Don Shula Vs. Dave Wannstedt


These two coaches are at the opposite side of the fanbase spectrum.  Don Shula is revered while Wannstedt is still reviled.  While one may be loved and the other despised, both had a lasting impact on the Miami Dolphins.

Don Shula was the greatest coach to ever walk or ride the sidelines.  His win totals hold true today as the most by any coach in the history of the NFL.  More than Halas, Walsh, and even Lombardi.  His name alone conjures a stiff jutting jaw and quirky tone to his voice, yet his eyes can throw darts with a glance.

Don Shula announced his retirement on January 5th, 1996.  Many feel it was a forced retirement.  Wayne Huizenga had an opportunity to hire TV analyst Jimmy Johnson away from the studio and to his sidelines.  Others simply say it was time.

While many believed the game had passed Shula by, finishing the ’95 season a dissappointing 9-7 when Super Bowl talent was on the field, many failed to realize that the team on the field was a bought product that never fit into the Don Shula mold of talent.  Shula felt pressure by WH to put a Super Bowl winner on the field immediately.  When that didn’t happen, Shula exited for life after football.  Leaving behind an untouched legacy and a franchise that, 13 years later, would still be searching for not only an identity but even a playoff birth.

Following a quick tenure by Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt was chosen by Jimmy to be his personal successor.  Wannstedt had driven a decent Chicago Bears team into the ground with 2 4-12 seasons.  He would join JJ in Miami in the final year of JJ’s show. 

Wannstedt immediately put his thumbprint on the franchise telling Dan Marino he was free to go elsewhere but that in Miami he would have to compete for the starting job with newly acquired QB Jay Fiedler.  DW would handcuff the team and himself to the armless QB and ride the Dolphins into the ground with poor personnel decisions, horrendous draft picks, and horrid cap management.

By the time the Dave Wannstedt regime had ended, the Miami Dolphins had only a fistfull of Miami drafted players on the roster and over 15 million dollars in overspent cap space.  During the 2004 season, DW resigned after the bye week.  The team would win 3 games after his resignation for a 4-12 record.

The after effects of Dave Wannstedts 5 seasons in Miami are still being felt to this day.

Which one of these two was the worst moment in Dolphins history?  Shula being possibly forced into retirement which inevitably led to the hiring of DW, or Dave Wannstedt being hired period?  You make the call.