Over the course of my 30 years or so of Dolphins fandom, I’ve come to realize how fleeting the moments of each season can be.
As I harken back several years, I can remember Dan Marino strolling out of a tunnel leading to the field and firing passes all over the field that only his receivers could grab and how those moments felt…magical.
Specific moments like in 1991 when down at home against the Chiefs, driving deep in the red zone he fired a pass back shoulder to Mark Clayton as Clayton spun left and sprinted past the defender into the end zone.
The Dolphins won that day if not for a missed 45 yard FG by Nick Lowery. I’m sure the Chiefs fans, the ones who remember, will never forget that moment.
Of course, the Bills rivalry was alive and well and the only things the Dolphins could do with Marino in the sunshine and warmth of south Florida or the cold of Buffalo and Rich Stadium at the time, heck they cowered in defeat, too little and too late.
Enter Ryan Tannehill, drafted in the first round and the first QB taken in round one by the Dolphins since Dan Marino.
Tannehill came in with pride, confidence, and some deer in the headlights type of moments-tipped passes at the line, locked onto receivers etc.
Surely, his debut with only one good target-Brian Hartline as a receiver, and Reggie Bush as another safety net, Tannehill trudged through 2012 with a 12 touchdown to 14 interception performance.
However, Tannehill in year one was a player who had some good traits-toughness, moxie, preparedness, and destined for some big wins.
Tannehill flourished in year three under Bill Lazor initially and most of all, he managed to lead the team to some bigger wins, but couldn’t sustain the Dolphins offensively nor successfully.
The problem is, Tannehill has never been good at avoiding the pressure or the sack.
While plenty of sacks can be blamed on the offensive lines, dismal, distressed, and overworked; Tannehill has never been able to escape the pocket.
While Russell Wilson could’ve been had in the 2012 draft, the Dolphins thought there was more upside by the Philbin regime, one coupled with Mike Sherman (a friend of Philbin’s) and his cronies. Sherman’s approach with Tannehill from afar seemed as though he needed kid gloves to limit the growth and slow feed Tannehill information-read and react instead of scanning through multiple progressions and most of all it seemed as though Tannehill was unable to audible and lacked that focus.
Tannehill’s athleticism is the first thing you would see in highlight reels-stop Tannehill from running, you win.
Make Tannehill pass 40 times a game, you win.
Coax Tannehill to force passes? Another win for the defense.
In fact, the teams that had the most success against Tannehill-the Patriots (in New England), the Jets early on, the 49ers (disguising coverages) in their first meeting, the Titans, the Bills, and the list goes on and on.
Tannehill as a 6th year quarterback is not Andy Dalton in terms of success in getting to the playoffs.
Tannehill has never been to the playoffs, but he’s come close to playing after being injured versus the Cardinals in 2016, a dream season for him statistically as he was headed for nearly 30 TDs which would’ve been a first for him, but commonplace for most NFL QBs.
While wins could be considered in determining whether a quarterback is elite, Tannehill has wins and until last week at New England, he had won 10 of 11 games.
While touchdowns are a given with the pass heavy NFL- Tannehill has amassed some consistency closing in on a third season with 23 or more TDs-something unattainable by Jay Fiedler and Chad Pennington.
Except, 23 TDs or more doesn’t equal playoffs but consistent execution on 3rd down does-ask the following teams who do lead in this category, in fact check out how quarterback Drew Brees who has led New Orleans in this category 4 times since 2012-how he does it and continues to execute on 3rd down.
When a quarterback can consistently extend plays or the more the QB can extend plays, he gives the team a chance to win-I think Ben Roethlisberger takes the cake in this category and his receivers consistently break off of their routes and find the ball.
Aaron Rodgers does it.
Russell Wilson does it.
Tannehill can’t do it all the time-he’s been sacked 221 times in his career (pro football reference).
221 times and counting.
Tom Brady has been sacked 458 times, but in 19 seasons or 24 sacks per season.
Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 375 times in 14 seasons-26.7 sacks per season.
After six seasons (2012,2013,2014,2015,2016, part of 2018) Tannehill has been sacked more times than Brady (181) and Rodgers (124) combined, in his first 6 seasons.
What’s more, Tom Brady, by far the most elite QB in today’s NFL, has a 1.8% interception percentage versus Tannehill who into his 6th season has a 2.5 interception percentage.
When we continue to debate on Tannehill we cite a funny thing called completion percentage or the intangibles: leadership, toughness, and pride.
As my compadre Paul G. Radio has often mentione on Twitter-Dolphins fans who love Tannehill “cherry pick” statistics that will back up anything and refute anything ever said negatively about the quarterback.
As much as we all can appreciate Tannehill, we are either in denial or just remain waiting to see how this season will develop further.
I can’t see the future.
I’m a blind-a** fan every Monday when I hear The Big O show on WQAM and the Dolphins offense is not sustainable and I celebrate a big win by the Dolphins as I do every time they win-or at least I used to.
With all that being said, should the Dolphins look to replace Ryan Tannehill?
If 3rd down efficiency is any indicator of winning-look at the college quarterbacks leading this category-UCF, Alabama, and NC State.
Think Tua, think Milton, think Will Grier.
Start there if the analytics say to.
Except Tannehill is one heck of a QB, why do I even doubt him?
Watch him throw for 4 touchdowns this week in Cincinnati -win and maybe the debate can be either put to a test another day or next week on Monday when we’re left searching for those fleeting moments of yesteryear and Dolphins improbable wins.
*All stats cited from ProFootball-Reference.com
Photo credit: Palm Beach Post