Big changes are happening for the Miami Dolphins, and if quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn't careful, the Dolphins' starting quarterback job could be one of the next to open up.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports that Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin wants to "push Tannehill more" and that the third-year head coach could even make a change at quarterback if he doesn't see improvement in the former No. 8 overall pick in the draft.
Philbin's job is riding on Tannehill progressing. I wouldn't doubt a little more pressure from highly paid back-up Matt Moore ($4M salary; $5.5M in cap) in 2014, with Philbin professing his belief in Moore to several of the GM candidates and demanding more from Tannehill.
"He definitely wants to push Tannehill more," said one source who has spoken to Philbin about the quarterbacks, "and if he doesn't see improvement he said he might go to Moore at some point. He definitely has a lot of faith in Moore, and they're paying him a lot of money."
Tannehill improved from his rookie year to his second season in the NFL, and arguably did the best he could with the shoddy offensive line play in front of him. He was sacked 58 times, which was the most in the league and the most in Dolphins history.
Some of his best football came in the final two minutes of each half, where he showed incredible command of the offense by leading his team on a league-leading eight scoring drives (three touchdowns, five field goals) that started with two minutes or less in the half and 13 scoring drives (four touchdowns, nine field goals) on drives that started with four minutes or less in the half.
Some of his worst football, however, came in the final two games of the season, with the Dolphins holding their playoff fate in their own hands. He completed 44.8 percent of his passes in the final two games of the season, and averaged 4.3 yards per pass attempt.
Tannehill will have to improve if the Dolphins are going to take that next step from the verge of playoff contention to a potential push for the Super Bowl, but is the first week of February really the time to be having this discussion? A change at quarterback would indicate the Dolphins season has been a disaster. Matt Moore will be 30 years old entering the 2014 season, and pulling the plug on Tannehill for Moore would get them no closer to long-term answers at quarterback.
At present, the Dolphins are making moves to facilitate Tannehill's growth, not stunt it. By firing offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and replacing him with former Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor, the Dolphins committed to helping Tannehill improve his overall game (particularly deep passing) by cutting the proverbial umbilical cord â€” Sherman had been Tannehill's play-caller for the past six straight years, taking the same path from Texas A&M to the NFL in 2012.
This whole offseason should be about building around Tannehill, and it starts with that offensive line.
Click the link here to read my thoughts on how the Dolphins can rebuild their offensive line over at Bleacher Report.
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