Dec 1, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass against the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Stage Is Set for Tannehill


This is the perfect opportunity for Ryan Tannehill.

For a while I thought the game following the height of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal, the one we ultimately lost to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was the time for him. His stat line of 27-of-42 for 229 yards, an interception, and two touchdowns proved that it wasn’t, but I think this could be it.

The stage is set. It’s a matchup against a perennial playoff team, who desperately needs this win too. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a hard-grit team with a great coach and a strong quarterback, but are at the tail end of a dominant defensive reign.

This is the chance for the Miami Dolphins to make a statement. This is an opportunity to prove they aren’t the same old mediocre team that shows flashes at times, but ultimately falls short. This is the time for the second-year quarterback to take a leap and prove he was worth the risk of the number eight pick.

The stage is set, but the variable is Tannehill.

As of right now, Tannehill has more passing yards than Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. He also has more touchdowns and a higher completion percentage than Luck, Griffin III, and Kaepernick. Those stats don’t mean much, as Tannehill said yesterday in his press conference, because the only stat that really matters is wins.

So can Tannehill show that on Sunday? In a matchup, where if Miami can come away with a win, it will put less pressure on the squad when the New England Patriots come to town the following week. A win for the Dolphins would also mean they are in the serious playoff conversation and might actually stop being an after thought.

Yes, the defense will need to keep playing well, and it doesn’t hurt that Mike Wallace has started to join Brian Hartline as an actual threat this season. The path-work offensive line is doing a better job of blocking, and Charles Clay has been invaluable. But at the end of the day, this is Tannehill’s moment and he needs to grab the team’s offense by the reigns and begin what we hope will be a storied career.

This could be the game we point to, the game that put the Dolphins on the map, and the game where we stop wondering whether we need a quarterback, again.

So in the words of Tannehill, “I like wins as a stat.” So do we Ryan, so do we. 

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  • frankic

    I think the play calling will be the difference. Tannehill’s success lies heavily on his OC. Far too many times this year the Dolphins have started strong only to get conservative with a lead. They need change things up and and use the middle of field more often. Those 5 and 10 yard outs to Hartline are starting to get jumped on by defenses. They are very predicable. Sherm needs to get more aggressive and open up the playbook. Miami has not scored 27 points all season. Tannehill does not make the play calls and therefore can only execute what he is given. If the plays themselves play into the defenses hands or do not catch opposing teams off guard you cannot expect much from Tannehill. I do not see how Tannehill can be a huge difference maker unless they mix things up and unleash his talents.

    • Chris

      I think Sherman HAS been opening up and being more aggressive the last couple weeks. I think it was against Carolina where Tannehill threw 3 deep bombs to Wallace (and if Wallace had adjusted better on the 2nd to last heave at the end, we might have won that game). You’re right that Tannehill doesn’t make the plays calls but let’s not pretend like a couple touchdowns weren’t left on the field in the first half of the Jets game due to poor execution. Using Sherman as the scapegoat responsible for everything that happens on the field is convenient and all, but it’s up to everyone: Sherman needs to make the right calls and adjust the gameplan accordingly, Tannehill needs to make the right reads (pre and post snap) and throw more accurately deep down field, the OLine needs to keep Tannehill upright and give lanes for Miller and Gillislee, and Philbin needs to oversee all of this and step in when he deems necessary.

      • frankic

        Well said Chris, but a predictable offense has no place in the NFL. Saying we have been more aggressive over the last couple of weeks is like saying your ex-girlfriend that cheated on you has been warming up to you recently. The bad play calling has costs us 2 games minimum since the beginning of the season.

        Tannehill: Can Tannehill make better reads? Yes, but if the calls continue to call for 5 yard outs when you need 11 yards and all your receivers are running short routes you are killing yourself. How many times have we been in a third and 10 situation to only have a short pass play called? There is no urgency on offense at all. You look at the premier teams that go up a touchdown or two and continue to aggressively attack. We continue to be content on being up 3 or 7 points. Rarely do you see our receivers gain significant yardage after a catch. Hartline basically throws himself down 80% of the time. Misdirections, screens, rollouts and slants are called maybe once or twice a game and its usually when the defense is expecting them. The biggest problem with the Dolphins by far is the OC. You need to put your QB in a situation that he can excel in and this is rarely the case. At one point this year Denver had a game where they did not have 1 3rd down for 3 QTRs. They basically made 1st downs on 1-2nd down. This shows aggressiveness and an attacking mentality. Yes, I know its Peyton Manning but the constant push forward and attacking style puts defenses on its heels. I just do not see that here at all. It’s been 3 different coaches with the same type of philosophy. I am tired of these close games and playing for field position. Do you remember what Philbin said when he was hired? We will have an exciting offense! He must have a different level of excitement than we do.

        • Chris

          I mostly agree with you. However, an aspect I think you may be overlooking is the fact that Miami is much more one dimensional than a team like Denver. Our run game has been suspect at best this season. We’ve been able to run the ball successfully here and there but by enlarge, Tannehill hands the ball off to the back only to have him hit a wall at the line of scrimmage and fall to the ground. This leads to 3rd and longs. When a defense knows their front 7 is handling the rushing attack, it makes everything else like strategy, play calling and execution much more difficult. Having said all of this, I wouldn’t mind a new OC B)

          • frankic

            I think one of the reasons we are one dimensional is because defenses simply stack the line knowing they can eliminate the run. If you pass on first downs and throw mid to long passes you will force defenses to respect the pass and open the running lanes. Rolling out Tannehill and letting him run more often will also force teams to use a mirror defender ( linebacker ) to follow Tannehill around to make sure he does leave the pocket, much like they do against Washington. The pieces are there to force defenses into the coverage we want. Instead we read the defense and call accordingly. This is why Sherm plays such a big roll, the running game would much better if defenses respected our deep ball and receivers. As it stands they know Miami will simply run a couple run plays, and throw a majority of thier pases to the sidelines for minimal gains. This keeps them stacking the line and playing the receivers tight which leaves them in range to stop the run.

            Lets just hope someone lights a fire under Sherms ass and tells him get creative and aggressive. We need these next 4 games.

  • Christian Paige

    Yeah it all depends if Sherman is wearing his depends or not. Seriously though he has been our most consistent issue on offense. he calls plays that even us untrained fans could call a D scheme to stop. We have playoff talent without a doubt just our OC sucks badly.

  • Robert Berry

    I agree completely, i just dont understand why they go for these short yardage passes or inside handoffs or screens on 3rd nd long, 99% of the time it isn’t working for us, sherman doesn’t seem to realize this though

    • gofins60

      Philbin is as much to blame as Sherman. Philbin’s system has no need for a true FB (like Lousaka Polite!), and now they can’t convert on 3rd and short. He uses short timing routes in place of the running game. He favors those short passes over the deep ball, which is probably why it’s taking so long for Tannehill and Wallace to develop chemistry. He also did nothing but stand and stare as his o-line was on a record-setting pace for sacks allowed. There were no changes to the o-line until after he was “coerced” by the owner. This team would easily be playing for the Division title if they had a “regular” offensive philosophy that wasn’t trying to imitate Green Bay.