Dan Marino vs. Bob Griese: Who Was a Better Quarterback?

When it comes to great Dolphins quarterbacks, there are only two options. On the one hand, there is Bob Griese. He may not have had the most stunning numbers. But he broke down the game like chess and maximized every opportunity he got on his way to a pair of Super Bowls (although he was only on the field for one).

For Marino, the individual numbers were there. But he was never able to get over the hump. With both men long gone from the NFL, it’s time to debate who is the better quarterback. 

The case for Bob Griese

Griese entered the NFL as the fourth-overall pick after a highly-successful career at Purdue in 1967. Immediately, he showed some signs of greatness but a lot of room for improvement, too. However, with Don Shula on board with Griese and a little bit of practice, his impact on the team soon made him a household name among football fans. 

The Dolphins remained patient with Griese as he worked on his accuracy and ability to get the ball in the endzone. By the early ’70s, they were one of the best teams in the NFL. The 1972 season, which Griese missed most due to injury, ended with a perfect record for the Dolphins. While Griese missed much of that time, it was his first five games that set the table for the rest of the season after he went down, as Pro Football Reference details.

Luckily for Griese, he didn’t have to watch the team win a Super Bowl and dwell on that for long. The following year, he was on the field for the Dolphins’ second-straight Super Bowl. Despite this being his last Super Bowl, the best was yet to come for Griese. He continued to dominate on the field and improve with every year. His 1977 season, in which he threw for 2,252 yards and 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions, was arguably his best year. 

He started for the team for most of the next two seasons before being relegated to the bench in 1980. Griese retired after that season with 25,092 yards, 192 touchdowns, and 172 interceptions. 

The case for Dan Marino

Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins
Quarterback Dan Marino of the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX | Sylvia Allen/Getty Images

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The greatest knock on Marino: He never won a Super Bowl. However, he has a list of individual stats that make up for his lack of rings. Marino took the field three years after Griese retired and immediately showed the NFL that the 27th-overall pick should’ve been one of the first. 

As a rookie, Marino entered the NFL with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions, reports Pro Football Reference. In his second season, he threw for a mind-boggling 5,084 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions and got the first of three-straight All-Pro honors. While Marino never regained the glory of his beginnings, he was consistently among the best players in the NFL. 

In 1999, Marino retired after 16 years in the NFL. He threw for 61,361 yards, 420 touchdowns, and 252 interceptions. While he missed a Super Bowl ring, even champions have to look at his numbers and wonder how he did it. Which begs the question, who is the best quarterback in Dolphins history? 

Who is the better quarterback?

Take away the Super Bowl rings, and Griese has no argument over Marino. Marino was a more accurate passer, a more prolific touchdown thrower, and a more consistent option for the Dolphins, details Football Perspective. His lack of Super Bowl success is not a knock against him, but the Dolphins as an organization.

Marino had the same coach for most of his career, but the personnel around him and Shula played in comparison to the team around Griese. To Griese’s credit, however, he played in an era where defenses were allowed to rough around a quarterback more than Marino’s era. 

Griese’s importance to the Dolphins and the NFL cannot go understated, but Marino was far and away the better quarterback. However, as far as the importance to the Dolphins franchise, both deserve a place in the hearts of Dolphins fans and football fans in general.