Brock Osweiler, working with and against third-team players, threw two interceptions on the first day of the Miami Dolphins’ training camp. David Fales, the team’s apparent backup quarterback, avoided comparable failure on Thursday but that pass he threw in the dirt to, well, nobody and the four-yard pass to a tight end that sailed wide because his accuracy was amiss didn’t speak highly of his practice session, either.
So there you have it: Evidence that Ryan Tannehill better stay healthy for 16 games or the Dolphins have little chance of competing for relevance in 2018.
This evidence, by the way, is not circumstantial. One practice does not set in stone an opinion on any player. But this practice illustrated what we’ve previously heard and seen about both Osweiler and Fales.
So pray (Pray!) Tannehill can stay healthy all season, because if he’s not, there’s no saving 2018. You think Jay Cutler arriving in August 2017 and disappointing through December was bad?
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That at least offered early hope Cutler could do something to rescue the season. Of course, then we saw him play and the hope was quashed.
Your hope this year? Tannehill healthy for 16 games — and maybe more in January.
This season’s hopes rest all on Tannehill and what’s more, Tannehill knows it.
“I think I’ve always known that,” Tannehill said after what was a better-than-solid practice. “But being able to take a step back and do things from a little bit different viewpoint [last season], going through a season and trying to observe how things happen, how people respond, I learned a lot through that process.
“I kind of realized how much I could control through my play and how I lead day in and day out. And that’s my goal, to go out and play well and lead this team to wins.”
Tannehill, for the uninitiated, has missed the last 20 Dolphins games because of an ACL injury that cost him the end of 2016 and then all of last year when he went down again in training camp.
Curiously, that history didn’t inspire the Dolphins to seek a better backup situation behind Tannehill than Fales and Osweiler — a largely unproven player and a failed NFL starter. There was much flirting with the idea of drafting a quarterback but when the draft came, that idea was shelved.
I get it. The Dolphins had a lot of needs to address this offseason and getting a viable quarterback behind Tannehill must have felt like a luxury. But that failure will put the team in an impossible situation if Tannehill goes down.
Not that coach Adam Gase agrees. He of the eternal training-camp optimism is sold his team can survive without Tannehill. He doesn’t think a Tannehill injury would be a season-killer.
“I don’t think it’s at that capacity,” Gase said. “I think we have a lot of good pieces around [Tannehill] that can help us get to where we’re trying to get as far as improving every week. If he’s not in there, there’s a drop-off, obviously, because he’s a starter in the NFL. And him being out there is better for us than him not being out there.”
If Tannehill is out there, he expects to do good things. Maybe great things. He accepts the responsibility of having the team on his broad shoulders and believes good days are ahead.
“I love feeling that responsibility, because I know I can handle it and I have the guys around me that can take it and we can do something special,” Tannehill said. “Being able to captain that ship, so to speak, is a lot of fun.”
Gase earlier this week was showing confidence in what we are all about to see from Tannehill after his 19-month absence from games. Because of Tannehill’s work in the offseason, Gase suggested the quarterback is much improved from the one we last saw against Arizona in December 2016.
I agree with that. Tannehill now seems more comfortable in his own skin than he ever was in 2016. He seems more confident around other players. And, yes, his game seems a bit ... quicker.
His decision-making is quicker. His footwork seems smoother and quicker when he has to drop back. He moves better in the pocket, although that still needs honing.
“Yeah, I would say I’ve grown a lot as a leader,” Tannehill said. “I’ve grown a lot as a person just because of the adversity that I’ve faced — like I said, being able to take a step back and watch from a different perspective, taking in all that information, filing it away, writing things down.
“I’ve been going back and gone over my notes of things that hit me over the head the past  months or whatever it may be. I’ve just built on that. It’s an experience that while I wouldn’t want it to happen that way, it’s going to be invaluable for me moving forward.”