By: Chip Turner
It has been a long time since we had this much anticipation over a QB starting, Dolphins fans. As we count down the days until the Tua Tagovailoa Era officially begins, we take a look back at the other 21 Eras we’ve endured between Dan The Man and Tua Time.
1- The Jay Fiedler Era: This is what happens when an organization has a star QB in his mid-30s and plans for the future at QB. Just kidding. The Dolphins planned for Life After Marino the way a college student plans for classes in the middle of a keg party. Basically, “Ahhh, screw it.” Instead of drafting an heir apparent, they selected just one QB from 1995-1999. That QB? John Dutton, a 6th rounder in 1998, who was released during training camp the same year.
So, when Dan Marino hung up his cleats, the Dolphins turned to an experienced veteran in Jay Fiedler. By “experienced veteran,” I mean, “QB who was out of football for three years, came back in 1999, and threw 11 total passes in his career before Miami made him their starting QB in 2000.”
Strangely, it worked for the better part of 5 seasons. If you ask Miami Dolphins fans who their top 5 favorite Dolphins QBs are, Jay Fiedler is usually in the mix. While he threw nearly as many picks as touchdowns, he was gritty, determined, and a fiery leader. He also led the Dolphins to their most recent playoff win nearly 20 years ago. Alas, he was injured during much of this Era, which brought about several OTHER Eras, including…
2- The Damon Huard Era: This consisted of 1 start during the 2000 season…and he won! Good for him.
3- The Ray Lucas Era: We all like Ray Lucas. Ray Lucas is a good dude. Ray Lucas was not a good NFL QB. My most vivid memory of Ray Lucas is from a Monday Night Football game against Green Bay in 2002. I watched with a good friend and Green Bay fan Kevin. We were ribbing each other a bit…and then Ray Lucas threw the worst NFL pass I’ve ever seen. It didn’t reach the line of scrimmage, didn’t seem to be directed to anyone in particular, and didn’t appear to be intentional grounding. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before or since. There was an awkward silence between Kevin and I, and then he turned to me and said, “I’m sorry.”
4- The Brian Griese Era: In 2003, the Dolphins decided that Fate would be in their corner if they signed the son of Dolphins legend and Hall of Famer Bob Griese’s son to back up Fiedler. When Fiedler got hurt and Griese started, they discovered that Fate was not amused by their clever ruse, and this era quickly came to a close.
5- The AJ Feeley Era: In 2004, the Dolphins traded a second-round pick to the Eagles for AJ Feeley because he had extremely trendy hair. I still cannot come up with a better reason for that trade. Anyway, the 2004 Dolphins completely came off the rails. Wannstedt resigned, Bates made the change to Feeley…and not a whole lot changed.
6- The Sage Rosenfels Era: Rosenfels started two games between 2004 and 2005, because he’d been on the team for a while, and the coaching staff apparently came together and said, “Well…why not?” Rosenfels threw a 76-yard TD pass to Chris Chambers in the first minute of his first start…and things went downhill quickly from there.
7- The Gus Frerotte Era: Hey, did you know that Gus Frerotte started 15 games for Miami in 2005, and that he was actually pretty good? It’s true! Miami ripped off a 6-game winning streak to end that season, and all Miami had to do to get to the promised land was get their prized QB in free agency and decide between Drew Brees and Daunte Culpepper for the 2006 season!
8- The Daunte Culpepper Era: The Dolphins chose poorly.
9- The Joey Harrington Era: Twice.
10- The Cleo Lemon Era: Cleo Lemon, while not particularly good, did start the only game Miami won in 2007, giving Dolphins fans one of their more exciting moments of the millennium.
11- The Trent Green Era: In 2007, Trent Green started for the Dolphins 5 times. He lost 5 times. You’re going to see a lot of this from 2007.
12- The John Beck Era: I actually thought John Beck was going to be pretty good. I came to this conclusion after watching college film, including a short YouTube video set to the song “All Kinds Of Time” by Fountains of Wayne. In retrospect, I’m an idiot. That video mostly consists of broken plays, ill-advised passes and several instances where Beck was nearly decapitated.
13- The Chad Pennington Era: In 2008, the Dolphins signed veteran Chad Pennington and drafted Chad Henne. Pennington became the feel-good story of the season, was the Comeback Player of the Year, and led Miami to the playoffs. If you ask any Dolphins fan, Pennington is one of the more fondly remembered QBs in franchise history.
14- The Chad Henne Era: Because we can’t have nice things, Chad Pennington was injured early in 2009, and was never the same player again.
14a) The Pat White Era: White never actually started a game for Miami, but I would be remiss if I did not mention him. Pat White was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL Draft with hopes of being an option NFL QB. A handful of plays into that NFL career, the Steelers’s Ike Taylor hit White so hard that he, and many people watching, immediately reevaluated their life choices. He never played another regular-season snap for Miami, and is now doing much safer things as the RB coach for the University of South Florida.
Part Two, covering 2010-2020!
Please welcome Chip Turner to PhinManiacs and please check him out on Twitter @ChipTurnerPA