So many microphones and TV cameras surrounded Ryan Tannehill in the locker room after practice Tuesday that Will Barker had to get in on the action.
“Ryan! Ryan!” the offensive lineman yelled, thrusting his cellphone into Tannehill’s face as if it were a voice recorder.
There was no doubt about it: the rookie from Texas A&M has become — if he had not already — the star of the show.
Speaking to the media for the first time since coach Joe Philbin announced that Tannehill would be the starting quarterback, Tannehill was his ever modest self. He voiced his happiness about the news but also his appreciation for the help that veteran teammates David Garrard and Matt Moore had given him in training camp.
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“I’m excited to have the opportunity to go out and play,” Tannehill said. “It was a tight battle, obviously. … I appreciate everything that [Garrard and Moore] have done along the way to help me out.”
Moore admitted that the news came as a letdown, but he said that he supported the decision and would be ready to be Tannehill’s back-up.
“I’m disappointed, yeah,” Moore said. “I think naturally as a competitor anybody would be disappointed, but I am 100 percent behind this and with the team so I am just ready to move forward that way.”
In their 46-year history, the Dolphins have never started the season with a rookie at the helm.
But Tannehill is not an ordinary rookie, his teammates noted.
For one thing, the 6-4 signal-caller entered training camp having already spent four years under offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and his no-huddle playbook at Texas A&M. There, Tannehill threw for 3,744 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior season.
“I think [the playbook is] one of the biggest things that a rookie quarterback struggles with,” veteran wide receiver Davone Bess said. “With him playing for Sherman at A&M, he had an upper hand in that department. … He knows the offense inside-out.”
Added wideout Legedu Naanee: “It’s not as if we’re playing with a rookie. He knows his stuff.”
Tannehill said he did not know whether his familiarity with the playbook was the main factor behind Philbin’s decision, but he did say that it allowed him to focus on other aspects of the game more.
“I think it’s a completely different circumstance if I’m having to learn a completely new offense and get adjusted to the guys in the game,” he said.
In his two exhibition games, Tannehill has put up an impressive but not overwhelming stat line. He combined to complete 25 of 44 passes for 267 yards, better than his main competitor, Moore, who was 12 for 27 for 136 yards and an interception.
With Tannehill expected to get the majority of the snaps during Friday night’s game against the Falcons, Philbin said he will have high expectations.
“I think he’s got to do what … good quarterbacks do,” he said. “They make great decisions. They throw the ball accurately. They make plays when they have to. They get you out of bad plays and they even manage the game well.”
Now that the quarterback competition is seemingly over, many of Tannehill’s teammates said they are more comfortable now that they know who will be taking the snaps.
“It’s just about getting cohesiveness on offense and becoming one unit,” guard Richie Incognito said. “The snap count with different quarterbacks is different, and there are little subtle changes, but it is nice to finally have the No. 1 guy.”
Bess agreed, saying that he can now focus on developing strong chemistry with Tannehill.
“Chemistry is everything,” Bess said. “If you can’t develop chemistry between the quarterback, it’s going to be a long evening. Now we can start working on the little things that we control on the field that the coaches can’t.”