The Dolphins announced first-round rookie draft pick Ryan Tannehill had won the starting quarterback job on Monday. And the lines have been out the door and around the block at the Dolphins ticket office ever since.
No. Not really.
I'm told ticket sales have been steady but there has been no appreciable surge of ticket sales since the Dolphins got themselves a new quarterback. Now, folks in the club's business offices are hopeful that Tannehill can eventually show so much promise on the field that fans truly get excited about the team again and indeed do flood the ticket windows.
But Dolphins fans, who have been through 16 other starting quarterbacks since Dan Marino, apparently want to see the product perform before they plunk down money to, well, see the product perform. This is not a faith exercise anymore for them.
And that is the reason tonight's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons is important to the Dolphins on multiple levels. Yes, from a football standpoint it is a priority for Tannehill to reward his coaches' decision to start him by playing well. It will make the entire football team feel good about its signal-caller.
But as the Dolphins are a for-profit business the club is also hoping Tannehill shows up bigtime so that fans react, so that the excitement that has been lacking returns, so that ticket sales pick up. "A 70-yard bomb on the first series would be nice," is how one club source put it.
Let's face it, football isn't the same when the stadium has wide swaths of empty seats. Fans don't have as good a time and the team doesn't enjoy as strong a home field advantage, which as everyone agrees, is important. In Miami it can be downright depressing when opposing fans arrive in legions and the home fans can't muster the same type of enthusiasm or noise to make life difficult for the opposing offense.
The Dolphins need an injection of good news throughout the organization. They need fans to get excited enough about the team to actually buy tickets and attend games. That will help the team win at home. But it's a Catch-22.
The fans aren't going to come out to help the team win until the team wins.
Maybe if Ryan Tannehill plays exceedingly well tonight, it can be a first step in that cycle. That makes his performance tonight important to the organization on multiple levels.