Ryan Tannehill Must Step Up in 2013 After Miami Dolphins' Free-Agency Moves

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIMarch 14, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 30: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins shouts instructions against the New England Patriots in the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Other than the fanbase, there may be no one associated with the Miami Dolphins more ecstatic right now than second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

After deciding to retain wide receiver Brian Hartline—Tannehill’s top target in 2012—the Dolphins went out and snagged the biggest fish in the free-agent pool in wideout Mike Wallace (via NFL.com).

Miami is also courting tight end Dustin Keller to add to an already improved receiving corps (via CBS Sports, per The Miami Herald).

Even if the Dolphins fail to sign Keller, it appears the team is committed to surrounding Tannehill with plenty of options. It would then be up to the quarterback to prove that he was indeed worth the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft.

Though he was the third quarterback off the board—behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, drafted with the top two picks—Tannehill quickly took a backseat in the rookie arms race while Russell Wilson outperformed his third-round label as the 2012 season progressed.

While his struggles were apparent—completing just over 58 percent of his passes for 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions—Tannehill's supporting cast wasn't exactly what you would call ideal.

Only Hartline and Davone Bess had more than 335 receiving yards, while also combining for just two touchdowns. And the only non-running back to catch more than two touchdown passes was tight end Anthony Fasano, who signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs (via Pro Football Talk).

The addition of Wallace should pay immediate dividends for the Dolphins. His speed will stretch the entire field and help create more room for Tannehill to work with underneath. Shifting Hartline and Bess down on the depth chart will also allow for more freedom with the playbook.

Hartline is definitely not a No. 1 wide receiver in this league, and Bess is more suited in a full-time slot role. Players being able to line up in their more natural positions will provide a sense of security for Tannehill, as it will give Miami's offense one less potential road-block.

Though losing running back Reggie Bush to the Detroit Lions (via Pro Football Talk) will bring about questions in their backfield, Miami has used premium draft picks on Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller the past two years.

General manager Jeff Ireland is doing his part to make the Dolphins relevant again. With the pieces now in place, Tannehill must take the next step in 2013.


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