- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill was tested during his first two years with the Miami Dolphins. In 2012, he was a rookie starter surrounded by veterans. Last year, Tannehill gained some comfort but still wasn’t a vocal leader the Dolphins desperately needed it.
However, times appear to be changing for Tannehill in Year 3. In what is essentially a make-or-break year for Tannehill, who is 15-17 as a starter, he is already showing the kind of fiery leadership the Dolphins lacked from past quarterbacks.
Tannehill got into the face of two receivers and yelled at them for missed assignments Tuesday during the opening of mandatory minicamp. It was uncharacteristic to see the mild-mannered Tannehill chewing out teammates in public. But it could be another step in the right direction for Tannehill's overall development.
“I think now I’m more apt to step up and say something, make a statement,” Tannehill explained after practice. “That’s part of playing the QB position. Now I feel more comfortable. I have the respect of my teammates around me and I can do that.”
Tannehill’s increased vocal leadership didn’t go unnoticed with Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.
“It’s just one of those things in a competitive situation, and Ryan is a competitive guy,” Philbin said. “He wants to make sure everyone is on the same page. I think he’s done a really good job.”
Both of Tannehill’s run-ins were due to receiver mistakes. First, slot receiver Rishard Matthews cut off his route early and appeared to give up on a broken play. That caused a would-be quarterback sack on Tannehill. After the play, Tannehill ran up to Matthews and screamed at the receiver to play through the whistle.
The second example came late in practice when Tannehill and the offense already had a frustrating day. Rookie receiver Gerald Ford didn’t know his assignment, which upset Tannehill and caused a verbal tongue-lashing.
“I’m a rookie, so I kind of expected it,” Ford said of getting yelled at by Tannehill for the mistake.
So what did the rookie receiver say to his starting quarterback afterwards?
“I’m sorry leader,” Ford said, sparking laughter from the media. “It won’t happen again.”
Whether Tannehill’s increased leadership translates well on the field remains to be seen. The Dolphins' offense as a whole struggled Tuesday. There were three interceptions (one by Tannehill and two by Matt Moore), four would-be sacks allowed, a few drops and overall sloppy play.
Miami is implementing a new offense under first-year assistant coach Bill Lazor and continues to experience growing pains. Right now, Miami’s defense remains well ahead of its offense.
“Today wasn’t our best day,” Tannehill admitted Tuesday. “We’ve had much better days as an offense all around -- getting line up, playing fast, throwing the ball, protecting. We just didn’t have our best day today. That’s what this time is for.”