Officially we are now six days and about 20 hours away from the start of training camp. We have looked at the four of my top ten things to watch (in NO particular order) and today we will look at two more as we prepare for the return of football.
As a program note, we are are also ready to fire up On The FinSide as well. The Blogtalkradio internet Dolphins show will return a week from this coming Tuesday so mark your calendar to join myself, Paul, and Cat as we launch back into our weekly two hour series as part of Finsradio!
A team is only going to go as far as their quarterback can take them. Great quarterbacks succeed around teams that are not very good, good quarterbacks succeed when they have a great supporting casts, bad quarterbacks can’t lift a good team or a great one. So where does Ryan Tannehill fall? Far being a bad quarterback, Tannehill falls into the good but not great category. He puts the work in, even in the off-season and has become a leader on the field as well. Those are good qualities to have but neither will single handedly take your team to the next level.
It’s difficult to see what we have in Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback. In his first season with the team, Tannehill was limited by the direction of his offensive coordinator and struggled at times as a rookie which is normal. Still he showed quite a bit of potential especially late in the season. In season two we expected Tannehill to make a jump and while he got a little better we simply can’t tell how much. He was sacked 58 times, knocked down often after he got rid of the ball, was erratic with his long ball, had little chemistry with outside wide-receiver Mike Wallace, and had an offensive line that was in shambles.
So we turn to year three.
This training camp, most if not all eyes, will be on Tannehill. His long ball will be scrutinized as will the rest of his game but more importantly Tannehill will fall under the microscope to see exactly how the QB is adapting and comprehending the new Bill Lazor offense.
This will be the first new system that Tannehill has had to learn dating all the way back to high-school. Mike Sherman brought the same system to Miami that Tannehill used in college and while there are similarities there are quite a few differences in the faster paced scheme. That above all else is why Tannehill is on this list. His adaptation to this offense is a huge key to the success of Miami’s offense and could hold the future of both his head coach and offensive coordinator in his hand, or rather on his arm.
Fans were divided at the end of last season when they reviewed the season as whole. Offensive line problems, coaching problems, line-backer problems, and just about everything came into play. When it came to discussing the $60 million dollar wide receiver, fans began to part ways with their thinking. I don’t anticipate pleasing both sides of the fence on this one but I will be honest in saying that Mike Wallace on this list comes from my own observations.
Mike Wallace didn’t play well last year in fact I would go so far as to say Wallace’s frustrations on the field paved the way for scrutiny. Wallace is fast and at times, when his head is right, has great hands but Wallace lacks two things, concentration and dedication. There I said it.
The issues I had with Wallace last season was his inability to show consistency in the face of his own discouragement. The fact is that Wallace could not have been happy in the Miami system last season under Sherman. He was used more often than not as a high-priced decoy, a 10 yard out receiver who would show his speed and then stop. That wasn’t Wallace’s fault that was the system. It’s easy to see why you would be frustrated. Imagine getting a $60 million dollar deal that has fans and media alike wondering aloud if you are worth it and then getting on the field and not being able to show you are.
Add to that the relationship and timing with Tannehill and you saw a wide-open Wallace overthrown almost every single time. Despite the fact that Wallace had a career year in receptions, 73, Wallace didn’t get into the end zone but five times and easily could have added another six or more had the timing with Tannehill been better.
The second part of last years disappointment is on Wallace and only on Wallace. His effort. It was clear to see his frustration early on and at times throughout the season but it was never more evident that when that frustration was taken with him onto the field. Several times last season Wallace gave up on routes and gave up on passes. Two of which turned into two critical interceptions. Wallace doesn’t fight for the ball, it was something he didn’t do well in Pittsburgh with either. That is problematic, especially with a young quarterback trying to make the throws that he probably shouldn’t make.
That brings us to training camp and why Wallace is on this list. The chemistry between Tannehill and Wallace is critical for the success of this season. Tannehill has more weapons this season but will still need to feed the ball to his number one and that relationship has reportedly been worked on this off-season, now it’s time to see how it transfers to pads and contact. If these two can get on the same page early the Dolphins offense could be an exciting system to watch.