Since being drafted with the eight overall pick in 2012, Ryan Tannehill has been somewhat of an enigma. His record as a starter is 37-40, his career QB rating is 86 and change and it still isn't clear whether he can even lead a team to the playoffs, since Matt Moore led the Dolphins to victory on the road at Buffalo in late December, a place Tannehill has never won (0-4), to clinch a playoff spot for the Dolphins.
Lest you believe we're being overly pessimistic or unfair in our assessment of Tannehill, let's take a look at some hard numbers: last season, in a 32 team league, Ryan Tannehill was ranked 24th, under ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating system. Dak Prescott, a rookie with Dallas last year, was ranked third in that same system. Washington's Kirk Cousins was sixth. Andrew Luck, a guy who many Dolphin fans try to argue is no better than Tannehill, was seventh and even journeyman Tyrod Taylor, of the woebegone Buffalo Bills, finished ninth. Under the system used by NFL.com, which is generally more widely acknowledged as a guide to who's who in the pantheon of NFL quarterbacks, Tannehill finished even worse -- 26th of 32, and Philadelphia rookie QB Carson Wentz, who played his college football at a Division III school, finished 18th.
But, that's not all. Jeff Ireland, who presided over the 2012 draft -- you know, the same draft that brought us stud offensive tackle Jonathan Martin in the second round -- selected Ryan based on what he might someday become, not what he was at the time. Tannehill was drafted on potential, not production, and five years later, that potential has yet to be realized. But despite having been a below average quarterback for his entire career, he certainly isn't being paid like one. According to Spotrac, Tannehill was the NFL's 13th highest paid QB in 2016. Newly anointed Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler, who was signed to an obscenely high contract by the Texans, still made less than Tannehill last season, and received less guaranteed money, too. 51% of his contract is guaranteed versus 58% for Tannehill.
But . . . that's still not all. The Dolphins have invested much more in Ryan Tannehill than just Stephen Ross' dollars; in addition to their ongoing league record of eight first round picks spent on offensive players over a twelve year period (three of four since 2012), they've also set a new record for the highest (1st, 2nd or 3rd rounders) picks spent on wideouts: since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, no National Football League team has ever spent a first round pick, a second round pick and two third round picks on wide receivers over a three year period. Well, no team other than the Dolphins, that is. This doesn't even count the king's ransom Miami paid Mike Wallace in 2013. Wallace had a career year last season with Baltimore, and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said this week that he wants Wallace back. Dolphin fans didn't like Mike Wallace when he was with Miami; when you're a 'Tannemaniac', your quarterback's shortcomings are always someone else's fault. We were watching the playoff drubbing the Fins received at Pittsburgh in January with a friend of ours. From the outset, Miami never ever had a chance. The Steelers scored easily on their first two possessions and the Dolphins were never able to recover. The friend we were watching the game with wondered aloud how a playoff football team could be so bad on defense. He said Miami's defensive unit reminded him of a high school or college team. Since we live in Chicago, and he's not a Dolphins fan, we had to explain to him that the Dolphins simply don't draft defensive players in the early rounds. Year after year, virtually all their high picks are used on offense. His response? "But, that doesn't make any sense, because their offense stinks !" We had to patiently explain to him that the Dolphins don't conduct business the way other NFL teams do. Instead of continuing to bring in quarterbacks until they find a quality starter, Miami chose to draft a project, and then shovel draft pick after high draft pick at him, to sort of 'will' him into becoming a franchise quarterback. Tannehill was, of course, inactive for that game because he was rehabbing his injured knee. The second worst defense in the NFL that took the field that day, however, can, at least indirectly, be traced back to Tannehill, because Miami's front office still doesn't know whether he can win games without a star-studded offensive cast around him. Our friend just shook his head and said, "Geez, and I thought I had it rough being a Bears fan . . ."
Speaking of the Bears, Jay Cutler was the NFL's highest paid QB in 2016, which is why he won't be with them in 2017, because the Bears, like most pro sports franchises, know when to cut their losses and move on. If you think we're being too harsh, we want you to try something: Google the name, 'Ryan', and see what comes out. When we tried it, three names appeared on the screen: Ryan Gosling, Ryan Owens, and Ryan Reynolds. Then, type in 'Ryan T'. When we did it, three more names appeared on the screen: Ryan Tedder, Ryan Toys Review, and Ryan Trump. When we typed 'Ryan Ta', the quarterback's name finally appeared on the screen, but it was second on the list. 'Ryan Tannehill Wife' was first. That's what being a sixth-year NFL QB who's three games under .500 for his career makes you, a nobody.