Dolphins counting on Tannehill’s experience vs Redskins

Author: the associated press
MGN Online

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – The Miami Dolphins have what the Washington Redskins need: Stability at quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill enters Sunday’s opener against the Redskins having started every game over the past three seasons. He’s increased his completion percentage, yardage and touchdown passes each year.

Tannehill, the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, has also excelled in three categories that can’t be measured by numbers.

“The first thing is decision-making,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “The second thing is throwing the ball accurately. And the third thing is making plays when the team needs it most.”

The Redskins’ quarterback situation isn’t nearly as clear. Kirk Cousins has been anointed the starter following a strange summer in which Robert Griffin III received a concussion in the preseason against Detroit and on Thursday was still awaiting formal clearance to return.

Cousins starred at Michigan State before being selected by Washington with a fourth-round pick in 2012. He spent much of the past three years watching from the sideline while Griffin ran the offense.

Much of Cousins’ playing time has come while Griffin was injured. This will be Cousins’ 10th career start, the first in an opener.

Over his NFL career, Cousins has thrown more interceptions (19) than touchdown passes (18). To keep the job, he must prove that he can do the things necessary to help the Redskins win.

“I think he just has to relax and do what he does, what he’s done,” coach Jay Gruden said. “Obviously he was a great quarterback in college, and he’s done some good things here.”

Miami is looking to reach the playoffs this season after going 8-8 last year. Washington was 4-12 in 2014, Gruden’s first season at the helm.

Some things to know about the Dolphins-Redskins matchup:

ROOKIE DEBUT: Cousins will be working behind a suspect offensive line that crumbled in front of Griffin during that fateful game against the Lions.

Trent Williams is solid at left tackle, but top draft pick Brandon Scherff will start at right guard – across from three-time All-Pro Ndamukong Suh, who will be making his Miami debut.

“Suh is probably one of the most dominant D-tackles in this league, so it’s going to be a difficult task,” Williams said. “But we’re five people. We have to work together. And obviously we can’t leave Brandon on an island too many times with Suh.”

ROOKIE KICKERS: The Dolphins opted to go with rookie kicker Andrew Franks and rookie punter Matt Darr, both undrafted. Veterans Caleb Sturgis and Brandon Fields were released.

The last team to make the playoffs with two rookies kicking was the 2000 Raiders with Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler, according to STATS.

“You’ve got to trust your eyes,” Philbin said. “Obviously I’ve been at all the practices, I’ve watched all the film, I’ve been to all the games. We felt they earned it. We’re confident they are going to kick the ball well.”

TIGHT SQUEEZE: The Redskins are hurting at tight end. Veterans Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen each sustained season-ending injuries in August, so Jordan Reed will get the majority of the action after working his way back from a hamstring injury. Derek Carter, obtained in a trade with San Francisco late last month, will also be in the mix.

“We’re counting on Jordan quite a bit. I think he’s up for the challenge, I really do,” Gruden said. “Obviously Derek has got a lot on his plate also for only being here a couple weeks. When we go two tight end sets, we go one tight end set, who’s it going to be? We’re a little concerned, but I feel like Jordan is up for a lot of reps.”

MIAMI’S SCHEDULE: Based on quarterback matchups, the Dolphins should get off to a good start this season. Along with Cousins, the first six QBs they’re expected to face will be Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer.

Miami could be in line for another December collapse, however. The last five quarterbacks they face are projected to be Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Andrew Luck and Tom Brady.

IGNORING THE EXPERTS: Coming off a dismal season and with issues at quarterback, the Redskins are ranked 28th in AP Pro32 poll and have been picked by many publications to miss the playoffs.

“I’ve seen the projections. I know where everybody has us ranked,” Gruden said. “That’s a great motivation for our football team. We’re looking forward to it. Being underdogs, nobody talking about us. I think our guys are fired up to show what we’re all about.”

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