“I’m encouraged by the Dolphins,” Gannon said in an interview Thursday. “You don’t want to say they got off to a great start because they’re 1-3, but they could easily be 3-1. And that they’re doing it with a rookie quarterback I think speaks volumes with what this team can accomplish.”
Gannon pointed out that the Dolphins have a mind-boggling run differential – averaging 153 yards on the ground per game, while only allowing 56 yards per game – and that coach Joe Philbin ran “one of the best training camp practices I ever saw.” He sees a team that doesn’t know how to finish games off now, but will soon.
“I think this team learned how to practice and compete, and doing it in that environment in the heat and humidity,” Gannon said. “I think you’re going to see a much different team as the season goes along, a team that gets stronger and knows how to finish. You had a team that had no reason to play in the second half of the year last year, and they finished really well, and I think there’s some character on that team, I really do.”
Of course, Gannon’s positive impression of the Dolphins starts with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill who despite a 2:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 66.4 passer rating has played far better than anyone expected of him this season.
“You look at a guy that played some receiver in college, had only 19 starts, I think your first thought is, ‘Geez, what’s the learning curve going to be like?’” Gannon said. “And to think that if they could just finish a game they’d be 3-1 right now, it’s kind of amazing.”
Gannon said Tannehill’s ability at the line of scrimmage far surpasses his experience.
“The communication with this guy before the snap – in the shotgun, he’s redirecting the line, changing protection, making the right calls, all those type of things that typically that take off of a young quarterback,” Gannon said. “I think that the continuity around him (with the coaching staff) has helped him, but there’s no question he’s a sharp kid. I’m very impressed with how well he’s done so far.”
Gannon said Tannehill actually reminds him of his opponent this week – Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton, who led his team to the playoffs as a rookie and has the Bengals at 3-1 this year.
“I’m not ready to christen him yet, but he reminds me a little bit of Dalton,” Gannon said. “He makes a mistake, throws an interception, something happens, and it doesn’t phase him, and that’s one of the best attributes that Dalton has. I think we’re seeing that out of Ryan. He’s got great confidence and the ability to turn the page, whether it’s good or bad.”
“If you go back and look at a couple of the interceptions – the first one he threw in the Houston game, my gosh, it’s a terrible route. The guy doesn’t finish the route, and Ryan throws it in there and it gets picked off. You can fault the quarterback I suppose, but I think when you start judging the position and you say what’s the most important thing about playing the quarterback position – decision making – I think he’s been pretty steady.”