The Miami Dolphins are trying to get to where the New England Patriots have been (often) and the Atlanta Falcons have risen (once before): the Super Bowl.
Last week at the Senior Bowl, Dolphins Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum was asked what lessons his organization can take away from the teams that advanced, particularly the upstart Falcons.
“I think that we’re always learning, we’re always trying to get better,” Tannenbaum said. “I’m proud of the foundation we’ve laid here and I think our future is bright, but we have a lot of work to do. When you look at those four teams that played this past weekend, they’re well coached, they’ve made difficult decisions, they’ve been opportunistic and as I alluded to earlier, I think the other thing those teams have, they all have great depth.”
There are some really interesting connections between the Miami Dolphins organization and the teams that will face off at the Super Bowl in Houston on Sunday. Here’s a look at the Top 10:
- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was head coach when Miami Dolphins Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum was player personnel assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 1995. Later, Belichick and Tannenbaum worked together in the New York Jets organization. Tannenbaum is a Massachussetts native. As Patriots coach, Belichick is 22-12 against the Dolphins.
- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrival has coincided with a Dolphins swoon. Brady is 20-9 all-time against the Miami Dolphins, completing 61 percent of passes with 52 touchdowns and 21 interceptions and a passer rating of 91.7. Against the Dolphins, Brady has actually performed below his career average of 97.2. So there are plenty of years left and plenty of room to improve. Curse? The Dolphins have not won a playoff game in the 16 seasons Brady has been a Patriots’ starter.
- New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan spent time on the Miami Dolphins practice squad in 2011-12. Hogan was nicknamed “7-Eleven” by then-Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, because Hogan was always open. He still is.
- New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich played for the Miami Dolphins in 2007-08. Now 32, Ninkovich had only 17 tackles and 4 sacks this season.
- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn was Miami Dolphins defensive line coach in 2005-06, under Nick Saban. Quinn helped the Dolphins rank first in the AFC and second in the NFL with 49 sacks. Miami also finished third in the AFC in yards per play (4.7) and fourth in yards per carry (3.7). Quinn coached some great players, including Jason Taylor, Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday and Keith Traylor.
- New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels worked alongside Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10. McDaniels was Broncos head coach and Gase coached wide receivers. In those two seasons, Gase coached players such as Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal.
- Former New England Patriots intern and regional scout Chris Grier is Miami Dolphins General Manager. Chris’ father, Bobby, was a running backs coach, director of pro scouting, and vice-president of player personnel for the Patriots.
- Former New England Patriots wide receiver Shawn Jefferson (1996-99) is Miami Dolphins receivers coach. Jefferson also played for the Falcons from 2000-02. Who exactly is Jefferson rooting for on Sunday?
- Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox was Miami Dolphins player (1991-95) and assistant coach (2001). In 1992, Cox had 14 sacks for head coach Don Shula. Somehow, Cox was a fifth-round draft choice.
- Atlanta Falcons reserve linebacker Philip Wheeler (2014-15) and kicker Matt Bryant (2004) are former Miami Dolphins. Maybe the Dolphins should have kept Bryant around in 2004. That season, Miami needed Wes Welker to make a field goal and extra point against… the New England Patriots.
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