NFL Nation: ryan tannehill

Ryan Tannehill: 'I have to do better'

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
4:17
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is trying to put on the best face possible after his slow start to the regular season.

"It’s better to struggle in September than December," Tannehill deadpanned following Wednesday’s practice.

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Tannehill is fully aware that he’s not meeting expectations at the start of an important third season. Miami drafted Tannehill No. 8 overall in 2012 and expected him to be the engine that drives the offense at this stage in his career. Instead, three seasons later, Tannehill is having some of the same struggles with accuracy and inconsistency he had in Year 1 and Year 2.

The Dolphins' passing game is ranked 24th in the NFL, and Tannehill is averaging just 209.5 passing yards per game. He also has a passer rating of 76.1. Miami was fortunate enough to split the first two games with its starting quarterback playing mediocre in that span.

Tannehill knows he must be more consistent as Dolphins (1-1) host the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

“I haven’t been playing up to my standards and up to my standards as a team,” Tannehill said. “I just have to do better. ... Obviously, I want it to change. I’m not sitting here happy with the way I played.”

Miami’s coaches remain behind Tannehill. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said the struggles on offense aren't on one person, and Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor also said Tannehill has shown encouraging signs in practice.

But so far not much has translated into the games as Tannehill tries to adjust to a new offense. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Tannehill was 0-of-6 on throws of 15 yards or more downfield in last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. Miami’s passing game hasn’t been much of a threat through two weeks of the season. Much of that falls on the starting quarterback.

Tannehill has received strong support from Dolphins fans in South Florida. But some of that is starting to change. According to an ESPN.com poll this week, nearly half (49 percent) of Dolphins fans are now convinced Tannehill is not the long-term solution in Miami. About 22 percent believe Tannehill will be the Dolphins’ franchise quarterback and 29 percent remain undecided.

The only way Tannehill can silence the doubters is with consistent play. He has 14 games remaining to have a strong third season.

“Obviously, I don’t want to struggle at all,” Tannehill said. “But there’s a lot of football ahead of us and I’m excited about the opportunity we have.”

Philbin, Lazor support Ryan Tannehill

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
9:00
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DAVIE, Fla. -- It's no secret that this is an important Year 3 for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The former first-round pick received nearly unanimous support from Dolphins fans in South Florida in his first two seasons, but expectations are higher in 2014.

So far, in two games, Tannehill has not met those expectations. The Dolphins beat the New England Patriots in Week 1 mostly because of their running game and lost to the Buffalo Bills Sunday because of a lack of running game. Tannehill was average in both contests.

This is the time in Tannehill's career when he must prove he can carry an offense. That hasn't been the case early this season, and some are starting to wonder about Miami's struggling passing game.

"The issue is our passing game is not at the level it needs to be," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said in defense of Tannehill. "Those are the facts. But it's a unit issue. It's not one player causing all the problems in the passing game."

Miami first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has been candid in his critiques of Tannehill. A big reason Lazor was brought to Miami was to take Tannehill's game to a new level. Therefore, Lazor has been very demanding with the expectation that Tannehill will respond.

Sunday was an ideal opportunity for Tannehill to step up. The Dolphins were on the road against an energized Buffalo team that has had Miami's number. The Dolphins could have used a dominant passing performance from Tannehill to stem the tide, especially after leading rusher Knowshon Moreno went down in the first quarter.

Instead, Tannehill had another mediocre performance (73.6 passer rating) and struggled with his accuracy and ball placement. The Dolphins lost by 19 points, and Tannehill fell to 1-4 against the Bills in his career.

"There's no doubt Ryan will tell you it needs to improve," Lazor said of his accuracy. "I thought Thursday was the best day that Ryan's had throwing the football since I've been here. So I'm very encouraged about Ryan. I'm very discouraged by the job I've done in the passing game. I'm very encouraged by where we're heading."

This is a no-excuse year for Tannehill. By all accounts, he has better weapons and a better offensive scheme. Yet some of the same issues we have seen with Tannehill in Year 1 and Year 2 are showing up early in his third season.

