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Marino Expects Continued Improvement From Tannehill

Posted Apr 16, 2014

Hall of Fame quarterback checks in with his thoughts on a variety of Dolphins topics, including the signings of Moreno and Albert.

Dolphins legend Dan Marino stopped by the team’s headquarters in Davie on Wednesday to appear as a guest on The Finsiders, and he shared his thoughts on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the team.

Tannehill is preparing to head into his third season in the NFL, and the Dolphins Hall of Famer says he’s expecting improvement.

“Everybody, I’m including Ryan, would think that he’s going to continue to grow and get better as a quarterback,” Marino said. “With some of the things they’ve done offensively over the last year and some of the moves they’ve made, you’d like to expect that and see that. After a couple of years, him himself, Ryan, would think that they’re going to continue to get better and he’s going to continue to get better as a quarterback.”

After spending the last six years — four at Texas A&M and two with the Dolphins — in Mike Sherman’s system, Tannehill will be working in a different offense in 2014 with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

Marino says the adjustment shouldn’t be difficult.

“It’s different language,” Marino said. “I always tell people, everybody runs the same stuff. It’s a copycat league. People do the same things. It’s different language and it’s how you execute. It comes down to knowing your personnel and being on time with your personnel and understanding where certain people are going to be at certain times, reading your coverage, making good decisions as quick as you can. (It’s) understanding all that and being the leader of a team and being a tough guy. You lead by example. And by example, I mean, if you play well, people around you are going to play well. That’s important.”

Marino said Tannehill should benefit from the experience gained in 2013 with wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson, who joined the Dolphins as free agents last offseason. 

To illustrate his point, Marino recalled his experiences with his top receivers from the 1980s — Mark Clayton, Mark Duper and Nat Moore.

“You know it’s funny, you build a chemistry through practice and through execution and through experiences in games,” Marino said. “As time goes on, you just get to know each other better and better. Mark Clayton and I, for some reason, we hit it off from day one coming in. We were drafted at the same time and through the first minicamp I was like, I know I can rely on this guy. And then spending time with Duper and Nat Moore, he was kind of like a coach on the field for us, especially those young players. But it really comes through repetition and just being a pro, being a guy that wants to work hard at your craft. I’m sure that’ll come. It takes some time. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of improvement this year.”

Perhaps the area on offense where the Dolphins are looking for the most improvement is in pass protection after Tannehill was sacked 58 times in 2013.

“No matter if you’re playing for the Dolphins or you’re Tom Brady or whoever you are at that quarterback position, (you’re) expected to make plays and 58 sacks is a lot,” Marino said. “Let’s face it, everybody is talking about that. I think he’ll learn and it’s a timing thing, too. It’s knowing your receivers and the protection scheme that you have and the offensive scheme that you have and hopefully that’ll improve. It’s all part of the game.”

The Dolphins have taken steps in the offseason to improve their pass protection, most notably the signing of free agent offensive tackle Branden Albert, a Pro Bowl selection with the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Also significant was the addition of running back Knowshon Moreno, who was a big part of the Denver Broncos’ record-setting passing game last year.

Moreno should help the Dolphins passing game with his ability to pick up blitzers and also catch passes out of the backfield.

“I’ve been around Peyton (Manning) before and I’ve talked to him, and he thinks this guy is a really tough guy, a guy that you can rely on out of the backfield to understand what his assignments are,” Marino said. “And he understands it, too, from the standpoint where it changes quickly at the line of scrimmage because he’ll change protections and so that’s a guy that’s a veteran under those circumstances. I’m sure he’ll be able to adjust no problem to what the system is here with the Dolphins.

“From what I understand, he’s a tough guy. And I think the catches he had last year were a tribute to the type of offense that was being run, but he has good hands, he’s a solid player and he’s going to bring some toughness for sure.”

The Finsiders interview wrapped up with Marino talking about his experience throwing out the first pitch at the Florida Marlins’ season opener, but not before he was asked what he thought of the Dolphins’ prospects for 2014.

Specifically, Marino was asked whether he thought the Dolphins will be playoff contenders.

“Well, they were last year,” Marino answered. “They’re a contender. I think it’s really just the next step. You learn from your experience that you went through at the end of the season where you felt pretty good. You beat New England at home. You felt good about where you were and then it didn’t happen. So you learn from those situations and you just continue to grow as a football team.”
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