In my interview with Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, this week, I brought up the fact he had run-heavy teams during some years, with Larry Csonka and Jim Kiick, but the Dolphins later became a pass oriented team with Dan Marino.
I asked him if his record for most wins by an NFL coach was due to adaptability on his part.
“Personnel,” he said. “You put them in a position where they can best excel or succeed. If I’d had (Bob) Griese throw as much as Marino, he wouldn’t have been nearly as effective, because he was a great field general. He had Csonka and Kiick to work with. By the same token, if you take the ball out of Marino’s hands, all the defensive coaches (in the NFL) would be congratulating you on what a good game plan you had.”
The players were more than happy to have their talents utilized.
“Marino just loved to throw the football,” Shula continued, “and if you called a running play that didn’t work, he’d glare at you on the sidelines like, ‘What’d you call that play for? Why did you send in that play?'”
As we were talking, I mentioned Shula coming from Miami to the cold of Salt Lake. He pointed out that he grew up near Cleveland, on Lake Erie, where his father got him a job on a fishing boat. So he knows about cold weather.
“We’d go out and come back with two ton of fish in the bottom of the boat – blue pike and perch – and when you got in, you had to get ‘em out of the boat. So I know all that I need. So when I get to Miami everybody wants to take me deep sea fishing. I say I know all I need.”