Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Tannehill’

Q&A: Former Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Jay Fiedler - MetLife Takeover

By the time Jay Fiedler hung up his cleats – six years after unenviably following in franchise icon Dan Marino’s massive footsteps – only Marino and Bob Griese had won more games, thrown for more yards or tossed as many touchdown passes in Dolphins history.

For an undrafted free agent who’d been cut by two NFL teams in the span of a month, served as a volunteer assistant coach at Hofstra University and suited up for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe – all before attempting his first official NFL pass with the Vikings in 1998 – seeing his name among the all-time greats remains especially humbling.

“To be in the company of those two Hall of Fame names – to have the longevity of being the starting quarterback for the Dolphins for five years – means a lot to me,” says Fiedler. “Certainly, the road that it took me to become a starting quarterback made it even sweeter. Every time you get a chance to overcome challenges and come out on top at the end, it’s a heck of a lot more rewarding than being given that job.”

Ironically, the lopsided score of Marino’s final NFL game presented an opportunity for the then-Jaguars second-stringer to showcase he was ready for a starting role – and as it turned out, No. 13’s eventual replacement.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think it was definitely an audition for Miami,” recalls Fiedler, who completed 7 of 11 passes for a game-high 172 yards and two scores in a relief appearance on Jan. 15, 2000. “I think the thing that certainly helped me sign with Miami that following year was the fact that I not only came in that game and played well, but that I started the last regular-season game for Jacksonville. The Dolphins didn’t know who was going to start the game that week – we kind of kept it hush-hush whether (Mark) Brunell was going to come back or not – so it forced the Dolphins to scout me … and really opened up the eyes of the scouting department and the personnel.”

After helping guide the Dolphins to the AFC East division title in his first season in South Florida, the Dartmouth alum – who amassed a 36-23 record along with 11,040 passing yards and 66 touchdowns in aqua and orange – submitted his best year in 2001, notching 20 TDs (10th in the NFL), 3,290 passing yards (14th) and 7.3 yards per pass attempt (sixth) en route to leading Miami to a second consecutive 11-5 finish and playoff appearance.

In a recent phone interview, Fiedler reflected on his long road to NFL stardom, the challenges of succeeding Marino, Ryan Tannehill’s development and much more.

As a multi-sport athlete growing up, what ultimately led you to pursue a football career?

“I did every sport imaginable growing up. I remember when I was six or seven years old, I was into soccer, football, baseball, basketball, track and field – you name it. I did three sports in high school – football, basketball and track and field – and then football and track and field in college. Of course, being a multi-sport guy, I ended up doing the decathlon in track and field.

“I spent two years doing both at Dartmouth, and eventually, the idea of putting weight on for football and taking it off for track and field, (plus) the grueling non-stop competition, became too much. I’ve always loved football, I had some great success in Dartmouth my first couple of years, and I decided that was what I was going to keep pursuing.”

Which players did you admire growing up and model your own game after?

“My favorite quarterback growing up was probably John Elway. He was a guy who I tried to model my game after – just his versatility, his escapability out of situations. Although I couldn’t get up quite to his arm strength, I felt like I was able to do a lot of things out on the football field just like he was able to do.”

As an undrafted free agent, what were the keys to landing your first NFL contract with the Eagles?

“As an undrafted free agent, it was really just a matter of making the team. I had about four or five teams that offered me contracts right after the draft ended. I decided on going to Philadelphia because of two factors. One, Rich Kotite was the coach there, and he convinced me that he was going to give me a shot to really compete for the job and to make the team. And two, at the time they weren’t so set on their three quarterbacks. So, it looked like an opportunity for me to have a chance to make the team and to move my way up the depth chart as things went along.”

After being cut twice and out of the NFL for nearly two years, what did it take to make it back to the pros?

“That was probably the most difficult time in my career. Getting cut by the Eagles, it was really a situation of coaching and ownership changes – they were just going in a new direction, where they were kind of cleaning house. By the time they actually cut me, it was already a couple of weeks into training camp, so even though I got picked up by Cincinnati, I only had a very short window to try and prove myself. I was actually the fifth (quarterback) on the roster out there, so it was an uphill battle.