Tannehill must turn things around quickly to silence the doubters, starting with Sunday's game against the winless Kansas City Chiefs (0-2).
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins botched a lot of plays during Sunday's ugly, 29-10, loss to the Buffalo Bills. But the one set of circumstances people continue to discuss 24 hours later in South Florida is Miami's ultra-conservative play calling at the end of the first half.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Gary WiepertThe Dolphins took a conservative approach at the end of Sunday's first half as the offense struggled.
Miami trailed 9-0 with all three timeouts and 2:21 remaining in the first half. Instead of putting the ball in quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s hands to see if he could put points on the board, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin elected to run the ball six consecutive times to run out the clock. Buffalo was more than happy to go into the locker room without Miami threatening to score.

One day later, after watching the film, Philbin stood behind his decision.

“At that point in time I believe we had 45 yards of offense and three sacks in the first half,” Philbin explained during his Monday news conference. “The last thing I wanted to do was go in the half down 16-0. So I told [offensive coordinator] Bill [Lazor] I wanted to run the ball every single play and get to the locker room and make some adjustments and get it to a one-possession game, which is exactly what we did twice in the third quarter. That was the reason we did it.”

Lazor, who deferred to Philbin at the end of the half, also supported his head coach on Monday.

“It has nothing to do with my wishes,” Lazor said. “I thought what Coach Philbin decided to do worked. Because when you think about it, we had our struggles in the first half. He decided to run the football. At halftime we talked. I think we got settled down in some ways. We made a couple adjustments, not that many, and we came out with two straight scoring drives.”

Many disagree with Philbin’s rationale. The Dolphins practice their two-minute drill a lot for those very situations and didn't take advantage. It potentially sends a bad message that Philbin didn’t have enough confidence in his offensive players to get points in that situation.

The Dolphins will see plenty of two-minute situations this season, and it's worth keeping an eye on how Philbin handles it moving forward.

“My job is to give the team a chance to win the game and put the team in position to win the game,” Philbin said. “I’m not pounding my chest, but I feel like in the third quarter we were exactly where we needed to be in that game. We had a chance. ... Somebody else could have a different opinion. That’s OK. I was very comfortable with that.”

Questions emerge for Ryan Tannehill

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
9:30
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We are two games into an important Year 3 for Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

That presents an important question: How do you feel about the long-term prospects of the third-year quarterback?

Are you willing to say Tannehill is the future of the franchise for the Dolphins (1-1) after Sunday's 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills (2-0)? Tannehill threw for 246 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the loss, while falling to 1-4 against Buffalo in his career.

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Is QB Ryan Tannehill the Dolphins' long-term solution?

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    49%
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Discuss (Total votes: 4,762)

“We didn’t win so it’s not good enough,” a frustrated Tannehill said Sunday evening. “No part of our offensive performance was good enough. My play, our running game, our passing game, none of it was enough.”

Truth be told, Tannehill is off to a mediocre start this season. In two games he has 419 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He has a 76.1 passer rating and averages 5.2 yards per attempt.

Perhaps the biggest concern for Miami is Tannehill appears closer to a "game manager" than a dominant quarterback. In two-plus seasons, Tannehill has yet to prove he can take over games with any consistency. The previous two weeks provided another strong warning sign.

In Week 1, the Dolphins rushed for 191 yards as a team and Tannehill filled in the blanks. He made a few good throws here and there to help Miami to a 33-20 victory over the Patriots. But there were some concerns with accuracy and his interception, which were masked by Miami's victory.

In Week 2, the Dolphins couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Running back Knowshon Moreno suffered an elbow injury in the first quarter and Miami's offense fell apart. This was a perfect opportunity for Tannehill to take over an important game -- on the road -- with his arm. Yet, Tannehill failed to produce and the lead only increased in the second half.

Questions are starting to emerge about Tannehill – and deservedly so. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin came to the defense of his young quarterback Sunday night.

“I don’t think it’s all Ryan Tannehill,” Philbin said. “I don’t think our offense played well. We didn’t protect him very well, especially in the first half, so we got behind. … I think it’s easy to point to one player, but it was the team.”

The good news is Tannehill has 14 more games to prove he is Miami’s franchise quarterback. It’s still premature to write off Tannehill as the long-term solution entirely after 34 starts. But there are some concerning signs to begin this 2014 season.

