Lost in Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ newsworthy announcement that head coach Joe Philbin will return in 2015 was the stellar performance by their quarterback that led to Sunday's 37-35 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill also solidified his case to be next year's starter. He had his best game of the season, throwing for 396 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Tannehill also recorded a 118.8 passer rating.
Tannehill posted big numbers in the most important season of his career. He set career-highs for touchdowns (26) and passer rating (93.2) while learning a new offensive scheme.
Similar to the head coach, there is no question on who will be under center in Miami next season. The Tannehill-Philbin tandem will lead the Dolphins again in 2015.
“I’m happy to hear [Philbin is] coming back,” Tannehill said after Sunday's game. “I’m looking forward to it. Let’s keep working on it.”
Tannehill surpassed Carson Palmer for the sixth-most passing yards in the first three seasons in NFL history. He’s started every game since 2012 and has 10,993 passing yards.
The addition of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has paid off for Tannehill. Together, the pair has improved Miami’s points per game from 19.8 in 2013 to 24.3 this season. And if the Dolphins get 37 points next week against the New York Jets (3-12), they will have 400 points in a season for the first time since the Dan Marino era.
There are still things Tannehill needs to work on. He hasn’t hit on enough deep balls to stretch the defense, and his play speed should improve in his second year in the system. Tannehill -- and Philbin -- also must improve their 23-24 career record. Miami will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
But the Dolphins are optimistic Tannehill and Philbin will improve and grow in their fourth season together. They still have a chance to lead Miami (8-7) to its first winning season since 2008 with a victory Sunday over the Jets.
“It’s big,” Tannehill said. “Finishing with a winning record was not our goal to start the year. But at this point that’s what we have to aim for. We’re out of the playoff competition. We’re playing for each other right now. To be able finish on a positive note against a division opponent at home is huge.”