Note to Dolphins fans: your team is all-in on quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
That was the basic message in an article published yesterday by ESPN.com's James Walker. The write-up suggests that Tannehill must take the next step in 2013 to validate the Dolphins' decision to bring in high-dollar free agent wideout Mike Wallace, as well as proven pass-catchers Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller.
"Miami believes Tannehill showed enough flashes of brilliance to go all-in with him," Walker wrote. "He played winning football most weeks, and led the Dolphins to a better-than-expected 7-9 record. There is no time for Tannehill to be a one-hit wonder or have a sophomore slump in 2013. A majority of Miami's moves in free agency were about making Tannehill a better quarterback."
That last sentence is an interesting one. Miami didn't go out and spend like gangbusters in free agency because it felt like tightening a noose around Tannehill's neck--the team landed Wallace, Keller and Gibson, and re-signed Brian Hartline, to ensure that its franchise-caliber quarterback can take the next few critical steps toward becoming a top 10 signal caller in the NFL. He certainly wasn't going to get there with Hartline and Davonne Bess as his go-to targets, and if anything, Miami's big-splash offseason is a means to ensure that Tannehill's growth can continue on without interruption.
"The Dolphins learned when you have a potential franchise quarterback, it's easier to recruit free agents. Gibson, Keller and Wallace all cited Tannehill as one of the key reasons they signed with Miami," Walker wrote. "In fact, Tannehill's Total Quarterback Rating, which measure a player's complete performance, was better last season than other big-name quarterbacks such as Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford. The Dolphins believe Tannehill is just getting started."
Not bad. Stats like that are part of the reason why many Dolphins fans believe Tannehill can be the heir apparent to Dan Marino. Miami's moves in free agency suggest the team believes that, as well.
You can check out Walker's article here.