Just another cog in the incredible "No-Name Defense." Mike Kolen earned the nickname Captain Crunch, and it's not just because he likes cereal (although he may...)
Mike Kolen was a 6'2" linebacker for the Auburn Tigers in college, and was drafted in the 12th round of the 1970 NFL Entry Draft by Miami, with the 289th overall pick.
He joined the team as they joined the NFL, and as a rookie started all 14 games at right linebacker. He made around 85 tackles as the Dolphins qualified for their first ever postseason with a 10-4 record. The defense was middle of the road, statistically speaking, but the "No-Name" defense had yet to make a name for itself, so to speak.
In 1971, Kolen started 10 of 14 games for Miami, registering around 65 tackles. Miami posted a new franchise best 10-3-1 record, advancing to Super Bowl VI. The defense ranked as the second best in the AFC, allowing 174 points, second only to Baltimore. Ironically, Kolen made his first career interception in the AFC Championship off of Johnny Unitas as the Dolphins beat the Colts, 21-0. Of course, Miami was trounced by Dallas in the title game, 24-3. 1972 would be a different story.
Maybe we didn't know it when the season began, but our defense in 1972 and 1973 was something very special. An immovable object comprised of 11 ego-less football monsters (all of whom are on this list). For his par, Kolen made around 80 tackles in 13 games (all starts) and picked off his first regular season pass in a week one victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, 20-10. The Dolphins defense was just ridiculous, allowing NFL lows with 3,297 yards and 171 points allowed.
Arguably, the Miami defense was even better in 1973, as the Dolphins repeated as Super Bowl Champions. Allowing only 150 total points and 1,290 passing yards, (That's like, three games for Dan Marino) Miami easily dominated opposing teams on both sides of the ball. Kolen started 13 of 14 games for the Dolphins, making in the neighborhood of 90 tackles and two interceptions.
In 1974, Kolen started 13 of 14 games for the Dolphins. He made around 80 tackles as Miami returned to the playoffs with an 11-3 record before losing to the Oakland Raiders, 28-26 in the divisional round in the famous "Sea of Hands" game. (Two of the hands were Kolen's)
Kolen started nine games for Miami at middle linebacker in 1975 as the defense was still solid, allowing an NFL fourth lowest 222 points. He suffered a knee injury in a week nine 20-19 loss to the Houston Oilers, and missed the rest of the season (and the entire 1976 season). Miami missed the playoffs with a 10-4 record. Kolen lamented his lost playing time, according to the Palm Beach Post,
You have to learn to accept things like that. You can either be dejected and let it bother you or try to learn while you're out. That's what I tried to do and I think I learned something in spite of it.
Kolen managed to start four of six games for Miami in 1977 before calling it quits. For his hard work and bone jarring tackles, he had managed to acquire the nickname, "Captain Crunch." Just another cog in the incredible "No-Name Defense." He currently owns and operates the Kolen Financial Team with his son.
Miami has a long history of game changing linebackers. Who was the most dominant linebacker in Dolphins history?
Nick Buoniconti (661 votes)
Larry Gordon (14 votes)
AJ Duhe (269 votes)
Zach Thomas (2855 votes)
Mike Kolen (11 votes)
John Offerdahl (403 votes)
Doug Swift (22 votes)
Brian Cox (158 votes)
Bob Brudzinski (23 votes)
4416 total votes