DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — New dad Ryan Tannehill is ready to take charge and scold when necessary, even in public, because he knows whatever happens reflects on him.
As a quarterback, that is.
Tannehill’s 2-week-old son might not need reprimanding yet, but the perennially problematic Miami Dolphins offense does. And at the urging of new coach Adam Gase, Tannehill said he’s assuming more of a leadership role.
“Adam has completely enabled me,” Tannehill said. “I think I have the credibility now to pretty much demand excellence out of these guys. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Tannehill made his comments following Tuesday’s practice, when the offense tried to redeem itself for a woeful performance in a scrimmage three days earlier. Gase said his quarterback did a good job of reorienting teammates in a positive direction.
“He came out with a purpose, and was very aggressive as far as chirping a little bit out there,” Gase said. “I saw some growth there as far as his personality coming out and taking control of the offense.”
Tannehill’s not a holler guy by nature, and in the past critics found the easygoing Texan too passive when the Dolphins sputtered, which was often.
But with four NFL seasons and 64 starts on his resume, Tannehill acknowledged it’s time for him to become more assertive.
“It’s part of my role to push the guys around me to be the best they can be,” he said. “I think that’s part of being a leader.”
Gase has done some nudging. The first-time head coach won praise for his work as an assistant with Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Tim Tebow, and was hired because the Dolphins believe he’ll make Tannehill better.
Gase is giving Tannehill more responsibility than he’s had in the past, including flexibility with audibles at the line. The coaching staff raves about the way Tannehill has absorbed the new playbook.
“We’ve been unbelievably impressed how much he’s picked up,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “It would have drowned an average man.”
Tannehill and company flunked their first big test, however. In a scrimmage Saturday, the offense managed one first down in eight series and didn’t cross midfield.
It was a collective failure, and Tannehill let his teammates hear about it.
“I’m not going to get into what I said, but everyone already knew that it wasn’t acceptable,” he said. “We didn’t play well anywhere on the offensive side of the ball from top to bottom.”
Perhaps the return of receiver DeVante Parker will help. The 2015 first-round pick was back at practice Tuesday after being sidelined by a right hamstring injury, rejoining receivers Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills on the first unit.
“In the huddle I said, ‘Man, it’s nice to have you back,'” Tannehill said. “He’s a good player. He stretches the field for us. You put him on one side, Kenny on the other side, and Jarvis in the middle, and we have three really dynamic playmakers.”
There are numerous question marks, however, with inexperienced Jay Ajayi the first-team running back, and with top draft pick Laremy Tunsil relegated to the second team at guard even though the starting offensive line has looked only so-so.
Perhaps by the time Tannehill’s son Steel attends his first practice — “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks,” Dad said — some issues will be resolved. The next test will be the opening exhibition game Friday at the New York Giants, with the starters seeing limited action.
“I’m looking forward to taking advantage of every rep we get,” Tannehill said, “and really just playing fast.”
If the Dolphins don’t, they’ll hear about it from their quarterback.
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