Reporting Tim Kephart
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill got some very limited work in during the first preseason game. The offense looked out of sync; Tannehill threw behind his receivers and the team even fumbled the very first play.
During Tuesday’s first practice since the game, Tannehill looked equally bad as he tossed four interceptions and looked every bit of the second-year starter he is. On the other hand, if there’s one place to get the interceptions out of your system, training camp is the best place.
“There is some ball location, there were some route adjustments that weren’t exactly the way we would like to do it,” head coach Joe Philbin said. “There were some protection issues, which forced the ball out quicker than it should have been. That’s usually what happens in a game when you have a multiple giveaway type of game for a quarterback.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman put it more simplistically pointing out that the Fins’ overwhelming focus on turnovers would have fixed the problems in the Hall of Fame game.
“We had two turnovers that equated to 14 points,” Sherman said. “If we just don’t turn the ball over, even though we didn’t play great, if we don’t turn the ball over we have a chance to win. That’s a reoccurring theme, and we’ve got to get that cleaned up, obviously.”
Part of the problem for the Dolphins offense in the first game was that the offensive line was in flux and the team’s starting wide receivers, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline were not in the starting line. Hartline became Tannehill’s safety valve last season, so losing him cost the quarterback even more.
Still, Sherman said Tannehill is making remarkable progress for a second-year player and that the game experience he has picked up in the last 18 months has been invaluable.
“The checks he made were phenomenal,” Sherman said of Tannehill against the Cowboys. “We tried to (hide) an uncovered receiver, and we didn’t connect on it necessarily, but we wouldn’t have been able to do that a year ago. He made the right call. We uncovered, it was a hurry-up play. We had a chance for a big-play there, didn’t get it. But I thought mentally he was very, very sharp.”
Philbin also said that it’s entirely fair to judge the Dolphins’ offense based on the first game of the season, despite the uncertainty on the line and at wide receiver.
“We played a football game, and when you are going to play a game during the season with the guy out there dressed in helmets and shoulder pads,” Coach Philbin said. “It’s absolutely fair to evaluate the offense.”
Sherman said Tannehill will have his ups and downs and that he’s not concerned about the quarterback’s overall progress. Incidentally, Sherman has been Tannehill’s coach for the last six seasons at Texas A&M and now with the Dolphins.
One thing Sherman did say Tannehill will have to work on is his ball placement, which he said was just slightly off in the first game.
“I don’t worry about it going forward. Moving forward, like myself and the rest of the team, we have some small things to correct,” Tannehill said. “It’s a good start for us. Obviously we didn’t come out, put up the numbers or score points like we wanted to, but if you look at what they threw at us and how we responded as a group I felt like it was a good start we can definitely build on.”
Tannehill also said that it’s much easier for him to make the corrections he needs to make when he makes a mistake. For the Dolphins, the more mistakes he makes in practice, they hope the more corrections he will have made by the time the regular season rolls around.