An underdiscussed but interesting thing to watch will be how the Dolphins’ new receivers, young in their own right, grow in their new environs. Playing with an ascending quarterback may benefit them as much as their speed and ability opens things up for Tannehill.
Brandon Gibson, the recently signed Dolphins receiver, first heard about the young quarterback in 2010, his second year in St. Louis. Then-Rams receivers coach Nolan Cromwell, who had spent the previous two seasons as Mike Sherman’s offensive coordinator in College Station, raved about a player, not yet the Aggies’ starter, that he thought would blossom once he got the opportunity.
“And here he is — Ryan Tannehill,” Gibson said. “He’s got a big arm. He’s athletic, can get out of the pocket and make plays with his feet. He keeps his eyes downfield, which is huge for a quarterback. He doesn’t worry about where the D end is rushing or if he’s got a D tackle in his face. He’s going to step up and make a throw, and you can make big plays with that.”
In Dustin Keller, Tannehill will have a safety valve, a tight end that can be lined up either on the line or split out and make some plays in the middle of the field. Though Tannehill missed a portion of the Dolphins’ 30-9 Week 8 win at MetLife Stadium — a game that Keller had seven catches for 67 yards — the former Jets tight end saw the second-year quarterback on film and followed the Dolphins’ slight jump within the division in Joe Philbin’s first year.
“I’m very impressed with him. I like his game a lot,” Keller said recently. “I think now you put a Mike Wallace on the team, re-sign Brian Hartline, I love Davone Bess in the slot. You’ve got Charles Clay there working at tight end too. I think there’s a lot people that they’re going to help him thrive this year and I’m just happy to be one of the pieces.”
Each of the Dolphins’ new receiving threats have mentioned, individually, how important developing a one-on-one chemistry with Tannehill will be in the short term. Right after he signed his deal, Mike Wallace went to dinner with Tannehill, meeting with his new quarterback for the first time. It’s all a part of an offseason acclimation process that included a little film study on Tannehill in the past few weeks.
Wallace, sought after for his offense-changing speed, said that Tannehill “can put it up there.”
“This guy has a lot of upside. I know that for sure,” Wallace said. “(I like him) over a lot of guys in the league. I think we can build.”
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