The Miami Dolphins are a storied franchise since the late sixties. So naturally there have been great players at every position throughout the years. One of these positions is tailback. With the recent opening at RB for the Dolphins, through the loss of Lamar Miller, I thought we could look at some past backs who mastered the position and helped the Dolphins win games. Hopefully, whether it is Jay Ajayi or Kenyan Drake, one of them can be added to this list. So let’s get started, here are the top 10 Dolphins running backs of all-time. First some Honorable mentions.
HM-Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller, and Don Nottingham
These guys all had short tenures with the Dolphins, but they played well and had success none the less. Bush ran for 1,086 yards in 2011 while trying to prove that he could be an every down back. Health denied him that opportunity. His successor, Lama Miller, was UM standout and was a top ten back in the NFL each season he started from 2013-15. He chose to leave and is now with the Texans. Don Nottingham had 12 touchdowns for the Phins in 1975 when RB were more commonly used as full backs. He spent 4 seasons with the Dolphins before hanging them up.
10. Mark Higgs
Higgs joined the Phins in 1990 and spent five seasons with the team. Over that time period he compiled 2,648 yards. He wasn’t exactly a touch down machine, but he could run the ball. He was very helpful in controlling the ground game for an aging Marino.
9. Lamar Smith
This guy could be higher, but I have my favorites. Still Smith is one of the better back to have played for the Dolphins in the early 2000’s. He rushed for over 900+ yards in his back-to-back seasons with Miami and came up big in the playoffs in 2000 against the Colts.
8. Karim Abdul-Jabbar
The football Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, I still rock his jersey and miss seeing him play. Played with the Phins from 1996-98 and compiled 15 touchdowns in 1997, second most in dolphins history. He was an ultra durable back and complemented Dan Marino well.
7. Ronnie Brown
I loved Ronnie Brown, he was my first favorite back in the NFL. I want to put him higher on this list, but his impact was not as big as the rest here. Six seasons and 4,815 yards gained over time. he had his best years with Miami and helped bring the famous wildcat offense to life. A fun back to watch and the last consistent player at the back position in a while.
6. Delvin Williams
One of only three back in Dolphins history to have been named to a Probowl. He had 1,258 rushing yards in 1978, that’s the third most gained in a season, behind the other Williams. Smith was pre-Marino, so his impact was minimal coming a team with championships. He played 3 seasons with the Dolphins, but he deserves this spot for his achievements alone.
5. Tony Nathan
Nathan spent his career with the Dolphins from 1979-1987. He only compiled 3,543 yards over the years but he led the league in yard per carry in 1981. He was an All-pro in his rookie year and at the end of the day, loyalty counts for something and Nathan had one of the longest dolphins tenures.
4. Jim Kiick
These next two guys are pretty interchangeable, probably because they were teammates. Kiick played on the super bowl teams with the Dolphins in 1968-1974. He was amazingly versatile in rushing and receiving. He had 3,644 yards over his tenure along with 2,210 receiving yards to go with that. Being a 2x super bowl winner does not hurt either.
3. Mercury Morris
Another back from the glory days of winning super bowls. Many say that Morris was the better player between him and Kiick. I would not know having not been born to see them play. I do know that Morris provided a new type of speed that was vital in helping the Dolphins win those championships. He was said to have been the player that led to the great Don Shula using situation substituting. It is an honor to have him on this list and a member of the Phins. Oh and 3,877 yards over 7 years with Miami.
2. Ricky Williams
RUN RICKY RUN!!! One of my favorite Dolphins players and my favorite back of all-time. He could have been number one on this list, but you know…Ricky liked recreational activities. Still over his 7 year career in Miami he compiled 6,436 yards. In 2002 he ran for 1853 yards, a Dolphins record. He helped bring the Wildcat back in the tail end of his career. He electrified Miami fans in a post Marino era and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
1. Larry Csonka
Yes, number one belongs to the great Csonka! We talked about Kiick and Morris being part of a dynamic backfield and guess who the head of that monster was? Larry Csonka. In his 8 years with the Dolphins he had 6,737 yards and 53 touchdowns. So besides the super bowls, his stats back him up in being the best Dolphins running back of all-time. As long as his record stands he will continue to be that.
I just want to see someone enter that upper level of Dolphins great backs. I thought Lamar Miller could have been that guy, but now its on to the next one. Only question is, who will it be?
Follow me on Twitter.