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Dolphins vs. Buccaneers: Can Ryan Tannehill be the quarterback of the future?

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We asked five questions of Kevin Nogle of the Phinsider, and got back five answers in return. A few good notes on the Miami Dolphins ahead of their second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight.

Mike Ehrmann

1) Is Ryan Tannehill the franchise quarterback the Dolphins hope he is?

This year will really be the deciding factor. Personally, I still believe in the three year waiting process before deciding how any player, and especially a quarterback, will do in the NFL. The problem is, there are players like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson who blow the learning curve for all young players.

I think Tannehill has all of the talent and leadership abilities you want in a franchise quarterback. He was not put in a position last year to showcase much, given the 58 sacks he suffered. Now, going into his third year, and with a new offense that should allow him to flourish, Tannehill should be able to demonstrate that he really is a franchise quarterback.

2) What's up with the running back position? Who's starting? Who will get most of the carries?

Lamar Miller should be the starter at this point, though Knowshon Moreno could still challenge for the spot by the end of the preseason. Miller has looked good this preseason, running hard and fast, something the team had hoped to see from his last year.

Moreno had to have knee surgery about a month ago, which has pretty much kept him sidelined. He did practice this week, but I would be surprised if he played tonight.

Two players to watch at running back are Orleans Darkwa and Damien Williams, both of whom are undrafted free agents. They have both had moments of looking really good during training camp, especially Williams, and could be challenging for a roster or practice squad spot.

3) What are the Dolphins doing with Dion Jordan? A top pick last year, from the outside it looks like they don't really have a good plan for him.

He's still sort of a tweener, with the Dolphins wanting to focus him at defensive end. It looks like the coaching staff is trying to get him comfortable at the NFL level in one position, before expanding his use to linebacker as well. Jordan is still raw, something we knew last year before he was drafted, but he has looked better this year than he did last year, when a shoulder injury slowed his growth and nearly landed him on Injured Reserve. He's starting to be able to set the edge against the run, but he has to work on his pass rush moves, too often getting locked up with an offensive tackle when he is unable to use his speed to simply blow past the block.

The other thing I don't think analyst and fans are considering is the suspension he will be serving when the season starts. Jordan will get plenty of reps in tonight's game, but the team is not going to spend a lot of time working to make Jordan a linebacker, when he will not be around for the first four games. Why take away reps from the true linebackers, a position of concern for the Dolphins, when Jordan will not be playing there until at least Week 6 (Miami has the bye in Week 5)?

4) How likely is it that Joe Philbin will be the head coach a year from now?

It all comes down to the record at the end of the year. If the Dolphins have their first winning season since 2008 and are in the playoffs, Philbin and company are back next year. If they are 8-8, 7-9, or worse, you are probably looking at yet another coaching change for the team.

5) Any undrafted free agents who we should look out for?

After the previously mentioned Darkwa and Williams, watch linebacker Chris McCain (74). He's playing at a faster level than most of the rookies right now, and he's definitely in consideration for a roster spot when the cuts start coming. He seems to be all over the field during training camp practices, and recorded three tackles in the game last week against the Atlanta Falcons. He's someone to watch.

I'll add one drafted player to watch tonight as well, seventh round pick Terrence Fede (78). The defensive end has been really impressive so far this year, and should have a spot on the 53-man roster. Coming out of Marist College, he was one of the small school players that led to some criticism of Dennis Hickey, but he is showing he can play at this level.