Why no one is to blame for Ryan Tannehill including Tannehill

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 11: Ryan Tannehill /

Adam Gase announced that he fully expects Ryan Tannehill to be back at 100% in 2018 and left no questions that Tannehill will be the starter when the next season begins. If he is healthy.

The announcement by Gase came at his year end media presser earlier this week. It puts to rest any talk of trading Tannehill this off-season and puts to rest any talk of Jay Cutler coming back to Miami. Cutler made it clear he won’t return to be a back-up.

Of course saying one thing doesn’t necessarily mean you intend to do it. The Dolphins will likely draft a quarterback this year but the real question is in what round and for what purpose. A mid to late round QB means another developmental quarterback in the vein of Brandon Doughty and to an extent a David Fales. In other words a roster body with slim chances of being a future starter.

An early round quarterback could be a signal that Miami will move on from Tannehill in another year or two. A first round drafted QB is a sign that Miami’s future is not on the arm of Ryan Tannehill. But is Ryan Tannehill’s faults his own or is someone else to blame? In this case, no one is to blame.

When the Dolphins drafted Tannehill in 2012 they had two choices, draft Tannehill at eight or draft another QB later. The 2012 draft was all about Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin, III. Both went one and two and both did not play in 2017. The other quarterback taken in the first round, Brandon Whedon didn’t play either.

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Potential destinations for Ryan Tannehill in the 2023 season
Potential destinations for Ryan Tannehill in the 2023 season /

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  • In round two Miami could have waited and drafted Brock Osweiler. They chose Jonathan Martin instead. Osweiler hasn’t had a very good pro career and we all know what Martin brought Miami. The real discussion however comes when you factor in third round QB Russell Wilson. Wilson is the best QB out of the entire draft class. He was taken three picks after Miami took Olivier Vernon in round three.

    Drafting Tannehill was not the mistake. How Joe Philbin developed him was.

    Looking back it is easy to see what the right answer would have been but would Wilson have had the same success in Miami that he did in Seattle? Probably not. In fact, it may not have been close.

    Like Tannehill, Wilson would have joined the Dolphins under then first year head coach Joe Philbin. Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman who coached Tannehill and Texas A&M were supposed to be a perfect fit for Tannehill and Sherman’s West Coast style of offense. It wasn’t.

    Philbin put shackles on Tannehill. He didn’t allow him to change plays at the line, he didn’t want him to run out of he pocket. Needless to say Tannehill’s development was hindered. It didn’t get any better in 2013 when those same shackles which were said to be coming off, remained in place. Sherman was fired after two seasons and no progression of Tannehill or the offense. His firing was followed a day later by the termination of Jeff Ireland. Philbin was forced to make a change at OC.

    Enter Bill Lazor. Lazor was a highly respected offensive coach and he promised to give Tannehill more freedom. Instead, he only loosened the leg restraints. Tannehill ran a bit more and was given one or two options to audible should the defensive front show certain plays. It didn’t work out and Tannehill’s struggles continued.

    While Tannehill struggled in the pocket he also struggled with his long throws. Often overthrowing or under-throwing wide-open receivers. One problem with his growth was the reluctance of Mike Wallace. Wallace did not show up for off-season player only workouts and in practice Wallace refused to run full-speed routes. This created a problem in-game situations where Wallace’s speed was hard for Tannehill to adjust to on the fly. In 2015 at the start of the league new year, Wallace was traded to the Vikings.

    From 2012 to 2015 Tannehill led the Dolphins to records of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, and 6-10. In those four seasons, Tannehill worked with Mike Sherman for two seasons, Bill Lazor for a year and a half, and Zac Taylor for part of the 2015 season after Lazor was fired early.

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    Enter Adam Gase. Gase was a quarterbacks coach, a guru of sorts, so the media claimed. Gase was going to take Tannehill to another level or Tannehill was going to be gone. Miami believed and still believe in Ryan Tannehill. Under Gase, Tannehill finally had the shackles removed.

    Tannehill however didn’t run as much under Gase in 2016. He posted his second lowest rushing attempts of his career at 39 but he also only played in 13 games. He averaged 12.6 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. Tannehill seemed to settle in as the season went on and he led the team to an 8-5 record by the time he was injured.

    Minus three games in 2016 Tannehill threw 19 touchdowns to 12 interceptions and had his best TD% of his career at 4.9 percent. With the improved running game, Tannehill wasn’t asked to throw as often.

    The question now is did Tannehill improve enough under Adam Gase in the one season he had with him? It’s unknown. Tannehill entered the league with a small tape at quarterback. Joe Philbin and the three OC’s never really helped develop him further as they wanted him to simply manage the game and not make mistakes. Adam Gase wants Tannehill to control games and win them.

    In the one season under Gase Tannehill seemed to become far more like a leader vocally on the field than in any of his previous seasons. He became a leader in the locker room and earned the respect of his teammates. Is it enough now?

    So many questions will need to be answered in 2018 but one thing is for certain, the lack of high success by Tannehill in Miami is not his fault. Nor is it the fault of Adam Gase or even Joe Philbin and his staff. All of it combined made Tannehill average but it is Adam Gase, who should have Tannehill for the 2018 season healthy, to make him better than average.

    Tannehill faces a critical season in 2018 not just for the health of his knee but for his development. If he can’t make big strides in this next season then Miami needs to move on. There are no more excuses, no more ceilings to reach. He needs to play better and Miami needs to give him that opportunity. That makes drafting