steve Mitchel

Can Ryan Tannehill Lead Dolphins to Playoffs?

When Ryan Tannehill entered the NFL as the number eight pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, there were high hopes the Texas A&M star would become the “franchise quarterback” the Dolphins had been missing since the dreadful day Dan Marino retired.

Ryan Tannehill had the rocket arm; the athleticism and the intelligence the Miami Dolphins hoped would vault them into annual playoff contenders, and beyond.

Well, 4 years later, a 29-35 record and no playoff appearances have many wondering if Tannehill is going to live up to the lofty expectations.

There is a lot of good that comes with Tannehill.  He is a quality individual.  Reportedly, he is a gym rat and studies the game as much or more than anyone.  He has never missed a start in 64 consecutive games and rarely gets injured.  He has also thrown 87 touchdown passes, and is credited with nine, 4th quarter come-back wins.

Tannehill is very capable of running a sophisticated offense, moving around in the pocket and outrunning most defensive lineman at any given time.

He is approaching his 28th birthday and should be entering the prime of his career.  He has a new coaching staff and has been given the freedom he supposedly never had before.  He is now going to be allowed to audible and change plays on his own.  He has plenty of talent around him with four 1st round-picks on the offensive line and receivers with size, speed and toughness. 

Seems like all is looking up for Tannehill and the Dolphins, right?

This isn’t the first time we heard this story.  The first time was in 2013, his 2nd year.  After a mediocre rookie season, it was hoped Tannehill and his O.C. Mike Sherman, also in his 2nd year on the job, would put it all together.  The results were both good and bad.  Towards the end of the 2013 season, the Dolphins were 8-6 with two games left.  They only needed to win one of the remaining two games to clinch that ever so elusive playoff spot.  But it wasn’t to be.  Both Tannehill and the offense went into the tank.  The Dolphins were shut out by the Bills and then scored only 7 points against the Jets, as they lost both games and missed the playoffs.

O.C. Mike Sherman was subsequently fired, and replaced by Bill Lazor.  Lazor who came from the Eagles, working within Chip Kelly’s Spread Offense would surely get Tannehill over the hump.  Again in 2014 things appeared to be looking up.  After 12 games the Dolphins were 7-5, and flirting with the playoffs.  But with the pressure on, they lost 3 of their final 4 games, missing the playoffs…again.  Although Tannehill had his best statistical season throwing 27 touchdowns, he just wasn’t consistent enough with the pressure on, and with the games on the line.  Still, Dolphins owner Steven Ross rewarded his quarterback, renewing Tannehill’s contract and giving him a lot more money, in the hopes he would continue to improve on his stats and win more games.

Entering 2015, Tannehill had a full year under his belt in the Bill Lazor offense.  He was entering his 4th year in the league and coming off those 27 touchdowns and that new contract.  This would definitely be the year of consistency.  The “break out” year.  But the Dolphins lost 3 of their first 4 games averaging only 16 points per game, in that span.  Head Coach Joe Philbin was fired by owner Steven Ross, and by late November, O.C. Lazor would also be fired, by interim coach Dan Campbell.

Strangely enough, the offense exploded after Dan Campbell was elevated to head coach.  Tannehill threw 5 touchdowns in two blow-out wins over the Titans and Texans.  But the offense quickly returned to its inconsistent form, losing 7 of their last 10 games.  The most points the offense could muster in a game was 24 points.  And they did that a grand total of one time.

With the 2016 season approaching, we again look to Tannehill for consistency, touchdowns and most importantly, wins.  Will this be the year, or is the writing already on the wall but we refuse to read it?  One thing is for sure, if the Dolphins expect to make the playoffs, or at least have a winning season, Tannehill will have to be the man to get them there.


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