The Miami Dolphins flirted with quarterbacks in the build up to the 2018 NFL Draft, in part because if one of the top passers fell to them, they wanted to be ready to make a decision. More so, however, the team wanted to make sure other teams around the league saw them flirting with the quarterbacks, leading to story after story about how Miami was going to select Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen - even if they had to trade up to make it happen. Smokescreens were everywhere.
And, the Dolphins made sure one player knew what they were doing. “So just before the Senior Bowl in January, the Miami coach sat down with Ryan Tannehill and explained how in the months ahead, no matter the final result, it may look an awful lot like Miami was gearing up to replace him,” Monday Morning Quarterback’s Albert Breer wrote on Monday.
Breer continues, writing, “During the process, Gase would give Tannehill—who suffered an ACL injury in August 2017 that cost him the season—a heads up before the team would bring one of those players in or go out to see them, just so the quarterback wouldn’t hear about it somewhere else. And Tannehill kept working and rehabbing as he progressed from six months off surgery to seven, then seven to eight, and the team’s offseason program began.
“After all that, Tannehill is back in command in Miami—not that he ever wasn’t.”
The Dolphins wanted to make sure Tannehill knew they were not looking to replace him. This team is Tannehill’s, and that was never a question mark within the doors of the Dolphins’ facilities - no matter how much discussion there has been (and is) outside the franchise about Tannehill’s status.
Breer quotes Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, “‘I really think his thought was—don’t waste the draft pick,’ Gase said. ‘He focused on work and bringing the same intensity he does every day. He’s very competitive. He’s not going to bat an eye at any of those things. He just keeps going. If there’s some kind of internal thing going on, you’re not going to know. He’s not going to show his cards. So I never worried about it.’”
Tannehill and Gase seem to have a relationship we have not seen between head coach and quarterback in Miami in the recent past. They trust each other and there is an open communication between the two. Tannehill understood what the team was doing, and he also understood that he was going to come back and be the best quarterback for this team - hoping the team did not “waste the draft pick,” by selecting a quarterback who was not going to play.
The Dolphins opened their veteran minicamp on Tuesday, with Tannehill clearly in charge of the offense - and the team. “It just helps you make quicker decisions,” Dolphins quarterback coach Bo Hardegree said of Tannehill’s development last year as he remained around the team despite the injury that held him out all season. “The big thing at the quarterback position is being able to play fast and think less, and just go out and react, and knowing the offense which, our quarterbacks … Being in his third year, he is handling all of the Mike points. He’s up there getting everybody lined up. We’re rolling, trying to play fast and he’s doing a really good job of that.”
“Ryan does a great job of not only relating to the guys on the offense – talking to the guys on the offense – but getting over and talking a little trash to the guys on defense,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said of Tannehill and his influence across the team. “(He’s) not feeling like he’s uncomfortable to go over there and talk some trash and get things going if we need that spark in practice. It differs. It differs by quarterback.”
Free agent addition, wide receiver Danny Amendola, said of Tannehill, “I think he’s a good quarterback. We’ve only been working together for a short time so I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get on the same page as him, trying to listen to him, what he likes, what he wants and be there for him.”
He continued, “Your quarterback is a natural leader. He’s the one vocalizing the play calls on the field. There’s one quarterback. I feel like we have a great quarterback in Ryan and he’s doing a great job.”
Defensive end Andre Branch spoke about the return of Tannehill this year as well, stating, “He looks amazing. It’s good to have him back in the huddle and controlling things, controlling the team and leading us. We’re going to go as far as he takes us, no matter what. We all have to do our part but he’s a main part in that.”
Safety T.J. McDonald weighed in on Tannehill recently as well, saying, “He looks good. He looks good. He looks real good right now. His leadership is also great on and off the field. We’re excited to have him back so we can keep growing as a group, growing as a team. Like I said, his leadership is what I think we missed the most and just having him in the locker room and being able to take control of that offense.”
McDonald continued, explaining how much the leadership and presence of Tannehill impacts the defense. He explained, “[Tannehill talks to the defense] a little more than I think that people think. He’s a competitor, too. Sometimes if you say something to somebody or you can talk a little trash to the offense, a lot of guys turn around and just walk to the huddle; but he’ll come back at you. That brings that competitive spirit that you need as a team – not just as a defense or offense but as a team. He’s a good guy to have in the locker room, too.”
Tannehill is back to be the leader of the Dolphins. The players and coaches are seeing it on the field early in the training program for the 2018 season. And, Gase made sure to keep his leader informed throughout the offseason on what the team was doing and what their plans for the quarterback position were. And, they did not waste the draft pick.