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Miami Dolphins

10 Rules for Being a Dolphins Fan

Travis Wingfield

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Every Sunday from Labor Day through Christmas, a cult-like following of teal jersey donning, “Fins Up!” shouting hooligans gather in front of their television and offer their own mental well-being to the football gods.

Ingrained in their DNA is a set of rules. Rules that, in the privacy of one’s own home, may be relaxed; but on the streets of social media those guidelines are inherently governed.

Since we are satirically structuring this thing akin to religion, we’ll go with 10 rules. Commandments, if you will. And here they are, the 10 rules for being a Dolphins fan in 2018.

Rule One: You must accept Dan Marino and Don Shula as your Lord and Saviors

Do you often find yourself thinking, “if Shula were still in charge, this team wouldn’t melt down in December?” Or “Marino would throw for 6,000 yards in today’s NFL – no problem.”

Ignore the outside noise, nobody will ever top Shula’s divine longevity of greatness and the new career passing marks deserve an asterisk because of the modern style of play.

I don’t know if you knew this, but there was no such thing as illegal contact in the 80’s and 90’s.

Rule Two: You loathe those three teams from the Northeast

It’s your inherent duty to detest the Jets. It’s your birthright to despise the Bills. And it’s your civic duty to show utter disgust for all things New England Patriots.

New York hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since Lyndon Johnson was in office, Buffalo holds an unsurpassable record for consecutive losses in the big game and the Patriots entire dynasty is propped up precarious credibility.

You bellow these facts daily.

Rule Three: There is positively no ambivalence in your position on quarterback Ryan Tannehill – PICK A SIDE!

This is conservatives vs. liberals South Florida football edition. Divisiveness is the new fabric our great nation is threaded with and middle ground on Tannehill is strictly prohibited.Either he’s the next Marino or the next Ray Lucas. Decide. Right now.

Rule Four: You protect perfection

The 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2007 New England Patriots, these teams enjoyed decorated, record-breaking seasons, but there’s one thing they didn’t do – win every game.

Dolphins fans take this undefeated business serious, even if you were a mere twinkle in your daddy’s eye.

I had the displeasure of attending the 2008 Miami meeting with the Pats. More embarrassing than Matt Cassel hanging 48 on the Dolphins D, was the sad fan in the concourse screaming that the Pats should “GO UNDEFEATED, THEN GET BACK TO ME.”

It’s a strange hill to die on, but when you’ve been devoid of any post-season success for more than two decades, nostalgia wins.

Rule Five: You’re a master of masochism

Ndamukong Suh signed the largest free-agent deal in team history in March of 2015. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

David Boston!? Good luck stopping our passing game.”

Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake, looks like Tom Brady’s retirement is coming sooner rather than later.”

A prerequisite of having your hopes and dreams crushed is conjuring up those hopes in the first place. Despite the movie ending in similar fashion every single year, you find reasons to believe that THIS is the year fortunes will change – because you’re a glutton for punishment.

Rule Six: You want any logo except the current concept

Forget the modernized look of a classic logo, we don’t take too kindly to progress around these parts. Innovation? Who needs it!

We want to go back to the logo that looks like the winner of Ms. Lippi’s first grade class’ art contest.

If we can’t have the logo that was originally created on a piece of spiral notebook paper, well then we better AT LEAST go back to the logo where the dolphin is wearing his special helmet.

Then again, the short bus logo does accurately portray the Miami Dolphins’ performance this century.

Rule Seven: Everyone in national media is biased

We never went to the moon. 9-11 was a government ploy to gain support for war in the middle east. And ESPN definitely only hires those with a disdain for the ‘Phins. They’re like, totally out to get you, man.

After all, ESPN is headquartered in the heart of enemy territory. Nothing takes precedence more than slandering that irrelevant team from the southern tip of Florida.

“We break from Lebron watch to bring you this…. The Dolphins suck.”

Rule Eight: You weep every time you hear the name Greg Camarillo

“Third and eight. Four receivers including Camarillo for Cleo Lemon. IT’S CAUGHT BY CAMARILLO! It’s a footrace with Winbourne! MIAMI HAS WON! MIAMI HAS WON!”

