The first three games of the season, Tanehill seemed to have evolved in the quarterback we all thought he could be. He was nearly flawless against the Cleveland Browns, went toe to toe with Andrew Luck of the Colts and made a 4th quarter comeback deserving of accolades against the visiting Falcons. Then came the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens.
Even though those two games showed the lack luster offensive line that was predicted to be an issue heading into the start of the season, it also brought up questions about Tannehill and what he can achieve as the new leader of a franchise that has struggled over the last decade. Mike Wallace was brought in to spread the offense and give Tannehill the ability to throw the long ball and he certainly has the arm for it, but his accuracy has been the issue recently.
So far this season Tannehill has ranked in the middle of the pack with throws of 20+ yards and some of his more established quarterback colleagues are right there with him, like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Phillip Rivers. Yes, 20+ yards does not equate to the long ball but it is nice company to be in, the issue lies in the 40+ category. We have seen time and time again during the last 5 games that Wallace and Tannehill don’t seem to be in sync when it comes to the go routes. Often the throws are short, not by much mind you but enough to force Wallace to have to come back and slow down. But how can this be? All we heard during training camp is how Tannehill kept over-throwing Wallace at practice. One rationale could be that because our number 17 sees how he over throws Wallace at practice he takes something off the ball come game time. That reasoning seems valid as practice speed and game time speed are completely different and Tannehill can very well be over compensating for what he saw and dealt with at practice.
But wait – isn’t Ryan Tannehill a touted great student of the game? Does he not always look at ways to be better and learning from his mistakes? If that is so, then one should assume that after the off-season time, the pre-season games and five regular season games, he would have learned and fixed the issue as he perceived it right?
Well, now we are back to where we started, what is the problem with Wallace and Tannehill? To me it is a mixture of two things as i see it. The first and most important, trust! There doesn’t seem to be any trust between the quarterback and the receiver when it comes to the deep ball. Ben Rothlisberger didn’t seem to have a problem getting the ball to Wallace in stride and running it in for a touch down. Ryan Tannehill has about as, or slightly stronger arm then Big Ben and yet we don’t see Tannehill over-throwing Wallace or even catching him in stride. Yes there is an art to the deep throw, a certain loft that has to be applied to the ball to land just so as the possibly fastest guy in the NFL sprinting full speed down field can reach out in front of him for it. Does Tannehill believe that Wallace is really not that fast? Does he think that it is better for him to under-throw the ball and have Wallace come back for it better than having it hit the field? Well i can’t realistically answer that but it certainly indicates that the trust is not there between these two.
The other issue might just be as simple as the mere fact that Tannehill was a wide receiver at one time. I have always believed that a quarterback should be a quarterback to succeed in the position and that means that he should not be a part-time running back or part-time receiver. Quarterbacks that play both positions never seem to develop as elites at the position because they are too busy polishing two aspects of their abilities, one example is the Eagles QB Michael Vick, as explosive as he was with his speed and mobility he was a mediocre quarterback in the pocket at best. It is only until recently that he has had no choice but to be more of a pocket passer due to his loss in speed, something that comes to us all in age. Tannehill seems to have the same issue as he divided his perceived notions of his role behind the line as well as the angle as a receiver. In the end this could be very detrimental to his growth as the presumptive franchise quarterback of the Dolphins as he tries to do more of what his receivers want out of him then the other way around. As a leader, everyone on the line, from the center to the wide receivers should be on the same page as their quarterback and no one should question it. He shouldn’t have to go to the receivers and ask “how would you like me to throw you the ball”? Should it be discussed, yes. But above all it should only be used as a guide to achieve trust and success and in the end Tannehill should be the one saying “This is where i will throw the ball and you better be there when the ball gets there”!
The Dolphins have a bye week, time to build the trust, take charge of the offense and do what was expected by all its fans. Tannehill needs to win and win as the quarterback with out the slash receiver next to his title.
By Sergio Peralta