You would think otherwise if scanning all that has gone wrong in the 13 years (an appropriate number) since Marino retired.
A brief chronology of lowlights is in order to help explain the Dolfan mind-set and help explain how Tannehill’s job is so enormous.
In 2001, this team could have drafted Drew Brees but chose a cornerback named Jamar Fletcher.
In 2004, Ricky Williams, then the best runner in the game, fell under the spell of drugs and abruptly retired in his prime.
In 2005, Miami had the second overall pick but settled for Ronnie Brown because it was a bad draft year for QBs. Well, unless you count Aaron Rodgers.
In 2006, Brees was available in free agency but this club decided to trade for Daunte Culpepper.
The next year brought Cam Cameron. And later in ’07 the team decided Ted Ginn Jr. was a smarter draft pick than Darrelle Revis.
Interspersed were the myriad other bad personnel decisions such as spending a second-round draft pick to acquire A.J. Feeley or using one to select Pat White. And along the way all of the would-be saviors — Jimmy Johnson, Nick Saban, Bill Parcells — failed to varying degrees.
More recently, of course, The Team That Luck Forgot failed very publicly to sign coach Jim Harbaugh, got turned down by coach Jeff Fisher, and failed to land prized free agent Peyton Manning.
Things became so depressing around this franchise that owner Stephen Ross misguidedly sought to mask the stench with bells and whistles, rolling out a bunch of celebrity part-owners on an orange carpet. Fans weren’t buying the diversionary tactic.
Now comes the latest restart, the latest attempt to win games and win back fans.
Now, Joe Philbin becomes the eighth coach (including interim guys) since Shula left after the 1995 season, and Tannehill becomes the 17th different quarterback to start since Marino left after the 1999 season.
Philbin seems like he could be the right guy, seems like a bright and innovative offensive mind. Then again, so did Cam Cameron. So prove it, Joe.
And Tannehill looks the part, could turn out great, and earliest glimpses are promising. So prove it, Ryan. Show-Me state, remember?
Linebacker Karlos Dansby said of the 2012 Dolphins, “We can be great.” Added fellow defender Cameron Wake, “We have the talent.”
The owner, Ross, prone to rose-colored hyperbole, said, “I think we have a great team here,” adding, “people can talk the talk, but you can see we’re walking the walk.”
No. We can’t see that yet, sir. The long walk, the one with Tannehill now out front, begins Sept. 9.
Dolfans wait with hope but hardened caution to see where the long walk leads.