The Miami Dolphins are Ryan Tannehill's Team

The loss of Miami Dolphin quarterback Ryan Tannehill in 2017 left Adam Gase searching for leaders to fill the void. The signing of Jay Cutler made it immediately obvious Gase was not impressed with Matt Moore. The inability of Mike Pouncey to participate in practice limited the oft-injured center. As the team's designated playmaker, Jarvis Landry's swashbuckling style left it impossible to depend on mercurial receiver. At some point, Gase realized a huge change was necessary if the Miami offense would ever reach the potential he envisioned.

Contrary to what many pundits and fans believe, Gase firmly stands behind Ryan Tannehill. Matt Moore had his moments as a Miami backup, but Moore never pressured Tannehill to start and accepted his reserve role. That acceptance left a void in the absence of Tannehill. The Miami Dolphins were now dependent on the leadership of a backup who was happy collecting a paycheck on the bench. Gase made a mistake believing Jay Cutler could lead; it was obvious by the season's end, Cutler would never play another down in the NFL.

Mike Pouncey was the player coaches proclaimed the best lineman on the team, while frustrated fans only saw a completely inept unit. Pouncey sacrificed his body for the game of football. For coaches and teammates, this is the ultimate gesture of love for the game. Leadership in the locker room comes from players willing to strap it up in the face of injury. It is often said, "after the first week, everyone in the NFL plays injured." Gase needed players willing to sacrifice, but his need for leadership was far greater.

Mike Tannenbaum refused a salary increase for Pouncey and Gase had his out. The center could remain a favorite, but the fabled "NFL is a business" line saved Gase from cutting the injury prone Pouncey without cause. With its leader unable to practice, Gase's offensive line never came together. No other unit on the football field depends more on playing together. The line could not work as a unit with Pouncey on the sideline during practice.

Jarvis Landry wanted to zig when the play was a zag... Jarvis Landry wanted to prance after a catch when his coach was running a fast-paced offense. Baiting Jarvis Landry into throwing down punches when his team was marching to score was easy. Jarvis Landry caught 112 passes and those catches were the wide receiver's only obsession. In today's fantasy world of stats, it's easy to argue, Landry was due a huge payday.

Adam Gase clearly understands money talks more than anything in football and perhaps life. Players follow the example of core leaders generally paid the highest salary. A huge payday for freewheeling Landry clearly would send the message to follow the money. In 2017 the Miami Dolphins needed a leader and Jarvis Landry was not that player. Paying him would have sent the wrong message and Gase knew it.

2018 begins anew with Ryan Tannehill back at the helm. A cohesive offensive line has practiced every single day together since the opening of training camp. The wide receiver room is now a precision group without the leading freestyler. The offense is set for the next play when the QB is ready, and a loud mouth ball-hog no longer challenges Tannehill in the huddle.

Is there addition by subtraction? In seven years with Mike Pouncey as the leader, the Miami Dolphins never fielded a decent offensive line. Four years with Jarvis Landry leading the NFL in receptions, the Miami offense never rose above average. The last eight games Miami played with Tannehill at quarterback, the Dolphins are 7-1.

The Miami Dolphins are finally Ryan Tannehill's team...

23 of the 53 players on the 2018 Dolphins were not on the team when the 2017 season began. When the Dolphin offense takes its first snap this season, only three players may remain from the 2017 season starters. The Miami brass may claim they are not rebuilding, but it certainly seems the team has made a drastic change.

In three seasons, Gase learned who could play his offensive style and who could not. Adam Gase did not make bold or rash decisions this off-season, he simply wanted players who loved the game of football. The city of Miami is an extremely difficult place to cultivate a winning football team. The players are young, wealthy, famous and in the best shape of their lives. The distractions are plentiful and difficult to avoid.

These distractions often lead players into thinking the game is secondary to the spotlight. Gase knows he must find football-first players if he is going to succeed in Miami. Ryan Tannehill is a perfect example of this type of player, Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry, not so much.

The Miami Dolphins are finally Ryan Tannehill's team...

This drastic change is settling in for the Dolphins; gone is the glitter and flash, replaced by football-first players. The NFL has taken on a fantasy mentality and with gambling laws changing it will be harder to avoid players looking for stats. It is a very difficult time for coaches. The off-season actions indicate Adam Gase understands and is trying to change his team to keep pace with the game's evolution.

The pre-season gave no indication whether this offense would step forward in 2018. If anything, the pre-season showed the opposite, but it was obvious, Miami held back its aces. Sit back and watch Miami fans, it's Ryan Tannehill's chance to shine. For the first time, an offense built around his strengths aligns squarely on his shoulders.

The Miami Dolphins are finally Ryan Tannehill's team...