“I found myself out of the game for the first time in my life. It was a frustrating time, but I also knew from playing for two years, seeing how guys practiced and seeing the games up close, that I was talented enough to make it. I didn’t let it discourage me and I didn’t give up on the game.”

How did you train and what did you focus on during that time?

“I decided to keep myself as close to the game as possible. I went home and became a volunteer coach at Hofstra University. I’d known a couple of the coaches over there, and they gave me an opportunity to use the weight room and work out with the team. I’d go out, throw to wide receivers and keep my arm loose. It helped me stay sharp and stay in the game.

“Then, I ended up going out to Europe for a season, and played in NFL Europe at Amsterdam. I was teammates with (current Chargers Head Coach) Mike McCoy at the time, and I saw all the way back then that he would be a coach. Even though I didn’t get an (NFL) opportunity again coming into (next) season, it kept me focused and kept my mind on the game.

“Finally, after another year of coaching at Hofstra, it took one last-ditch effort to get back into the league. I got together with my agent and my high school coach – who was a big mentor of mine throughout my career – and we came up with a game plan to put a package together, send it out to every single team and start calling up every quarterback coach, offensive coordinator and head coach. We got one response from Minnesota, and that’s all I needed. Chip Myers was the quarterback coach, and he gave me an opportunity to try out for the Vikings. I went out there, they signed me, and from that point forward, I just kept climbing the ranks until two years later, I was the starting quarterback in Miami.”

In addition to Chip Myers, which other coaches helped prepare you for a starting role?

“All the coaching I got was the biggest thing from playing on all those different teams. I played under Jon Gruden as a coordinator and quarterback coach in Philadelphia. In Minnesota, Brian Billick was the offensive coordinator. Down in Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin was the head coach and really ran the offense, and Bobby Petrino was the quarterback coach. I was able to pick the brains of each of them and mold their teaching to what I felt comfortable with and what I was able to do physically on the football field.”

How would you describe following in Marino’s footsteps as the Dolphins starter?

“I never looked it as a challenge to replace Marino. I had success every time I played – from high school, college and during the times that I was able to get into games in the pros prior to that. I did it my way. I wasn’t going to come in there and do it the way Marino did it. There are a lot of ways to win games – that’s really the way that I looked at the position.

“Certainly, there were challenges just from an off-the-field standpoint – having to deal with media and fan scrutiny as the next guy after Marino – but I always felt like I had thick skin and never let outside distractions or influences change the way that I approached the game. In that respect, just from a mental and psychological standpoint, I was the perfect guy to come in and do that.” (more…)

Henne Vs Tanny

Sunday, December 16th, 2012
Chad Henne started the season riding the pine for his new club, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Following a season-ending injury to second year bust Blaine Gabbert, Henne has already gotten his second chance at a starting job in the NFL. Thus far, he has done a very good job of ensuring that he keeps it. In less than half the amount of games as Tannehill, Henne has managed to match our rookie QB’s 8 TD passes. He returns this Sunday for the first time to square off against his old club, a place that probably does not hold too many happy memories for him, just much disappointment for promise unfulfilled. But at this point of the season, this is one of the more intriguing aspects of this game, as it holds no playoff implications. In some forums, I see that people are still calculating all the things that would need to happen to get to the postseason, but the reality is that we are done; Tannehill acknowledged as much this week. When all the things that need to happen for the postseason are mostly out of your control, it does little good to speculate on it.
(more…)

Dolphins To Be Featured on “Hard Knocks”

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012


The Miami Dolphins announced today that the team has agreed to appear on this season of HBO’s popular reality series “Hard Knocks,” which will give fans an exciting inside look at everything from the team’s front office decisions to grueling practice field drills through the first six weeks of training camp.

“The series will highlight the outstanding men who comprise our team and represent our organization admirably, both on and off the field, as they compete for a coveted position on our roster,” said first-year Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to connect with our fans, and it’s a chance for us to show the new direction (and) identity of this football team.”

