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Should Ryan Tannehill be on a short leash in 2014?
I believe the Dolphins should in fact draft a QB in May’s draft. Don’t leave, hear me out.
This is been a pretty heated debate since the story broke. Jason La Canfora wrote an article which had several interesting topics related to the Dolphins. We’ll address the above topic here. You can read his thoughts at the link below.
Omar Kelly the team beat writer for the Sun Sentinel also addressed this issue in his weekly Question, and Answer segment in the paper. You can read his thoughts here.
I’ll give excerpts from each writer’s article, and then give you my own thoughts.
La Confora writes, “He definitely wants to push Tannehill more,” said one source who has spoken to Philbin about the quarterbacks, “and if he doesn’t see improvement he said he might go to Moore at some point. He definitely has a lot of faith in Moore, and they’re paying him a lot of money.”
Omar Kelly writes, “The Dolphins didn’t utilize Tannehill’s athleticism as much in 2012 and his pocket presence regressed. And not allof his pocket presence issues can be blamed on the weakoffensive line. Tannehill himself admits he took unnecessary sacks. Tannehill did improve slightly in 2013, which was evident by his 81.7 passer rating (76.1 as a rookie). But his improvement wasn’t nearly enough, especially when it came to third down and fourth-quarter performance, which are the ultimate measuring stick for upper echelon quarterbacks.
He remains in the third tier of NFL passers in those critical categories (35th in fourth-quarter performance, and 24th in third down passing). Tannehill does indeed need to do a better job connecting on deep passes to wide open receivers, hitting receivers in stride (producing run after catch yards), throwing his targets open, evading sacks, and converting third downs. If Tannehill doesn’t improve in those aspects of his game he’ll remain a third tier NFL starter (he’s presently ranked the 24th best quarterback in the NFL).
What has me on the fence about Tannehill’s future is the fact he was amazing in fourth quarter victories against the Steelers (95.5) and Patriots 9120.6) in the season’s final month, and then performed horribly against the Bills (45.6) and Jets (42.1) with the team’s playoff berth on the line. In my opinion, a quarterback needs to rise to the occasion and make the players around him better, especially when the team is on a big stage, and games feature big stakes. That didn’t happen with Tannehill, and that is a red flag considering the same trend occurred in his college career.
It would be wise for the Dolphins to begin the process of exploring alternatives now because if Tannehill doesn’t become a quarterback with an 85-90 passer rating in 2014 it is safe to conclude the three years Miami invested in him as a starter was a waste of time. I’m a fan of the Ron Wolf philosophy of drafting a quarterback each year until you’ve found “The Chosen One,” which is why I’d invest a second-day draft pick in another quarterback.”
There’s a lot more, so check out the links I provided above.
It’s my belief, that no matter your place on a football field you should have somebody breathing down your neck. Seattle was the deepest team in the NFL this season, and a case can be made that’s at least in part why. There are exceptions, sure. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and a few others certainly don’t need to be pushed. Most QB’s do.
Matt Moore is not a threat to Ryan Tannehill. Let’s get that thought process out of the way, but he is presently the #2 QB, and because of that Philbin must insert him into the discussion. There’s debate as to whether he’ll be cut to save the team 4 million in cap space, but for the sake of this discussion let’s assume he sticks for now. As it stands he isn’t much of a threat. Moore has been a career backup with a limited skill set. He’s good enough to look fantastic, and inconsistent enough to make you question what the hell he is thinking. He’s a career backup who has some ability to win.
Pat Devlin is by and large untested, although he seems to display poise, and accuracy against scrubs in the preseason opportunities he’s received. Maybe there’s something there? Probably not, or he’d have leap-frogged Moore on the depth chart by now. Because of this we’ll assume he is what he is. A scout team QB.
Let’s go back for a second to August 2012. Tannehill, Moore, and Garrard were battling to be #1 QB. Garrard was in the lead until he hurt his knee. Moore never truly challenged Tannehill on the field, or off. Philbin, and Sherman were set to live with the rookie.
Last camp there was no competition. The job was Tannehill’s from day one, and rightfully so. He had a promising rookie season, but there were obvious areas that he needed to improve on in 2013. His poise in the pocket was outstanding, his feel for the pass rush not as good. This is an area he simply has to improve on. You cannot have your QB fumbling simply because he doesn’t feel, or see the pressure.
The offensive line was horrendous, maybe the worst line ever to wear a Miami uniform. So certainly we can allow some leniency here. That said, 58 sacks are unheard of. The QB has to accept his share of the blame.
Then there’s the idea that it was all Mike Sherman’s fault. I can buy into this for about half the season, but Sherman did make adjustments, and he did speed up the QB’s reads by reducing them, and calling more three step drops to speed up his release.
When he was asked to throw deep, from day one it was a challenge. Specifically when throwing the ball to their $60 million receiver, Mike Wallace. Mike can flat out fly. He was behind the defense more times then not, yet Tannehill could rarely time up with him. Passes were over thrown, under thrown, or not battled for. Both players deserve their share of the blame. That said, an NFL QB has to be able to hit a receiver in stride. No, not every single time, but, certainly, absolutely, most of the time. If you’ve got a clean pocket, or you’ve rolled out, can plant, and throw that should be a completion. That’s what the job calls for.
This problem was evident from the opening days of camp, and continued for the entire season. Sherman made sure to mention they did not practice this as much as they’d like. Folks, that’s protecting your QB. Tannehill, and Wallace should have spent their off days working to improve their timing. It’s what professionals do. It was obvious to them both what they were doing was not working. Being great takes self sacrifice. They owed it to the team, and each other to fix this.
Okay, so it’s apparent one of two things are certain. Both players need to work on their timing, or Tannehill does not have the ability to do it on the pro level. Only time will answer that.
So if you are the coach, what do you do? How do you get the best out of your QB?
The answer is obvious, Shula did it. Jimmy Johnson did it. Now Philbin is doing it. You send your QB a message to work on his game. That was the incentive for Philbin issuing a warning like that to Ryan Tannehill. Ryan, you need to raise your level of play. Do not take your position for granted. Step up son.
Philbin is on the hot seat. He does not have the time to sit back and be patient with Tannehill. This is his third year, and while he has played great at times, he isn’t consistently good. This needs to change. The best way to get his attention is by drafting a QB. Say a 4th round developmental guy.
I know what you’re thinking. How is a 4th round guy going to challenge Tannehill? Short answer is he wont. But if he has some talent here is what you can expect.
First, he’ll force Devlin to step up his game to hold onto the #3 spot. These guys battling should cause Moore to step up his game, and in turn force Tannehill to take notice. If the kid is really good, maybe he leapfrogs Moore. Odds are though he would become #3, and take a season to supplant Moore. But, regardless the competition will make everyone just a bit uneasy, and that is good for the Dolphins. Who knows? Maybe he’ll become the next Tom Brady? If you don’t take the risk it’ll never happen.
If the kid flops, you do it again in 2015. You keep pushing these quarterbacks until you find yourself with outstanding depth, and an elite starter.
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