Miami was preparing to face the Oakland Raiders in Week 4 at Wembley Stadium. The Dolphins were off to a shaky 1-2 start, and Tannehill wasn’t playing well. So when head coach Joe Philbin wouldn’t publicly endorse Tannehill as the starter for the first time in Tannehill’s three-year career, it stirred national headlines.
"We text a lot and I checked in on him," Pat Dye, Tannehill's agent, said of that week. “He's also not one that necessarily is going to need a shoulder to cry on or someone to lean on. He's a very independent, self-reliant, pick yourself up kind of guy. ... But we had some conversations since then and it lights a competitive fire.”
Tannehill went on to start the London game and threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in Miami's 38-17 victory. It was Tannehill’s best game of the season at that point and showed his resiliency.
The performance turned out to be a huge turning point, as Tannehill went on to have a career year with 4,045 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and a 92.8 passer rating. The Dolphins made Tannehill the face of their franchise seven months later with a $96 million contract extension.
It could have been a different story if Tannehill didn’t respond well to that adverse situation. The Dolphins’ brass tried to put a good face on it last week. But, without a doubt, the London game was an odd time for Tannehill and the team.
“We always believed in Ryan,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “As you see the growth and you see him progress, you see, obviously, the talent and the growth that you saw on a daily basis -- not only from games but also in practice and you saw all the makings of being a top quarterback. That’s what we saw, that’s what we believed in. We’re glad to make this commitment to him because we believe in him.”
The Dolphins’ huge financial commitment means this is officially Tannehill’s team. The days of mild and brief quarterback controversies are over in Miami. The team is committed to Tannehill leading the Dolphins for the foreseeable future.
“I don’t think getting paid or anything like that makes me more of a leader. I think I’m a leader as it is,” Tannehill said. “I’ve continued to become more of a leader as I move forward, but I feel great about my leadership at this point. I’m excited about the future.”