Monday, January 18, 2021

Dolphins Ryan Tannehill Showing Signs Of Growth

If there’s one player the Miami Dolphins season hinges the most on this season it’s Ryan Tannehill. After missing time in 2016 with an ACL injury, he missed the whole of 2017 with the same injury. Now seemingly back to full strength, Tannehill needs to up his game and finally show his potential.

Early Career

Taken with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Ryan Tannehill was immediately thrust into the spotlight thanks to the Dolphins’ appearance on Hard Knocks that summer. Despite initially losing out on the starters spot to David Garrard, Tannehill was installed as number one when Garrard injured his knee in camp.

Putting up just 3,294 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, Tannehill led an anemic Dolphins offense to a 7-9 record. It was to prove to be a winning record that he would be around for the next three seasons, posting consecutive 8-8 records before regressing to a 6-10 season in 2015.

There can be little doubt that Tannehill progressed through those first 4 seasons, however. Increasing his yardage each season, and moving to 2 TDs for every interception. But the steps haven’t really been big enough so far, and consistency remains his number one issue. One week he can look elite, the next he is no better than his backup.

Ryan Tannehill And The Adam Gase Factor

In 2016 Ryan Tannehill took some strides forward under new coach Adam Gase. Considered something of a quarterback whisperer, Gase helped Tannehill improve his completion and touchdown percentages to career-highs of 67.1% and 4.9% respectively. His yards per attempt also increased, along with his quarterback rating. However, there was still the inconsistency as he posted a career-high interception percentage.

On a sunny day in Miami in 2016, things took a turn for the worse. With a comfortable lead, and having led the Dolphins to a 7-5 record, Tannehill went down holding his left knee. Diagnosed as an ACL and MCL sprain, it was decided that he wouldn’t need surgery.

That was to prove a bad choice as Tannehill would go down untouched early in camp in 2017. The diagnosis this time was a partially torn ACL in the same knee. It is unclear if he would’ve been back in time for the start of the 2017 season if he had the surgery back in 2016. But by delaying the decision, and making the injury worse, he lost the entire 2017 season.

Ryan Tannehill has worn a knee brace for most of camp © Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post
Ryan Tannehill has worn a knee brace for most of camp © Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post

Make Or Break Season For Tannehill

And so we find ourselves approaching the 2018 season with Tannehill still not completely proven. When he ran onto the field for OTA’s the most noticeable thing was that he wasn’t wearing a brace. This is a huge bonus for Tannehill and the Dolphins as his mobility will be key to his success. The Dolphins are installing an up-tempo offense and will need movement out of the pocket, and the run-threat to keep defenses honest.

Tannehill has been seen coaching up rookie tight end Mike Gesicki, a good sign of leadership from a player often questioned for a lack in this area. Reports have been plentiful of a change in attitude from Ryan so far. All of these reports are encouraging, but we’ve heard similar stories before.

Hopes are always high at this point in the season, and it’s better not to get too far ahead of oneself. But maybe, just maybe this is the year it all clicks for Ryan Tannehill. After sitting on the bench for a whole season and seeing how Jay Cutler went about his business, maybe something has finally clicked. Maybe this is the year Rayn Tannehill finally stops being an average quarterback.

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