Five Things We Learned About the Miami Dolphins This Preseason

With last night's preseason finale in the books (a ho-hum loss to the Tennessee Titans, BTW), fake games are officially in the rear-view mirror. Now, Dolphins fans can set a countdown clock that ends in the kickoff of a ball that matters. Like pumpkin lattes and beer, Dolphins football flares up every September, and we deal with the initial excitement knowing we will grow sick of the team by December. 

The Dolphins open the season against the Seattle Seahawks September 11, and the hope is that they can start the season on a strong note, which they rarely do. Just a few weeks ago, we had no idea what sort of team the Dolphins might field this year, but thanks to a few months of keeping our eyes on the early happenings of the Adam Gase era, we now have a better idea. 

Here are a few things we learned from watching the Miami Dolphins' four preseason games. 

5. Laremy Tunsil is the answer at left guard.

You can cross one question mark hovering over a guard position off the list. Dolphins first-round pick Laremy Tunsil has been extraordinary this preseason. Even while learning a new position on the offensive line, he's been able to use his natural abilities to dominate. The learning curve hasn't been anything near what some feared in the beginning of training camp when there was a worry that Tunsil couldn't beat out Dallas Thomas. Just a few weeks later, we can all look back and laugh at having anxiety about that. Tunsil isn't the answer at left guard a few years down the road; he's the answer at left tackle. His coming of age before the Dolphins need him speaks to the steal the Dolphins got in the draft this year.

4. Hard Rock Stadium is more beautiful than any of us expected.

We all saw the renderings beforehand. We saw the improvements the team made last offseason. We knew the Dolphins' then-unnamed home would be an upgrade. But none of us had any idea it would come out this beautiful. Not only that, but the stadium has a sweet new name that we actually want to say. The renovations will assuredly bring multiple Super Bowls (it's already scored one), amazing concerts, and big-time events, but most importantly it will attract more fans to not only Miami Dolphins games, but Miami Hurricanes games. 

Broward residents are much more likely to make the trip across the county line for a Dolphins game this year. Out with the old, in with the new. 

3. Ryan Tannehill has everything he needs to succeed.

Ryan Tannehill has no more excuses. It's time for him to deliver, or someone else will be given the opportunity to do so. Adam Gase has given Tannehill the ability to audible this season, something he has rarely been allowed to do in his career. The Dolphins' offensive line (when Pouncey returns) is stellar, so there should be zero reasons for concern there. No offensive line is perfect, and the Dolphins' certainly won't be. Tannehill must overcome pressure like any other top QB.

Tannehill has plenty of weapons, so that won't be a concern. It's all there for the taking. It's up to Tannehill to take it or a punter will be wearing #17 next season. 

2. Arian Foster is the Dolphins' starting running back.

The Dolphins lost Lamar Miller in free agency to the Houston Texans. They had hoped second-year back Jay Ajayi could fill the void, but he's been unspectacular this preseason. Luckily, the Texans' back Miller is replacing was available in the scratch-and-dent bit. Arian Foster looked fantastic in the Dolphins' dress rehearsal game against the Cowboys, and he's sure to get the bulk of the carries — at least until Ajayi can prove he belongs in the NFL as an every down back. 

Foster flashed the stride and stiff arm that made him a perennial top fantasy choice and NFL MVP candidate just a few years ago before knee injuries derailed his career. If the Dolphins can even get 75% of what he used to be — and it looks like they just might — then the loss of Miller won't sting as much. 

1. Adam Gase looks like the real deal.

So far, Adam Gase has been the head coaching equivalent of a hot tub to Joe Philbin's cloudy swimming pool. Gase is the youngest coach in the NFL but acts as if he's been there for years. The moment does not seem to overwhelm him, probably because he's already coached some of the greatest players in the league at a young age. Gase certainly hasn't been shy as evidenced by him calling out DeVante Parker for always being injured. 

Adam Gase seems to be more prepared for the job than any coach the Dolphins have had in a long time. He's also the one who most definitively lines up with the squad's future goals. He won't be waiting around too long for Tannehill to develop, but he certainly seems to be the right guy to make it happen. 


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