Ryan Tannehill without Jarvis Landry faces critical 2018
By Shawn Digity
The 2018 NFL season is still a few months away, but it will be the most important season for both Ryan Tannehill and embittered, former Miami Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry.
Their careers are both hanging in the balance.
Tannehill and Landry spent four fruitful years together in Miami. Landry put up gaudy numbers in the catch column but was also a topic of debate about “number 1 receivers”. Tannehill showed flashes of elite play in 2016, but has also had extended growing pains and major injuries. They’ve both displayed the good, the bad, and the ugly. They’ll both be in hot water if they don’t perform well in 2018.
So why is the 2018 season so important for the two of them? In a word, dependency. Landry was considered Tannehill’s safety blanket in critical downs, but Brian Hartline also played that role before him. Landry and Hartline both had success in that role with Tannehill under center. Now that Landry and Tannehill have gone their separate ways, there won’t be any more excuses about who was the crutch propping up the other.
Tannehill has come under fire for failing to live up to his 8th-overall billing. Sure, he’s grown each consecutive season, but he still hasn’t reached the “franchise quarterback” threshold. The past three or four years have been labeled “make or break” season for Tannehill, so this is his last chance (for real).
Tannehill has been given a lion’s share of leeway over his 7 seasons in the league. The excuses have ranged from the handful of different offensive coordinators to his lack of weapons or offensive line help. His success from here on out is squarely on his own shoulders.
It also doesn’t help that other QBs drafted in the 2012 class have set the bar high. Russell Wilson is a superstar with a ring. Nick Foles isn’t a superstar but still has a ring. Kirk Cousins got paid like a superstar and could win a ring with a loaded Vikings roster. Andrew Luck is a beaten-and-battered superstar who deserves a ring. Oh, Brock Osweiler has a ring too.
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Tannehill hasn’t found success like the other 2012 QBs. Former teammates and Dolphins fans have grown impatient because of it. If he doesn’t have a season on par or better than 2016, the Dolphins will undoubtedly take a new QB in the 2019 draft.
Landry also faces a unique challenge that will affect the longevity of his career. He’s in a crowded receiving corps and will not always be the top target with other talented pass-catchers like Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, David Njoku and rookie Antonio Callaway on the roster.
Sharing the workload with so many other players could influence receptions and YAC, which have been Landry’s bread and butter in years past. A decrease in these stats could ruin Landry’s Pro Bowl streak. That wouldn’t be a good look for a player who received a hardy $47 million guaranteed contract extension this past March.
Tannehill and Landry are facing some mountains this season. One’s success could make the other look worse. With all the chips on the table, I predict Tannehill to have the better season. He will benefit from Mike Gesicki, Danny Amendola and a backfield of Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. Landry will get too bogged down by Josh Gordon’s continuing re-emergence, a breakout season from David Njoku and significant playing time from Antonio Callaway.