Albert, Tannehill developing quick rapport

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins held a group dinner Tuesday night following the five-year, $47 million contract signing of left tackle Branden Albert.

General manager Dennis Hickey and several Dolphins coaches attended. But there was one Dolphins player who was all smiles.

“Probably the happiest person at the dinner table was Ryan Tannehill,” Hickey said Wednesday during Albert’s introductory news conference. “He was really excited about the opportunity to have a player of [Albert’s] caliber on our team.”

Tannehill is smart enough to know that nothing helps a young quarterback more than rock-solid pass protection on the blind side. Tannehill didn’t get that last year in his second season. The Dolphins set a franchise record for quarterback sacks allowed with 58, which held back both Tannehill and Miami's struggling offense.

The Dolphins opened their wallet and made a huge investment on the first day of free agency to land Albert, who is a premier player at a premier position. Tannehill is entering a huge third year and better pass protection will allow the Dolphins to properly evaluate whether he can be the long-term solution.

The left tackle-quarterback relationship will be key to Miami’s success in 2014. It appears Albert and Tannehill already are developing a quick rapport.

“It’s very important; I got to protect the blind side,” Albert said. “We all know how important that is. The quarterback got to be upright to do their job, and that’s what I’m here for.”

Albert has the potential to be a difference-maker for the Dolphins. He experienced a big turnaround last season in Kansas City and hopes to continue that success in Miami this upcoming season. The Dolphins haven't been to the playoffs since 2008.

“He’s always been a targeted guy from the first day I got here,” Hickey said of Albert. “He’s the first guy coach Philbin and I sat down and watched. ... It was clear he was going to be the targeted player for us.”