The PhinPhanatic staff will recap each Miami Dolphins player as we head all await the start of NFL free agency. Today we’ll start with the leader of the team, Ryan Tannehill.
After a 1-4 start to the season everything looked bleak in South Florida. Everything surrounding quarterback Ryan Tannehill was underperforming to head coach Adam Gases standards. Many would say Tannehill, too, was on the hot seat after throwing just six touchdowns to seven interceptions to start the season.
The season changed after the 17-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans, however. Gase made a bold move by up and releasing two offensive lineman that couldn’t get a grasp on competing at the NFL level. Letting go both Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner was exactly what Tannehill and the offense needed.
Over the next six weeks Miami clicked on the offensive side of the ball large part due to Jay Ajayi. Although his production kickstarted the run to the playoffs, it was Tannehill’s play under center that kept it going.
The next six games was some of the best play from Tannehill in his five year career. If you were to look at the statistics you wouldn’t think much of it; he threw nine touchdowns to just one interception all while passing for 1,302 yards. At the same time he never completed less than 60% of his passes and was sacked more than twice just once (four sacks against the Los Angeles Rams).
If you’re waiting around for Tannehill to put up Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers numbers, face it, it isn’t going to happen. That’s not the kind of quarterback he is. He will do enough to put Miami in a position to win, though, as he proved it this season.
The consist play put Miami at 7-4 and in position to secure a wild card spot come December. As fans we couldn’t have asked for anything more. A chance at the playoffs after almost giving the Cleveland Browns their first win in week three and starting 5-0? Absolutely. Tannehill was only two wins away from his best professional season and he was a main catalyst for the success.
Things changed in week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens. The team as a whole game out unprepared as the defense surrendered two quick touchdowns and Tannehill both threw an interception and fumbled in the first half. After the break it didn’t get prettier; although Tannehill finished the day throwing a touchdown to DeVante Parker in garbage time, the Dolphins looked to be the product of an easy schedule.
Dec 11, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is seen walking off the field after defeating the Arizona Cardinals at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Against the Arizona Cardinals the following week the season changed. With a 21-9 lead late in the third quarter Tannehill received a low hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell. The injury looked serious as trainers rushed onto the field and Tannehill limped his way to the locker room.
Miami eventually won the sloppy game 26-23 after the defense gave up 14 fourth-quarter points but even at 8-5, with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills next on the schedule, the season looked over.
The next 48 hours after the Cardinals victory was all about waiting to hear back on Tannehill’s MRI. Many feared a torn ACL or worse. New broke before the Jets game that it was only a Grade II MCL sprain.
As Matt Moore took over and led Miami to a 2-1 record to finish the season and their first playoff berth since 2008 all eyes were on Tannehill and whether or not he’d play this past weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As we all know the story has been written and the season is over in South Florida.
For any NFL season there are peaks and valleys. Tannehill endured each and every one of them finishing the season with 19 touchdowns and 12 interception for 2,995 yards all while completing 67.1% of his passes.
How do his stats this season compare to highs from years past?
Touchdowns: 27 (2014)
Interceptions career high, low: 17 (2013), 12 (2014, 2015, 2016)
Completion percentage: 67.1% (2016) previous high 66.4% (2014)
Sacks career high, low: 58 (2013), 29 (2016)
Rating: 93.5% (2016) previous high 92.8% (2014)
You may claim this seasons numbers to be skewed, which is fair, although they paint a clear picture of what we can see in 2017. His 12 interceptions may have been on the brink of surpassing the last two of the Joe Philbin era but completion percentage and QBR were both higher. That’s a positive.
The only question mark for now is the knee injury. Will he be unsettled as pockets collapse around him moving forward? Will the mobility still be there? I, for one, am glad Tannehill wasn’t rushed back. After seeing the career of Robert Griffin III fall as fast as it did due to his quick turn around from an MCL sprain I didn’t have much faith in Tannehill getting out of Pittsburgh without crutches.
Although we couldn’t see Tannehill finish what he started this season there’s one thing we know: he’s Gase’s guy. There won’t be any chance – at least not this offseason – of Gase unloading him for someone else. Gase and Tannehill is a thing for the future.
Tannehill is light years away from touching many of Dan Marino’s all-time records but he’s put himself in contention for quite a few. The following rankings are among Dolphins quarterbacks to throw at least 500 passes:
Touchdowns: Tannehill ranks 3rd with 106, trailing Bob Griese (196) and Marino (420)
Interceptions: Tannehill ranks 3rd with 66, trailing Griese (172) and Marino (252)
Note: Tannehill has second lowest interception ration (2.5%), trailing Chad Pennington (1.6%). Griese has the highest with 5%.
Yards: Tannehill ranks 3rd with 18,455, trailing Griese (25,092) and Marino (61,361)
Quarterback rating: Tannehill ranks 2nd with 86.5% trailing Pennington (94.5%). Marino is 3rd (86.4%).
Game-winning drives: Tannehill is tied with Jay Fielder for 3rd with 10, trailing Griese (20) and Marino (51).