It’s been six months since we last saw a football game, but it has felt like five years. This has been a different offseason for the Dolphins and for their fans.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding the team and we, as fans, can’t wait to see them perform. It’s only preseason so this is a time for the coaching staff to fool around with the roster and give young players and those looking to earn a roster spot an opportunity to impress.
Let's take a look at who's stock is up and who's stock is down heading into the first preseason game.
Ryan Tannehill is looking like the franchise quarterback for the Miami Dolphins that some have projected him to be. He has shown poise and improvement throughout training camp.
Tannehill got off to a slow start during camp, but has since picked it up and instilled confidence in his teammates and the fanbase. He has been given the weapons to succeed and will be in the driver's seat when the season begins. It's his team now.
James Walker, from ESPN.com, has been attending training camp and has been impressed with what he has seen from Tannehill, highlighting his accuracy and turnover ratio:
Tannehill has hit his stride in the past week and has been much more efficient and accurate. Tannehill threw three touchdowns in Monday’s scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. He also hasn't thrown in interception in more than a week.
If Miami plans to earn a playoff spot or even win the division, Tannehill will have to perform at a high level. He has shown improvement in camp. Let's hope he can continue to improve as the season progresses.
When will the equipment staff get rid of the No.19?
Armon Binns, who had been wearing the number, appeared to have secured a roster spot with his performance during OTAs and training camp. Most likely, he would be the Dolphins' fourth receiver on the depth chart behind Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson.
However, the curse of the No. 19 jersey continues as Binns tore his MCL and ACL during practice last week. He now finds himself without an employer after Miami waived him, along with Jasper Collins, in order to sign Julius Pruitt and Keennan Davis.
This has opened the door for players such as Rishard Matthews and Bryan Tyms, who had been competing with Binns for a roster spot. With Binns off the team, Miami will have to find a new way to round out its wide receiver group.
Miami finally has its receiving tight end threat in Dustin Keller. He gives Ryan Tannehill an extra receiving threat and a safety blanket over the middle.
The chemistry between the two has been apparent early in camp. Tannehill is constantly finding Keller and even connected for a touchdown with him during Miami’s scrimmage on Sunday.
Many people focus on the receivers when talking about the central theme in the Miami passing game. However, Keller, along with the other Dolphins' tight ends, will be just as important to the continued development of Tannehill and Miami’s success this season.
Keller only signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins, but the way he has jelled with Tannehill and the threat that he presents in the passing game may garner him a multi-year contract when the season is over.
When Miami lost Jake Long to free agency this offseason, there was certain unrest about Jonathan Martin sliding over to left tackle.
Martin, who played left tackle in college, struggled during his first season in the NFL at right tackle. Now that he’s moved back to his usual position, the Miami coaching staff was hoping those troubles would go away, but there is still some unrest.
To be fair, the unrest is not only with Martin, but with the whole Miami offensive line. They have been dominated in training camp by the defensive line and might as well not have shown up to Sunday's scrimmage.
The line needs to play at a high level in order for Tannehill to connect with his new weapons and they don’t appear to be doing that.
Miami’s defense struggled last season with generating turnovers. They only had 10 interceptions, tying it for 27th in the league last season with 15 forced fumbles (tied for 13th) and six fumbles recovered (tied for 25th).
Jeff Ireland went into the offseason wanting to address the problem. He added Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler at linebacker and Brent Grimes at cornerback. Thus far, it looks like the investment has paid off.
Wheeler has been very active in deflecting passes and even intercepting a few. Grimes has also been flying all over the field. He seems to be at the right place at the right time and is capable of actually catching the ball, something Dolphins fans are not accustomed to seeing from defensive backs.
Behind them is Reshad Jones, who had a breakout season last year. He has become a playmaker in the secondary and, along with Grimes, will look to improve Miami’s turnover deficiency from a year ago.
Attendance has been a problem recently for the Dolphins, who haven’t sold out in some time. It appeared that the Miami Marlins bug was biting them.
It got so bad at one point that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had to buy tickets in order for games not to be blacked out in Miami. This appears to be changing, along with the positive energy that is being felt around the team.
In Miami’s scrimmage on Sunday, there were more people there than there were all of last season. I’m kidding, of course, but this is a sign that fans are starting to believe in this team again.
They have bought into Ryan Tannehill being the franchise quarterback and bought into Joe Philbin’s system. More importantly, they have bought tickets for next season.
The Miami Dolphins have a rich tradition with two Super Bowl wins, an undefeated season and two Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
However, the younger generation of Dolphins fans have not experienced the success that made the team famous during its first 30 years.
Miami’s last winning season came in 2008, when the Wildcat offense took everyone by surprise. That was Miami’s only winning season in the last seven years. The Dolphins' past four straight losing seasons are the most since the franchise was born in 1966, when it had a losing record in its first four seasons.
To put it into perspective, in its 46-year existence, Miami has had 13 losing seasons total. The Dolphins had only two losing seasons from 1970 to 2004, but have had seven since then.
With their new additions this year and what appears to be the first franchise quarterback since Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins look to be trending upward.
It’s a new age in Miami and it’s a good time to be a Dolphin.