Jimmy Johnson wanted to get back into coaching in 1996 and he wanted to do it in Florida so he looked around the landscape of possible jobs and weighed the Tampa Bay Bucs and Miami Dolphins. In Tampa, he had more cap room, a budding great defense with youngsters Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, and the promise of a new stadium.
In Miami, Johnson saw Dan Marino.
Johnson picked the Dolphins. And he did it primarily because he believed Marino could get him to the Super Bowl quicker than anyone on the Tampa roster playing quarterback at the time could. Johnson figured he could build a team around the quarterback easier than find the quarterback to build the team around.
Yes, he was wrong because Marino would soon begin his decline.
But a team's quarterback situation was important for more than one reason all the way back then -- even before the NFL became a lubricated lightning strike league where teams can score four touchdowns in four minutes of playoff action as New Orleans and San Francisco did last weekend.
Fast forward to 2011. The Dolphins lost out on hiring Jeff FIsher a few days ago. And on Monday there was this in Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column in Sports Illustrated quoting Fisher:
"From day one, when I began this process after the season, I felt Miami and St. Louis were my best options. I did my research. I looked at every team that had an opening. I looked at the personnel on each team, I looked at the owners, I looked at the cap situations, and I narrowed it to two. Not Marvin. Me. Marvin didn't push me. I am convinced he was completely objective.''
Fisher went on to say at the start of the process he was interested in a team that had a good owner and good quarterback, and he felt St. Louis had the best combination of both.
I'm not going to replay the Fisher fiasco. That's done.
But the lesson from that missed opportunity is that aside from hurting the team on the field, aside from keeping the team perpetually playing a secondary role to NFL teams that do have quarterbacks, the Dolphins decade-long inability to land even a good quarterback has come to roost off the field as well.
We've seen glimpses of how the QB situation has driven the direction of the franchise before.
Nick Saban quit after 2006 when he realized he made a terrible mistake in his chase of a quarterback and that mistake was probably irreparable, thus killing his chances to win soon, thus making life in the NFL miserable.
The 2004 Dolphins were terrible because Ricky Williams quit days before the season, that is true. But if they had a great quarterback instead of the terrible Jay Fielder-A.J. Feeley competition that was never settled, they might have overcome the disaster of that season.
The one season the Dolphins did kinda sorta solve their QB woes -- 2008 -- also gave the team its most successful season in years. Chad Pennington was great and the club won the AFC East.
Knowing this history, knowing how the quarterback situation has repurcussions on and off the field, how can anyone rightly say that the status quo is good enough?
It is not.