After watching our first 12 games of the season (including blowing out the J-E-T-S on the road last week!!), I got to thinking about the biggest question on our team. Just how good is Ryan Tannehill?
We saw a team Sunday in the Jets that shows what it could be like with a terrible QB (we have been there and done that) and I was very grateful to have the guy we have instead of a Geno Smith type QB. I have also seen several guys that were coveted (RG3, EJ Manuel, etc...) that have seen to take giant steps backwards. So there is no doubt in my mind that it could be way worse than we have seen this season with Tannehill.
It looks as though the floor for Tannehill is a game manager type QB that can make good plays when the OC calls a good game. He seems to hit most (not all) throws needed by an NFL QB. His "floor" in my opinion is a guy that doesn't make plays after the play called breaks down, but can make the throws when they are open. In my mind this is an Alex Smith type QB. A guy you can win with if you have a good defense, running game and solid WR's around him. Not a bad floor to have.
It is scary to think of what Tannehill's ceiling would be. He has the physical ability and IQ to become even better. I think he is a guy that could be very much in the 2nd level of elite QB's with some time and the right coaching. I don't see a Brady/Manning guy in him (but there are only 2 of those type's of guys in the NFL for the last 10 years), but do see a guy that can be in the level right below them.
Areas to Improve to get from point A to point B
1) Decisions with the game on the line: To me this is #1. He has got to understand down/distance and time management. Going out of bounds in a game where we have a lead is not the smartest decision he could make (San Diego). Also our 2 minute drill seems to be lacking, which is ironic, because he is great out of the pocket and calling plays at the line.
2) Use your feet: Not to the level of an RG3 or even Cam Newton, but when he shows flashes or running ability it makes me go crazy that he doesn't do it more often. This can also be tied to point #1 about understanding game management (if it's 3rd and 5 he can pick it up with his legs often). He doesn't even have to run past the line of scrimmage, but buy time and get out of the pocket.
3) Pocket Awareness: Know when pressure is coming. He has improved over this already this season, but has a long way to go with understanding when to run and when to throw a ball away.
4) Be accurate with all throws: I have seen improvement here this year already also, but there are times guys are open and he is not on point with the throw. I am not going to hammer him on deep throws (he is getting better), but he needs to be much more solid on the under 15 yard throws as well. Again, I feel he is improving in this area and most of his balls are still "catchable" balls, but they can be better.
5) Get some "swag": I'd love to see him become the leader that tells someone to get off the field (like he did in an early season game this year). I like to calm demeanor, but want to see him get fired up every now and then. I think some (not too much) of that is a good thing and it seems he is getting coached to be a robot.
I think we have a good one in #17 and hope he continues to rise to be at the top of his game. The good news is we have a solid NFL starter if he stays where he is, the great news would be to see him take the next step and become one of the elite!