Arguably the most dominant and complete passer of all-time, Marino was ranked as the best player in the AFC during the 1980s by NFL.com, and fourth-best overall player in that decade. But with all the accolades and records that “Dan The Man” has racked up and accomplished over his 17 year career, it all started with a blistering rookie campaign that signaled a new era in Miami. In fact, it may have just been the best rookie season ever by a quarterback according to NFL.com.
In honor of this week’s Rookie Symposium, NFL Media’s Elliot Harrison compiled a photo essay ranking the best rookies of all-time. The top rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL? None other than Dan Marino.
Marino heads up our All-Time All-Rookie Team by virtue of his stellar performance in ’83. After taking over in Week 6 for David Woodley, Marino led Miami to the playoffs and finished with the highest passer rating in the AFC (96.0 — extremely high for the era, particularly for a rookie). He threw 20 touchdown passes against just six interceptions.
Marino’s rookie season was likely the best ever despite only starting nine games. In games he started, he put up a quarterback rating of over 100 five times, had a rating below 84.6 only once, went 7-2, and like Harrison mentioned, took Miami to the divisional round of the AFC postseason. His 96.0 passing rating was good for third in the NFL that season, behind NFL MVP Joe Theismann and two-time Pro Bowler Steve Bartkowski. Doing all of this at the age of 22, we should have known a lot more success awaited Marino after this terrific start to his career.
On the team, Marino joins other NFL legends such as Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, Mike Ditka, and Eric Dickerson. Harrison listed that Marino beat out the following players for the title: Sammy Baugh, Bob Waterfield, Otto Graham, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, and Russell Wilson.
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