These past six weeks of training camp and preseason did not exactly deliver tons of great news about the Dolphins. The roster seems to lack talent. The team lost four of four preseason games. And every time we looked up, coaches were ripping players about their lack of performance.
There has, however, been some good out of this team so far.
And among the revelation of Jorvorskie Lane, the solid camp by Sean Smith, and big promises of a 150-tackle season by Karlos Dansby, the budding promise of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill stands out. It stands way out in neon, actually.
Tannehill has not just come as advertised. I'd say he's been better than advertised. Remember, he came to Miami as an inexperienced QB with only 19 college starts. Some said -- me included -- that he would have to sit a while and even those who wanted him to play right away did so on a blind whim not tethered to anything they knew of the rook's capabilities. Some said he was overdrafted as the No. 8 overall pick.
Well, Tannehill won the starting job. And he did it by ... winning the starting job. He was the best QB on the team. He knows the offense better than anyone in the room. He didn't make ridiculous decisions like throw into double-coverage in the preseason.
Does Tannehill have work to do?
He needs to be more accurate. He'll need to show some toughness in the face of a pass-rush. He'll need to show some guts when he throws two or three interceptions in a game, his team loses, his confidence wanes and everybody -- teammates, coaches, the media -- is looking at him sideways. After a Sunday game like that he's going to have to get back in the huddle the following Wednesday and prove he's the leader. He's going to have to prove he's unshaken.
We'll see if he has that in him.
But so far so good.
“I like his decision-making," coach Joe Philbin said. "If you watch the preseason film, there’s not a lot of picture of him throwing the ball into triple coverage and double coverage and making really bad decisions. Certainly, we want him to be a hair more accurate as we move forward during the regular season, which we believe we will be. No. 1, I like his decision making. No. 2, I think he has enough velocity with his arm that he can make the throws we need to make in this offense, whether it’s the 15-yard out breaking route, whether it’s the seam balls down the middle of the film, whether it’s throwing the ball on the move, which we think he does extremely well. We think he has a talented arm. The third thing is this guy’s a football player. In college, he helped his football team at two positions. He knows the game. He studies the game.
"The other nice thing is when he comes off on the sideline, this guy can kind of tell you exactly what happened. It’s not a mystery to him what just went on on the field. He might even tell you before you tell him that, ‘Yes, coach, I should have read the out breaking route instead of reading the option route based on the coverage.’ He knows what the coverages are. He’s not surprised a whole lot on the field.”
Tannehill's play is basically the most important thing for the Dolphins this year. It's not about the won-loss record because, let's be frank, the Dolphins are not a playoff contender. It's not about individual success by other players, either.
This year is about the quarterback. This quarterback.
This year is about Tannehill growing up, getting better, showing that he not only belongs but is worthy of the high draft pick Miami used on him.
If he lives up to that or at least moves consistently in the direction of living up to that status, this year will be a success.
So far so good.
To celebrate the start of all that in a couple of days, check out the video montage of Tannehill compiled and sent in by reader Joe Alvarez: