Will Tannehill have steep learning curve?

May, 28, 2014
May 28
2:00
PM ET
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins' new offense under first-year coordinator Bill Lazor was all over the place during the team’s start of organized team activities Tuesday.

There were a few dropped passes, poor timing and some badly thrown balls by starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Dolphins veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan took advantage on one play to pick off Tannehill towards the end of practice to cap off a shaky day for the offense.

The practice essentially looked like a defense that has been in the same system for three seasons facing an offense still learning the playbook for the first time.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesDolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is learning a new scheme as he enters a pivotal season in his development.
“Just walking off the field -- I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of the video yet -- but I think some of the basic things that need to get corrected,” a candid Lazor said. “Number one would be communication offensively. If we are not all on the same page, we’ve got a very low chance of being successful. Some of the times you saw some mistakes where we saw mistakes, we weren’t together.”

Similar to the offense, it also was a shaky start to OTAs for Tannehill. He enters a huge season -- the third-year quarterback must prove he is the long-term solution. Tannehill, a former first-round pick, is 15-17 in two non-playoff seasons.

But here is the wildcard: Tannehill is learning a new offense for the first time in his NFL career. Will it be a smooth transition or will Tannehill have a steep learning curve? No one knows for sure.

Tannehill had run the same offensive system under former Dolphins offensive coordinator and Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman since college. Sherman recruited Tannehill out of the high school and tailored the offense at the college and pro levels around Tannehill's abilities. That helped Tannehill become a starter right away during his rookie year in Miami. He has gone on to make 32 consecutive starts for the Dolphins.

But Lazor was hired to take Tannehill's game to the next level. Lazor comes to Miami with his own ideas of how to run an offense. Some early and noticeable differences are the multiple formations, up-tempo style and many quick-hitting plays.

Lazor coached with the Philadelphia Eagles last season under Chip Kelly and is bringing many of those principles to Miami. It will be up to Tannehill to make a quick adjustment for Miami’s offense to take flight.

“There’s still a learning curve. It’s not going to come overnight,” Tannehill said. “It’s going to take some time, not just for me but for all of our guys. The receivers are running routes that they haven’t run before doing adjustments that we haven’t done before, so there’s going to be a learning curve, but that’s what this time is for.”

It’s too early to be concerned about one questionable practice from Tannehill. There certainly will be some growing pains, especially in the spring. But Tannehill must start to show more consistency in Miami’s new offense.

The Dolphins cannot afford a slow start offensively in what is a very important year for many in the organization. Miami will have three tough tests right off the bat against the New England Patriots (Week 1), Buffalo Bills (Week 2) and Kansas City Chiefs (Week 3). The Patriots and Chiefs are playoff teams from last season, and Buffalo swept Miami last season.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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