Dan Marino. Peyton Manning. Ryan Tannehill. Those are the top three quarterbacks in passing yards in a player’s first four seasons. Yet, Tannehill has been the target of criticism and ridicule from the media - and the fans - nearly from the moment he walked across the stage at the 2012 NFL Draft. Some of that criticism has been rightfully directed at the fifth-year passer, but some of it was simply blaming everything the Miami Dolphins did or did not do on Tannehill.
People who defended Tannehill were criticized as well. Media members called them the “Patience Brigade” and said that all they were doing was making excuses. Tannehill is the most sacked quarterback in his first three years? Excuse. The offensive line has been unable to pass- or run-block for four years? Excuse. Receivers cannot create separation? Excuse. The coaches refuses to run the ball even when Lamar Miller is having success? Excuse. The receivers drop sure touchdowns or first downs? Excuse. Mike Wallace can only run straight lines and cannot adjust to a ball in the air? Excuse.
Apparently, Tannehill’s supporters are all about coming up with excuses.
Or, maybe they saw something that was not able to be fully utilized because...well, because he was being sacked, the offensive line could not pass- or run-block, Miller was not given the ball so often that he bolted for the Houston Texans, receivers were absolutely dropping what should have been easy catches, and, when given deep threats that can do more than run a straight line, Tannehill showed that some of the “deep ball issues” were really on Wallace.
The pro-Tannehill versus anti-Tannehill crowd still go at each other. It happens on Twitter. It happens in the media. And, it happens here on The Phinsider.
There is one person who has been solidly in the pro-Tannehill crowd so much, it actually was why he joined the team. “That’s why I took the job,” head coach Adam Gase said of his conviction that he would win with Tannehill. “That’s a starting point. When you feel comfortable with the quarterback you’re coming in with, that’s always a good starting point. And then obviously, there’s a huge checklist going down after that; but I felt really good about him coming in and the more we’ve worked together, the better I’ve felt.”
Gase, widely described as a “quarterback whisperer” after his ability to develop and mentor quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, and Jay Cutler into their best career seasons, recognized the rough product that was Tannehill after four years in the league with two different offensive coordinators. He set to work on focusing Tannehill on the basics, and it is starting to pay off now. “It’s not easy to go about changing some things if you’ve been doing it a certain way and you get a third new coordinator in five years,” Gase explained. “I’m sure ‘Sherm’ (former Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman) had some things he liked that he wanted (Ryan Tannehill) to do. (Former Dolphins Offensive Coordinator) Bill (Lazor) probably had some things he wanted him to do and then here I come saying, ‘Hey, do it this way.’ At some point when you’re a fifth-year quarterback, you’re like, ‘How many times am I going to change this?’ He did a good job as far as just buying in and doing it the way that I asked him to do it.”
It has not escaped Gase that there are members of the media who have been ready to write off Tannehill as another failed quarterback. “I feel confident,” Gase said of turning to his quarterback to win him a game in the fourth quarter. “Between him being able to play in the fourth quarter and the deep balls, I’m kind of questioning your guys’ evaluation skills right now. I’m just glad you’re not in personnel.”
Yes, he was laughing as he ended that comment, but he clearly also knows what the media has been saying about Tannehill, and he took the chance to call them out on it.
It’s not something former head coach Joe Philbin would have done. It’s not something Tannehill, who is well versed in the art of speaking without saying anything as a starting quarterback should be, would say. But, it is something a confident head coach, one who is seeing the fruits of his labor and trusts the quarterback that drew him to Miami in the first place, would say.
And, Gase clearly is that guy.
And, Tannehill now seems to be THE guy.