Whatever the reason — the newish rookie wage scale, the proliferation of the spread offense, etc. — a team’s “Quarterback of the Future” now typically is expected be its present, too. Ryan Tannehill, like several of his draft classmates, was able to step right in, starting all 16 games during his rookie season.
Now, after the franchise’s bold offseason, there are great expectations, for Tannehill, for the entire team, to build on the momentum and continue ascending towards consistent contention.
ESPN’s Matt Williamson, a former NFL scout, recently called into The Finsiders to discuss Tannehill’s rookie season and what to realistically expect going forward.
“I thought he was a franchise quarterback coming out of A&M, and I like him more now than I did then. I’m a big, big believer,” Williamson said. “I think he’s finally the answer since Dan Marino. Everybody’s been scrambling for the majority of my lifetime, really, to find the replacement for Marino in Miami, and I think he is.
“I really think he’s going to be a perennial top-10 type of quarterback throughout his career.”
Once you’ve established yourself, built up a reputation, the scoreboard is the giant trump card. Winning ugly, at times, is acceptable. Tannehill, though, is still at the stage of his career where how he gets it done is as important to some as the actual result. Last season was a good starting point for the Dolphins quarterback, Williamson said.
“Just don’t go backwards. Just continue to look like you belong, make fewer mistakes and realize that your defense is the strength of your team and you have a lot more around you now than you did as a rookie.”
So what’s the best indicator that the team’s young quarterback met or exceeded expectations? If Tannehill throws for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns but the team wins seven games again, then is it a success?
Don’t get too caught up in statistics or record, Williamson said, just watch the young quarterback in late-game situations. Does he look comortable? If there are a couple of repeats of last year’s Seattle win — Tannehill’s first fourth-quarter comeback, which included scoring drives of 82, 80 and 65 — he will be in good shape.
“Once in a while pull one out for me,” Williamson said. “Go up to Foxboro, and play them tight. And on a final drive let’s see that twice next year, where Tannehill does put the team on his shoulders just in those last couple minutes, in a tight game, against a quality opponent.”
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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.