In 2017, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill will have something to look forward to. For the first time in his career, he’ll be returning to the same offensive scheme, with a majority of the same players, under the same head coach and coordinator. For a quarterback who has improved every year despite the turnstile around him, it’ll be a huge advantage.
While skeptics are still hesitant to call Tannehill a good quarterback, 2017 might be his year to silence critics. Most of the knocks on Tannehill were improved upon under head coach Adam Gase. However, the key areas left are his pocket presence and stepping up in clutch situations.
If the Dolphins want to be successful with the veteran QB, they’ll need to continue to build that offensive line. With patchwork pieces in place, last season and a few standouts Miami’s offense allowed far fewer sacks. Too bad it wasn’t enough to stop a late season hit that would sideline the streaking quarterback. In the offseason, the Dolphins traded away starting tackle Branden Albert in favor of the more talented Laremy Tunsil. They also brought in veteran Ted Larsen and resigned veteran Jermon Bushrod to add depth. The team still lacks starting-caliber players who could fill in if any of their front 5 go down. If Miami can get more protection in the draft, expect Tannehill to make huge strides this season.
Another huge win for Miami was getting wide receiver Kenny Stills back in a Dolphins uniform. Fans have begged and pleaded to get a deal done with fellow receiver Jarvis Landry, but this offseason Stills has more of an impact. With Stills being Miami’s deep threat his role in the offense carried weight. Not only does he give them the opportunity to stretch the field, his speed opened space for the rest of the field. Not only will the Dolphins have their deep threat back, they’ll be able to improve where they excel best, yards-after-catch. Miami still has time to work out a contract with Landry, so putting their focus on the Stills didn’t hurt.
Aside from the returning factors, Miami has one ace up their sleeve. Even though some might say Julius Thomas has lost a step, he could be a wildcard for the Dolphins. Miami will finally have a red zone target to take the pressure off Tannehill’s go-to receivers. Too often, the Dolphins stumble in the red zone after teams key in on Landry or Ajayi out of the backfield. With a big body target such as Thomas, that’s one more piece defenses will have to gameplan for in scoring position. After the Dolphins lost often injured Jordan Cameron, they were left without a true scoring tight end. If Thomas can get repeat even half the success he had during his last stint with Adam Gase, the playbook should be broke wide open.
Statistically, Ryan Tannehill has been better than average. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, stats don’t always win games. Tannehill could throw for 4000, 5000, or even 10,000 yards but if the team isn’t winning no one will care. That’s Miami’s biggest hurdle. In now his 6th year under center, Tannehill still needs 3 wins more than his losses to even get to .500. It’s all in or bust this year. Miami can’t afford another season of higher stats with no results. Either win games or move on.