Ryan Tannehill was always the key for the Miami Dolphins. Most believed he could be a good NFL quarterback but considered him a project. After five NFL weeks, he has shown his future is now and his trajectory is now pointing toward superstardom.
Tannehill has shown no fear in the pocket and has chosen to remain there a few precious seconds more than the average NFL quarterback. It helps that he has a good offensive line but Tannehill’s poise under pressure is one of his many good traits. Tannehill is also athletic and makes strong, accurate throws when forced to move. Just this past weekend he completed a long pass to Brian Hartline well after his pocket had collapsed.
Despite his amazing skill set when the ball is in play, Tannehill is at his best before the ball is snapped. He is confident when reading defenses and head coach Joe Philbin has given him some freedom in directing the offense. Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman deserve credit for understanding that Tannehill is ready for more responsibility and, of course, the rookie signal-caller deserves credit for having a strong football IQ.
This “project” has already surpassed many young starters, with more NFL experience, in being prepared to succeed in the league.
What about the weapons around him? Miami supposedly had a wide receiver deficiency to go along with a rookie quarterback and a first-year head coach. In contrast, Hartline leads the NFL with 514 receiving yards and Davone Bess is 19th with 346 yards. The Dolphins are 14th in the league in net passing yards and, except for their opener against the Houston Texans, they have not been forced to pass. With the 8th best running attack in the league (135.6 yards per game), passing is a choice. While some of the credit goes to Philbin and Sherman, most of the credit should go to Tannehill. Miami has a balanced offense that ranks in the top half of the league. This is a far cry from the preseason expectations of the Dolphins.
The offense will improve as Tannehill will only get better.
Miami has the best run defense in the league and, on the other side, they have a strong offensive line and potent running game, led by Reggie Bush. The Dolphins dominate the trenches. This was Jeff Ireland‘s blueprint for success.
With the ascension of Tannehill and Hartline, this team has above-average talent in more than half of their starting positions. Tannehill, Bush, Hartline, Jake Long, Mike Pouncey, Richie Incognito, Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Kevin Burnett, Karlos Dansby, and Sean Smith.
The Miami Dolphins can win now.
The defending champion New York Giants were not a juggernaut last year. They squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and a negative point differential. As we all know, they played well in the playoffs, beating the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, and New England Patriots. The Giants won with strong play by the offensive and defensive lines, tough running, and great play by Eli Manning. Sounds an awful lot like the Dolphin gameplan. Sure, Manning is much more seasoned than Tannehill and you can argue Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham are better than anything that Miami offers. Were the Giant receivers that good last year? or was it Manning’s play?
His older brother Peyton Manning and Miami’s divisional foe, Tom Brady, have shown us repeatedly how much a good quarterback can make everyone, from the general manager to the kicker, look better.
The Dolphins can win now and Ryan Tannehill can be great.
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