FanPost

Why Ryan Tannehill will be the best Quarterback of his draft class

Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE



There is no reason to believe Ryan Tannehill will be the weak point holding back the Dolphins this year.

And there is NO reason that he cannot turn out to be the best Quarterback of his stellar draft class.

Let me clarify, I am not saying for certain he will be. I'm not even saying he has the best argument by any means at this point. But with our free agent acquisitions, and the assumption they will fill gaping holes on both sides of the ball (notably the secondary and WR corps), all eyes turn to Tannehill as the only question mark. In my opinion, he is the furthest thing from a question mark.

As my fellow Dolphins fans will know, recent history has made us overly cautious towards optimism, and for good reason. But analyzing statistics and tape, there is no reason to believe he cannot take serious strides this year with our offensive additions. For one, let us not understate how deplorable his offensive help was this season. Hartline was nothing more than a "solid" #2 WR this year and Davone has never and should never be consistently lined up on the outside. He doesn't have the speed or size to succeed there, and despite that posted a solid season with 750+ yards. Long was playing well below his norm even before he was injured, and with the exception of Pouncey and Incognito (to some extent) we did not get consistent line play all season. Our TE was an average pass-catcher at best and our only other weapon in the passing game (Charles Clay) was as inconsistent as they come. Our running game averaged a lukewarm 4.0 ypc, good for 19th in the league. Every analyst who talks about Ryan Tannehill mentions his lack of support and not much else. With only 13 interceptions (only 7 in 14 games excluding his first game in Houston and that strange Tennessee game) despite having to consistently throw balls into tight coverage due to inadequate separation, his decision making not only isn't a problem, it seems to be a strength. He consistently gets to his 2nd and 3rd reads, something that RG3 struggled MIGHTILY with, and something that translates into a reliable and effective passing offense that is not reliant on play action or a consistent running attack (something that both RG3 and Russell Wilson had the benefit of, each having a top 5 RB in their backfield). He had runs of 19+ yards in his 4 of his last 6 games after recovering from his knee injury suffered in the Jets game, showing the mobility fans somewhat forgot about as he was unable to consistently pick up yards on the ground for a chunk of the season. He had a couple signature games (431 yards, 2 shy of the all time Rookie Record, against a RED HOT Arizona Cardinals defense, out dueling Russell Wilson and leading a game winning drive against the best Pass D in the league) where he looked like a guy we could believe in and a guy who will consistently drive and motivate his teammates.

While standard statistics and a 7-9 record don't exactly scream superstar, upon closer review of his game it's actually hard to find flaws in Tannehill's game. He has mobility. The ability to throw the ball downfield (was one of the most accurate downfield passers in the NFL last year), athleticism to throw on the run, and most importantly, is well versed in the offense and consistently reaches his 2nd and 3rd reads. That mental ability is the strongest indicator of future success in the NFL. RG3 showed that once his mobility is hampered, he really has little to no ability to carve up a defense through the air (http://www.footballoutsiders.com/quick-reads/2013/quick-reads-2012-review <-- this Football Outsiders article talks about how much his statistics benefited from long play action passes). Russell Wilson had the benefit of the NFL's best defense and a top 5 running game (they ran the ball over 100 times more than they passed, unheard of in today's NFL). Who knows how much his success could be attributed to that. Who knows if after a year some teams will expose his small stature. Luck's 18 interceptions in a Colts uniform remind me of a young Peyton, so I'm cautious to hold those against him. But he has more of a "slinger" mentality than Peyton, and with a shockingly low completion percentage in his first year he will definitely have to make smarter decisions to consistently move the ball towards first downs. With Reggie Wayne not getting any younger, and Bruce Arians leaving for Arizona, his future has a few more question marks than most believe I would say.

That being said, all 3 other QBs had fantastic rookie seasons. But it is unrealistic to look at Tannehill much differently. He did not have less help, he did not have adequate help, he had 0 help. Outside of Pouncey, could you really point to a player as even being worthy of starting on a playoff team? Maybe Hartline, whose statistical explosion coincided with the arrival of Tannehill? Reggie when he's on? It cannot be understated how terrible his supporting cast was, and despite all that still posted a 52 QBR (50 being an average NFL QB), and a Positive DYAR (A Football Outsiders statistic). With the arrival of Wallace (a pro bowl talent and someone who not only fills a need at WR but is EXACTLY the type of WR our offense was craving), Keller (a 1st round talent who still produced very well despite having Mark Sanchez as a QB), and Gibson (a versatile WR who caught more TDs than the whole Dolphins WR corps combined last year, despite also having the ability to play in the slot), we have added 3 pieces that will undoubtedly top ANY we had last year.

Finally, the fact that Tannehill has been ignored, has been through a tough rookie season, has experienced leading an offense and having to make things happen out of nothing is all invaluable experience. RG3 has media drooling all over him, and frankly the fact that he seemed to become bigger then the team ultimately cost them in the playoffs, when he was stupidly left in the game and threw for only 16 yards on 10 attempts for 2 1/2 quarters. Ryan doesn't have that, hasn't had anything handed to him. As we all know in sports you cannot underestimate what struggles and setbacks will ultimately bring out of an athlete (look at LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees). The spotlight will remain on the other 3 QBs, but I have no problem with that. Let us not fall prey to standard statistics and ignorance of extenuating circumstance. Tannehill will be the best QB of the class.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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