While the irony of harboring the NFL’s only unbeaten team and only winless team (at the time) would’ve been rich, you’re proud that the Dolphins didn’t achieve that feat.

Owner Wayne Huizenga’s tears represented each one of us that day, thrilled that the number of Dolphins’ victories that year matched the number of trips the earth made around the sun.

Elite company.

Rule Nine: Any player that leaves, or might leave, will surely stay in the division and haunt our dreams

“I tell ya’, it’s gonna suck when Jarvis Landry goes to New England and catches 150 passes from Brady.”

It’s not an entirely irrational fear. Larry Izzo, Wes Welker, Chris Hogan, Richie Incognito, Charles Clay, former-Phins have found success in the AFC East.

The most difficult case of sleeping with the enemy came when Jason Taylor went all the way to the AFC Title Game with the freakin’ Jets.

Enough time has passed, though. The Hall of Fame pass rusher has the keys to the city once more.

Still, how could you, JT?

Rule Ten: You’re willing to go to prison over the heated mediocrity/futility debate

How dare anyone have the gall to lump the 2000’s Dolphins in with the likes of Oakland, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Buffalo?

Those teams were regulars at the top of the NFL’s annual selection meeting while the Dolphins remain perpetually “in the hunt.” When historians look back on the annals of early 21stcentury American football, they will surely view Miami as a nearly middle-class outfit.

Anyone entering Dolphins Twitter with the mess better not bring a knife to a gun fight.

 

This list could be eternal. Submit your rules to Travis at his Twitter handle:

@WingfieldNFL

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marchcool

    June 29, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Rule 11: every dolphin fan must admit that the best game ever was the playoff game Dolphins-Chargers (80’s) with the best play ever: catch followed by a lateral pass and TD.

    Rule 12: the fans must admit that the outcome of this game was one of the saddest moments in Dolphins history.

    Rule 13: the fans must admit that the killer B’s were the coolest defense ever.

    Rule 14: the fans dislike S. Ross and consider him so far as one of the worst things happened to this team

    …to be continue

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Miami Dolphins

Training Camp Guide – Linebackers

Travis Wingfield

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Go To:

Part 1: Quarterbacks
Part 2: Running Backs
Part 3: Wide Receivers
Part 4: Offensive Line
Part 5: Tight Ends
Part 6: Defensive Ends
Part 7: Defensive Tackles

Prologue: Come the morning of July 26, the sun will emerge over Nova Southeastern University and provide a glorious backdrop to the 54threndition of Miami Dolphins football.

The third year for the for the twelfth coach in team history will be met with heavy scrutiny. Exhausted by selfish players setting a poor example and creating an unsatisfactory atmosphere, Adam Gase took the reins of the organization.

Deviating from the recent operating procedure set forth by Mike Tannenbaum, Adam Gase, and General Manager Chris Grier, embarked on a new method of talent acquisition. Placing an emphasis on details, dedication and depth, the pair have heard criticisms from all channels.

General perception states that this roster is devoid of top-shelf talent and destined for a coveted top draft choice come April 2019.

Fact proves that this is the deepest roster the Dolphins have fielded since the days of Dave Wannstedt roaming the sidelines.

Who are the stalwarts? Who’s on the bubble? Who needs to update their resume?

This series will give you, the reader, a thorough report on each of the 90 players descending on Dolphins’ camp this August. Additionally, we’ll sort through the weeds and predict the final-53 men that will earn the right to wear the uniform draped in South Florida sports history.

Part VIII Linebackers:

Raekwon McMillan, Mike Linebacker – 1 year of NFL service
Jersey: 52
College: Ohio State
Age: 23 (turns 23 in November)
Acquired: Drafted 54thoverall (R2) in the 2017 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2020, $1,174,384 APY base / $2,699,912 guaranteed

May 25, 2017; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan (52) catches a pass during OTAs practice drills at Baptist Health Training Facility at Nova Southeastern University. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If Miami wants to buck the trend of bottom-barrel linebacker play from the last half-decade, Raekwon McMillan needs to be as advertised. The Dolphins coaching staff has gone out of its way to praise McMillan’s work habits, leadership, and football acumen.

