Rushed out of the pocket because he’s running for his life, Ryan Tannehill fires an off-balance pass that hits Jarvis Landry in stride for a big first down. Many remember that moment at Hard Rock Stadium last year but what most people don’t recall is Tannehill running past the Dolphins sideline and talking (yelling) smack to coach Adam Gase as he flies by.
The message of Tannehill’s trash talk?
Look at me!
I made a great (bleeping) play!
And anyone who’s watched Tannehill play the past five seasons and studied how he interacts in public has to ask one question: “Who is that guy?”
This year at the start of the team’s offseason program, strength and conditioning coach Dave Puloka either didn’t mark the course with millimeter precision or is letting some guys cut a few steps off their run. And Tannehill, noticing the slight, wants this regimen to be exactly right.
“Are we going 4-12 or are we going to do it right?” Tannehill chirps.
Again, who is this guy?
To the public, to you, to me, Tannehill has often seemed like corporate quarterback guy. He’s very private. He’s works hard. He studies. He’s never in trouble. He always says the right thing. Tannehill often seems way too packaged out of an NFL quarterback factory.
But that’s not the Tannehill the Dolphins are seeing more and more the past year.
“He’s not the guy everyone thinks,” Gase says. “I see a side to him that is really great to see. He’s a great competitor. He’s a leader. He wants to win every play. It’s a fun thing to be around and it’s exciting.”
Think of this as the next step in Ryan Tannehill’s growth.
First we wanted him to merely not fall into the same abyss that swallowed 16 other quarterbacks that failed after Dan Marino. Then we wanted him to throw the deep pass accurately. Then we wanted him to help get his team in the playoffs.
And now, just before we ask him to be as good as Tom Brady or Drew Brees, we need him to take the reins of this team. We need him to take make the Dolphins his team.
(By the way, we’re kind of late to this wish list of needs because Tannehill has apparently already taken over the team.)
“Yeah definitely,” he says. “It’s part of the growing process of coming into the league, right? The first couple of years you’re new and we had a lot of changes around here. Now, in the second year in this offense and my second year with coach Gase, with the confidence and support he gives me, it enables me to be myself and go out and lead in the way I want to lead.
“I’m able to build guys up when they need it, to get on guys, whatever the situation calls for. [Gase] gives me the leeway and freedom to do it. And it’s been a good process for me. It’s been exciting. It’s been fun.
“So yeah, I do feel like it’s my offense and my team. That’s part of it. I’m excited about that. I love the fact that guys come up to me and I can say, ‘Hey, watch what I’m doing. See how I prepare. And we’re going to go do great things.’ ”
Um ... Wow.
We knew years ago the Dolphins were Dan Marino’s team. But it has been a long, long, long time since any Miami quarterback could say this is his team and we could believe it. And yet, here we are with Tannehill.
And, yes, that’s quite a difference from a year ago when Tannehill was tippy-toeing through the first day of training camp along with other players. On Thursday when the Dolphins opened training camp, we saw a different quarterback.
“He’s already corrected me about three times on play calls,” Gase says of Tannehill. “He’s just more comfortable with everything he does. I see a guy that is completely in control of the huddle.”
Gase sees it. And more importantly, Tannehill’s teammates see it.
“I’m glad he’s back out there taking back his huddle,” says veteran right guard Jermon Bushrod, “and we’re going to fight for him. That’s our leader.”
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero