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Miami Dolphins offense, Ryan Tannehill still a work in progress

Today is Aug. 9. The Miami Dolphins do not play a regular-season football game for another month. So there is a lot of time to make what we've seen on the practice field the past two weeks into a good football team.

Much of the work that must be done by the team's offense in particular can be done between now and Sept. 11 when the season kicks off.

And having said all that ...

I am seeing a couple of trends that are curious and very much need to disappear if the Dolphins are going to have a good offense in 2016. Here are those couple of things:

I am seeing quarterback Ryan Tannehill typically taking more time than he has in the past in making his decisions in the pocket. I timed Tannehill's throws in both seven-on-seven (no rush) and team drills (with a defensive rush) today.

And while I am not going to tell you how long on average he took from snap to release of the pass because it is not my business to provide that information to the Seattle Seahawks, let me say the Dolphins starter typically took longer to make his decision and throw the ball than second-stringer Matt Moore.

And what's one practice, right?

Well, throughout this camp I've seen Tannehill routinely taking more time in the pocket than in the past. And Moore has often been quicker to his decision and release than Tannehill. 

I've seen Tannehill at times get bogged down in red zone drills where if one receiver is not open, you can almost see him processing information about where he needs to look next, go next, do next.

That one receiver Tannehill looks to, by the way, is seemingly always Jarvis Landry.

(More on that further down).

This trend that I've noticed practice after practice is what made me time the QBs today. So it's not just a one practice issue. I've been seeing this for days and days.

And after practice I asked Tannehill if he's still thinking about things -- the play, his progression, the defense, his new baby boy, how hot it is, whatever -- or if he's reached that point where he's in rhythm and simply playing on instinct.

"Yeah, there's still some new stuff we're putting in," Tannehill said. "So we're still installing some of the stuff we're putting in. So we're still going through some of the thinking and that's going to happen at this stage in the new offense.

"Myself and everyone else, that obviously slows us down and keeps us from playing as fast as we want to play. The more reps we get and the more practices we go through, that's going to continue to decrease the amount of thinking that goes on and increase the amount of playing we can do. Then we're going to see us play to our full potential."

That is all plausible and likely. Tannehill and his offensive mates will eventually get comfortable enough with their assignments that their play speed will increase. They will eventually begin to play fast.

The question is not if. The question is when.

Again, the season opener against the Legion of Boom is a month away. So it seems between now and then, Ryan Tannehill has to speed himself up some.

The Dolphins pass offense also has to stop acting like they all drafted receiver Jarvis Landry in a fantasy league they intend to win.

Show up to any Miami practice the past two weeks and Landry is more often than not the star. He catches football after football in team drills. Tannehill and Landry clearly have a connection and chemistry going on.

And that's good because Landry is obviously going to be Tannehill's go-to receiver as he has been the past two seasons. But a good offense is multiple. It cannot be about just one receiver.

So I asked coach Adam Gase about this. And he obviously looks at the issue as Jarvis Landry is balling!

"One day I tried to script every play to where he [Landry] wasn't in the progression," Gase said. "And somehow the ball gets to him. The guy is like a magnet. It really is, I've never seen anything like it.

"He does his job right and the coverage seems to take Ryan there a lot of times. I'd be more concerned if I was like, 'Why are you forcing this throw?' but that's not what's happening. It's just that he's in the right place at the right time and the ball ends up going to him. I don't know, the guy's got some kind of thing going on where the ball wants to find him."

Very good. But NFL defensive coordinators get paid to stop the other team's best weapon. So what's going to happen when Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan or Todd Bowles or any of the other defenses the Dolphins play decide that Jarvis Landry is not going to be the guy to beat them?

What will Tannehill do then?

What will the passing game do then?

"Then the ball goes somewhere else," Gase said. "We still are working on certain things. You see Kenny Stills is catching a lot of balls and has had good plays. And DeVante [Parker] always has his opportunities. And the more we can get the tight ends involved and the backs involved the ball will start getting spread out.

"In practice we have some periods where the ball is labeled and certain periods it seems like only one guy is getting the ball because of whatever the defense may be doing. I think it'll get to the point when we're in games it will equal out. But like I said, that thing seems to find [Landry]."

All this is a product of installing a new offense, folks. The Miami offense is nowhere near being ready yet. It is a work in progress.

And these issues, along with the disappointing performance in the scrimmage Saturday night are among the obvious growing pains.

By the way, I'm not announcing the sky is falling here. I'm not saying this all means Adam Gase is a failure and Ryan Tannehill is a fraud.

But I am saying much improvement is needed. Even the Dolphins admit that about their offense.

Consider this from Gase about the offensive performance in the scrimmage:

"The other night was our first real test and we failed it miserably," he said.

And this from Tannehill: 

"We didn't play well. We didn't play well on the offensive side of the ball from top to bottom -- ones, twos or threes -- we didn't play well," he said. "We didn't execute. We got dominated up front. We wanted to respond and come and correct the things we didn't do well that day and today we proved we could bounce back and play the way we want to play."

By the way, Tannehill said he addressed the offense about bouncing back after the poor scrimmage performance. And getting receiver DeVante Parker back from his hamstring injury today helped somewhat.

At one point after Tannehill delivered a completion to Parker today (yeah, other guys caught a couple of passes, too), he told the receiver in the huddle how great it was to have him back.

But the mission is clear for this offense.  

"We have limited days," Tannehill said.

And they have multiple areas that need to be addressed and improved before the season-opener.


Parker said the plan for him is to play against the New York Giants in the preseason opener Friday night but a final decision won't be made until the team sees how he practices Wednesday. Gase said no decision of any sort related to playing time or even availability for the game has been made for any player.

Rookie first round pick Laremy Tunsil got some first-team left guard snaps today, with Dallas Thomas taking first-team right guard snaps in that set up. But later in team drills, Thomas shifted back to LG and Billy Turner took the first-team snaps with the first unit. The shuffling continues until further notice.

Third string tight end MarQueis Gray collapsed early in practice Tuesday and was clutching his right leg. He was eventually carted off the field.