and the 1 on the jersey backwards and my dyslexia made Marion look like Marino. I was disappointed that my wall poster was the Dolphins safety until I learned what kind of player he was. A vocal leader that loved beating up on AFC East rivals – 18 of his 20 career interceptions with the Dolphins came from 2000-2003.
Backup: Chris Clemons
Strong Safety: Reshad Jones
He was recently named the 64th best player in football on NFL Network’s joke of a rating show, but the reality is that there likely aren’t any safeties in the league that are better. No one handles more responsibility with more success that Reshad. In Seattle, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor split the heavy lifting, but Jones does it all. Five picks, two sacks, two defensive scores and 135 tackles in 2015. That’s defensive player of the year worthy.
Backup: Yeremiah Bell
There you have it. There are some positions on this squad that would give even the most casual of Dolphins fans a full blown chubby and other position groupings that make you want to join Joe Philbin’s son in that frozen Wisconsin lake. The specialist and coaching staff were omitted on purpose and would only further illustrate why this franchise has been mired in mediocrity since #13 moved on.
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