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Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill takes advantage of quality pass protection

Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill experienced something Friday that he’s rarely had throughout his career: Good pass protection.

The most-sacked quarterback in the NFL since 2012 was rarely touched in Miami’s second preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. It was different seeing Tannehill able to stand comfortably in the pocket and able to make his second and third reads without much pressure.

It’s no surprised Tannehill’s stats also improved. He threw for 162 yards, two touchdowns and had a 119.2 passer rating in a 41-14 loss. Tannehill also completed a deep ball of 55 yards to receiver Kenny Stills on a play designed to roll out the quarterback. Tannehill was sacked just once on 20 pass attempts.

What made the difference? It was a combination of personnel adjustments and coaching adjustments.

On the personnel side, the Dolphins started rookie Laremy Tunsil and veteran Jermon Bushrod at guard over Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner, who started the preseason opener. The improvement was instantaneous, as Tunsil and Bushrod mostly held their ground in the passing game and played smart football. This should be the combination at guard moving forward into Week 1 of the regular season.

In terms of coaching adjustments, the Dolphins gave the first-team offense more reps and opened the playbook. Tannehill was able to get in rhythm, throw long and short and get plenty of work in the red zone. The Dolphins’ starting offense scored touchdowns in two of their three red-zone trips, which is a big emphasis in 2016.

The running game didn’t do enough with Miami’s first-team offense, and that’s an area the team must address and improve. But overall, the passing game Friday, led by Tannehill, was a good step in the right direction.