Dol­phins

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By Chris Perkins Staff writer

As camp nears, one ques­tion out there is will QB Ryan Tan­nehill, left, take a big step for­ward?

Editor’s note: With the start of Dol­phins’ train­ing camp nine days away, the Sun Sen­tinel takes a look at the team’s top sto­ry­lines in a 10-part se­ries. To­day, Chris Perkins tack­les whether quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill will el­e­vate his game to an­other level in his sec­ond year in Adam Gase’s of­fense.

Ryan Tan­nehill had a good sea­son in 2016, his first un­der head coach/of­fen­sive guru Adam Gase. But Tan­nehill didn’t have a break­out sea­son.

As a new sea­son ap­proaches the ques­tion of whether Tan­nehill is des­tined to be an elite quar­ter­back or a game man­ager re­mains unan­swered.

The ex­pec­ta­tion is Tan­nehill will make a big jump in 2017, his sec­ond sea­son un­der Gase.

But that was the ex­pec­ta­tion for 2016, Tan­nehill’s first sea­son un­der Gase.

And it was the ex­pec­ta­tion for 2015, Tan­nehill’s sec­ond un­der for­mer of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bill La­zor. And it was the ex­pec­ta­tion for 2014, Tan­nehill’s third sea­son as an NFL starter.

Tan­nehill, who missed the fi­nal three reg­u­lar-sea­son games and the wild­card play­off loss at Pitts­burgh due to two sprained lig­a­ments in his left knee, con­tin­ued his some­times slow but steady as­cent in 2016. The five-year vet­eran had 19 touch­downs, 12 in­ter­cep­tions and a ca­reer-best 93.5 passer rat­ing.

He was a ma­jor fac­tor in the six-game win­ning streak that helped the team earn its first play­off berth since the 2008 sea­son. He was 117 of 173 (67.6 per­cent) for 1,302 yards, nine touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion dur­ing that piv­otal stretch.

But Tan­nehill has yet to show he’s on track to be an “elite” NFL quar­ter­back, the type of player who can lead a team to the post­sea­son on the strength of his right arm.

To that end, Gase has di­rected Tan­nehill to trust what he sees, and make the play.

“You’ve got to just let it rip and make it hap­pen,” Tan­nehill said of the ad­vice Gase gave him. “So that’s some­thing I’ve been try­ing to work on this off­sea­son is ‘Hey, don’t think about it. Just play what you see, and let it rip.’ ”

It could be ar­gued that Tan­nehill doesn’t need a “break­out” sea­son in 2017. All he needs to do is al­low Pro Bowl run­ning back Jay Ajayi, Pro Bowl wide re­ceiver Jarvis Landry, fel­low re­ceivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker and newly­ac­quired tight end Julius Thomas to do their thing, and make timely plays when nec­es­sary.

That’s a “game man­ager” style sim­i­lar to Kansas City’s Alex Smith or Cincin­nati’s Andy Dal­ton.

Gase wants Tan­nehill to be an al­pha quar­ter­back in the style of New Eng­land’s Tom Brady or Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

Gase said he’s seen cere­bral and phys­i­cal im­prove­ment

in Tan­nehill.

“When you start be­ing able to put your spin on how you see things, and you have the abil­ity to change plays at the line of scrim­mage,” Gase said, “when you feel re­ally great with where you are in the of­fense, you have a lot of con­fi­dence to make those ad­just­ments be­fore the ball is ac­tu­ally snapped.”

Few would ar­gue Tan­nehill is solid quar­ter­back.

The ques­tion is where Tan­nehill is headed — elite quar­ter­back or game man­ager — for the 2017 sea­son, and be­yond. Dol­phins’ train­ing

camp sched­ule: July 27, 8:20 a.m.; July 28, 8:20 a.m.; July 29, 8:20 a.m.; July 30, 8:20 a.m.; July 31, 8:20 a.m.;

Aug. 2, 8:45 a.m.; Aug. 3, 8:20 a.m.; Aug. 4, 8:20 a.m.; Aug. 7, 8:45 a.m.; Aug. 8, 8:20 a.m.;

Aug. 13, 8:20 a.m.; Aug. 14, 8:20 a.m.; Aug. 15, 8:20 a.m.

All open prac­tices will take place at the Bap­tist Health Train­ing Fa­cil­ity at Nova South­east­ern Univer­sity in Davie; Prac­tice times are sub­ject to change, for the most up­dated in­for­ma­tion, call 954-452-7004 or go to Dol­phins.com/ Train­ingCamp

JIM RASSOL/STAFF FILE PHOTO

Ryan Tan­nehill had 19 touch­downs, 12 in­ter­cep­tions and a ca­reer-best 93.5 passer rat­ing dur­ing his first year un­der head coach Adam Gase.

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