Is Tannehill Already Silencing His Critics?


Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill have worked together for just a few months, but they have already gone a long way to silencing their critics.

Over the last couple of days there has been a noticeable decrease in the anti-Tannehill chatter on social media. Then again, that shouldn’t come as a total surprise given that the Gase/Tannehill partnership is exceeding expectations, particularly, those of the QB’s harshest critics.

As evidence, consider that, to this point in the preseason, Tannehill has put in the rough equivalent of a single game, and the results are quite promising.

AttCompComp %YdsAvg YdsTdsIntsQB Rating

While some would argue that an 85.8 passer rating is far from stellar, and they would be correct, Tannehill’s statistics don’t fully reflect his overall performance.

The QB’s lone mistake of note came against the Falcons on an interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but what has put a real dent on his numbers are the slew of dropped passes he has endured. Tight end Jordan Cameron has dropped 4. Receivers Jarvis Landry and Devante Parker have dropped 3 and 2 respectively, and running back Jay Ajayi bobbled a pass that was nearly intercepted. Worse still, four of those drops came in the end zone.

Eliminate those 10 dropped passes from the quarterback rating formula, and Tannehill’s statistics would look like this:

AttCompComp %YdsAvg YdsTdsIntsQB Rating

Dropped passes, however, are a part of the game, and as such, cannot be erased. Still, one doesn’t need to enter the realm of “what ifs” to measure the positive dividends the Gase/Tannehill combo has already yielded. In fact, there are at least eight clear signs that theirs is a partnership on the rise.

  1. Improved Pocket Presence – Tannehill has shown a marked improvement in pocket presence throughout the first three preseason games, due, in part, to an innovative mobility drill Gase instituted early in training camp. While he took just six snaps against the Giants, Tannehill was under constant pressure deep in Miami’s end of the field. Nevertheless, thanks to quick thinking and a last second shuttle pass, he was able to avoid a safety while under hot pursuit from Jason Pierre–Paul and former Dolphin, Olivier Vernon. Additionally, while Tannehill had more time to throw against the Cowboys and Falcons, he got rid of the ball quickly when necessary.
  2. Fewer Sacks – Thanks, in part, to that improved pocket presence, Tannehill has been sacked just once in 53 pass attempts. That ratio is a stunning improvement over the 1 sack every 12 pass attempts he has suffered to this point in his career.
  3. The No Huddle Offense – Tannehill seems to be having no difficulty running Gase’s “No Huddle” offense, and better yet, it is producing the desired results. Atlanta’s defenders were visibly gasping for air Thursday night as they struggled to keep up with the Dolphin’s offense. Moreover, their pass rush all but disappeared by Miami’s third drive. The results weren’t much different against Dallas the week before, to the point that Jarvis Landry claimed to have seen a couple of Cowboy defenders vomiting on the field due to exhaustion. Needless to say, maintaining that offensive tempo could create a huge advantage for the Dolphins during the regular season, particularly during home games under the blistering south Florida sun.
  4. Audibling – Gase has shown just how foolish former head coach Joe Philbin, and offensive coordinators Mike Sherman and Bill Lazor were in denying Tannehill the freedom to audible. The signal caller has not only mastered Gase’s offense in record time, but successfully changed plays at the line of scrimmage against both Dallas and Atlanta, turning disadvantageous situations into nice gains.
  5. The Best Version of Tannehill – Gase has allowed Tannehill to play to his strengths, and a big part of that has included incorporating more rollouts into the playbook. Tannehill is at his best while throwing on the run, and he shown just that in the last two preseason games, particularly against Dallas. In that showdown, he slid out of the pocket and hit Kenny Stills in stride on a 55 yard bomb. These types of plays are particularly important to Tannehill’s arsenal because they serve a dual purpose. They stretch the defense, which is a hallmark of Gase’s offensive philosophy, and they take away a stationary point of attack for pass rushers, forcing them to expend even more energy.
  6. Increased Mobility – Gase hasn’t just installed more rollouts into the Dolphins’ offense in order to capitalize on Tannehill’s mobility and athleticism, he has given his quarterback additional freedom to run the ball. Thus far, the results have been impressive. Tannehill has averaged 9.5 yards per carry in the preseason, running the ball 4 times for 38 yards. As mentioned earlier, if we equate his drives in the preseason to a single game, that would project out to 456 rushing yards in a season.
  7. Crunch Time – Tannehill orchestrated a nice two-minute drill against the Falcons, maneuvering the Dolphins into field goal range, only to see his efforts squandered when Andrew Franks missed a 37 yard field goal.
  8. The Playbook – Gase’s dynamic play calling and insistence on a balanced attack have kept defenses guessing, and as a result, taken additional pressure off Tannehill, as well as the Dolphins’ still developing offensive line.

While the big picture appears promising, it is important to recognize that Tannehill can’t turn Miami’s fortunes around on his own. As such, three things need to happen in order for the young QB to maximize the lessons Gase has already taught him. The offensive line needs to continue gelling as a unit. The running game must finally emerge, and the receivers and tight ends have to eliminate the dropped passes.

If those things come to pass, there is little reason to doubt Tannehill’s stock won’t continue to rise. More importantly, it could lead to the one thing that would silence his critics once and for all. A trip to the playoffs, and the first real shot in decades of a Dolphins’ Super Bowl title.