What are realistic expectations for second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill? We are all familiar with his stats from last year. 12 touchdowns in 16 games will not suffice. He does however get a pass for year one. As long as we see growth and he does not throw this year away, I think most fans will be satisfied. The catch is, (ok, I'm done after this one) how much growth is needed for us to say we have our franchise QB? Will this even be evident after year two?
Many young quarterbacks including some in Tannehill's draft class have already proven their capabilities and potential as starting NFL caliber quarterbacks. Ryan...not so much. This might seem harsh, realistic, pessimistic, or ________ (fill in the blank), but I do not see the star power, the wow or IT factor from Tannehill that I see from Luck, RG3, and Wilson. I'll even throw in a couple QB's from 2011's draft class (Kaepernick and Dalton). My biggest gripe is his down field accuracy. He can hit a guy down field, but not in stride. This has even been evident during the preseason. This will be a major problem if they want to maximize Wallace's production.
As much as I want to be a believer, I just don't see it YET. On the flip side, he is better than anything we've had here in Miami for a while (though that's not saying much). Yes, we've all heard the argument that Ryan did not have weapons and it is a good one and you could argue ALL of those quarterbacks I listed above were placed into much better situations. With that said, does a poor season this year put an end to the "not enough weapons" argument?
At this point, I'd like to revisit the original question I'd like to attempt to answer in this post. With a poor/mediocre rookie campaign, Tannehill left much to be desired. He also left huge room for improvement. You could argue that Wilson, RG3 and Luck have just as much, if not more pressure to perform at a high level after their solid rookie campaigns and the bar they set. What should we expect?
Some things to consider when forming expectations for Tannehill by the numbers:
The number of INT's he threw in 2 games including his "welcome to the NFL" 1st game greeting from J.J. Watt and that ferocious Texans D. Also, the all around horrible effort against the Titans. We'll kindly and very generously call those outliers.
The number of INT's he threw over the last 5 games. Tannehill showed more comfort in the pocket and better decision making towards the closing weeks of the season. We also got to witness Sherman utilizing his running ability.
The TD/INT ratio over those same last 5 games. No, 5 touchdowns in 5 games isn't an eye-popping stat, but it showed improved decision making.
Tannehill's passer rating over the last 5 games. Not great, but he was pretty steadily improving.
12TD / 13INT 3,294 yards 76.1 RTG
These are Ryan's numbers from last year.
So what do I think are reasonable expectations for Tannehill this year? All things considered, I believe he almost doubles TD production, shaves off two picks, and adds about 300 yards to bring his numbers to:
20TD/ 11 INT 3,527 yards.
How did I come to this conclusion?
It is highly doubtful he regresses when looking at how mediocre he was last year, (though decent for a rookie). He'll have his sloppy games but I believe he avoids two 3 INT games. He has plenty of experience in this system (dating back to college). There's the fact that Sherman will be opening up the offense and allowing Tannehill to use his athletic ability as we witnessed towards the end of the year. Maybe you thought 20TD's was a bit low? Well, that's all I am comfortable suggesting until I see better down field accuracy. Those are the money balls and if he can't hit Wallace in stride consistently, his TD production will suffer. The loss of Keller hurts TD production as well. He will, however, definitely increase his TD production from last year with the additions of Wallace and Gibson, who caught 8 and 5 touchdowns last year.
Yes, I am jumping the gun quite a bit here, I know, but realistically I see Tannehill becoming more of a 2nd tier QB. There is nothing wrong with that, but I do not see elite qualities, yet. Some guys come out the gate impressing, some take time to develop. We knew that was the case when Tannehill was drafted. Operation patience has commenced.
So what do you think are realistic numbers for Ryan this year? Was I close or smoking some good stuff? Let me have it!