No American football team has ever evolved that quickly from being a newcomer to dominating the league as the Miami Dolphins. Within just six years, the Dolphins changed from an expansion team to an unbeatable top team of the league: In 1972, the Dolphins completed a “Perfect Season” as the only team in NFL history so far, a season without a single defeat or draw.
In 1965 Joseph “Joe” Robbie of the AFL was awarded the first expansion franchise in the young league. And the Dolphins had an incredible start in their first season in 1967: In the very first game of their history, running back Joe Auer returned the opening kickoff 95 yards back for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. The game was lost anyway and the Dolphins finished their first season with 4 wins and 10 defeats.
In the first four years, the Dolphins were only able to record 15 victories. Nevertheless, the team built the foundation for the later dominance in those years: Quarterback Bob Griese was drafted in 1967, followed by running back Larry Csonka in 1968 and in 1969 guard Larry Little changed from San Diego to Florida. And finally, in 1970, Don Shula became the new head coach in Miami, who turned a team of losers into a winning team.
In 1970, the Miami Dolphins were able to secure their first playoff participation and in the three following years, they reached the Super Bowl each year and were able to win the latter two. In 1972, the Dolphins completed the only “Perfect Season» in NFL history up to this point in time: Led by quarterback Bob Griese and – during a multi-week injury lay-off of Griese – Earl Morrall the Dolphins won all games. They finally crowned the season with a 14:7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. To this day, the former players meet each season for a glass of champagne when the last of the current NFL teams had to suffer its first defeat of the season and to watch the current Miami Dolphins team play.
In the coming years, the Miami Dolphins were also very successful: In 26 seasons under Don Shula they played in the playoffs 16 times, only two seasons resulted in more defeats than victories. In 1993, Shula surpassed the record of the legendary George S. Halas and became the most successful coach in the history of professional football with 324 victories.
From 1983, a new quarterback coined the Miami Dolphins: Dan Marino, a young playmaker was drafted in the first round in 1983 and was ready to rewrite the record books. In his second season in 1984, Marino recorded records in most complete passes (362), most yards (5’084) and most touchdowns (48) during a season. The Miami Dolphins reached the Super Bowl again this season, but lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
After the 1995 season, Don Shula took resigned and in 1999, quarterback Dan Marino also declared his resignation. After that, the Dolphins only reached the playoffs twice and weren’t very successful. And in 2007 they reached their low point so far: The Miami Dolphins could only win a single game and only avoided the opposite of a “perfect season” with great difficulty.