Marino played in the NFL from 1983 to 1999, and he played for the Miami Dolphins in every season he spent in the NFL. Marino’s gaudy passing stats allow many to argue that the legendary Miami Dolphins QB was ahead of his time.
He was never able to win a Super Bowl with the Miami Dolphins during his time in the NFL, but his style of play paved the way for the pass-heavy offenses of the modern NFL.
Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino was an outlier for the time in which he played
Legendary Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino’s name stands out in the record books of top quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Marino is the only quarterback to not play in the 2000s to have his name in the top-10 of these QB stats:
- Pass completions (9th – 4,967)
- Pass attempts (7th – 8,358)
- Passing yards (8th – 61,361)
- Passing touchdowns (7th – 420)
In just his second season in the NFL, Marino threw for 5,084 yards and had 48 passing touchdowns. Only seven other quarterbacks have passed for more yards than Marino, and none of them did so before 2011. The only other player from Marino’s era to even get close was San Diego Chargers QB Dan Fouts in 1981, who passed for 4,802 yards which is good for 33rd all-time.
Only three other NFL QBs were able to throw for more touchdowns than Marino (Peyton Manning did it twice). The next highest-ranked QB from the 80’s was Fouts again, and he is tied for 71st all-time with 33 touchdowns in 1981.
Marino finished his career with an MVP, an Offensive Player of the Year Award and a Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He had nine Pro Bowl appearances and 13 seasons with over 3,000 yards passing.
Watching Dan Marino highlights on a Sunday morning because Marino is f*****g awesome. pic.twitter.com/MB5W7eZA41
— Barry (@BarryOnHere) August 21, 2022
Just gonna enjoy these Dan Marino highlights until the game starts 🐐
— Bovada (@BovadaOfficial) January 16, 2021
Been watching a lot of Dan Marino highlights lately. This man was so special. Wish kids today watched this man in his prime. pic.twitter.com/tX4q7DtNdp
— Dolphin Nation (@Dolphin_Nation) July 28, 2020
Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins played in a different game
When Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins made it to Super Bowl XIX, it was clear to Dan Marino’s teammate Mark Duper that they were doing something that no one else was, according to an article from Sports Illustrated.
“We were basically the first team in the NFL to throw as much as we did,” says Mark Duper, a receiver who played 11 seasons with the Dolphins, from 1982 through ’92. “We started something that people couldn’t stop. I’ll never forget when we arrived there at the Super Bowl. I was like, We better get used to this. We’ll be here the next three, four, five years.”
In the same article, sports broadcaster Jim Lampley explains the difference between passing stats then and passing stats now.
“We’ve become accustomed to those kinds of statistics with this current generation of quarterbacks,” Lampley says. “Back then, if you completed 18 of 35 passes, you had a whale of a game. But we hadn’t seen anybody throw it the way Marino could.”
On top of a different style of offense in those times, rules have changed in the NFL to protect quarterbacks. These new rules allow quarterbacks to throw the ball downfield with more immunity, and they also allow receivers to catch the ball without as much of a fear of being hit.
Think these hits would be penalties in today’s NFL? John Lynch agrees pic.twitter.com/EOCbH8YJVN
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) August 27, 2018
While roughing the passer has been around for a long time, many changes to the rule have made it drastically different from Marino’s time. One new aspect of the rule is that players can’t put their full body weight on the QB after a sack.
Tackling is officially a personal foul in the NFL now. Called on 58 for “body weight on the QB”. What do you guys think??? pic.twitter.com/XBDtHHciJF
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) August 31, 2018
The body weight rule is absolutely insane and the NFL rules committee must be stopped. pic.twitter.com/x8b8SXS6kx
— Christian Williams (@CWilliamsNFL) November 5, 2023
In addition to not being able to go high on quarterbacks in the NFL, players are also not allowed to go low. The rule was implemented to protect quarterbacks’ knees.
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) September 13, 2018
Whether these rules should have been implemented to protect player safety is a debate in and of itself, but the fact of the matter is that Dan Marino played in a league without these rules, and that made his legendary career that much more impressive.
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