Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill arrived in Miami not long after the team hired Joe Philbin. Which means that Tannehill had a front-row seat for plenty of in-fighting and dysfunction.
Now, it’s different. He credits the current coach for that.
“I think no matter what it is and who it is in the league, what head coach, I think the building kind of takes on his mindset and the way he goes about things,” Tannehill told reporters regarding Adam Gase, who’s starting his second year with the team. “That’s definitely true in this building. The fire he has and the competitive spirit, the will to win . . . I think you see a closer, tightknit building than we’ve had in the past.”
It frankly wouldn’t take much for the building to be closer and more tightly knit than it was, given the various tales of back-stabbing (and front-stabbing) that happened when Philbin, G.M. Jeff Ireland, and executive Dawn Aponte were trying (and failing) to get along.
Another important aspect of the current regime comes from the support Tannehill gets as he tries to establish himself as the leader of the team. While some quarterbacks can simply show up and take charge, most need support from the organization in order to do it properly. Tannehill is finally getting that support.
“I think Coach Gase has given me the freedom and the confidence to be myself and to lead in the way that I want to lead,” Tannehill said. “He has my back and we’re in this thing together. He knows how my heart is in this thing so he’s giving me the freedom to go out and lead the way that I want to lead. It’s been really fun for me. I think I’ve seen our team grow because of that.”
That growth was demonstrated by the team’s qualification for the playoffs a year ago. And while that may raise the bar in 2017, the Dolphins welcome that, in the same way they welcome being in the same division as the Patriots. Eventually, the rest of the league may have to welcome the notion that the Dolphins are a consistent contender, with a quarterback many have been ready to write off.