With 3 games down in the 2012 NFL season, teams are beginning to take shape and we’re seeing which players are and are not making the cut. For the Miami Dolphins, the most scrutinized player by far is rookie 1st round pick Ryan Tannehill. The quarterback from Texas A&M, who beat out last year’s incumbent Matt Moore and an injured David Garrard in training camp, now has 3 regular season games under his belt and also has 3 weeks’ worth of feedback from coaches, analysts, critics, and everyone else who professes to know anything about professional football.
(I guess that excludes the replacement officials—am I right??) So 3 weeks in (and one Jets week down), how has #17 handled his new responsibility as an NFL starter?
First, let’s look at the stats. Tannehill has completed 54 of 102 passes for 615 yards with 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions (one of which was a pick-6). He has a 52.9% completion percentage and his quarterback rating is a mere 58.2. To put those numbers into perspective, he is 27th in passing, 28th in completion percentage, 34th in touchdown passes (behind Green Bay PUNTER Tim Masthay), tied for 3rd in interceptions, and is 32nd (dead last) in quarterback rating. Looks like it’s time to hand the ball to Moore while we wait for the next QB of the future, right? WRONG!
Tannehill is very much indeed the Dolphins quarterback of the future. Sure, the numbers don’t look so hot after 3 weeks, but it’s the intangibles and things you won’t find on paper that point to future success in South Florida. For one, there is absolutely no denying that the Dolphins just do not have much fire power at the wide receiver position. Starters Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are certainly capable of making catches and plays when needed, but they are probably better suited to be 2’s and 3’s as compared to 1’s. To further put the receiver contribution into perspective, almost 1 of every 5 Tannehill passes is being dropped. This seems to correlate with his drop off in completion percentage from week 2 to week 3 as his passing load increased after Reggie Bush went down and Daniel Thomas continued to have a hard time holding on to the football. Even with that type of adversity as a young QB, Tannehill has shown veteran poise and his playmaking ability is keeping Miami in these games. Obviously, he has strength when moving out of the pocket and his accuracy is right on target with where it was projected to be. For me, I am encouraged with how he played down the stretch in Sunday’s game against the rival New York Jets. After an up and down 3 and half quarters, Tannehill drove the team down the field during the 2-minute drill and put them in a position to get into overtime. He did the same thing in OT after hitting Hartline down the right sideline for a 41 yard gain and as a result, he was a 48 yard field goal away from owning a 2-1 record.
The positives, to me, far outweigh the negatives that I would expect of a rookie QB. His decision making WILL be better as he progresses (see Landry interception to start second half VS. Jets) and his offensive statistics WILL be better as more pieces are added to the puzzle. This is not Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman’s first time at the rodeo in progressing the career of a standout quarterback. Moving forward, I am looking for Tannehill to finish the season with a QB rating at LEAST in the low to mid 70’s which would put him in 1st year company with Peyton and Eli Manning. Baby steps for now, but I am looking forward to watching this play out. In my opinion, this is the first QB since Dan Marino that has the talent and potential to get the Dolphins where they want to be. Let’s enjoy the ride! Fins Up!
- The Jets moved up 1 spot this week in ESPN’s Power Rankings to the 17th spot while the Dolphins moved 4 spots down to 29. Seems like a pretty substantial gap for two teams that are more even than what meets the eye.
- Before Reggie Bush got injured at the end of the 1st half Sunday, he was on pace for 20 carries and 122 yards. That is right on par with his 6.0 yards per carry thus far and keeps him above his season goal of 4.0 yards per carry.
- Miami visits Arizona on Sunday where they have a win (1996) and loss (2008). Can the Dolphins beat the 3-0 Cardinals to take the rubber match?
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