DAVIE—There’s no way to say this without it being a shot at Jay Cutler, but the Dolphins have really, really missed Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill’s 2018 return from a season-ending knee injury has been on players’ minds throughout the year, especially considering how much he remained involved. He’s been on the sideline, traveled with the team, sat in meetings and done a lot of his rehabilitation work on the field in full view.
That’s heightened the expectations, and Miami’s hoping Tannehill will pick up right where he left off in a promising 2016 season the last time anyone’s seen him on the field.
“We were making a lot of improvement this offseason, OTAs and training camp, and we were pretty excited at the improvements that Ryan was making and the timing and us getting on the same page and knowing this offense,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “That’s where we’re back to, knowing that he’s going to be back, he’s going to be healthy and just continue to work on the chemistry that we’ve built these past couple of years.”
There’s no question the Dolphins are moving forward now with Tannehill as their quarterback. Owner Stephen Ross identified his injury as the No. 1 problem for his team this year, and Cutler and Matt Moore both seem unlikely to be back next season.
In his first year playing for Adam Gase, Tannehill posted career bests in passer rating (93.5), interceptions (12), completion percentage (67.1) and yards per attempt (7.7). For comparison, Cutler was at 80.8, 14, 62.0 and 6.2.
Miami was 8-5 with Tannehill at quarterback, including the Dec. 11, 2016 game against Arizona when Calais Campbell knocked him out for the rest of that season with an injury to his left knee. Tannehill rehabbed that in time to be fully cleared for OTAs, but shortly into training camp the knee buckled on a non-contact injury.
“I think Ryan is a great piece,” safety Reshad Jones said. “He was coming along, he was having a good spring. I think he’s a valuable piece to this team.”
There’s no guarantee Tannehill will be a star after he’s been something less than that throughout his career, but he’s decisively better than Cutler. He’s more accurate and far more of a running threat, which is something this team needs at quarterback. If he’s healthy for next season, there’s one position Miami has already upgraded.
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