Marino envisions passing records being set in near future

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dan Marino is both proud and a bit surprised that his NFL single-season passing yardage record has stood the formidable tests of time and rules changes.

He doesn't expect it to last much longer.

The former Miami Dolphins quarterback set the record of 5,084 yards in 1984, but if the league's passers continue at their current pace this season, New England's Tom Brady, New Orleans' Drew Brees, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Dallas' Tony Romo and Carolina rookie Cam Newton all would surpass Marino's total, and San Diego's Philip Rivers and Detroit's Matthew Stafford would be knocking on the door.

One quarterback having a great season would be understandable. But after 27 years, why the sudden outburst?

Marino, now a CBS Sports studio analyst, believes the game has changed. The rules limit contact by defensive players and severely penalize many of the bone-jarring hits that made the safeties and linebackers of his era famous. Tight ends and running backs are more versatile, the no-huddle offense is more common, teams throw more than ever, and receivers are bigger, stronger and faster.

With all those factors, Marino concedes that it's probably just a matter of time before one of the league's longest-standing major offensive records falls.

"I don't want anybody to break it," the Hall-of-Fame quarterback said, laughing. "There's a lot of guys that are going to have a chance to break it, I'm sure."

Brady appears to have the best chance. Through five games, he has passed for 1,874 yards -- a pace for nearly 6,000 yards.

That success is in large part due to Brady's connection with Wes Welker, who has a league-high 740 receiving yards and is on pace to gain 2,368. That would shatter Jerry Rice's record of 1,848 yards, set in 1995.

Marino likens the Brady-Welker combination to the connections he had with Mark Clayton and Mark Duper.

"They're very instinctive," Marino said. "They've been together for a while now. They understand coverages. Wes Welker probably understands what Tom Brady is thinking at the line of scrimmage."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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