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There have been moments this season when Ryan Tannehill gave us everything we were looking for. The accuracy. The mobility. The productivity. You marveled at his precision against Cincinnati, you savored that comeback against Atlanta, you admired the poise he had against Indy and you said to yourself: This is the guy we’ve been waiting for.
But then there are the sacks, the turnovers, the indecisive moments deep in the pocket when we were screaming “just throw the ball” and instead Tannehill chose to wait that extra heartbeat until his backside hit the ground.
How do you evaluate quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s performance at the halfway point of the season? It’s difficult to do because there have been two sides to Ryan Tannehill just as there have been two sides to this football team. The 4-4 record about sums up the team just as it does the quarterback.
One thing is certain as we dissect this second-year quarterback, the highs, the lows, the feel good moments, the inconsistencies: It is very important that he take his game up another notch over the second half of this season, very important that he improves his pocket awareness, his decision-making, his general overall play.
Ryan Tannehill, you see, has done enough good things, shown us enough positive signs, to justify a sense of real hope moving forward. But that encouragement must be tempered by a need to correct the flaws that are both obvious and standing in the way of his development.
So let’s break it down a little further.
Overall Numbers: They are decent and improved, but nothing special. He has thrown two more touchdown passes than interceptions (11 to 9), which is better than in his rookie season, but far from elite status. His quarterback rating is also improved at 80.8 compared to 76.1 a season ago. He is on pace to throw for almost 4,000 yards, a nice accomplishment. But the lost fumbles are at five and that makes the turnovers at 14. Those are the numbers that continue to slow his progress.
Accuracy: From my standpoint, this is the area that Tannehill has improved the most. He is completing 60 percent of his passes, up from his rookie season, but more evident are some of the specific throws he has made. The fourth down pass to Brandon Gibson against Baltimore when he rolled hard to his left and threw a perfect deep pass across his body. Another touchdown pass against Cincinnati when he rolled right, waited for just the right moment, and hit Gibson for another touchdown. Tannehill throws a nice out pattern, a nice seam pass down the middle. What he needs to improve on most, I believe, are his deep throws. Several times during the first half of the season he connected with Mike Wallace on a long pass that could have been a touchdown if he had just led him a little more. That needs to change. Tannehill would be the first to tell you that.
Ball security: Tannehill has thrown nine interceptions and has lost 5 fumbles in eight games: That’s far too many. Some of those interceptions, just as some of those fumbles, were not his fault. Like when he gets blindsided in the pocket with no chance to escape or a desperate heave on the final play of the New England game that was intercepted. Those you just have to accept and move on. But some of the turnovers clearly could have been avoided. That’s the challenge over the next two months. Reduce the negative plays. Make better decisions.
Pocket presence: Tannehill has been sacked a league-leading 35 times. The burning question: How many of those could have been avoided? It is clear this is an area of great concern. What Tannehill currently lacks is something that is very difficult to teach: An internal alarm clock that goes off when you need to escape the pocket. Tannehill needs to be able to sense pressure, needs to feel comfortable enough to make a subtle move to buy an extra second and needs to better use his athletic skills. I personally want to see him run more, want to see him roll out more. Sometimes the sacks are unavoidable. But Tannehill must improve in those instances when they can be avoided.
As I evaluate the entire package that is Ryan Tannehill, I see a huge a upside. But I also see a player still searching for a comfort zone, still trying to refine some of the nuances of his position, still needing to develop more consistency in every facet of his game. Those are the things we should all be looking for in the second half of the season.
On Thursday, AC in the AM takes a close look at veteran defensive tackle Jared Odrick.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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