For the first time this summer, Ryan Tannehill consistently looked like a winning quarterback Saturday.
Not coincidentally, the offensive line in front of him had its best day of camp.
Tannehill completed 15 of 27 passes for 139 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers in the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage.
And in doing so, he barely dirtied his jersey. The first-team offense didn’t allow a sack all morning.
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Plus, the team finally might have gotten the quarterback snap figured out, as Nate Garner — again working as the starting center — didn’t put the ball on the ground at all.
These are tasks that typically fall under the “basic operating procedure” category of NFL offenses. But for the Dolphins, whose first week of training camp was overwhelmingly underwhelming, they have to be considered breakthroughs.
“It’s not fun to go through those tough days, but you learn from it,” Tannehill said. “You file those away and when the play comes up again you know exactly what to do. I’m finally getting to the point now where I know exactly what to do versus every coverage, and we’ll continue to fine-tune that.”
If nothing else, Saturday was a great start to the Bill Lazor offensive era.
For the first time, outside observers got a real look at what Lazor is trying to accomplish. The short version: misdirection, motion and multiplicity.
Tannehill's first touchdown pass, a 9-yard strike to Lamar Miller, was a perfect snapshot.
Lamar ran a wheel route out of the backfield that fooled the second-string defense, making for an easy pitch-and-catch. Miller played a complete game, also running six times for 36 yards in limited snaps.
Tannehill showed mobility and accuracy, and a better feel for the pass rush than in the past. On the rare occasion that protection broke down Saturday, he stepped up and got rid of the football.
And his best throw of the day was one that went down as an incompletion. He whipped a perfect pass to Rishard Matthews in the back of the end zone, but it was dropped.
No matter. A few plays later, he zipped a 7-yard scoring strike to tight end Dion Sims against the first-string defense.
“I’ve been saying all along he’s been on fire,” said rookie receiver Jarvis Landry, who had two catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. “He’s been on fire since camp started. It just goes back to his preparation; his preparation he’s put in to get to this point, to lead us. He did a really great job [Saturday].”
Added Dolphins coach Joe Philbin: “In camp, as you know, some days the defense kind of seems to have the upper hand or dominate a little bit since we’re not game planning. So offensively, we’ve had a couple of days that weren’t smooth. But I thought [Saturday], overall, it looked like he had pretty good command of what he was doing and decent ball location. I thought it was a good start.”
Making it all the more impressive: Tannehill basically played without his top three wide receivers and his No. 1 tight end.
Mike Wallace sat out the scrimmage with a hamstring injury. Brian Hartline (undisclosed) also got the day off, although the issue isn’t believed to be serious. Brandon Gibson caught a pass but spent most of the day as a spectator.
Plus, tight end Charles Clay limped off the field early in the scrimmage, but the injury didn’t appear to be significant.
And yet, the first-string offense was able to consistently move the ball — a testament to the Dolphins’ skill-position depth and a credit to their improving offensive line.
Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James were, as usual, the bookends. But the Dolphins continue to mix and match inside.
Daryn Colledge worked at left guard, and Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner alternated at right guard. And for the time being, Garner appears to be the team’s choice at center.
“We just did a good job,” Albert said. “The quarterbacks, the running backs, everybody out there did a good job [Saturday]. We got better [Saturday].”