Judging by his training camp and preseason performance, Ryan Tannehill is about to open an entire can of whoop ass on the NFL. Tannehill has looked legit thus far in practice and has been near perfect in his limited preseason drives. The Dolphins quarterback seems ready to take the huge step from average NFL quarterback to extremely valuable Pro-Bowl-caliber difference-maker.
It's all set up for Ryan Tannehill to dominate the league this season. Here's why:
The Miami Dolphins front office has surrounded Tannehill with talent that perfectly fits his skill set. The knock on Tannehill has always been he can't throw the deep ball — sometimes even within his own locker room — but this season the weapons that surround Tannehill fit into his skill set perfectly. Unlike past years where it seemed the team was forcing playmakers down his throat, this year the Dolphins have put together a group of players around Tannehill that make much more sense in regards to what he's best at — intermediate routes and timing patterns.
Mike Wallace is gone and with him goes some big play potential, but the Dolphins should be better off with guys Tannehill is much better suited to find in spots on the field where he dominates.
Another year in the Bill Lazor offense should make for a much more comfortable Ryan Tannehill.
Like anything else in life, familiarity makes for a much more comfortable situation. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor seemed to find all the right ways to use Tannehill in the middle of last season, and it seems to be carrying over into this year. Lazor has learned what Tannehill is best at, and Tannehill has learned the offensive like the back of his hand. Together that should equal a much smoother offense.
It's likely that Lazor and Tannehill have spent this offseason salivating at the thought of things to come.
Lamar Miller as an established threat in the backfield will take pressure off Tannehill. Coming into the last few seasons fans weren't exactly sure what to expect from Lamar Miller; this season everyone is well aware that he's the lead back. Miller topped the 1,000-yard mark last year and continues to be the one stable part of what has been constant offensive player turnover. Now, behind a line that is much improved, Miller should be able to build on the success he had last season, and in turn, Tannehill should find himself with some wide open options off the play action fake.
Ask Dan Marino what a back like Lamar Miller would have meant to his teams. We can't underestimate just how good Miller has been in a Dolphins uniform. From a mid-round pick to an elite-caliber NFL running back, Lamar Miller has been a huge success in Miami. Ryan Tannehill will only benefit from what should be a true breakout season from Lamar.
The Dolphins defense will set Tannehill up for success this season. Imagine that: Ryan Tannehill not playing from behind most of the season. That would be a new experience for fans. Instead of needing to score 38 to win every game, this year Tannehill should enjoy much better field position and less pressure-packed drives that force him to put the ball places he otherwise would never attempt. If the addition of a player like Ndamukong Suh doesn't fix this Miami Dolphins defense, nothing will.
The Dolphins defense hasn't always been the problem with the team, but it's rarely been the solution. This year Tannehill might find himself starting more and more drives in field goal range, instead of on his own 4-yard line.
Tannehill just got paid. Tannehill is taken care of for the rest of his life thanks to his new Fins contract, so that should lend to him taking the next step in his career and building a legacy. Tannehill's contract represents more than just money, it shows Miami is committed to him long term, and he is expected to be the leader of their football team for a long time. Reports from training camp already are revealing that Tannehill has taken on the role of being a stronger voice in the locker room and in the huddle. Having seniority and being older than all but one of the receivers doesn't hurt, either.
Tannehill has long-term security in Miami. All he has to do now is make sure he lives up to the commitment Miami made to him.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.