Tannehill knows this is a no-excuse year. He admitted as much during training camp.

It’s time for Tannehill to live up to his potential this year before it is too late.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- After the Miami Dolphins looked flat in a 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Miami head coach Joe Philbin had some explaining to do. Perhaps the biggest mystery was why the Dolphins got ultra-conservative when down nine points at the end of the first half.

Here is the situation: Miami's defense kept the team in the game early by holding Buffalo to three field goals in the first half. The Dolphins were outplayed and, in many ways, fortunate to be down by only single digits.

The Dolphins got the ball back at their 12-yard line with 2:21 remaining and all three timeouts. It was a good opportunity for quarterback Ryan Tannehill & Co. to put together a two-minute drive to get their first points on the board before intermission.

Instead, the Dolphins chose to run the ball six consecutive times -- gaining 20 yards -- to go into the half down 9-0. It was a baffling and passive decision that had many confused.

Here was Dolphins' head coach Joe Philbin's explanation:

"Well, it I’m not mistaken, we got the ball around the 15-yard line and we had, up to that point, 48 or 49 yards of offense. I wanted to come into halftime and give our team a chance to get back into the game. I think we did exactly what I was hoping we would do: Not give them the ball back and get an opportunity to make it a one-possession game. That’s what we did."

Philbin essentially lost confidence in his offense and his quarterback. That sent a poor message to his entire team before halftime.

The Dolphins have practiced two-minute drills constantly since training camp, and it's actually an area of strength for Miami's offense. Even New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Miami’s two-minute offense before their Week 1 matchup.

In a close game, Philbin essentially took a strength away from his own team, and the second half went downhill for the Dolphins.

Reading between the lines, it didn’t appear quarterback Ryan Tannehill agreed with the first-half decision.

“As a competitor you know I obviously want to go down and score, but it is coach Philbin’s call and he wanted to do that,” Tannehill said candidly. “He knew we were getting the ball at the end of halftime. Obviously, as an offense we feel like we want to get going. But we hadn’t done much up to that point to give him any confidence in us.”

We will never know if Miami’s offense could have added points to bring momentum to the Dolphins before halftime. But the issue is Philbin opted not to try and give his team a chance, which proved to be a mistake.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 29-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills:

Frustration: The overall theme in the locker room Sunday evening was frustration. Nearly every player who addressed the media felt he could have played better to help avoid a blowout loss. The Dolphins were beaten on offense, defense and special teams. “We made some mistakes that we usually don’t make,” Dolphins Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes said. Miami is 1-4 against the Bills in its past five meetings.

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Tannehill owns up: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill owned up to his shaky performance against the Bills. Although the loss wasn’t on one player, Tannehill didn’t do his part and finished with 246 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. “We didn’t win so it’s not good enough,” Tannehill said. “No part of our offensive performance was good enough.”

No Moreno: One key player who was missing in the locker room Sunday was Dolphins running back Knowshon Moreno. He injured his elbow in the first quarter and never returned.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
4:09
PM ET

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 29-10 loss at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

What it means: The Dolphins (1-1) continue their struggles against the Bills (2-0), who have been Miami’s biggest nemesis of late. The Dolphins fell to 1-4 against the Bills in their past five meetings. Buffalo swept Miami last season and is halfway toward doing so again in 2014. The Bills won this game Sunday the same way it won most of the others. Their defensive line pounded Miami's offensive line and at times rattled quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked four times.

Stock Watch: There are several candidates trending down for Miami after this game, but the two biggest culprits are the Dolphins’ offensive line and special teams. Miami's O-line boasts five new starters this year, but it was the same result trying to run and protect the quarterback against the Bills' defensive line. Miami's defense held the Bills to field goals in the first half, but Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller scored the first touchdown of the game with a 102-yard kickoff return in the third quarter to help seal the win. Even Miami Pro Bowl punter Brandon Fields had a tough day. He had one punt blocked and shanked two punts that helped the Bills with field position.

Oh no, Moreno: The Dolphins lost running back Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter with an elbow injury and he didn't return. Moreno fell awkwardly after his first carry, and his left arm bent the wrong way. The injury wasn't pretty, and it makes you wonder if Moreno could miss multiple games going forward. Moreno proved to be the engine of Miami’s offense early this season. He rushed for 134 yards in a Week 1 win over the New England Patriots. The Dolphins' running game isn’t the same without him in the lineup.

