As training camp commences for the 2018 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins look to rebound from a forgettable 2017 that saw just about everything that could go wrong in a season, go wrong. They will no doubt be trying to replicate the success they enjoyed in 2016, when they reeled off a string of victories and cruised into the postseason for the first time in nearly a decade.
Of course, one of the main reasons for the team’s newfound optimism is the return of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who missed the final three games of the 2016 season with a knee injury, as well as the entire 2017 campaign, after re-injuring the same knee at the start of training camp a year ago. As easily the most polarizing player on the team, which most quarterbacks are, the fan base seems to be split on Tanny; some seem to want to focus almost exclusively on his 2016 season -- which comprises only 17% of his 77 game career total -- while others want to dismiss that performance, citing his overall inconsistency since arriving as a top ten draft pick in 2012.
Tannehill, though, has improved every year he’s been in the league, and while last year’s starter, Jay Cutler, was better in a few areas of his game than Tannehill, in terms of pocket presence, etc, by the end of the season, just about everyone wanted Tanny back in the worst way. With arguably the most complete team the Dolphins have fielded in his seven year career, there is reason to believe Miami can contend for a playoff berth once again. I feel better about having Ryan at quarterback this year than in years past, for several reasons: the team’s renewed commitment to defense, what should be an improved offensive line and the fact that expectations are so low, after last year’s showing.
I won’t get into how many yards or touchdowns Tannehill will throw for, or what his completion percentage will be. You’d think we were talking about a baseball team, the way we obsess over statistics. What Ryan needs to do is play well, and deliver the goods when the game is on the line. He needs to play well in the fourth quarter, and occasionally pull games out of the fire the way he did against the Rams two years ago. The Dolphins had absolutely no business winning that game; L.A. had suffocated Miami’s offense all afternoon, but Tannehill authored two late drives to leave the Rams in shell-shocked defeat on their own field. If Tanny can take that next step, and stay healthy all year, I like Miami’s chances. I’d like to hear from our readers on what will surely be one of the most talked about subjects of the coming season.