Fiedler, Jay : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Fiedler, Jay

Jay Brian Fiedler

In March 2005 Fiedler, who established himself as a consistently winning quarterback with the Miami Dolphins, joined the New York Jets for the upcoming 2005 season. Underestimated throughout his NFL career, Jay started last season third in winning percentage among active N.F.L. quarterbacks with at least 25 starts. Entering the 2004 campaign, Fiedler had a starting record of 36-17 record (.679 percentage). He also ranked third in Dolphin history in passing yards, pass attempts, completions, and touchdown passes.

In the 2004 season, Miami's offense was severely damaged by the unexpected retirement of running back Ricky Williams. But in the team's first win of the season (against the St. Louis Rams on October 24) Fielder played well, going 13-17 for 203 yards and two touchdowns. That was still Miami's only victory when, just before Thanksgiving, Jay was placed on injured reserve with a herniated disk in his neck, ending his 2004 campaign. For the season, Fiedler started just seven games for the Dolphins (4-12), going 1-6 while passing 100-189 (52.9%) for 1,186 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

When he began the 2000 NFL season by leading Miami to a 23-0 opening-day victory over Seattle, Jay became the first Jewish starting quarterback in the NFL since the 1960s. In 2001, Jay returned as the Dolphins' starting quarterback, a year after leading the team to a 11-5 record and the AFC East Division title. The Miami Herald wrote that Fiedler (who is a distant relative of the former Boston Pops Orchestra conductor, the late Arthur Fiedler), "bubbles with chutzpah."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. December 29, 1971

Career Highlights:
After an excellent high school career, Fiedler went to Dartmouth and became one of the Ivy League's all-time greatest quarterbacks. A three-year starter, he led the Big Green to consecutive Ivy League titles in 1991 (6-0-1) and 1992 (6-1-0). In 1992, Dartmouth had an overall record of 8-2-0 and won the Bushnell Trophy (given to the Ivy League's Most Outstanding Player) as Fiedler set school records for passing yards (2,748) and passing touchdowns (25). Jay was named All-Ivy League first team.

As a senior in 1993, Fiedler led Dartmouth to a 6-3-1 record, and repeated as All-Ivy League first team quarterback. He had his best college game in the final contest of his career. With Dartmouth trailing Princeton 22-8, and only 9:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jay passed for one touchdown and ran for another to tie the game 22-22. Then, with only 1:12 remaining, he threw a 38-yard touchdown pass for a 28-22 victory.

Fiedler finished his career as Dartmouth's all-time leader in passing yards (6,684), passing touchdowns (58), and total offense (7,249). Jay was named Co-Offensive Player of the Game in the 1994 East-West Shrine Game, played in Tokyo. He received a Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Dartmouth in 1994, Jay signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a rookie free agent. He remained with the Eagles for two seasons, but did not play. After one season in the World League (now called NFL Europe), Jay signed with Minnesota in 1998. That year, he was the third string quarterback for the Vikings, who -- with Randall Cunningham, Randy Moss, and Cris Carter -- had one of the greatest offenses in NFL history. In October, Jay saw his first action in the NFL in Minnesota's 41-7 win over Washington; Jay's first completion was to Randy Moss for 10 yards. He appeared in five games and the Vikings finished the season with a record of 15-1. Minnesota ultimately lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game.

In 1999, Jay signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and played in seven games, including one start. He finished the season with a respectable 83.5 quarterback rating and completed 61 of 95 passes for 656 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

In February 2000, Jay signed a three-year, $3.8 million contract with the Miami Dolphins for the 2000 season. Though the Dolphins were not favored to finish high in the standings, Fiedler shocked many experts by leading Miami to a divison championship with an 11-5 record. Despite the onus of having to replace the legendary Dan Marino (who had retired), Jay had a sterling year. He started 15 of 16 games (missed one game due to injury), led the Dolphins to the AFC East title, and completed 204 of 357 passes for 2,402 yards with 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions (74.5 rating). He also had 267 rushing yards on 54 carries for a very good 4.9 average.

In the season's last game (December 24), with the division title at stake, Jay completed 30 of 45 passes for 264 yards (all season highs) with a touchdown pass and not a single turnover -- achieving it all with a torn rotator cuff in his left arm! After the game his teammates spoke of Jay having inspired them with his toughness. In the fourth quarter, trailing New England 24-17, Jay led his team to two scoring drives to spark a come-from-behind rally that enabled the Dolphins to triumph 27-24. Fiedler's clutch play was exemplfied by key third-down passes on both drives: the first on third and 15, the second on third and 9.

