DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — In the Miami Dolphins' opening game, rookie Ryan Tannehill became their 17th starting quarterback since 2000, which put the team on pace to go through 141 QBs this century.
One month later, it appears the Dolphins may have finally found a quarterback keeper.
"Ryan just gets better and better," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "Very seldom does he make the same mistake twice. You tell him that you need to do something, and he does it. He has taken steps every single week."
Tannehill's statistics weren't flashy in the most recent game, aside from one: He had a passer rating of 92.3, his best yet. The rookie threw for 223 yards with no turnovers and helped Miami (2-3) win at Cincinnati, 17-13.
After more than a decade of steady turnover at quarterback, the Dolphins would happily take that sort of play every week.
The performance bumped Tannehill's rating for the season to 70.4, which ranks a distant 30th in the NFL. He'll go into Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams (3-2) with only two touchdown passes and six interceptions.
On the other hand, he's the first NFL rookie to pass for more than 1,250 yards and win at least twice in his team's first five games. He has thrown for more yards in his first five games than any Miami rookie, including Dan Marino.
And his bosses are delighted with his progress.
"Our quarterback position has seen the most dramatic improvement on the offensive side of the ball," Sherman said. "Ryan's decision-making has definitely improved over the last couple of weeks. Each game we come out less and less critical of his decisions."
Sherman also coached Tannehill at Texas A&M and judged the youngster a promising NFL prospect, which is one reason the Dolphins used their first-round pick on a quarterback for the first time since taking Marino in 1983.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher said it appears Miami made a wise choice.
"He's got tremendous poise, he throws with accuracy, he's not making mistakes, and he's doing a great job in that offense," Fisher said. "He and coach Sherman obviously are on the same page, and I think there's a great future."
The Dolphins are hardly an offensive juggernaut — they've scored two touchdowns in each of the past three games. But with a rookie quarterback and a new regime led by first-time head coach Joe Philbin, this season is all about improvement.