Friday, August 31, 2007

The Aerial Assault of the 1972 Miami Dolphins

Most people think of the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins as a team that won thanks to a great rushing attack and a disciplined stifling defense. And those people would not necessarily be wrong. The Dolphins led the league in both offense and defense that year and Miami rushed for more yards than anyone that year while finishing only 19th (out of 26 teams) in passing yards. However, Miami may not have thrown for many yards but when they did they were ruthlessly efficient. That greatest of websites, The Cold Hard Football Facts, has compiled a list of the greatest passing teams of the Super Bowl Era ranked by Yards Per Attempt, and the 1972 Dolphins clock in at 18th all-time. Miami averaged 8.63 yards every time they threw the ball. Of all the teams that have made a Super Bowl, the '72 Dolphins rank as the 9th best passing attack. Of the 41 Super Bowl champions, the 1972 Miami Dolphins rank 5th.

Much of the credit for this must go the man who took over as QB for the Fins in game five after future Hall of Famer Bob Griese broke his ankle. Griese led the Dolphins to a 4-0 start and I'm convinced they would not have won the title had Griese not returned in time for the AFC Championship game, but credit where credit is due. Earl Morrall may well be the worst quarterback in Super Bowl history but in that magical '72 season he compiled a QB rating of 91.0 and a YPA of 9.07. Griese dragged the team numbers down with his 71.6 passer rating and 6.58 YPA. Griese got off to a slow start (his numbers were far better in 1971 and 1973), but 4-0 is 4-0 and we remember that team for its 17 wins and 0 losses, not for its great passing. But that YPA number doesn't lie. Morrall played at an MVP level, future Hall of Famer Paul Warfield was still in his prime, Howard Twilley and Marlin Briscoe were quality WR targets, and Miami also had a fine pass-catching back in Jim Kiick and solid TE's in Jim Mandich and Marv Fleming. That adds up to one of the greatest passing attacks of the last 41 years.


KezzaB said...

Hey guys:

Kerry from CHFF here ... got a link to your post about the 72 Dolphins. Thanks for the kind words.

More interestingly, is that we did a follow-up on that story about best passing teams by YPA with a look at the best individual QBs of all time in YPA. And, you guessed it, Earl Morrall is on the list. No. 10 all-time with 7.74 YPA for his career. Shocked me.

He's a very interesting figure in NFL history and of course, as you point out, a pivotal piece of the undefeated 72 team.

Mike said...

What does it mean that Brday Quinn looked great in exhibition and we have Trent Green? IS it time to mutter yet?

Why dont you write a post about the complete lack of hope for the Dolphins this season, and how I now know what it feels like to be a Detroit Lions fan, or a CArdinals fan, or a (shudder) RAiders fan of late.

Rob said...

Mike, how can you write a negative post like that on the greatest day of this website's brief existence!? The Chief Troll of the Cold Hard Football Facts actually posted a comment here!!! This is huge for me. And I must of course follow up his comment with a fresh post analyzing the amazing career of Mr. Earl Morrall.

Don't worry. Now that the season is almost here I will post more on the current Dolphins. Yeah, it will probably be a long season but I kind of like what Cameron has done so far.

Moonglade said...

1972 Dolphins are among the most overrated teams in NFL history. They played a ridiculously easy schedule in a terribly weak AFC. Counting the division rivals -- the Colts, Patriots and Bills twice -- Miami's 14 opponents had a combined record of 70-122-4, a .367 winning percentage, the worst ever for a Super Bowl champion. Not one of their regular season opponents reached the playoffs that year, and only two of them -- the Giants and Chiefs -- finished over .500. Each was 8-6. The 1972 Dolphins are the only Super Bowl winner since the merger that didn't face a playoff team and the only Super Bowl winner ever that didn't face a team that won nine or more games. What's more, that Dolphins team did not face a quarterback who finished that season with a rating north of 84 (that would have been Norm Snead, not exactly in the prime of his career). These facts, combined with what looks to fans like the behavior of a group of bitter vultures who only attempt to capture the public's attention when in the midst of celebrating the failure of modern teams, has engendered much ill will on the part of the NFL community.