Persistence paid off for Jay Fiedler. After bouncing around the NFL with three different teams and taking time off to become a volunteer assistant coach, he got his chance. Fiedler, an undrafted quarterback out of Dartmouth College, became the starter for the Miami Dolphins in 2000. He was replacing the legendary Dan Marino, who had started for the Dolphins since 1983. Fiedler didn’t see it that way.
Dan Marino was the Miami Dolphins
For 17 seasons, Dan Marino was the face of the Miami Dolphins. Drafted out of Pittsburgh by the Miami Dolphins in the quarterback-heavy 1983 NFL draft, Marino quickly became a fan favorite in Miami. Marino made an immediate impact in his rookie season by making the first of his nine Pro Bowls.
In just his second year in the NFL, Marino guided the Dolphins to a berth in the Super Bowl. He led the team to a 14-2 regular-season record after putting up some serious Fantasy Football-like numbers. Marino led the NFL in passing yards (5,084) and touchdowns (48) and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Marino led the NFL in passing yardage five times and was tops in touchdown passes in three straight years. He made the Pro Bowl for the first five years of his professional career. He was named All-Pro three times. Marino was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Jay Fiedler took over in 2000
Jay Fiedler was an undrafted quarterback who played his college football at Dartmouth College. After graduating, Fiedler had a brief stint with the Philadelphia Eagles and then left the NFL to become a volunteer assistant coach at Hofstra University. He made his way back in the NFL in 1998 with the Minnesota Vikings, appearing in five games and attempting seven passes.
In 1999, Fielder played in seven games, starting one, for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fielder got his big break in 2000 when he signed with the Miami Dolphins. According to ESPN, Fiedler signed a three-year deal worth $3.8 million to take over for the recently retired Dan Marino.
Fielder played five seasons with the Dolphins, going 10-5 in his 15 starts in his first year. The following season, he started all 16 games as the team went 11-5. Fiedler went 36-23 during the regular season in his time with the Dolphins. He is the last Miami quarterback to win a playoff game.
Fiedler wasn’t worried about being the next Dan Marino
Jay Fielder worked hard to get his first gig as a starting quarterback in the NFL. For Fiedler, there were much bigger things to be concerned with than how fans or anyone else would compare him to Dan Marino. “I came out of Dartmouth as an undrafted free agent,” Fiedler told sportscasting.com. “Never saw any action. I was out of the league and was an assistant coach at Hofstra and then made my way back into the league.
“Who cares who was there before me? I wasn’t thinking about any pressure (of replacing Marino). I fought so hard to get there – worked my butt off. My focus was getting the respect of my teammates and coaches. It wasn’t my job to be the next Dan Marino. It wasn’t my focus on what the fans were thinking. If we won, I’ll earn respect.”
Fiedler wasn’t the stat machine Marino was. He didn’t lead the league in passing attempts like Marino did for five seasons. Fiedler, however, was very effective. He had four winning seasons in his five years as a starter with the Dolphins. “I’m proud of what I accomplished,” Fiedler said. “I earned everything. Perseverance and persistence got me 10 years in the league. I had extreme confidence in myself and that kept me going. I put myself in a situation where I was ready when called upon.”