Miami Dolphins At 50: Top 10 DLs
By Dan Heaning
Mandatory Credit: MiamiDolphins.com
No. 9 – Manny Fernandez
Like many of the pieces the Miami Dolphins put together to make their “No Name Defense,” Manny Fernandez was brought in as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Fernandez was initially a defensive end for the Dolphins during his rookie season in 1968. He would be moved to defensive tackle the next season and improved in practically every fashion.
When Miami joined the NFL after the merger in 1970, Don Shula was brought on to coach the team and the defense was forever changed. Fernandez would flourish under Shula compiling his best numbers during the Super Bowl days.
In 1971, Fernandez recorded about 55 tackles and six sacks with a sack coming in Super Bowl VI against the Dallas Cowboys. In 1972, Fernandez compiled about 95 tackles and five sacks and had an outstanding Super Bowl VII recording 17 tackles.
Fernandez continued his outstanding play the next season with about 90 tackles, five sacks, and a sack in Super Bowl VIII.
He would start 93 of 103 games during his eight year career in Miami. During his first seven seasons, Fernandez would play in all but five games before his 1975 season resulted in him missing four games and starting in only four.
Dec 21, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive endCameron Wake
(91) is introduced prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
No. 8 – Cameron Wake
It’s refreshing to be able to put an active Miami Dolphin on one of these lists and know they truly deserve the accolade.
Wake first started out as a linebacker in the 3-4 scheme the Dolphins utilized when he first arrived in 2009 to 2011. Even in that role, Wake was clearly designed to find and harm quarterbacks as he racked up 14 sacks in 2010 and 28 total while playing in the linebacker position.
When head coach Joe Philbin took over, he shifted the defense back to a 4-3 style and Wake was moved to defensive end. Quarterbacks have been running for their lives ever since.
At the age of 30, Wake recorded a career best 15 sacks in 2012 and has added 20 more in the next two seasons.
Wake remains unquestionably the Dolphins best player and leader of the defense. While Miami has failed to make the playoffs during his tenure, he still been a clutch player as evidenced by his walk-off safety on Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in overtime to win the game for Miami in their Thursday night game that took place on Halloween 2013 .
Wake is now 33 and it is reasonable to think his production will start to taper off sooner rather than later. However, Wake continues to be one of the few glimmers of sunshine during these dark ages of this franchise.