As the NFL playoffs wound down on Saturday night, some Miami Dolphins fans were wondering why Ryan Tannehill was ever traded away.
The former Miami Dolphins starting quarterback has played his best football since taking over the Titans offense in place of Marcus Mariota and now, he is one game away from going to the Super Bowl. That…is…so…Miami.
With the clock winding down, with every yard gained by Derek Henry, and with every touchdown pass or run by Tannehill, my phone would blow up with the same question or statement. “Why did the Dolphins trade him? The Dolphins are just stupid”. Watching the game last night and last week, you may ask the same thing but know this, Ryan Tannehill is playing exactly like he did in Miami and I’m going to tell you why it is working for the Titans now.
The answer is very simple. Ryan Tannehill has Derek Henry and a great offensive line. Ryan Tannehill isn’t being asked to lead his team. He is being asked to not make mistakes. He is being asked to manage the game.
Tannehill is playing consistent football and when the dust and joy settle he is still an average quarterback. He is not a great quarterback. He is a good quarterback that becomes better than good when and only when he is surrounded by the perfect mix of personnel. In two playoff wins this year, Ryan Tannehill has been good. Not great. Just good.
I know, this sounds like I’m giving you the fuel to fire back with “Then why didn’t we build our offense around him?” Miami tried. They couldn’t get the offensive line right. They couldn’t get the running back right. They didn’t have the tight-end position right and they didn’t have the coaching situation right. They tried. They failed. Tannehill needed a change of scenery. He was never going to develop in Miami. Miami didn’t give up on him too soon. Ryan Tannehill is still the QB we all saw in Miami but he doesn’t have the stress he had here. He doesn’t have to be a leader in Tennessee, he only has to show up.
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Tannehill’s two games in the post-season are below average despite the wins. As fans pound their fists watching another player leave and succeed take comfort in reality. Tannehill has one game with 72 yards passing and one game with 88 yards passing. Why can the Titans knock off two of the best teams in the league with Tannehill? Because Derek Henry has rushed for 377 yards in two games. It’s because the Titans defense is only giving up an average of 12.5 points per game.
When your offense is working that well you don’t need a great quarterback. Ask the Ravens they won the same way in Super Bowl XXXV with Trent Dilfer.
No one is rooting against Tannehill, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Tannehill left all of himself on the field in Miami and he never received the respect he deserved and he deserved a lot of it. He had the tools to be good but Miami wants great. Miami’s decision to gut the roster and rebuild comes with the price of getting rid of a quarterback who was and remains average. Average when he is playing at his best. That is not a bad thing, not if you have a team like the Titans built around you.
If Tannehill makes the Super Bowl, I will be cheering for him to win it. I will be screaming at my TV for him to hoist that Lombardi Trophy. I will not be screaming at the Dolphins for trading him. It was the right move, at the right time, for all the right reasons and despite two playoff wins, it remains the right decision.