Is Adam Gase a leader? Is Ryan Tannehill a leader? These are the questions that Dolphins fans are trying to answer...or have already come up with an answer for, and - like everything else - are debating that their answer is the objectively correct answer.
Many people say that yes, both Tannehill and Gase are leaders.
Many others, usually those who are most vocal, say that Tannehill is too quiet and Gase is too stubborn for them to be true leaders.
But is that really the case?
This is the second part of a two-part series, detailing what truly makes a leader, what characteristics they have, and whether or not Gase and Tannehill have them. The first part - centered around head coach Adam Gase - can be found here. In this story, we will hopefully determine whether Ryan Tannehill is a leader or not.
Tannehill - often unfairly - gets compared to Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino, whose "in-your-face" style of leadership helped drive him to become one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Tannehill, on the other hand, has never been described as someone who regularly gets into confrontations. There have been times where he will express frustration with a receiver, but these moments are few, far and in-between.
Tannehill has always been viewed as a hard worker, but he doesn't show the same fire and emotion on the field that Dan Marino did, which is a big reason why nearly everyone in the Dolphins fandom desperately wants to draft Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who comes off as having the same type of personality that Marino had. UCLA QB Josh Rosen is also someone who exudes confidence when he talks.
But is a fiery personality really synonymous with leadership in the NFL? Does getting in someone else's face prove that you're the one in charge? Or...does it simply mean that you're willing to get into someone's face and you feel inclined to shout a lot?
Do players even care about that sort of thing? Most fans would probably say absolutely. Dolphins players, however, don't necessarily share that sentiment.
"Leadership in my eyes would be doing your job consistently, rep after rep," said offensive lineman Jesse Davis. "Too much rah-rah stuff in my opinion, I don't really buy into that stuff, that loud, screaming, roaring guy. I think a guy that leads by example and talks with his play."
So often we have heard people suggest that the likes of Cameron Wake are not leaders because they prefer to not be vocal, that the leaders are the ones who speak up the most, or are the loudest. But the other side of the argument - ironically enough, the less vocal side - takes the stance that Davis laid out: leaders are the ones who lead by example, not necessarily with their mouths.
Cornerback Bobby McCain shares that sentiment.
"It's not about the rah-rah guys," he said. "It's about the guy that's going to come in every day and do the right thing. There's guys that are gonna come in each and every morning and perfect his craft. At the end of the day, some guys lead through example, some guys lead through play, some guys lead through word of mouth, it's whatever your role is on the team and you gotta take it and embrace it."
Now, you might say to yourself, it's that last bit that separates Tannehill from actually being a leader. The role of the quarterback is the most demanding leadership position of all, and being vocal is necessary, regardless of how much Tannehill leads by example.
After all, Dan Marino was notorious for getting in the faces of his receivers and teammates, and no one would dare question his leadership qualities. Tannehill lacks that same attitude on the field, so surely he's not a leader.
But then you hear the words of a player who played with Marino, as well as the other Hall of Fame quarterback who preceded him, and you get two very different pictures.
"(Bob) Griese was never in anybody's face, Dan (Marino) was," said former Dolphins wide receiver Nat Moore. "They both had their own individual way of winning, they're both Hall of Famers. I believe leadership, you lead by your actions, which both guys did. Some guys get in your face, if Ryan Tannehill is a quiet leader and he goes out and he plays well, that'll elevate everybody else."
So now we have two different examples to look at: Marino and Griese, who played and acted in vastly different ways but still put together Hall of Fame careers and are viewed as some of the greatest leaders of their time.
Even if Tannehill leans more towards the Griese side of leadership than the Marino side, that does not mean he has no leadership qualities or that he's not viewed as a leader; he simply doesn't display the qualities that fans assume make a great leader.
There have been countless studies made on what constitutes a great leader, and what people psychologically prefer in their leaders. It doesn't matter what profession you're in, whether it's football or an office job; humans are human, even if athletes are physically superior specimens.
The International Journal of Leadership offers this to consider on truly great leaders: "They all showed a commitment to high standards. The "ferocious resolve" that Collins found was observed in varying degrees. Some participants were faced with situations that were more dramatic than others ... Like Greenleaf, we found that the leaders were reflective and had a strong sense of who they were - their strengths, their limitations, and what was important to them."
That sounds like Tannehill to a tee. He's always talking about how he needs to improve and work on his game, and everyone is aware of his commitment and the work he puts in towards doing so. He knows what he can do, he knows what he needs to work on, and he's always shown he's committed to winning. So what else is there?
The journal continues: "They were very engaged by the growth of people and facilitating that process. They had a questioning nature and employed it when solving problems and influencing. They cared deeply about people and felt tremendous responsibility for them."
Once again, here is Tannehill acting as an example of this. Many players have come out in the past discussing Tannehill's eagerness to help in any way possible, reaching out to his receivers and getting them to work in the offseason with him so they could start building chemistry. He's a hard studier and he's always looking to learn more, and he takes what he's learned and uses it to make suggestions that will benefit the team.
As for responsibility for his teammates, I don't think anyone can question that after watching him on the sideline in tears because he couldn't be on the field for them; he made a mistake not getting surgery the first time, but even then he pushed his rehab to the limit, and he did so again after the second injury.
He never blames someone else for something that happened, barring one isolated incident during practice a few years ago where he called out practice squad players for pushing too hard during a walkthrough.
Any reports of him mocking their paychecks were fabricated by a bitter woman with a personal vendetta against Tannehill.
So is Ryan Tannehill a leader? All signs based on the information given, personal testimonies of players and past signs point to yes. He just isn't the kind of leader that reminds fans of the legend he - and every other Miami quarterback - has been compared to his entire career. He works hard, leads by example, and in the minds of some of his teammates, he's one of the first names that comes to mind when discussing leaders on the team.
"Looking forward to just getting back in the groove of working out with the team, run around with Tanny (Ryan Tannehill) back at the helm again, so I'm excited," said running back Kenyan Drake. "He was always around in the locker room and things like that, but it's hard for him to contribute to the team when he's not actually on the field. So we had a lot of guys kinda step up, me included, to kinda fill that void in the leadership role, and I feel like now it's gonna give a lot of young guys that momentum and confidence they need to move forward, knowing that, okay, he's back ... having him back is definitely going to be a huge upside.
"He was always on the sideline, if he saw something out there he would come to the quarterbacks, to the running backs, to the offensive coaches, always put his input, he was always at every meeting while he was hurt during rehab; with the team meetings, offensive meetings, he was always taking notes, things like that. That's the type of leader and quarterback you need, once he comes back he's not gonna miss a step."
Whether the Miami Dolphins draft a quarterback in the first round or not, head coach Adam Gase has made it clear that Tannehill will be the starter when the 2018 season begins, and truth be told, that is how it should be. Tannehill had his best year ever in 2016 under Adam Gase, and he's projected to have the best offensive line he's ever had in his entire career.
Everything is set in place for his long-awaited comeback.
So are Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill actually leaders? Hopefully this series has shed some light on the answer for you.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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