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