January 15, 2000 was the last game Miami Dolphins legendary quarterback Dan Marino played in his illustrious career. Ever since then, the Dolphins have been looking for their next franchise quarterback.
In his three seasons in the NFL, Ryan Tannehill has taken a lot of criticism because of the Dolphins’ December failures in both 2014 and ’14, and the fact that he has struggled to throw deep passes accurately. But if this preseason is any indication, Tannehill looks like he is ready to take his game to the next level.
In his first two preseason games, Tannehill has thrown for 158 yards, two touchdowns with zero interceptions and has a passer rating of 126.9. Tannehill also is completing 81.8 percent of his passes. While Tannehill is happy with the progression of his game, he knows the players around him also have gotten better.
“I feel like I’m getting better every practice, every week, Tannehill said. “Not just myself, but the guys around me. It doesn’t happen if I play good and the guys around me don’t. The O-line is giving me time to throw the ball and the guys are getting open and making the plays downfield.”
Head coach Joe Philbin has also been impressed with the way Tannehill has performed during training camp and this preseason.
"I think he has had a good camp, Philbin said." I think he is throwing the ball well and is making good decisions. He hasn’t put the ball in harm’s way very much. I think he is doing well."
In each of Tannehill’s first three seasons his yards, touchdown passes, passer rating and completion percentage have all improved. His 2015 campaign, which will be his second in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s system, could produce Tannehill’s best numbers yet.
So far during the preseason, Tannehill has looked comfortable leading the Dolphins’ offense. On Saturday, Tannehill was pressured by the Carolina defense a number of times, but he kept his composure and made plays down the field. One of the plays Tannehill made under pressure was a 36-yard completion to Lamar Miller, which set up the Dolphins’ first touchdown of the night.
As Tannehill continues to gain confidence in his new weapons — wide receivers Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills, tight end Jordan Cameron — that will also improve his game and Miami’s offensive production. Once first-round pick DeVante Parker returns from his injury, that will add just another big-play threat to the Dolphins’ offense.
“We’re really deep,” Tannehill said. “I feel great about our corps right now. From top to bottom, I think that they are talented. I feel comfortable with any of those guys in the game, whoever’s in, whether a guy needs a breather or a guy gets dinged, I feel comfortable with whoever’s in the game that they’re going to be able to get open and be in the right spot at the right time.”
The third preseason game is treated like a regular season game. Miami will host the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night, so that will provide Tannehill with an even bigger challenge. But it does appear that Tannehill and the Dolphins are headed for great things in 2015.
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.