Dec 8, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt talks with wide receiver Eric Page (17) during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Following Johnson’s retirement in ’99 the Dolphins hired Dave Wannstedt, Johnson’s recommendation to Huizenga, as the teams 4th head coach. Wannstedt made waves early by telling Dan Marino that he wasn’t guaranteed a starting job and that he would have to compete with another quarterback partially prompting Marino to retire. Wannstedt turned the team over to free agent quarterback Jay Fiedler.
Fiedler and Wannstedt would be joined at the hip for the five and a half seasons that Wannstedt coached. Given full control over the team Wannstedt was able to take Johnson’s players and turn them into playoff contenders. The Dolphins reached the playoffs the first two seasons with Wannstedt at the helm finishing 11-5 in both of his first two seasons. The next two seasons the Dolphins would finish 9-7 and 10-6 but miss the post-season. Wannstedt would resign midway through his sixth season as head coach.
While the Dolphins were competitive during Wannstedt’s time with the team, his inability to manage the salary cap and his inability to hit on draft picks led the team down a dark road that to this day is still felt in many ways. The Dolphins after Wannstedt left had little talent at key positions, were in bad shape with salary cap, and the future of the team was heading for a rebuild. At the time, Wannstedt was considered by many to be one of the worst coaches in Dolphins history but now, 11 years later, Wannstedt is still the 2nd winningest coach in franchise history.
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