Ryan Tannehill is good enough if the other Dolphins around him are

There were two little secrets the Dolphins didn't let out, more or less, until the draft and post-draft decisions were made that take on importance starting with next week's offseason workouts:

1. Ryan Tannehill is their quarterback for as far as they can see, even if no one is looking beyond next year at this point.

2. There's no certified Plan B.

Yes, I know. This isn't the best summer to be a Dolphins fan. Double that pain for Tannehill's fans. The narrative on him is out there: Coming back from major knee surgery; hasn't played in 19 games; turned 30 in July; didn't exactly tear it up over his five years until ...

But hold on. This narrative suggests his 2016 season never existed, like that not-insignificant, eight-run stretch where he clicked with coach Adam Gase and helped the Dolphins on a run to the playoffs never happened.

He had a 100.1 rating over those eight games. Remember? That would've ranked seventh in the league. Remember former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson said after his game-winning throw in Los Angeles the Dolphins, "have found their franchise quarterback."


You don't have to give up your hard-earned right to be skeptical about all things Dolphins without agreeing Tannehill showed with a functional offense around him that he can be a winning quarterback.

That's really the line of him. He's not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. He's not one of the elites capable of lifting a team and making everyone better. But he can be good enough to help a decent team win in the manner, say, Matt Ryan or Alex Smith does.

He's good enough, in other words, if the team around him is good enough. "Organizations make quarterbacks," the great Bill Walsh said, and he should know, as Joe Montana and Steve Young had a great system with Hall of Fame talent in San Francisco. Update that to the last Super Bowl, when Philadelphia's Nick Foles moved in for injured Carson Wentz and won.

That's why of all the odd moves the Dolphins made this offseason – ridding themselves of talent, signing four free agents over the age of 32 by the first kickoff — hoping on Tannehill should be the most logical one.

You can question if the backups are sound enough or plot a future-thinking ideal, considering David Fales and Brock Osweiler weren't exactly coveted by teams last year. You can wonder if the Dolphins learned the value of having a trusted backup, especially with a quarterback returning from a long, injury absence.

But if Tannehill returns to health — and, really, knee surgery isn't the limb-reducing concern of yesteryear — then there's too much hand-wringing over the injury part of this.

That's why this coming week matters. The Dolphins coaches, doctors, front-office and Tannehill have to decide how much work to have him do in the shorts- and T-shirt season of offseason workouts.

This will be an ongoing conversation through training camp and preseason, too, in a more pronounced manner than it is for any quarterback. It's no secret why. The importance of them isn't just obvious. The cost is going up, too.

Rodgers's new deal soon will eclipse Matt Ryan's five-year, $150 million deal. Ryan is considered great, too, as he's taken that elusive next step with the help of great complementary talent that includes the game's best receiver, Julio Jones.

But in 2014, when he had a 93.9 quarterback rating to Tannehill's 92.8, he was being told by Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw to go to a quarterback camp. In 2015, when he had an 89 rating to Tannehill's 88.7, tight end Tony Gonzalez said he wasn't sure Ryan was "elite," and fans were looking around.

Sound familiar?

Ryan then had a great 2016 with the help of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, had the Super Bowl won (then lost) and now has a Monopoly-money contract.

Tannehill, meanwhile, shows there's nothing more forgotten than an injured athlete. It doesn't mean he makes the leap Ryan did. But what he did in that 2016 stretch suggests there's more to be mined in him.

The offensive line is stable this year. Not great. But stable. The receiving corps added a couple of veterans and a rookie tight end. Again, your guess on DeVante Parker is as good as the Dolphins' hopes at this point.

Tannehill will have a true practice for the first time this week since he went down last August. It's a baby step to September. It's not the best of springs to back his talent. But he's good enough if his 2016 means something. The verdict is out on those needing to help him.

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