The struggles from the Miami Dolphins on the field this past season are well documented. The offensive line never came together as a unit and struggled in pass blocking. The defensive line was racked with injuries and never played at full strength. The cornerbacks struggled all season. The team chose not to run the ball, making the team a pass-only offense. And, quarterback Ryan Tannehill seemed to regress in 2015 after growing in each of his first three seasons.
Last week, Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero wrote about former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wanting to change quarterbacks before the 2014 season, looking to draft Derek Carr. When that did not happen, Philbin continued to distance himself from his quarterback, including a ridiculous week in which he would not say Tannehill was the starting quarterback leading into a game against the Oakland Raiders.
It was a story that was not flattering to the coach, who seemed to only be half-hardheartedly supporting his quarterback.
Tuesday morning, Salguero added to the story, and it again does not look great for Philbin. According to Salguero's report, Philbin "stayed silent about his desire to go in that other direction until mere days before the draft." He adds, as the Dolphins were winding down their draft preparation, thinking they were ready to put together their big board and execute a strategy, "a few days before the actual first round, Philbin made it known to some of his offensive assistants and the personnel department that he wanted to go in a different direction. The story was so strange, it still makes the rounds at Dolphins camp today.
Salguero also writes that Philbin's doubts about Tannehill manifested themselves in Bill Lazor's offense, where, as the new offensive coordinator in 2014, Lazor was trying to settle in with his quarterback. Rather than trusting Tannehill, Lazor refused to allow the quarterback to play a part in the game planning and did not give him the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage.
Salguero asks the exact questions that this situation causes: "Is it any wonder the production of Lazor's offense declined? Is it surprising Tannehill stopped improving at the rate he showed from 2013 to 2014?"
Tannehill clearly was a quarterback on the way up until his coach - the coach that initially drafted him just two years prior and hired his Texas A&M head coach as the team's offensive coordinator to assist with the college-to-NFL transition - got infatuated with another quarterback. Tannehill was growing and becoming more confident in himself and his role in the offense until that offense changed and Tannehill was not allowed to take part in scheming for each game or changing out of plays that would not work.
Now, the team's coaching staff has been gutted and cleaned out. Tannehill was given the ability to assist with the game planning near the end of the year, and he clearly seemed to be relieved that he was having some say in the offense he was running. This year, head coach Adam Gase, hired after a year of being the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and two years as the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, is expected to spend time working with Tannehill. Gase is seen as a quarterbacks' coach, able to play to the strengths of the player, rather than trying to force him into a system that does not work for him. Tannehill should be able to resume his growth and development under Gase, and should be given the freedom to take part in the game planning and allowed to audible in the new system.
If Tannehill is not able to resume his upward trajectory, it may turn out that he is not destined to be great. He appears to have a coach who will support him and work with him this year, rather than one who tells the media one thing, and the team another.