This is what the season will hinge upon: the growth and development of Ryan Tannehill.
During the offseason, plenty of nice things were said about the second year quarterback, but none nicer than what Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com had to say:
Tannehill is tough and has one of the strongest arms in football. Tannehill also has something that few young players possess -- a strong sense of self-awareness. "I went back," he said, "and looked at every throw I made last year."
I can't dispute that (and if you do, you're biased against him); the kid has a strong arm and plenty of poise to go around. Earlier in that piece, Freeman said this about Tannehill:
The signs of a breakout Tannehill year are everywhere. There were too many interceptions last year, his rookie season, true, but there was steady, tangible growth. It was almost like watching him climb stairs. His mind worked better and better as the season went along.
I graded each Dolphins game last season, so after seeing this piece I actually went back and looked at each performance Tannehill had.
The growth was tangible, with the only real regression coming after suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 8. Even then, his worst game in that regression came two weeks after the game, in an embarrassing two-game stretch against the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills where Tannehill couldn't hold onto the football.
But after that, Tannehill regrouped and managed to beat a tough Seattle Seahawks team with a last-minute drive. Yes, Ryan Tannehill outplayed Russell Wilson in a game. After that, Tannehill's progression continued, and keep in mind, he would wind up losing Jake Long at left tackle and Davone Bess towards the end of the season.
This year, Tannehill has the tools around him to push him into that upper echelon of quarterbacks. The question is, can he capitalize? During OTAs, we will see the first signs of whether he can or not.
But so far, it's looking good.