To boot, he’s a good athlete that can play all three downs. Miami hasn’t had a true middle linebacker capable of playing every defensive snap since Karlos Danby – that needs to change in 2018.

Kiko Alonso, Outside Linebacker – 5 years of NFL service
Jersey: 47
College: Oregon
Age: 28
Acquired: Via trade, Compensation: Swap of 2016 1stround picks (Alonso/Maxwell)
Signed: Through 2020, $7,227,500 APY base / $16,000,000 guaranteed

Alonso was habitually out of positon and outclassed by superior athletes in 2017. He’s better served playing off-set and off the ball; while also playing clean behind the defensive line.

Better health and a role more commensurate with his skillset should allow him more freedom to do what he does best – take the football away.

Stephone Anthony, Outside Linebacker – 3 years of NFL service
Jersey: 44
College: Clemson
Age: 26
Acquired: Via trade, Compensation: 2018 5thround pick
Signed: Through 2018, $1,932,930 APY base / $6,242,394 guaranteed

This is a massive year for Anthony. A first-round draft bust to this point, Anthony enters a contract year with the inside track for the opening day third linebacker role. His coverage deficiencies can be masked on passing downs by taking him off the field, and he’ll have to get better at identifying his keys in the run game.

Jerome Baker, Backup OLB – Rookie
Jersey: 55
College: Ohio State
Age: 28
Acquired: Drafted 73rdoverall (R3) in the 2018 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2021, $952,300 APY base / $975,200 guaranteed

With an outside shot to nab one of the “starting” jobs, Baker gets by on superb athleticism and unselfish football. Consistently honoring gap integrity and flashing in all three phases, the hope is that Baker one day joins McMillan as the unquestioned top LBs on the roster.

Terence Garvin, Backup OLB – 5 years of NFL service
Jersey: 57
College: West Virginia
Age: 21
Acquired: 2018 Unrestricted Free-Agency
Signed: Through 2018, $880,000 APY base / $90,000 guaranteed

A special teams ace in Seattle with plus athleticism and coverage skills, Garvin figures into the rotation as a specialist. He’s also no stranger to putting his hand in the dirt and rushing the passer. Garvin signifies the shift towards a more athletic group.

Mike McCray, Cut, Sixth Linebacker – Rookie
Jersey: 58
College: Michigan
Age: 24
Acquired: 2018 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2020, $570,000 APY base / $0 guaranteed

Nobody will mistake McCray for a burner, but he’s a sure tackler that can defend the B-gap-to-B-gap running game. Much like the role filled by Rey Maualuga last season, McCray becomes the “thumper” of the group.

He also has a ringing endorsement from the owner; which goes further than you might think.

Quentin Poling, Cut, Practice Squad – Rookie
Jersey: 51
College: Ohio
Age: 23
Acquired: Drafted 227thoverall (R7) in the 2018 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2020, $628,420 APY base / $93,680 guaranteed

For Poling to make the roster he will have to shine on special teams. Given the low-level competition he played in college, he may need a year to refine his game to make the opening day roster. He’s a perfect practice squad candidate.

Chase Allen, Cut – 1 year of NFL service
Jersey: 59
College: Southern Illinois
Age: 25
Acquired: 2017 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2019, $558,333 APY base / $20,000 guaranteed

Allen is the obvious choice to fill the role described in Mike McCray’s blurb, but the Dolphins can do better, whether it’s McCray or a player from another roster.

Mike Hull, Cut – 3 years of NFL service
Jersey: 45
College: Penn State
Age: 27
Acquired: 2015 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2018, $705,000 APY base / $0 guaranteed

Making it this long as a UDFA is impressive but, in his three years, Hull has never shown a penchant for any extraordinary traits. He’s an exemplary special teamer with little hope of ever making an impact on the defense.