Game ball: Miami's game ball goes to linebacker Jelani Jenkins. The second-year backup got the start in place of the injured Dannell Ellerbe, who went on injured reserve this week. Jenkins was active and had the best game of his career. He finished with a career-high 14 tackles against the Bills.

What’s next: The Dolphins will return home to face the Kansas City Chiefs in another important AFC game. Kansas City made the playoffs last year as a wild-card team.

Ryan Tannehill preps for nemesis Bills

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
12:00
PM ET
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill owns career wins over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts and even Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.

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But, surprisingly, the one team Tannehill has struggled most against throughout his NFL career is the Buffalo Bills. Tannehill is 1-3 against Buffalo, completing just 48 percent of his passes in those four games and averaging only 136.7 yards per contest.

Tannehill’s most recent outing against Buffalo was arguably his worst game. He was 10-of-27 passing for 82 yards in a 19-0 loss to the Bills in Week 16.

Tannehill will get to meet his personal nemesis when the Dolphins (1-0) travel to face the Bills (1-0) on Sunday. Tannehill knows he wasn’t his best in Week 1 against the Patriots but still put together a winning performance. He completed 18-of-32 passes for 178 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“We left a lot of plays out there. I left a lot of plays out there, personally,” Tannehill admitted. “Location of throws, missing throws, [I] had a couple of dropped passes. Details like that where we left a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns out on the field. ... But you can’t leave that many plays on the field consistently and expect to win week-in and week-out. Definitely, we want to clean those details up this week.”


Tannehill will have to play better this week. Buffalo has found a way to batter Tannehill and force Miami's offense to be one-dimensional in the past. That was especially the case during last season's season sweep when the Bills' defense registered nine quarterback sacks on Tannehill in two games.

Those two contests helped convince Miami to do a major makeover of its offensive line via free agency and the draft. The Dolphins signed veteran left tackle Branden Albert to a $47 million contract, drafted rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James in the first round and added center Samson Satele and veteran guards Daryn Colledge and Shelley Smith in free agency.

Miami had five new starting offensive linemen in Week 1, and the unit thrived against New England. The Dolphins had impressive balance with 191 rushing yards and 169 passing yards, which caught the attention of Bills head coach Doug Marrone.

“As far as just a unit, in general, they’re working extremely well together and I think that’s the most impressive thing,” Marrone said in a conference call with the Miami media. “They’re knocking people off the ball.”

Both teams enter this game with momentum. That sets up this interesting matchup of surprise undefeated teams where the winner will be 2-0 and in first place in the AFC East.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, 63 percent of teams that start 2-0 since 1990 have gone on to make the playoffs. Whoever wins Sunday will be well-positioned to end a lengthy postseason drought. The Dolphins haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, and the Bills have the NFL’s longest playoff drought dating back to the 1999 season.

“Very important just because we need to get this lead. We don’t need to be playing catch up,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. “We’ve been there before. We need to see how it feels to play as the division leaders the whole time. We can do that. We have the team to do it. We just have to continue to put in the work every single week, every single day."

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

September, 7, 2014
Sep 7
4:19
PM ET
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 33-20 win at Sun Life Stadium:

What it means: The Dolphins picked up a gritty and important win against the New England Patriots to open the regular season. Miami trailed 20-10 in the first half but took over in the third and fourth quarters with 23 unanswered points. Beating the reigning AFC East champions and picking up a division victory adds to the importance of the victory. Miami didn't get much respect in the national media this offseason. This win over New England, a team many feel is one of the best in the NFL, certainly puts the rest of the league on notice that Miami should be taken seriously.

Stock Watch: Miami defensive end Cameron Wake's stock is on the upswing. Wake continually pressured Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and registered two sacks and fumbles against Brady in the second half. In contrast, the Dolphins' linebacker position is on the downturn. Starters Koa Misi (ankle) and Dannell Ellerbe (hip) were injured in the first half and didn't return. Philip Wheeler also missed the game with a thumb injury. Miami’s linebacker position was a major question mark even when everyone was healthy.

