It's so easy to see how mankind, before the days of Christopher Columbus, got the idea that the world was flat. If you are standing on the beach, looking out onto the horizon, it appears that everything drops off into oblivion. However, if you were to heighten your view by peering through the elevated windows of the International Space Station, you eyes will behold the beautiful curvature and crevices of this planet that we call Earth. Therefore, in short, perspective is everything.
Much ado has been made about the production of our TEs, or the lack thereof. With the exception of Clay and Keller, last years TEs are usually mentioned with exasperation and proclamations of bust. So here I will attempt to display an outlook from alternate viewpoint seeking to achieve a different perspective.
Ryan Tannehill has put up some nice numbers in the passing game but if we were to breakdown those numbers we would find that our QB has been a little deficient in in certain areas of his game. Most notably in the middle of the field.
In the middle of the field above the LOS,Tannehill has attempted 223 passes completing 151. By comparison, Andrew Luck was 304 w/196 comp., Drew Brees was 315 w/227 comp. and Peyton Manning was 355 w/254 comp. Now most of us may attribute this to the OC, the sacks or even the lack of viable targets, however IMO a lot, if not most it, falls on Tannehill.
So often last year, Tannehill had a habit of looking off a pass to one sideline and coming back to make a pass to the other boundary, as opposed to looking at the seam and then working the sideline, or visa versa. There is a lot here to consume so let us break it down further and just compare middle passes 10 yards or less.
The fact of the matter is, as we all know, a 10 yd. pass to middle of the field is a significantly shorter throw than 10 yd. passes thrown outside the numbers. An added benefit is the QB, when in tune with the TEs and/or slot WRs, gets the ball out quicker and sees blitzes better. This is also the area of the gridiron why OC's like a taller QB b/c they usually have a clearer view over the taller O-linemen.
In 2013 on passes 10 yards or less in the middle, Tannehill had 140 att. w/104 comp. for 875 yards. When compared to other three QBs we begin to see the deficiency. Andrew Luck had 192 att/143 comp. for 1427 yards, Drew Brees had 189 att/148 comp. for 1212 yards and Peyton Manning had 250 att/192 comp. for a whopping 1727 yards.
Middle Passes 1 - 10 yards per pff
Surely no one, including me, expects Tannehill to match Peyton's numbers but we should agree there is room for vast improvement for the Dolphins in this part of our game. For a lot of the top QBs, this area of the gridiron is their bread and butter, where punish opponents trying to blitz, with short, quick and pinpoint passes. However to keep defenses honest they also use the deep middle portion of the field.
Middle Passes 20(+) yards per pff
As you can see, Tannehill is the only one on the list to fail to get 200+ yards or a TD in the deep middle portion. Unlike the short middle passes in which the QB has to be willing to accept what the defense is giving him, the deep middle requires a brave heart, a able and aggressive receiver. For the deep route the QB must be able to trust that his WR is going to come down with the ball more often than not.
Even with Gibson yet to return due to injury, Tannehill seems to have better deep middle threats such as Jarvis Landry who ran a 4.77/40 and has solid hands, also returning is Rishard Matthews. Finally my favorite Michael Egnew, who runs a 4.62/40 while displaying good hands and can stretch the middle of the field as well as create a size mismatch if Wallace moves inside, which is more of a probability under Bill Lazor.
Although Charles Clay was our Ace TE last season, only one of Tannehills deep middle passes was targeted for Clay, therefore it would seem only logical that we add a mid to deep threat to compliment Clay as a short to mid-range options.
If Miami is to achieve a higher level, this is the place to begin. So let's hope that Tanny and the Tights (Slots too) can gel and grow in the middle.