Cayson Collins, Cut – Rookie
Jersey: 33
College: North Carolina
Age: 23 (turns 23 in November)
Acquired: 2018 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2020, $570,000 APY base / $0 guaranteed

Perhaps the greatest longshot at the position, Collins’ only real route to the roster is to play the best football of his life. Even then, he may need an injury to crack the roster – he does have a shot at the practice squad.

2018 Linebackers at a Glance:

A position that has haunted the Dolphins for years, Miami finally has a collection of players budding with potential. We’ve all heard the buzz on McMillan but, until he plays a down, that’s only hype.

Alonso was drug through the mud in 2017. He’s playing on an absolutely asinine contract that gives fans extreme pause when his name comes up in conversation. When he gets his keys right, he’s a quality player – but he’s far too often washed out of the play altogether.

The third ‘backer job is one of the most intriguing battles of camp in 2018. Whether Anthony, Baker or Garvin seizes the role, the hope is that competition breeds success.

The defensive line appears to be set and improved, as is the secondary, but this group MUST improve its run defense for any of that to matter.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Training Camp Guide – Defensive Tackles

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Go To:

Part 1: Quarterbacks
Part 2: Running Backs
Part 3: Wide Receivers
Part 4: Offensive Line
Part 5: Tight Ends
Part 6: Defensive Ends

Prologue: Come the morning of July 26, the sun will emerge over Nova Southeastern University and provide a glorious backdrop to the 54threndition of Miami Dolphins football.

The third year for the for the twelfth coach in team history will be met with heavy scrutiny. Exhausted by selfish players setting a poor example and creating an unsatisfactory atmosphere, Adam Gase took the reins of the organization.

Deviating from the recent operating procedure set forth by Mike Tannenbaum, Adam Gase, and General Manager Chris Grier, embarked on a new method of talent acquisition. Placing an emphasis on details, dedication and depth, the pair have heard criticisms from all channels.

General perception states that this roster is devoid of top-shelf talent and destined for a coveted top draft choice come April 2019.

Fact proves that this is the deepest roster the Dolphins have fielded since the days of Dave Wannstedt roaming the sidelines.

Who are the stalwarts? Who’s on the bubble? Who needs to update their resume?

This series will give you, the reader, a thorough report on each of the 90 players descending on Dolphins’ camp this August. Additionally, we’ll sort through the weeds and predict the final-53 men that will earn the right to wear the uniform draped in South Florida sports history.

Part VII Defensive Tackles:

Davon Godchaux, Starting Base Defensive Tackle – 1 year of NFL service
Jersey: 56
College: LSU
Age: 24 (turns 24 in November)
Acquired: Drafted 178thoverall (R5) in the 2017 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2020, $650,487 APY base / $201,948 guaranteed

Godchaux came on like gangbusters from the word go in 2017. A fifth round draft pick selected to provide immediate depth and a long-term project for the post-Ndamukong Suh era, Godchaux earned his way from the depths of the roster to a full-fledged starter.

He’s exceptional against the run with a low pad level and hands that act as weapons allowing him to control his counterpart. He doesn’t offer much by way of the pass rush, but he has plenty of time to refine that skill set.

Akeem Spence, Starting Defensive Tackle – 1 year of NFL service
Jersey: 93
College: Illinois
Age: 27 (turns 27 in November)
Acquired: Traded from Detroit for a 2019 7thround draft pick
Signed: Through 2019, $3,000,000 APY base / $3,500,000 guaranteed

A necessary move in the wake of the Suh release, Spence joins former Detroit Lions defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, in his pilgrimage to South Florida.

Spence embodies the playing style Kocurek demands – penetrating with your hair on fire. Spence is a high-motor guy that will sprinkle in the splash play from time-to-time.

Jordan Phillips, Rush Defensive Tackle – 3 years of NFL service
Jersey: 97
College: Oklahoma
Age: 26 (turns 26 in September)
Acquired: Drafted 52ndoverall (R2) in the 2015 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2018, $1,090,727 APY base / $2,066,338 guaranteed

Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) leaps over New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) after making an interception during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The yin and the yang of Phillips’ career in Miami is perplexing. One play he looks like an all-pro; the next his feet are stationary and he’s getting blown off the football.