On December 30, 2000, in the first game of the playoffs, Jay overcame a shaky first half to lead the Dolphins to a roaring second-half comeback that tied the Indianapolis Colts, 17-17, with seconds left in regulation. In overtime, Miami won, 23-17. They lost in the next round of the playoffs to the Oakland Raiders, ending their unexpectedly successful season.

During the 2001 season, Fiedler led the Dolphins to a record of 11-5, the AFC East title, and a playoff berth before they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. During the season, Jay led the Dolphins to five fourth-quarter comebacks. In the season's second game, Fiedler had arguably the finest performance of his career as he ran for two touchdowns, including the game-winner with only seconds remaining, in the Dolphins' 18-15 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Fiedler finished the season with a pass completion ratio of 273-450 (60.7%) for 3,290 yards (only the second Dolphin quarterback in history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season; Dan Marino was the first) with 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also rushed 73 times for 321 yards (4.4 average) and four touchdowns.

In 2002, Fiedler led his team to a first-place 5-1 start. Then Jay was injured and missed six weeks of the season and Miami went only 2-4 without Fiedler. An NFC scout remarked on that "Maybe now, people will see just how important Jay Fiedler is to the Miami Dolphins, huh?" Miami finished 7-3 with Fiedler starting at quarterback, and only 2-4 without him. During the season, Jay completed 179-292 passes (61.3%) for 2,024 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Fiedler also rushed 28 times for 97 yards (3.5 average) and three touchdowns. The Dolphins finished in a three-way tie for first in the AFC East with the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but missed the playoffs because of tie-breakers (the Jets won the division and the Cleveland Browns captured the wildcard).

The Dolphins finished the 2003 season with a 10-6 record that in most years would have qualified them for the playoffs, but that season fell just short. Fiedler started Miami's first six games, leading the Dolphins to a 4-2 mark while throwing for 1,115 yards, six touchdowns, and even rushing for a score. Then, on October 20, during a 19-13 overtime loss to the New England Patriots, Jay was hurt in the fourth quarter and continued to play in overtime, while wearing a brace to protect the knee. Due to a sprained ligament in his left knee, he missed the next four games.

Miami struggled mightily in his absence. When Jay returned, in the second half of the November 23 contest against Washington, after Miami had looked hapless offensively for most of the contest, Fiedler came to the rescue in a 24-23 win over the Washington Redskins. He came off the bench late in the third quarter and helped Miami rally from a 13-point deficit to beat the Redskins. Jay led scoring drives of 71 and 69 yards, both ending with touchdowns.

The next game, a Thanksgiving contest against the resurgent Dallas Cowboys and their legendary coach, Bill Parcells, saw Jay annihilate the vaunted Dallas defense in a 40-21 romp over the Cowboys. For completing 16 of 20 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against Dallas -- which had the NFL's top-ranked defense --Fiedler was named the AFC offensive player of the week. It was his first such award, but characteristically, Jay deflected the glory to his teammates. "It was a complete game on offense, and I just reaped the rewards of a great showing by 11 guys across the board," he modestly remarked. Dolphins Coach Dave Wannstedt admires the seemingly unshakable confidence that Fiedler has developed. "Jay has always been a person that didn't let the opinions of the fans or the media affect what he is trying to do on the field," Wannstedt said. "That is a real sign of a leader." (New York Times story by Charlie Nobles on December 4, 2003). In the season's final game, Jay led the Dolphins to a 23-21 victory over the New York Jets by completing 21 of 29 passes for a career-high single-game total of 328 yards.

Oceanside, New York

Career Dates:
Jay played quarterback at Dartmouth from 1990-1993. He played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994-1995, for NFL Europe in 1997, with the Minnesota Vikings in 1998, the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999, and the Miami Dolphins from 2000-present.

Physical description:
6'2", 225 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL (through 2004 season):
Games: 75 (60 starts)

Passes completed: 1,000
Passes attempted: 1,704
Passing percentage: 58.7
Passing yards: 11,737
Passing touchdowns: 68
Interceptions thrown: 66
Quarterback rating: 76.9

Rushing attempts: 218
Rushing yards: 854
Rushing average: 3.9
Rushing touchdowns: 11

At Dartmouth:
Passes completed: 456
Passes attempted: 813
Passing percentage: 56.1
Passing yards: 6,684
Passing touchdowns: 58

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