On Monday, the NFL world and the Miami Dolphins lost the greatest coach in league history, Don Shula. His coaching career had some special players.
Don Shula coached phenomenal teams throughout his career but who sits at the top of those teams defensively? We take a look.
What would Don Shula’s All-Time defense look like? Shula came to South Florida to coach the Dolphins and over his 25-year tenure as head coach, he built a family and tradition like no other. He led the team to the only undefeated season in NFL history in 1972 (and took pride in ruining the Bears chance in 1985). He helped build the “no-name defense” and had standouts throughout his career with the Dolphins. But what would an all-time team look like for the Dolphins under the legendary Coach Don Shula?
On the defensive line, on the ends, Vern Den Herder and Bill Stanfill. With Stanfill, who was a member of the Dolphins from 1970-1976 under coach Shula starting in 82 of 96 games under the coach recovering eight fumbles over that span. Den Herder, played for the Dolphins from 1971 -1982 starting in 144 of 166 games recovering 14 fumbles and recording a touchdown catch in 1978.
On the inside of the defensive line at the tackle position(s) depending on the formation, Manny Fernandez and Bob Baumhower. Fernandez played under Shula from 1970-1975 started in 93 of 103 games and recovered six fumbles. Baumhower, played from 1977 – 1984 and 1986 for the Dolphins recording an interception and 14.5 sacks in 130 games (67 starts).
The linebackers would be Nick Buoniconti, AJ Duhe, and John Offerdahl. Buoniconti was a leader on the team from 1970-1976 starting in 85 of 92 games for coach Shula. He also forced a fumble recovered four and intercepted eight passes during his tenure. AJ Duhe played for the Dolphins from 1977-1984 playing in 108 games during that span recovering six fumbles and securing three interceptions and eight and a half sacks. John Offerdahl is the third linebacker for this list. Offerdahl played for the Dolphins from 1986-1993 starting in 86 of 89 games during that span. He also had four interceptions and nine and a half sacks.
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In the defensive backfield, Dick Anderson, Don McNeal, Jake Scott, and Troy Vincent. Anderson prowled the secondary from 1970-1977 for the Dolphins starting in 101 of 121 games during that span. He also recorded 34 interceptions returning three for touchdowns and recovering 16 fumbles. He also made the pro bowl from 1972-74 and helped the team win back to back super bowls in 1972 and 1973. Jake Scott played on the Dolphins from 1970-1975 playing and starting in all 84 games during that span. He also recorded 35 interceptions and recovered seven fumbles during that time as well. He was also named MVP for Super Bowl VII.
McNeal played for the Dolphins from 1980-1989 playing in 110 games and helping the team make the playoffs in four of those seasons. He recorded 18 interceptions returning two of those for scores and recovering five fumbles. Troy Vincent laced up the cleats for the Dolphins from 1992-1995 starting in 55 of 57 of those games. During that span, he recorded 14 interceptions and recording 259 total tackles. He also helped the Dolphins get to the playoffs in three of those years.