It’s surprising that a man his size struggles in the run game as much as he does, but he’s got elite pass rush ability from the interior. His sweet spot is the 25-30 snaps per game area, but he might need to play more in a contract year.

Vincent Taylor, 4thDefensive Tackle – 1 year of NFL service
Jersey: 96
College: Oklahoma State
Age: 24
Acquired: Drafted 194thoverall (R6) in the 2017 NFL Draft
Signed: Through 2020, $638,607 APY base / $154,428 guaranteed

Among the league’s best in run-stuff percentage, Taylor flashed on a very limited basis in 2017. He’s a mountain of a man with surprisingly nimble feet that help him work down the line-of-scrimmage on a variety of run looks.

Jamiyus Pittman, Cut, Practice Squad – Rookie
Jersey: 65
College: Central Florida
Age: 23
Acquired: 2018 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2020, $570,000 APY base / $0 guaranteed

Pittman might have the best pass rush upside of this entire group. For that reason, he earns a gig on the practice squad as a potential passing down interior collapser.

Gabe Wright, Cut – 3 years of NFL service
Jersey: 98
College: Auburn
Age: 26
Acquired: Signed from Detroit’s practice squad in 2017
Signed: Through 2018, $622,500 APY base / $0 guaranteed

Earning some playing time late in 2017 coming over from the Lions practice squad, Wright has a chance to make the team out of camp. His familiarity with Kocurek certainly doesn’t hurt his cause.

Anthony Moten, Cut Tackle – Rookie
Jersey: 43
College: Miami
Age: 23
Acquired: 2018 Undrafted Free-Agent
Signed: Through 2020, $570,000 APY base / $0 guaranteed

What’s not to love about a local kid that is going to wear #43 in the trenches during the pre-season? This group is wide open so a great camp from Moten could land him on the 53-man roster.

2018 Defensive Tackles at a Glance:

This is arguably the position of greatest concern on Miami’s entire roster. Suh was an all-pro that ate up an absurd number of snaps in his three seasons here. The challenge for Miami will be replacing those reps.

It’ll be up to Matt Burke to get creative with his packages. One could ascertain that the Dolphins overall lack of urgency at the position is because of the plan to use defensive ends on the interior in lieu of this underwhelming group.

Extending Phillips beyond 30 snaps is playing with fire, but the other three could see a sizable increase. Spence was a 60% player in Detroit, Godchaux was close to that number in 2017 and Taylor is sure to see a significant increase.

All four are quality rotational players, but the real problem will occur when (not if) someone gets hurt. Between Wright, Pittman and Moten, someone will find themselves on the active roster at some point this year – unless, of course, Miami looks outside of its own roster.

This position is the favorite candidate for plucking a player from another roster prior to September 9.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Rejuvenating the Miami Dolphins Brand

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are plastering Ryan Tannehill everywhere.

Go to the team’s website, and he’s the first thing you see.

Check out their social media pages, and you’ll find various audio clips and highlight reels scattered throughout the plethora of posts showcasing Tannehill.

Even their non-existent football (soccer for all us Americans) jerseys are tied to Tannehill:

We all know how prominent quarterbacks are to their football teams, but this exposure has been excessive – especially given how rarely we previously saw or heard from the normally-reserved quarterback.

It seems there was a clear vision between the team’s marketing division and those handling the football operations to shine a brighter light on their franchise quarterback.

The team is giving you a reason to get excited, but it begs the question: why haven’t the Dolphins marketed Tannehill like this earlier?

Had he yet to evolve into a leader?

While players are typically wise enough to not discredit their own teammates, there are a handful of former Dolphins who, when asked about Tannehill’s leadership ability, scoffed such a concept even existed.

Jarvis Landry is the latest former-Phin to give the fans a somber dose of what might be reality when the slot receiver mentioned how he and Tannehill didn’t have much of a connection; contrary to the camaraderie they showed on game day.

While everyone admits Tannehill is a great guy, it’s quite possible he really isn’t a good leader.

Sure, Ryan Tannehill has been a Team Captain since 2013 (the year he was appointed to Joe Philbin‘s leadership council).

