Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, the Miami Dolphins passing game has been…uhmmm…poor. In the 2000′s the Dolphins have used 16 different starting QBs. Word is that rookie QB Ryan Tannehill is rapidly climbing the Dolphins depth chart and making a case to be the 17th ‘Phins QB post-Marino (Tannehill wears #17, seems like a fit to me!). Hard to believe that Tannehill really played just 1 full season as a starter at Texas A&M. He has skills, and they are developing quickly.
During the organized team activities (which began the 2012 season) Tannehill struggled. He was a clear #3 behind David Garrard and Matt Moore. Training Camp started the same way (Tannehill sitting 3rd on depth chart). Preseason game #1 was to be Garrard’s to start, but he was sidelined with an injury. The ‘Phins turned to Moore to be the starter, but looks like game #2 (Carolina Panthers) will be the first (of many) starts for Ryan Tannehill. Quite the depth chart climb. Word is offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is pleased with the Tannehill’s progression at the NFL level. Same goes for head coach Joe Philbin. They acknowledge Tannehill’s improvements are clear, and he is gaining more and more favor with the coaching staff. Tannehill has faced back-ups so far, but he is on the verge of facing #1 units on a regular basis.
Despite his poor start Tannehill is charging uphill fast. One thing in his favor is the offense being run is very similar to the offense he ran with Sherman at A&M. The language, and philosophies etc, of the west-coast offense are already ingrained in Tannehill. He actually estimates that he knew approx 85% of the playbook already. His learning curve has been assisted greatly by that. The improvements needed to come from his technique, and he is getting better by the day.
Tannehill has a tendency to drop his elbow lower than it needs to be. At 6’4″ 220 he has a great size for a QB, but his throwing mechanics can be sloppy and thus negate his tall height. At times Tannehill does not rotate his hips properly which leads to a short-armed pass. Some of the passes that Tannehill can make (he has the ability to make every throw required from a top-tie NFL QB) fall short due to these mechanics issues. The good news here is Tannehill is working with NFL staff who have the ability to improve his technique to the level it needs to be. QB Coach Zac Taylor has a history with Tannehill from A&M days, which is just another bonus/positive for the start of Tannehill’s career.
Tannehill already has a strong pocket presence. I am impressed with his ability to quickly go through his progressions. He is willing to use his feet when a play breaks down, but he is looking to go through his progressions and make a pass first (doesn’t have happy/worried feet in the pocket). Good arm, and he puts the ball where a WR can make solid yards after catch. Actually that is my favorite aspect of Tannehill so far. If a WR has momentum going, and has the DB beat, Tannehill is very good at leading that WR in-stride for an opportunity to make a play. Tannehill is already very good at throwing out-patterns towards the sidelines.
At one time, not long ago, it was clear that Ryan Tannehill was the #3 QB for the 2012 Miami Dolphins. Through his work, and some luck, looks like we are going to see Tannehill be the #1 sooner rather than later.
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