With a revamped offense and new-look coaching staff, a three-way starting quarterback competition between Matt Moore, David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill, and Reggie Bush’s quest to win the NFL rushing title, the series will have no shortage of interesting storylines from Miami. The Dolphins, coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, certainly hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last two teams to appear on the show — the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 and the New York Jets in 2010 — both of whom reached the playoffs.

Whether the decision to put Miami in front of the cameras was owner Stephen Ross’ call, as many have speculated, or came from Philbin ultimately makes no difference, as fans will get unprecedented access to their favorite team each week while the upstart Dolphins get the national spotlight over the summer.

General Manager Jeff Ireland and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle are also no strangers to the show from their stints with the Dallas Cowboys (2002) and Bengals, respectively.

The first of five episodes is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 7.

DolfansNYC Reacts to Dolphins Drafting Tannehill

Friday, April 27th, 2012

The Miami Dolphins finally selected a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft for the first time since 1983 (Dan Marino), taking Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick.

As Commissioner Roger Goodell walked up to the podium at Radio City Music Hall and announced the selection last night, more than 20 members of DolfansNYC were captured by television cameras, cheering and chanting from the stands.

Check out the video below from NFL.com to see us singing the Dolphins fight song and showing our support for the aqua and orange in New York around the one-minute mark.

While Tannehill comes with a lot of questions marks – he incredibly started more games at wide receiver in college (30) than quarterback (20) and passed for 5,450 yards with 42 touchdowns and 21 interceptions – he also played under Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for four years and has the size, arm strength and athleticism to become the franchise QB the team has long desired.

Asked about the inescapable Marino comparison, Tannehill called it “humbling” and said he’s looking forward to getting some tips from the Hall-of-Famer.

“He’s a legend and was a great quarterback for the Miami Dolphins franchise, and I’m excited to hopefully reach out to him and learn from him,” he said. “I don’t think I’m trying to fill his shoes – I’m my own player and I have a lot to learn and I’m excited to get started.”

We’ll have plenty more thoughts and analysis down the line, including whether Tannehill should be the opening day starter over Matt Moore, but for now, let’s all welcome the newest member of the Dolphins to South Beach.

Dolphins Run Out of Options, Sign David Garrard

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

After striking out in their pursuit of Peyton Manning (never wanted to come to Miami), Matt Flynn (apparently low-balled by the front office) and Alex Smith (will likely now re-sign with San Francisco), the Dolphins turned to their fourth (fifth? sixth?) fall-back option: former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.

A Pro Bowler in 2010, the 34-year-old was unexpectedly released prior to last season’s opener and missed the entire year with a herniated disc. He declined to sign with Miami last year when he couldn’t land a guaranteed contract, and his current one-year deal is, fittingly enough, fully non-guaranteed.

From 2007 to 2010, Garrard started 58 out of 64 games, completing 62.7 percent of his passes and sporting a respectable 71-to-41 touchdown-to-interception ratio. During the time-span, he also led all QBs with 1,109 rushing yards and tied for second in rushing scores (11). In 2007, Garrard led the Jaguars to an 11-5 record, throwing 18 TD passes and tying an NFL record with only three picks.

But again, he’s 34 and coming off major back surgery.

Through Garrard will reportedly have a chance to compete for the starting job with Matt Moore, the signing likely means the Dolphins will, finally, draft a QB in the first round, with Ryan Tannehill behind mentioned as the most likely possibility.

Perhaps just as importantly, Miami has a gaping hole to fill after the trade that sent WR Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears last week. The deal is more understandable now, given that details have emerged about Marshall’s inexcusable run-in with a woman in a nightclub, but with top-tier WRs Vincent Jackson (Bucs), Brandon Lloyd (Patriots), Mario Manningham (49ers) and Pierre Garcon (Redskins) headed elsewhere, it’s slim pickings on the free agent market. It’s unlikely the team could land restricted free agent Mike Wallace — especially since his Pittsburgh Steelers teammate Ryan Clark Tweeted that “no one” wants to play for the Dolphins, apparently because of GM Jeff Ireland (good times!) — leaving the likes of Brandon Edwards, Early Doucet and (brace yourself) Tedd Ginn, Jr. as the best players available.

Are you excited yet?


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