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How will Ryan respond? That is probably the most important question you can ask heading into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. After playing three solid games to open the season, not coincidentally all victories, Ryan Tannehill had one of those nights in New Orleans where very little seemed to go right.
One fumble, his league-leading sixth of the season. Three interceptions. It was a discouraging night, a disappointing night. Tannehill was on the Monday night stage for the first time, going up against future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, and he just couldn’t produce.
Which brings us to Sunday. A chance to bounce back. An opportunity to show that the Saints game was an aberration. A gut-check of sorts for the second-year quarterback who did so many wonderful things in that 3-0 start.
Dan Marino once told me that his only advice to Tannehill “was to have a short memory.” That is so true. Tannehill must wipe that Saints experience out of his consciousness. He must forge on with confidence and certainty.
“You have to be able to turn the page,” said Tannehill earlier this week. “You have to be able to move forward.”
Go through the list of great quarterbacks. They rarely follow a poor performance with another one. This is Tannehill’s challenge against the Ravens. Get it right. Move on. Cut down on the mistakes. Show us you are a different player, a more mature player, than you were as a rookie.
Said offensive coordinator Mike Sherman: “Every quarterback has days like that. That’s the strength of Tannehill. He’s accountable for everything that leaves his hands. He has a resiliency you look for in a quarterback.”
Through four games, Tannehill has thrown five touchdown passes and five interceptions, a stat that is somewhat skewed by the three interceptions against the Saints. But numbers don’t lie and these aren’t the statistics Tannehill was looking for when the season began.
“I feel like I’m continuing to improve,” said Tannehill. “I expect to play well.”
I have not lost any confidence in Tannehill’s ability to be the long-term solution for this franchise. Every pass in his repertoire is greatly improved over a year ago. The challenge now is to fine-tune the other things: Pocket awareness, decision-making, ball security and knowing when to throw the ball into Row 16 instead of taking sack.
These are essential ingredients that every top-tier quarterback needs. But they come with experience and repetition and that’s what Tannehill is getting plenty of. He is a smart kid. He clearly gets it. He understands that six fumbles is a stain on his resume. How he responds to this adversity, how he plays Sunday against the Ravens, will say plenty.
That’s the major storyline of this game. But there are others that deserve mentioning. The offensive line cannot continue to give up sacks at this pace. The defense must get back to the business of forcing turnovers and producing sacks.
The same team that left Sun Life Stadium so confident, so enthusiastic, after the victory over Atlanta must return with a similar mindset. The Dolphins have a real chance to finish this difficult season-opening stretch with a 4-1 record. Who wouldn’t have taken that in early September?
But the Ravens pose a difficult challenge. Granted, it will mean nothing on Sunday that they are the defending Super Bowl champions. But they lost last week in Buffalo and they are a proud team with a lot of veterans and you know that Joe Flacco, who is also coming off a forgettable game with five picks against the Bills, saw the tape of what Brees did to the Dolphins.
Should make for an interesting Sunday afternoon. But as I look at this game I always come back to Tannehill and the importance of getting things right. He was the story of the season when it began and it remains the same way today. Will he bounce back in his 21st career start? Can he make the proper corrections? Will he, as Marino suggested, have a short memory?
Said offensive guard Richie Incognito: “I expect Ryan to elevate his game to another level.”
And Sunday against the Ravens would seem like the perfect time to do it.
On Monday, AC in the AM analyzes the Ravens game
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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