Unexpected rookie: The Dolphins got an unexpected contribution from undrafted rookie linebacker Chris McCain. He made a pair of big plays that helped the Dolphins. McCain blocked a punt following New England’s first drive on offense, which led to Miami’s first touchdown. McCain also had a sack on Brady near the end of the third quarter.

Game ball: Miami running back Knowshon Moreno provided a spark off the bench with 134 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Moreno should soon overtake Miami starting tailback Lamar Miller, who fumbled Sunday and struggled at times, for a starting job.

What's next: The Dolphins will have another important division game in Week 2, when they travel to play the Buffalo Bills, who have had the Dolphins' number as of late. Buffalo swept Miami in two games last season.

Can Ryan Tannehill make a statement?

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
11:00
AM ET
DAVIE, Fla. – There is a lot of pressure on Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill entering the regular season. He’s in his third year, which is when potential must become a reality. So far, Tannehill is just 15-17 in his first two years. He’s never made the playoffs or had a winning season.

But opportunity knocks once again for Tannehill. He has a chance to make a huge statement Sunday if he can beat future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. Some feel New England is a Super Bowl contender and a favorite to come out of the AFC. Not much is expected of the Dolphins from a national perspective.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/J Pat CarterRyan Tannehill is looking to defeat the Patriots in Miami for the second straight season.
Tannehill realizes this is a no-excuse year for the young quarterback. A win over the Patriots to start the season would go a long way in Tannehill’s development.

“I think that I am at the point in my career now where progression has to be made fast and you have to be consistent and there are no more rookie mistakes or second-year mistakes,” Tannehill admitted. “We are at the point where you have got to make the plays when it comes down to it in the fourth quarter on third down. You have to be able to make a play, find a way and that’s football.

“You are going to have those tough situations where someone is going to have to step up and make a play. I want that to be me. I want that to be the guys with me on offense and if we do that we will win a lot of games.”

Tannehill must produce and play smart Sunday for the Dolphins to have a chance to upset the reigning AFC East champions. Brady historically has given Miami’s defense trouble. It will be Tannehill’s job to put up enough points against New England’s defense to keep Miami in the game.

Tannehill split the season series with the Patriots last year, which included a big win over New England in Miami.

“I thought he played well, did a good job,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He does a good job taking care of the ball, played well, obviously, in the two-minute drive. He’s excellent in those situations and that’s probably really what beat us last year down there was their ability to execute at the end of the game.”

Tannehill said he’s excited about the game plan and how Miami’s offense plans to attack New England. Sunday will mark the regular-season debut of first-year Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

The Dolphins and Tannehill have worked hard for months in order to prepare for this game. Tannehill will carry a lot on his shoulders for the Dolphins this weekend and this season.

“You can’t play quarterback and have excuses,” Tannehill said. “It’s your fault a lot of times, whether it looks like it is or whether it actually is -- that is part of playing the position. You take on the responsibility and take ownership for the mistakes that the offense makes.”

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
10:10
PM ET
 

MIAMI – If something happens this season to Ryan Tannehill, the Miami Dolphins have reason to feel secure in their backup quarterback. Eight-year veteran Matt Moore capped a strong preseason Thursday in a 14-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams.


Moore was 5-of-8 passing (62.5 percent) for 38 yards in just one quarter of play. But most importantly Moore finished the exhibition season 30-of-46 passing (65.2 percent) for 368 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in three games.

Tannehill and many other starters did not play Thursday as they rest for Miami’s regular-season opener Sept. 7 against the New England Patriots. Tannehill is durable and started all 32 games his first two seasons. But Moore also showed this preseason that he’s capable and ready this year if called upon.

Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' final preseason game:
  • Thursday was a huge game for Miami backup running back Daniel Thomas. The former second-round pick is on the roster bubble after suffering a hamstring injury, and other rookie running backs (Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa) have shown flashes. Thomas rushed for 38 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown against St. Louis' backups. The Dolphins will have an interesting decision to make on whether Thomas did enough to make Miami’s 53-man roster. The Dolphins have to make their final cuts by Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.
  • Dolphins kick returner and receiver Marcus Thigpen was another player who was injured this preseason and needed a good showing while on the roster bubble. He produced a mixed bag. First, Thigpen had an awful bobbled punt in the second quarter; he fumbled it twice and nearly turned over the ball. Then, Thigpen had a nice 32-yard punt return in the second half. Backup receivers Jarvis Landry and Damian Williams are both capable of splitting the return duties, which will make the roster decision with Thigpen interesting.
  • Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan started his first preseason game, one that marked his final game action until October following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Jordan recorded two tackles against the Rams. Rookie linebacker Chris McCain registered two sacks and should make the 53-man roster after a strong preseason and training camp.
  • Injuries are always a concern in this final preseason game. Miami rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp, who has been a bright spot in training camp, suffered a chest injury in the first quarter. He was taken to the locker room with trainers and did not return to the field. Other than that, the Dolphins exited the game in good health.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Many of the current Miami Dolphins were children when quarterback Dan Marino dominated the football scene in South Florida. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was still working his way up the coaching ranks in the 1980s and 1990s.

Marino remains the best and most popular player in franchise history, and last weekend the team hired the Hall of Famer as a "special advisor." The reaction from players and coaches has been positive.

"I'm elated that he's part of the organization," Philbin said this week. "He's always kind of been an unofficial part of the organization. I had a chance to visit with him earlier today. He's excited about it. I'm sure there are a lot of things he can contribute to the organization in whatever roles Steve (Ross) and those that are in charge want that to be. He's always welcome here."

Marino's role with the Dolphins has not been defined publicly. There was no fanfare about the hire other than a news release, and there wasn't a news conference that allowed the media to ask Marino questions about his new job.

What is known is Marino will work in a variety of capacities. As time goes on, we will most likely know more about his role in Miami.

"I don't know. I don't know exactly what his role even is," Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill admitted. "No one has really even told me that. But, if he's open to some time, I'd love to pick his brain a little bit."

Regardless of his role, hiring Marino is a big win for the players. It's a rare resource to have a Hall of Famer who has been in current Dolphins' shoes readily available. Marino brings instant credibility as a person who's played the tough quarterback position as good as anyone in NFL history.

"Any time you have a guy like that just being around the organization is positive for you," Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. "He's a legend, so any time he can come into this building and see a guy like that around is going to motivate you and help you play. You know he's going always to give you a couple of tips and nuggets, so that's always good."
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins finished their final practice in preparation for Thursday’s preseason final against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium.

Sturgis
Here are some notes and observations:
  • Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis returned to practice on Tuesday. His kicks looked strong and he didn’t show any ill effects from his groin injury. Miami has had injury issues at the kicker position, but it appears Sturgis is on his way back to the field. “All initial reports are positive,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “We’ll see once he warms up [Thursday] if we can get him out there.”
  • Philbin was not as forthright with the playing time of his starters Thursday, particularly his starting offense. It remains unknown if starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Co. will play against the Rams. Last year, Tannehill did not play in the final preseason game. But last week, Miami’s offense struggled to put points on the board against the Dallas Cowboys in the third preseason game as the Dolphins’ starters scored just three points in six possessions. Miami may want to get its first-team offense some confidence before its Week 1 showdown against the rival New England Patriots.
  • Miami backup running back Daniel Thomas said he’s ready to make his preseason debut against St. Louis. Thomas missed some of training camp and the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. Since then, Miami rookie running backs Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa have stepped up and played, which has put Thomas’ roster spot in jeopardy. Thursday’s preseason game may be Thomas’ last chance to impress. “It’s pretty important,” Thomas admitted. “I haven’t gone out there in a while. So I just want to show coaches that my hamstring is good, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to play good.”
  • There were dual “Play of the Day” candidates in practice. The first big play was Tannehill throwing a 30-plus-yard touchdown to speedy receiver Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. There has been a lot of chatter about Tannehill and Wallace’s inability to connect on big plays, and that was a nice connection. The second play of the day was a pick-six by safety Reshad Jones off quarterback Brady Quinn in team drills.
  • The Dolphins are currently at 86 players. They have to make 11 cuts to get down to 75 players by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. ESPN.com’s Dolphins blog will provide a cut-down analysis Tuesday evening once the team makes it decision.

