The 2013 season for Ryan Tannehill was an improvement. Doubling his touchdown numbers, throwing for almost 700 yards more, and having better completion and passing rating than his rookie season showed growth and progress from the former Texas A&M product. He finished in the top 10 in the league in terms of yards passing with 3,913, and in the top half of the league in terms of yards per game and passing touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Tannehill’s improvement couldn’t get the Dolphins over the proverbial “postseason hump” last year. It has put the young quarterback on the right path towards becoming an efficient player and leader. That’s grabbed the attention of some of most notable quarterbacking evaluators out there, including ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski.
As part of an ESPN video series ranking all 32 starting quarterbacks, Jaworski evaluated the Dolphins QB, and broke down the attributes that could eventually turn Tannehill into a top quarterback in the NFL.
It’s important for a quarterback to help drive his team down the field, notching first down after first down, but none of that matters if you can’t score touchdowns in the red zone. Average teams in this league kick field goals when they get inside the 20-yard line. Great teams score touchdowns, and make plays in that area. According to Jaworski, red zone play was one of Ryan Tannehill’s biggest strengths, as that is where he did most of his damage.
“Where Tannehill was at his best in 2013 was in the red zone,” said Jaworski. “He threw 18 touchdowns (in that area), with only one pick.”
Another strength of Tannehill’s game is his play action fakes, and the throws that follow it. His deliberate moves confuse defenses and force defensive backs to hesitate and come up towards the line of scrimmage or freeze, opening up holes deep in the secondaries for deep threat receivers like Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline to exploit. Jaworski thinks that this quality is one of his best, along with his decision-making that goes with it.
“He was also among the league’s best off play action with his defined either/or progression reads,” said Jaworski.
He likes the way the Dolphins signal caller reads the field, choosing one of his options, and then picking one of the several routes available from that option. Tannehill picks his spot and doesn’t hesitate, then attacks it.
It was a low ranking for Tannehill on Jaws’ list this season at 23rd overall of the 32 starting quarterbacks, but the ESPN analyst believes that the third year quarterback has what it takes to become an elite quarterback in this league eventually.
“Tannehill has the talent to become a top ten quarterback in the league,” said Jaworski. “With Bill Lazor, the new offensive coordinator in Miami, expect a more up tempo offense and a quicker pace that will help Tannehill in his continued development.”
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