Was Dan Marino’s 1984 Season the Greatest Passing Season of All Time?

30 years ago Dan Marino had arguably the greatest passing season of all time. He threw for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, records that stood for 20 and 27 years respectively. His Miami Dolphins’ also went 14-2 and made it to the Super Bowl.

Oh yeah, it was his second year in the league. Wow.

The game log of his 1984 really speaks to his greatness in my opinion. Coming into the last month of the season, Marino already had thrown 32 touchdown passes. Keep in mind that Dave Krieg of Seattle finished second in the league that season with 32 touchdown passes thrown throughout the 16 games. Marino did that in 12 games. Something even more ridiculous is that Marino threw 16 touchdown passes in the month of December. That month alone would’ve had him tied for 13th with Ron Jaworski and Mark Malone in total touchdowns thrown in the season. And he wasn’t exactly throwing garbage time touchdowns either, throughout the season only throwing 2 touchdown passes when up 13+ points.

In my opinion this is the greatest passing season ever for a quarterback. Yeah I know about everything Peyton did last year (and in 2004) , or what Brady did in 2007, but the game has changed in the favor of the offense. Guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady among others have had advantages that weren’t around in 1984. I have no problem giving credit to quarterbacks these days. Despite all the rule changes that make it easier for offenses’ to score, the game has grown from a mental standpoint (obviously) from 1984 until 2014. Defenses are extremely complex and creative with how they approach the game. But in 1984, a different brand of football was played. Cornerbacks had every right in the world to make a play for the ball. What we call pass interference now would be considered outstanding defense then. Marino averaged 317.8, and unlike today’s game he used a vertical passing offense, averaging 9 yards per attempt (which led the league by far).

(By the way both Manning & Brady averaged 8.3 YPA). He also threw 18 touchdowns of 20 yards or longer.

Admire greatness when you see it. Marino’s touchdown record has already been broken 3 times and the yardage record has been broken more than that. This is a passing league right now and as we all know records are meant to be broken.


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