Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBS4) – The Miami Dolphins head into training camp in less than three weeks and for the first time in many years, go in with a clear confidence in the players the team has at the quarterback position.
Everything about the Miami Dolphins centers on second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The former first round draft pick looked solid in his first season with the team and the Dolphins need him to take a major step forward in season two to take the franchise to the next level.
Last year, Tannehill started all 16 games and threw for almost 3,000 yards while completing 58.3 percent of his passes. Still, Tannehill’s issue was the same the Dolphins has had over the last several years, lack of explosiveness and touchdowns.
Tannehill threw for 12 touchdowns, but also 13 interceptions. His 76.1 quarterback rating was average, but his biggest problem was lack of playmakers at the skill positions. Specifically, Tannehill needed speed and a lot of it to stretch defenses.
So, the Dolphins invested millions of free agent dollars into signing speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace, reliable wide receiver Brian Hartline, and receiver Brandon Gibson. The Dolphins also brought in tight end Dustin Keller hoping he can recapture his glory days with the New York Jets.
In addition, the Dolphins moved on from the Reggie Bush-era and are ready to hand the ball to second-year running back Lamar Miller. The former University of Miami Hurricanes star displayed game-breaking speed and running ability in limited play last year, but will be the workhorse this season.
If Tannehill is injured, the Dolphins also have a great fallback option in quarterback Matt Moore. The Fins re-signed the former starting quarterback as Tannehill’s primary backup. Moore has a command of the offense and can come in and win a game or two if needed at any time.
On paper, the quarterback position should continue improving in the second-year of the Joe Philbin-era with the Miami Dolphins. Still, there is one thing that neither Tannehill nor More can control that could impact their play in 2013, the left tackle position.
The Dolphins had the chance to take a left tackle with the number three overall pick in the NFL Draft, but went for defensive end Dion Jordan instead. The Fins also didn’t trade or acquire a free agent left tackle, meaning the job is now Jonathan Martin’s to lose.
Martin spent his entire college career at left tackle, primarily guarding the blind side of former number one overall draft pick Andrew Luck. Martin has reportedly hit the gym hard in the offseason and appeared noticeably bigger during the Fins’ most recent mini-camp.
If Tannehill can develop a good rapport with Wallace, Gibson, Keller, and Hartline, and Martin can keep him from getting destroyed by defensive ends; the Dolphins have a real good chance of challenging the New England Patriots for AFC East supremacy.
However, that’s a lot of if’s for a very young team under a second-year coach. Still, the Dolphins have the look of a contender for the playoffs, but the success rides on the improvement of a quarterback position that finally looks stable.