Written by Luis Sung | Twitter: @FLSportDebater
It's no secret to anyone that third-year quarterback out of Texas A&M Ryan Tannehill has a lot to prove in this first game against the division rival New England Patriots, and he also has a chance to gain national respect if he can defeat a man who at one time he wanted to emulate growing up in Tom Brady.
"I hate admitting that now," Tannehill said, "just because I am playing against him."
The last time these two QBs met, it ended in a way that made a folk hero out of a player who had only recently been plucked off of the 49ers practice squad in Michael Thomas. However, it was Tannehill who put the team in a position to get there first, as he led the team on a 60-yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Marcus Thigpen, and Tannehill earned the respect of the opposition.
"He's excellent in those situations and that's probably really what beat us last year down there was their ability to execute at the end of the game," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "But they've been a good two-minute team. He's done a good job in that situation throughout his career. I think he throws the ball well."
It was clear to everyone at that point that Tannehill had indeed improved greatly when compared to his rookie year, but any positive speculation was quickly washed away by mediocre performances against the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets in the next two weeks that dashed Miami's playoff hopes.
Since then, under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor - who many credit as one of the big reasons Nick Foles went from a nobody to an upper-echelon quarterback in the NFL - Tannehill has quickly become one of the biggest leaders on this football team, and he wants to play like one.
"You have to be able to make a play, find a way and that's football," Tannehill said. "You are going to have those tough situations where someone is going to have to step up and make a play. I want that to be me. I want that to be the guys with me on offense and if we do that we will win a lot of games."