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On Sunday, Tannehill has a chance to crush Miami’s playoff dreams, quarterbacking the Titans against his former team in Nashville.
“No ill feelings toward Miami,” Tannehill said Wednesday.
Tannehill was the eighth pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was solid, but never played in a single Dolphins playoff game. He was sidelined with a knee injury in 2016 when Miami last made the playoffs.
In March of 2019, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said: “I love Ryan. But you’re right, how many years? It was time to move on.”
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Tannehill loved playing in Miami. He still owns a home in Fort Lauderdale. How do folks react when they see him out in South Florida?
“People are friendly,” Tannehill said Wednesday. “Just like they are most places. Mostly good experiences.”
Tannehill’s last game as a Dolphin was in December of 2018, a loss to Buffalo. The only starters in that game still with the team are Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, DeVante Parker, Jesse Davis, Jerome Baker and Jason Sanders.
“Ryan was in the locker right next to me in 2018,” Smythe recalled Wednesday. “Great guy. Great football mind. One of those guys who can look at a defense and tell you subtle things the defense does. He’s a great player and has been for a long time.”
Tannehill is focused on Sunday’s game, but he did take a moment to reflect.
“I am thankful for my time in Miami,” Tannehill said. “It was a special time in my life. I grew as a player and a person. As far as people, there are not a whole lot of players left. A handful of guys. There has been a lot of turnover.”
Miami tore its roster to the studs in 2019, after hiring Brian Flores. The Dolphins were trying to land a top-flight quarterback in the draft, and did so with Tua Tagovailoa.
“I’m not going to be watching film on Ryan,” Tua said Wednesday. “But I have a lot of respect for the things he’s done here and there in Tennessee.”
Flores declined to detail any of the factors that went into Miami’s decision to part with Tannehill after his arrival. But in truth, the organization had made a decision that it was very, very likely to do so, even before Flores was hired.
Flores and defensive coordinator Josh Boyer complimented what Tannehill has shown as a Titan. He has led the team to playoffs in each of the last two years.
“He’s a very good player,” Flores said. “Good arm, mobile, good command of the offense, makes checks at the line of scrimmage.”
Boyer said any discussion about Tannehill can start with his intangibles.
“I think he is definitely a tough-minded quarterback,” Boyer said. “He has the arm to make all the throws and does make all the throws. He can beat you with his feet whether it’s a designed run or whether he makes a play to extend with his legs in the pass game. He makes good decisions. He makes good reads.”
Tannehill is 33. On Wednesday, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said: “We want Ryan to be our quarterback for a long time.”
Tannehill is under contract for two more seasons, but this hasn’t been his best. He has 15 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and has been sacked 45 times. Tannehill is only 27th in the league in passer rating.
The Dolphins lead the NFL with 45 sacks and so Tannehill is fully aware of the potential dynamics at play.
“They’re relentless,” Tannehill said. “They do a good job bringing pressure all over the place. They bring cover zero more than anybody. They’re coming after you and making you get the ball out. We need a plan for that. We have to block them. Not a lot of big name so-to-speak pass rushers. But guys who are relentless. They fight hard.”
Tannehill was a polarizing figure in Miami.
Some felt he was underrated and that he would have flourished if only given a better offensive line and receiving targets.
Some felt he was holding Miami back because he was limited and did not have a championship-level ceiling.
Tannehill take a measured approach to his time in Miami.
“You try to learn from every experience in life,” Tannehill said. “Good experience. Bad experience. I grew a lot in my time in Miami. I’ve used both good and bad experiences to help me grow to where I am today. I spent most of my 20s in Miami.”
What lessons were most important?
“You learn so many things through leadership,” Tannehill said. “Being a husband and father. Facing adversity and handling success. Navigating the NFL in general, as a player. All those things were crucial in my growth.”
Dolphins at Titans
1 p.m., CBS