At the center of the blame to the Miami Dolphins‘ disastrous end to their 2013 season have been three key figures, all of whom don’t even suit up to play on Sundays. Those three figures would be none other than head coach Joe Philbin, former general manager Jeff Ireland, and former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Sherman was fired on Monday, with Ireland and the Dolphins “mutually agreeing” to part ways on Tuesday. It looks as if Philbin will remain on board, with the Dolphins quickly scrambling to hire an offensive coordinator who can sync with Philbin’s offensive philosophies.
One key figure within the Dolphins organization who has avoided much of the heat in the aftermath of the Dolphins failing to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season is none other than the franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill entered his second season in 2013 with high expectations. When comparing his second season to his rookie season, Tannehill did improve in several key categories — he doubled his touchdown totals, increased his passing yardage by over 600 yards, and lowered his interception totals by four. However, he took 23 more sacks than he did in his rookie season, and his average yards per attempt actually decreased in his sophomore season.
In the final two weeks of the season, which saw the Dolphins score just seven total points while falling to two sub .500 teams in the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, Tannehill completed just 43.5 percent of his passes, throwing for just 286 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, while averaging just 4.1 yards per attempt, while combining for a 43.9 quarterback rating. That’s not just bad, that’s awful. The reasons for why people are hesitant to call out Tannehill for his poor two-game performance to end the season are pretty obvious. For one, the Dolphins had a terrible offensive line and a putrid running game (ranked 26th in the NFL). Secondly, so much attention and criticism had been focused on the Richie Incognito–Jonathan Martin situation and the never-ending ‘Fire Jeff Ireland’ talk, that fans immediately have no problem giving Tannehill a pass.
The bottom line is, Tannehill had one of the worst possible two-game stretches that a quarterback can possibly have at the worst possible time. The Dolphins’ late-season run toward a playoff berth, combined with off-the-field incidents that detracted from the play on the field, has made people ignore one key topic — Tannehill still has yet to prove he is a franchise quarterback.
Yes, the second-year quarterback has moxie and has shown his ability to lead the Dolphins in the clutch. Four of the Dolphins’ victories were comebacks led by Tannehill, the second-best mark by any quarterback in the NFL. But his terrible pocket presence and his lack of ability to develop deep-ball chemistry with receiver Mike Wallace cost the Dolphins repeatedly throughout the season. The quarterback’s lack of improvement when it pertains to his progression of reads is shown by his dependence on receiver Brian Hartline and his decline in yards per attempt in his second season.
Although Tannehill did improve in his second season, he still failed to answer one key question: Is he truly the franchise quarterback of the Dolphins?
Only time will tell.