Dan Marino at one time or another has held 31 NFL passing records
His arm strength and quick release, combined with his elusiveness in the pocket gave Marino an amazing skill set......His football IQ combined with those skills to the tune of 61,000+ yards and 420 career TD passes
So you are the Head Coach or Defensive Coordinator in the Dan Marino era and you have the `Phins on your schedule right now.....Monday you and the Coaching Staff get together to put the game plan in order....on Tuesday the players come in and are walked through the game plan with the main points written on the chalkboard\whiteboard.....for 17 years opponents of the Miami Dolphins walked into those strategy sessions and every single week the #1 thing written on the board was Dan Marino......every Coach and Coordinator put together game plans\schemes set-up to stop Dan Marino specifically and for 17 years he shredded those defenses....Other QB`s have put up #`s over the years too but those guys had help not available to Dan Marino......any other great QB you could mention had, at some point or always, an outstanding running game to the point where teams had to game plan to stop the run as much as anything else.....other great QB's also had Hall Of Fame WR's and great TE's to throw to, and legendary Offensive Lines protected them
If you were game planning for the 49ers of the Joe Montana era your chalkboard would of course have Montana on there, but you were also going to have to account for a running game of Roger Craig and Tom Rathman behind a great Offensive Line (maybe best ever) plus TE Brent Jones - WR John Taylor - and the great great great Hall Of Fame inductee Jerry Rice
Against the Trot Aikman-led Dallas Cowboys you also had an amazing Offensive Line who opened holes for Hall Of Fame RB Emmit Smith - plus Moose Johnston and TE Jay Novacek and another Hall Of Fame WR in Michael Irvin
People will want to make a case for John Elway as the greatest ever, and he was sure up there, but he too benefited from more talent around him then Marino ever had.....RB Terrell Davis had a string of seasons for Elway and the Broncos that were up there on a historic level......Davis is in the Hall Of Fame, as is Tight End Shannon Sharpe, and Offensive Lineman Gary Zimmerman so Elway was great but their was a lot of support for him in the Mile-High city
Now I am a believer that Tom Terrific (Tom Brady) will be in this conversation one day, Peyton perhaps too, but he still has several great years left to add to an already impressive Best Ever application so we will consider him when the time is right.....BUT any QB of the modern era will have points deducted because when Marino was playing the rules about manhandling WR's and QB's were way more laxed then today so the passing game was even harder to pull off in the Marino era
Same goes for Brett Favre......his still career is still possibly on, or as usual, possibly finished......Favre has to be considered one of the all-time greats but I think the consensus on Favre would be that he threw too many Interceptions overall, and especially in key-situations.....Favre now owns most of the passing records but the fact that he has done it in so many more games, and the interception reputation he has will likely hurt his Best Ever chances
Inevitably the knock against Marino as possible Best Ever candidate is the fact that Dan won zero Super Bowls......there are 3 11-man units on a NFL team..offense..defense..special teams........Dan Marino never made a tackle a day in his life.....Dan Marino never made a game-winning field goal a day in his life......All Dan could be is 1 player on an 11-man unit......how much could 1 man do to carry an entire 11-man crew, let alone carry 2 other units he doesn't even play on?!?!.....not Marino's fault that the Miami defenses consistently stunk and, for example, Pete Stoyanovich missed a game winning Field Goal to send Miami to the 1994 AFC Finals.....1 person cannot carry you to a Super Bowl
If Super Bowl victories are the be-all-and-end-all for you truly, then that means you have Trent Dilfer - Brad Johnson - Mark Rypien - Jim McMahon - Doug Williams - Jeff Hostetler in the same breath as Dan Marino and that just can't possibly be right.....
Only one time in Dan Marino's 17 year career did he have a 1,000 yard rusher......Karim Abdul-Jabbar had 1,116 in 1996 but his 3.6 yards-per-carry average is the lowest ever for a 1,000 yard rusher......the only reason Abdul-Jabbar even reached 1,000 is because Head Coach Jimmy Johnson committed to the run even though it did not have success, but that commitment to the run is what worked for him in Dallas so he really tried to implement it in Miami
Ultimately I do know that I may still be in the minority with thinking that Dan Marino is the best QB ever, but I do hope that I have at least provided you with things that you perhaps had not considered otherwise........