Tannehill and Dolphins are learning new offense
MIAMI (AP) — Ryan Tannehill stood in shotgun formation, signaled by clapping his hands twice, scurried up to the center for a brief consultation, retreated to his position and stomped his foot as another signal.
Finally he took the snap — and a flag flew. Penalty.
So it went Tuesday on the first day of mini-camp for the Miami Dolphins, whose shoddy execution on offense left Tannehill annoyed. Near the end of practice he yelled at receiver Gerald Ford for a mistake and banished the rookie to the sideline.
“It was a frustrating day,” Tannehill said. “I want to be crisp, and for everything to work like a well-oiled machine, and today we weren’t crisp. To come out here and have that on our first day of mini-camp is really kind of unacceptable.”
The season opener is still nearly three months away, but the fits and starts underscored the challenge faced by Tannehill as he and his teammates learn new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s playbook.
It’s the first time since high school that Tannehill has run an offense designed by someone other than Mike Sherman. Sherman was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator in Tannehill’s first two NFL seasons, and was the head coach at Texas A&M when Tannehill played there.
Lazor’s offense spreads the field and moves players around a lot.
“I’m still learning,” Tannehill said. “There’s a lot to do and learn, getting everything down to where it’s second nature, and not having to think about anything and just playing. But every day I feel more and more comfortable.”
The Dolphins and Tannehill anticipate he’ll make significant progress as a third-year quarterback. He has thrown 36 touchdown passes but also 30 interceptions, with the Dolphins falling short of the playoffs both years.
“This is a big year for myself and for our team,” Tannehill said. “Last year we underperformed.”
With higher expectations, Tannehill has become more demanding, as Ford discovered when the quarterback began screaming at him in front of the entire squad and TV cameras.
“He’s the leader of the team, so of course I respect anything he says,” Ford said. “That’s my first time getting chewed out but, hey, I’m a rookie, so I expected it. I just didn’t know when it was going to happen.”
A first-round draft pick in 2012, Tannehill started every game in his first two NFL seasons. He doesn’t turn 26 until next month, but only 16 players have been on Dolphins’ roster longer.
So it’s time for him to assume more of a leadership role, he said.
“Now I’m more apt to step up and say something and make a statement,” he said. “That’s part of playing the quarterback position. Now I feel more comfortable. I have the respect of my teammates and I can do that.”
Coach Joe Philbin said he’s pleased to see Tannehill take charge, and happy with how his quarterback has embraced Lazor’s playbook.
“His understanding of the system is very good,” Philbin said. “He’s a quick processor, and he has transferred from the classroom to the practice field well. I’m pleased with his development.”
Tannehill seemed more upset than Philbin about the way the offense looked in practice.
“We just didn’t have our best day today, but that’s what this time is for,” Tannehill said. “It’s something that is going to be corrected, and Wednesday we should look much better.”
Two more mini-camp sessions are planned this week, and the team will then take a break before training camp begins next month. Tannehill plans to spend some time with his family, but he said he’ll stay in Miami and also spend some time with the playbook.
“It’s crunch time,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you did in February or April at this point if you let it go to waste in July. I’ll have a few days to reconnect with family and have some fun, but then it’s back to work, getting ready for a big season for us.”
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