One thing that I can take away from this season is that Ryan Tannehill has been more than the Dolphins fan base could have asked for. Leading this team to 6-7 wins without any clear offensive wide receiver deep threat or game-changer, the Dolphins have much to be grateful for. Even in the clutches of defeat, the Dolphins walked off the field in Foxboro with a thirst for doing much more and doing much more to get better and make this team a contender once again.
Unfortunately, Tannehill will be evaluated one year from now and may be vilified should the Dolphins fail to make the playoffs next season. Expectations are always high in Miami after not having a football franchise worthy of praise in the past decade with a lack of playoff appearances and inconsistency in the win column. Not to mention a lack of a true Franchise quarterback and 16 other care-taker quarterbacks that could not thrive in the shadows of Dan Marino.
When Ryan Tannehill is at his best, it is because pass protection is in place, receivers are running crisp routes and getting open, and he’s in rhythm. In wins, Tannehill has been an awesome presence making plays with his feet, moving the linebackers and safeties, and playing the leadership role from start to finish and throwing 8 TD to 1 INT. In losses, Tannehill seems lost, turns over the ball and takes a ton of hits rather than throw the ball away. His dismal record of going 4TD to 12 INT in losses, shows that the Dolphins cannot overcome turnovers. Getting sacked 53 times this season took its toll in New England, but Tannehill still got up to fire passes until the end and move the offense until the bitter end.
Looking at the amount of adversity Tannehill faced this season, he seemed to get better week in and week out. After week two, his security blanket, Reggie Bush went on a mini hiatus due to a knee injury and a lack of continuity on offense. However, Tannehill bounced back, throwing 431 yards versus the Cardinals, a team he picked apart and almost beat if it wasn’t for miscues that lead to turnovers and a lack of defensive intensity to close out a game. Two weeks later, riding a win on the road in Cincinnati, he turned in his best performance of the first half of the season at home versus the Rams with two touchdowns and zero interceptions and 21 of 29 passes completed.
In Indianapolis, Tannehill got some help down field from Charles Clay for a touchdown, but again, the Dolphin defense didn’t do enough to get pressure on Andrew Luck and stop the Colts offense losing by 3 points.
The list of up and down game results goes on and on and 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions truly doesn’t compare to the leading Rookie QB class of Luck, RG3, and Russell Wilson. Of course Tannehill can’t be mentioned in that same breath quite yet, but all three of those franchises had better players and talented receivers. Remarkably, after going 139 passes without an interception Tannehill showed the poise and calm necessary to be the starting quarterback. Tannehill exceeded all expectations given the fact that he only had 19 college starts in one true season at Texas A&M as a QB and a good sport this season when the offense lost players to injuries and Jeff Ireland’s constant churning of the roster.
Going forward, Tannehill has a chance this offseason to do something he did not get to do in the offseason. Make Dolphins HIS team. He has a chance in March and April to take the initiative by working out in the weight room and throw passes to his receivers after the dust of free agency has settled. He can take the approach that Manning, Brady, and others have taken in the offseason in remaining and being a part of the community and leading by action and example. Tannehill must be proactive in his approach to encourage getting better in April and May for being ready for August through December.
At this point, Dolfans have much to be proud of in Tannehill. Even the biggest of NFL draft evaluators, Mike Mayock who scouted Tannehill, since college mentioned prior to the draft that Tannehill “stares his receivers down and waits for them to come up before he rips it and that’s typical of a young quarterback without a lot of starts. ..He’s going to take a little bit of time.” However, after seeing Tannehill play in week 11 versus Buffalo he came away impressed by his ability to lead this team as the Dolphins fell short losing by 5 points at Buffalo.
Mayock said on WQAM a few days after the game: That what he saw on tape he thought Tannehill has a really bright future and that it’s hard to say to the fans in Miami, ‘Be patient,’ because there hasn’t been a lot of winning there for a while. But that’s the key – be patient with this new staff and trust that you’re going to get some receivers and some people to complement this kid. Because in my opinion, this kid can play. He’s the future of your franchise.”
If Mayock’s assessment doesn’t brighten up the average Dolphins fan’s point of view: Tannehill went 5TD to 1 INT in the month of December. That’s a very positive sign of promise heading into next year!
Next year Tannehill won’t be a rookie next season and expectations might very well be playoffs or bust. However, in his second season, Tannehill has a chance to move the organization in the right direction after taking his lumps this season and getting 16 games in the NFL under his belt.
Today, Tannehill has the NFL experience and has learned valuable lessons that hopefully translate to being the starting quarterback in Miami for years to come!
Happy New Year from all of the staff at Phins Phocus!