And yeah, Ryan Tannehill has been so secure in his position that the team hasn’t brought in any legitimate competition for him since his rookie season when David Garrard was the favorite to win the starting job out of camp.

But do either of these facts solidify Tannehill as the face of the franchise?

Players know the quarterback is the most vital and sensitive position on the team. It’s also the most exciting position on the team.

And without one, you’re an afterthought in the NFL.

Brent Grimes, who doesn’t seem to have the ability to express his own opinion, used his wife’s vocal chords to let everyone know that while he was a member of the Dolphins he didn’t believe in Tannehill.

It was evident Grimes came to Miami for a starting opportunity and a paycheck, and when he found he had the ability to obtain that elsewhere, he used his lack-of-confidence in Tannehill to get himself jettisoned from the team.

Former Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace was very critical of Ryan Tannehill, essentially blaming him and his unpolished deep ball for failing to put up productive numbers while in Miami.

Remember when the Dolphins (rightfully) thought Brandon Marshall was such a negative influence on the franchise (between his wife stabbing him, to sparring with former quarterback Chad Henne), that they traded him to the Chicago Bears before he had a chance to infect their newest quarterback?

These divas were quick to deflect negativity from themselves, while there have been plenty of current and former teammates that believe Tannehill is a real motivator.

The thing is, it’s hard to tell if these former, unhappy players are audibly expressing what a locker room of players can’t while they’re on Tannehill’s team, or if the players that are currently on the team are heaping their praises because that’s what’s expected of a teammate.

Regardless, since he returned to the practice field following his second knee injury, the Dolphins are trying very hard to show everyone how well-liked the quarterback is by his teammates.

Is all of this attention an attempt to escape the leaderless image Jay Cutler displayed last year?

Miami doesn’t have the kind of vocal leader you can market to the fanbase.

There are no Richard Sherman’s or Ray Lewis’ getting this team ready for the game. Cameron Wake isn’t going to fire up a fanbase. Bobby McCain’s leadership style is to loosen the mood, not intensify your passion. Reshad Jones is an impressive player, but his tactic is to trash talks his opponent on the field.

So who does that leave us with?

The rejuvenation of Ryan Tannehill is already a compelling story.

Off the field for over a year, can this beacon of hope corral the players around him and restore faith in the organization, the city and the fanbase?

This story has Comeback Player of the Year and Cinderella written all over it.

But it also has a lot of truth behind it.

Ryan Tannehill and head coach Adam Gase are perfect for each other. They’re both tremendously dedicated to perfecting every intricate detail of their gameplan, both study meticulously, and both are passionate about not losing (different than having a passion for winning).

They both spend countless hours reviewing film; they’re at the facility earlier than expected and later than necessary.

In his interview with Locked on Dolphins, Jeff Darlington mentioned that Gase felt like he had Tannehill right where he wanted him.

Both player and coach felt Ryan Tannehill finally turned the corner that Arizona game. It was finally time for Tannehill to truly step up and lead the team.

His team.

And then it all snapped.

The 2017 season was supposed to be the year owner Stephen Ross finally saw his purchase blossom. The team was finally about to turn the corner of mediocrity and become relevant again….and then all the money destined to churn through the turnstiles was gone before the first game could even be played.

This team will gladly accept every dollar this marketing campaign brings them by hyping up the fanbase and getting them invested in the season.

They have a lot of ground to make up after showing promise at the end of the 2016 season.

Maybe all of this marketing is just their way of educating fans on how Tannehill really acts and how he’s really received.

The local media certainly hasn’t done it.

The national perspective believes the Dolphins and Tannehill are bottom-5-caliber.

Even our own fans have the perception that Tannehill hasn’t orchestrated some of the most impressive numbers for a QB in their first 4-5 years in NFL history.

This is something the Dolphins can only fix by winning. But, they have gotten a head start on making everyone believe this is the year you can’t miss.

The return of Ryan Tannehill? The return to greatness? The return of the Miami Dolphins?

Lose, and this is all forgotten. Win, and you rejuvenate a franchise.

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