The Sun Sentinel recently ranked the top ten quarterbacks in Miami Dolphins’ history. As expected, Dan Marino is the number one ranked QB of all time followed by Bob Griese. As with any top ten list, there were some debatable rankings. However, in my opinion the most questionable QB on this list is Chad Pennington, who is ranked number three of all time. Interestingly enough, Jay Fiedler was ranked sixth. Although I don’t necessarily believe either one is worthy of “the number three spot” considering the great things Don Strock and Earl Morrall did for this franchise, I do think Fiedler has an argument to at least be ranked higher than Pennington.
Now don’t get me wrong, I will never forget that magical 2008 season when Pennington lead the Dolphins to an AFC East title. In fact, as I write this article, I’m wearing my 2008 Miami Dolphins AFC East Champions T-shirt. Just like any other fan, I have several great memories from that year. Without question, Pennington played a huge role in the instant turnaround success of that team as the leader and captain. After all, Miami did finish with a one and 15 record in the prior year without him.
Pennington was very efficient in 2008, throwing 19 touchdowns to just seven interceptions with an impressive 97.4 QB rating. Under first year coach Tony Sparano, Pennington took the Dolphins to the playoffs with an 11 and five record. Unfortunately, Miami would lose their first playoff game at home to the Baltimore Ravens 27 to nine. And just like that, the magic carpet ride was over. Including this loss, Pennington was 11 and eight in playing in “complete” games as a Miami Dolphin, completing 68% of his passes with an 85.6 average quarterback rating. He also finished with a total of 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
But does one good season which ended in a first round playoff loss and an overall QB winning percentage of 58% constitute a third place ranking on the Dolphins’ all time top ten QB list? In my opinion, I would have to say no. In fact, I could see the argument for ranking Fiedler above Pennington on that list. Especially if you value the importance of wins and playoff games.
Fiedler was the Dolphins’ QB from 2000 to 2004. During that five year span, he had 37 wins compared to 25 losses which equates to a 60% winning percentage. One of those wins occurred in his first season in the playoffs beating Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 23 to 17. Sadly enough that would be the last time the Dolphins would win a playoff game. Wow, it’s hard to believe that was over 11 years ago….
The following season in 2001, Fiedler led the Dolphins to a second straight 11 and five record to make it to the playoffs. But as you may remember, Miami was blown out at home against the Ravens 20 to three. The 2001 season was the last full year for Fiedler who suffered multiple injuries the rest of his career which limited him from playing another full 16 game season. He injured his shoulder, neck, hip, tore a rotator cuff, and suffered from pinched nerves.
Although Fiedler won more games and had a higher winning percentage, he did not necessarily have solid stats as Pennington. During his tenure with Miami, Fiedler threw 66 touchdowns and 63 interceptions. He also completed only 58% of his passes with a 75.9 QB rating. As you can see with the comparison, Pennington was statistically better.
Regardless of stats, I can see the argument for ranking Fiedler higher than Pennington. He did take the Dolphins to the playoffs in back to back seasons, and actually won a playoff game! Although his stats match up as an average quarterback, he was a winner. And at the end of the day, isn’t it all about the wins? As much as I like and respect Pennington as a QB, I am definitely having a hard time ranking him as the third best QB in our 46 year franchise history considering he never even won a single playoff game. Call me crazy, but that is simply my honest opinion. So between Pennington and Fiedler, who do you think had the better Dolphins’ career?