Observation Deck: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:20
PM ET

MIAMI -- Until Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins were left to wonder what their running game looks like at full strength under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Miami had gone without Knowshon Moreno, a key free-agent pickup, the entire preseason due to knee surgery.

But Moreno made an impressive 2014 debut in Saturday's 25-20 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Moreno rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries (good for a 6.4-yard average) in his Dolphins debut. Moreno ran strong between the tackles and added a new dimension to the Dolphins' offense. He showed good vision, burst through the hole, and wasn't afraid to punish defenders at the end of runs.

Moreno is competing with incumbent starter Lamar Miller (34 rushing yards) and perhaps closed the distance with this preseason performance. Miami hopes Moreno's output Saturday is a taste of things to come in the regular season.

Here are some other thoughts on the Dolphins' third preseason game:
  • It was a mixed bag from Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who completed 13-of-21 passes for 119 yards and one interception in the dress rehearsal game. The third-year quarterback did a decent job of moving the Dolphins' offense down the field, but sloppy play kept points off the board. Tannehill threw his interception into double coverage while Miami was driving down the field in the third quarter on his final throw of the night. Tannehill also completed a pass to tight end Dion Sims, who fumbled the ball in the first half to stall another drive.
  • The Dolphins’ starting defense held up well against a talented and dangerous Cowboys’ offense. Miami held Dallas’ offense to just six points in the first half when starters were on the field. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo looked befuddled at times by Miami’s defense. Romo was 10-of-18 passing for 87 yards in the game and was sacked three times. Dolphins starting defensive ends Cameron Wake (two sacks) and Olivier Vernon (one sack) got to Romo.
  • In addition to Moreno, Dolphins starting tight end Charles Clay also made his 2014 debut. Clay tweaked his knee during Miami's team scrimmage earlier this month and missed the first two preseason games. Clay played in the first quarter and recorded one reception for 18 yards.
  • The Dolphins still have a lot of work to do on special teams. Dallas reeled off big returns Saturday, including a 50-yard kickoff return from Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris in the first quarter. Miami rookie receiver Jarvis Landry also fumbled a punt return that he later recovered. The Dolphins also had a punt blocked, but it was called back due to a Dallas penalty. On top of that, Miami kicker John Potter also injured his hip in the first half and didn't finish the game. Punter Brandon Fields performed kickoffs in the second half. It was a rough night for Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who certainly has a lot to talk about with his group next week.
  • Miami starting middle linebacker Koa Misi was a late scratch Saturday night with a shoulder injury. He practiced during the week but was held out against Dallas. The Dolphins started backup linebacker Jason Trusnik in place of Misi. Dolphins kick returner Marcus Thigpen, kicker Caleb Sturgis and running backs Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee were also among the key players who didn’t suit up for Miami Saturday night.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
12:00
PM ET
The Miami Dolphins (1-1) will host the Dallas Cowboys (0-2) on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium.


1. Offensive production: The Dolphins' offense under first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has shown a mixed bag during the first two weeks of the preseason. The passing game and tempo have been upgrades from what we've seen last season. However, the running game is virtually non-existent thus far. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has completed 75 percent (15-for-20) of his passes and is playing faster and more decisive football. The passing game under Lazor has been sharp. But the offensive line is getting little push in the running game. The Dolphins had minus-5 yards in the first half last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and must improve their production on the ground.

2. Healthy returns: Running back Knowshon Moreno (knee) and tight end Charles Clay (knee) have practiced all week for the Dolphins. There is a good chance one or both will make their 2014 debut Saturday against Dallas. Moreno and Clay are expected to play major roles in Miami's offense this season. Clay was a steady force over the middle last year with 69 receptions. Moreno also is coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season in 2013 with the Denver Broncos. Clay, in particular, said he feels ready to play against Dallas. But the final call Saturday will be up to the medical staff.

3. Change at right guard: Free-agent signing Shelley Smith will get his first start in a Dolphins uniform Saturday at right guard. Smith replaces the struggling Dallas Thomas, who was manhandled last week by Tampa Bay Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Right guard is the final spot on the offensive line that is still up for grabs. Smith, who signed a $5.5 million contract in March, has a chance to solidify that spot with a strong performance against the Cowboys.

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