Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 9/7/12
DAVIE, Fla. There were two Chads. There was a Jay and a Ray. There was a Brian and now theres a Ryan. The number of quarterbacks to have started games for the Dolphins since the legendary Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season is soon to hit 17. And is it unique that rookie Ryan Tannehill, who will start Sundays opener at Houston, wears No. 17? Well, maybe not. Daunte Culpepper was No. 8 on the list and wore No. 8. But perhaps Tannehill can be unique in being the guy who eventually provides Miami with a truly marquee quarterback for the first time since Marino began his five-year waiting period to get into the Hall of Fame. Tannehill is, after all, the first rookie quarterback to start an opener for the Dolphins and their first signal caller taken in the first round since Marino in 1983. The pressure will be on, said Gus Frerotte, who started 15 games for Miami in 2005 while being the seventh quarterback to come after Marino. He has big shoes to fill, just like the other 16 guys before him. Its been quite an adventure for the Dolphins since Marino left. The first guy to try to take over had the most success but perhaps wasnt as appreciated as he should have been since he came right after Marino. That was Jay Fielder, who had 59 starts between 2000-04 while leading the Dolphins to the playoffs twice and to their last playoff win in 2000. Since then, nobody has come close to that many starts. Chad Henne had 31 and no one else has had more than 20. If youre scoring at home, after Fieldler, Miami quarterbacks who have opened games since Marino departed have been Damon Huard (one start), Ray Lucas (six), Brian Griese (five), A.J. Feeley (eight), Sage Rosenfelds (two), Frerotte (15), Culpepper (four) Joey Harrington (11), Cleo Lemon (eight), Trent Green (five), John Beck (four), Chad Pennington (20), Henne (31), Tyler Thigpen (one) and Matt Moore (12). I think if you look around the league, it tells you that its a tough position to play, Marino said when asked why Miami has had such a roller-coaster ride at quarterback since he left. Its hard to find really good players at that position no matter if youre New England, Miami, San Diego, whatever it might be. Thats what this franchise has to look to get. Thats what theyve been looking for is to get more consistency at that position. So thats what (Tannehill) has got to deal with. Injuries haven't helped. Culpepper, Green, Pennington and Henne all suffered year-ending injuries in the first six games of seasons. When Pennington was knocked out in 2009, it denied him the chance to build upon the best season enjoyed by a post-Marino Dolphins quarterback. He had 3,653 yards, 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions during the 11-5 playoff campaign of 2008. Dont say, though, the Dolphins havent had plenty of chances to bring in a marquee quarterback since Marino left. Eventual Pro Bowl quarterbacks theyve passed over in drafts since then include Tom Brady, Drew Brees (also passed over in free agency in 2006 in favor of Culpepper), Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo (who went undrafted), Matt Schaub, Marc Bulger, Matt Cassel and David Garrard. The Dolphins could have drafted Garrard in 2002, 10 years before they signed him earlier this year as a free agent. Garrard was No. 1 on the depth chart before the first preseason game but then suffered a knee injury that led to him being released earlier this week. Thats why Garrard wont be the 17th man to start since Marino left and Tannehill perhaps the 18th. I dont think about all the past history, said Tannehill, shrugging off whether he feels any extra pressure on being the man in Miami after the team has been searching for so many years. I just try to take care of what I can control here and now . I cant control what goes on in the past or the future. I just try to handle the present. At least for the present, Marino likes Tannehill, saying the Dolphins wouldnt have picked him eighth if they didnt think he was going to be a big-time player. But the legendary one doesnt deny theres a lot of pressure on him and that theres always the risk Tannehill could falter as a rookie and need to be replaced by a veteran. Nobodys ever going to forget Dan, but certainly Tannehill can turn some heads if he wins a Super Bowl, Fielder said of expectations for the Texas A&M product with the Dolphins. Yeah, real simple. Winning a Super Bowl is, of course, the only thing Marino didnt do in his career. He made it to the big game after his second season of 1984 but the Dolphins fell 38-16 to San Francisco. When Marinos illustrious career ended after 17 seasons, he was the NFL record holder in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. Then Fielder had the Everglades-sized responsibility of trying to replace him, I dont know if I felt any extra pressure, said Fielder, now a business consultant in Garden City, N.Y. I had to deal with the question in press conferences throughout the week, but that was really the only time it ever came up. The pressure of playing NFL quarterback is enough. Fielder had a reasonable run, going 36-23 as a starter, although he threw nearly as many interceptions (63) as touchdowns (66). Looking back, he said his situation would have been helped had the Dolphins had more high draft picks then and had they elected to use more of the picks they did have on offensive players. After Fielders tenure, Frerotte took over as the starter in 2005. He had a solid season, throwing for 2,996 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions and leading the Dolphins to a 9-7 mark. But six years after Marino had played his final game the aura of No. 13 still hung over the franchise. Obviously, Dan Marino was a great quarterback, but I just think you need to move on, said Frerotte, now a high school football coach in the St. Louis area. When I played for the Dolphins, I would throw a touchdown pass and they would be playing a highlight on the scoreboard from whatever year going back to the glory days of Dan Marino. A lot of teams have had great players. I grew up in Pittsburgh and there are still (Terry) Bradshaw jerseys in the stands. But the Steelers do a good job of promoting whos on the field now, and thats what the Dolphins need to do. There are still plenty of Marino No. 13 jerseys on display at Dolphins games, and theyre available for sale in the official team shop. The Dolphins play their games at Sun Life Stadium, where the address is 2269 Dan Marino Blvd. (Marinos) obviously a huge figure for this organization, said Moore, who started the final 12 games last season and faced questions about being the 16th quarterback to follow Marino. Not only this organization, but for this league, and hes an unbelievable guy. Hes definitely around. But me, personally, I dont think you can worry about it. Its great what this team has in their history. But were trying to move forward. The Dolphins are entering their 13th season of trying to do that following the retirement of No. 13. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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