The Dolphins decided to move on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill this offseason and eventually offloaded him to the Tennessee Titans in a creative March trade. And on Wednesday, a TV debate ensued about whether Tannehill will very quickly supplant Marcus Mariota as the quarterback of the future in Nashville that he could not sustain in Miami.
On ESPN’s “NFL Live” program, former Dolphins VP of football Mike Tannenbaum, who’s been hired this offseason by the network as an analyst, and former South Florida media member-now ESPN reporter Jeff Darlington both “sang the praises” of Tannehill and his chance to take over the Titans:
“He’s (Mariota) got to stay healthy. I believe that Marcus has the talent, it’s whether you can stay healthy. And, if by week eight he all of a sudden he goes down with some kind of injury, Ryan Tannehill, as Mike and I know very well in South Florida, will come in there and look really pretty and really good.” Darlington continued, “And all the sudden he is going to be the type of practice player that’s going to make the Titans believe that he could be their guy. I believe that, ultimately, the Titans will enter 2020 believing that Ryan Tannehill will be there Franchise QB.”
For the record, Tannenbaum, who gave Tannehill a four year $77 million extension in Miami in 2015, agreed that he could become the Titans guy sooner rather than later,
“When healthy, he’s been a startinig-winning quarterback. That’s not hope. That’s not conjecture. That’s just the facts….Marcus is your starter, but they have depth at that position…and you got two guys that you can win with.”
Now, obviously what’s left out here is the Tannehill has been injured in each of the last three seasons. It started with his ACL tear in December of 2016 costing him a chance to help the Dolphins during a late-season playoff push and they were eventually beaten in their AFC Wildcard game at Pittsburgh without him.
Tannehill then, elected not to have surgery on the knee try to rehab it and be ready for training camp of 2017. Only to re-tear the ACL that August and have to have the surgery, eventually missing the entire season. He came back off the knee surgery with a good training camp and preseason and the Dolphins even got off to a 3 – 0 start in 2018. Yet, this time it was an injured shoulder in an October game with Cincinnati that eventually cost him five more games.
So, while Darlington and Tannenbaum touting Tannehill’s praises, the other part of that is he’s been a bigger injury problem than Mariota over the last three years.. And clearly, Mariota had a 2017 season where he led Tennessee to the playoffs and a victory over Kansas City, and that says something for his future in the “Music City.”
Still, he suffered a hamstring injury late last year missing a couple of key games himself, as Tennessee missed out a wildcard spot on the final night of the season. Thus, calling into question, whether Mariota will get a long term massive contract in Tennessee.
It’s going to be interesting to watch from a distance, whether Tannehill becomes the guy at some point due the injury or poor play by the Titans former #2 overall pick in 2015.
For now, he has to be content to wait for a shot, if it comes.
Dolphins coach Flores already dealing with lots of 2020 changes
For almost every NFL team not named the 49ers and the Chiefs, the draft evaluation process is now well underway, and most all teams are represented now in Mobile, Alabama for this weekend’s Senior Bowl. That includes, the Dolphins head coach Brian Flores and his staff (some of them brand new), who are taking it all in.
And on Monday night, Flores met with the Dolphins assembled media and beat writers about the changes that have already taken place within his coaching staff and how it will shape this offseason.
First, Flores took the drastic action of firing first-year offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, whom he had brought with him from the Patriots this past season. Part of that decision was based on Miami’s poor play offensively, but a bigger part is the person that Flores could bring in to run his offense.
That’s former Cowboys and bills head coach and longtime NFL offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey.
As we wrote when these moves were made earlier this month, Gailey has a long-standing relationship with veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Gailey was his head coach in Buffalo and also his offensive coordinator with the Jets, photo above,. It also further signals the Fitzpatrick apparently will be heavily involved in the 2020 offensive plans.
Speaking to the media and with the quotes being relayed via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post, Flores emphasized that Gailey’s in-game adjustments and his ability to teach is what appealed to hiring him,
“He does a really good job of adjustments in-game,” Flores said. “If you’re playing cover one, he’s got cover-one beaters, if you’re playing zone, he’s got zone-beaters. If you’re diamond front he’s got his diamond runs. He’s a good coach that way. I think he’s seen a lot of football.”
