5. Ricky Williams
I expect this will be the most controversial ranking on the list. While it’s true that Williams ranks 2nd in franchise history with 6,436 yards and 19th in receptions (197), his off the field issues greatly tarnish his Dolphins legacy.
Many fans will never forgive Williams for wrecking the 2004 season by retiring right before training camp because Williams knew he had failed his 3rd drug test. He only came back because the Dolphins sued him for $8.6M for “breach of contract”.
After returning to the Dolphins and playing sparingly in 2005, Williams was suspended for all of the 2006 season after failing his 4th drug test. He went on to put up decent numbers from 2008-2010 but could never shake the stigma that he was only playing because he had to.
(Credit to an SI.com article https://www.si.com/nfl/2016/07/11/ricky-williams-marijuana-drug-test-record for providing the timeline of Williams’ suspensions.)
4. Tony Nathan
For those looking for flashy numbers, Tony Nathan’s numbers each season will disappoint. He never rushed for 1000 yards, or even 800 for that matter, and didn’t score more than 6 TDs in any one season. However, over his nine-year Dolphin career, Nathan did it all for the Dolphins; he ran the ball, caught the ball and even returned punts/kickoffs for three seasons.
When it was all said and done, Nathan finished 6th on the Dolphins all-time rushing list (3,543) AND 8th in receiving yards (3,592), regardless of position. Finally, for those that thought “What if Dan Marino had a running game?”, Nathan averaged 4.8 YPC from 1984-87.
3. Mercury Morris
While the first seven names on the list are wildly open for debate, the top three seem relatively clear-cut. Morris’ 3,877 yards rushing ranks him 4th in franchise history while also adding value as a kick returner (26.5 average and 3 TDs). His status as the #2 RB of the early 70’s Dolphins dynasty cements Morris as one of the top backs in Dolphins history.
2. Jim Kiick
Mercury Morris may have a slight edge in career rushing yards (3,877 to 3,644) and a clear edge in yards per carry (5.1 to 3.7) over Kiick but the “Sundance Kiick” added a ton more value as a receiver.
His 221 receptions rank him 2nd behind only Tony Nathan on the running back reception list.
Finally, ball security was also a deciding factor of putting Kiick above Morris. Despite having 143 more carries than Morris, Kiick fumbled half as much (15) when compared to Morris’ (31)
1. Larry Csonka
Just like the quarterback list, there is little debate about who is the greatest running back in Dolphins history. “Butch” Csonka had 6,737 yards and 53 rushing touchdowns; both franchise records. The fact that he put up those numbers despite being week-in-week-out primary focus for opposing defenses during Miami’s historic three straight Super Bowl appearances just makes his feats that much more impressive.