“I know he’s a great teacher,” Flores said. “Just in my conversations with several players and coaches that have spent time with him, and that’s obviously very important. The first thing I should have said is that.”
Flores also is dealing with having lost defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, whom he allowed to take the same job with the New York Giants. Instead of going outside for his replacement hire, Flores instead promoted from in-house with defensive backs coach Josh Boyer getting the promotion and much more responsibility.
As for Boyer, Flores said Monday night from Mobile,
“He and I see things through the same lenses,” Flores said. “A lot of ways. He coached corners and I coached safeties and we spent a lot of time together. Defensive philosophies and fundamentals and techniques, the things we teach. We’re very much on the same page.”
Defense is obviously Flores’ specialty and Boyer is following his same path from when they were with the Pats. This, as Flores ascended from DB coach to defensive coordinator two seasons ago before getting the Dolphins job.
Miami will obviously have to remake their roster with numerous premium draft picks they acquired for this year and next year, plus, significant money under the salary cap for free agents.
And, all of that evaluation, including with Senior prospects practicing and playing this weekend, is now underway.
’85 Dolphins were part of dubious AFC playoff history
The Tennessee Titans are looking to make NFL playoff history and join four other teams as the only ones to ever win three straight road games and make a Super Bowl. That’s when they take on the Chiefs Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.
And, longtime Dolphins fans will remember that they were on the wrong end of one of those teams who pulled it off for the first time in NFL playoff history 34 years ago.
That’s when a Raymond Berry coached New England Patriots team behind Tony Eason at quarterback and an opportunistic defense stunned the seemingly invincible passing attack of second-year quarterback Dan Marino and Don Shula’s Dolphins in a shocking 31 – 14 upset at the Orange Bowl.
To set the scene, New England had already upset the New York Jets at the Meadowlands in the AFC Wildcard game and then, gone out to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and defeated the Raiders, who were the number one in AFC seed, 27 – 20.
The Dolphins, who were the AFC Champs the previous year behind Marino’s record-setting passing season of 1984, had struggled just to make the Championship Game a year later.
That’s because the Cleveland Browns actually led Miami the previous week 21 – 3 in the third quarter before Marino and the offense kicked it into gear for 21 unanswered points and a comeback 24 – 21 win.
However, on this day, they made simply too many mistakes and New England made them pay, including grinding the clock with over 40 minutes of possession to shorten the game.
Patriots ran for over 250 yards on the withering Dolphins defense and Miami had six turnovers in all including two critical Marino interceptions in the defeat.
New England surprisingly led 17 – 7 at the half, when Miami’s rookie kick returner and former Gator Lorenzo Hampton fumbled, while being tackled. A few plays later New England scored on a 4th and goal touchdown pass from Eason to Robert Weathers with a stunned Orange Bowl looking at a scoreboard that read 24 – 7, Pats.
Marino led the Dolphins down the field and looked like he was going to get them quickly in the end zone and right back in the game. However, he threw a critical bad pass that was picked off by Fred Marion at the New England goal line to keep the Dolphins off the board.
New England worked another four minutes off the clock before missing a few goal, but most of the damage had been done with most of the third period was erased with the Dolphins down by 17.
The Patriots Mosi Tatupu iced the game with a 1 yard touchdown midway through the final period and New England was on its way to a Super Bowl matchup with the Chicago Bears.
As you probably know by now, the ’85 Bears with their devastating “46 Defense,” Hall of Famer Walter Payton and brash quarterback Jim McMahon destroyed New England in the Super Bowl two weeks later.
Still, 1985 version the Patriots will always be remembered as a team that was able to pull off three straight wins away from home, including the shocker that ended Miami’s bid to capture the World Championship.
If you are wondering, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers have also all since done this “road trifecta” in the NFL Playoffs. However, in all three of their cases, they finished what the Patriots could not, by also winning the Super Bowl.
The most recent was the Packers and their 2011 postseason run that saw them defeat the Steelers to win the title.
So, on Sunday, it’s former Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry and the Tennessee defense’s turn to try to match what four others have done before them.
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