Breaking Down Miami Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill

Many times the intangible talents of a quarterback are the difference between a winner and a loser. In the previous article, those intangibles brought forth a confirmation that Ryan Tannehill had already risen to the vaunted status of “Franchise Quarterback.” It was only a year ago, the same tag was placed on Mark Sanchez in New York, but in six games, Sanchez has lost much of the luster that was generously heaped upon him.

While the intangible “it” factor is an absolute must for an NFL quarterback, it cannot sustain that quarterback over the long term without the tangible performance indicators to back it up. The intangibles will win games in critical moments. The tangibles will win games on a consistent and long term basis. For these reasons, a “Franchise Quarterback” should not only have the “it” factor, but he must also have the numbers behind “it.”

It’s obvious to all Dolphin fans that Ryan Tannehill has the “it” factor, the intangible qualities that make one QB standout from others. As a rookie, the talents of Tannehill have not been seen in Miami since number 13 took over in 1983. Marino had the same intangible flair, but by his second season, he had shown the tangible qualities that would sustain the Miami Dolphins for the next 16 years.

Overall, the numbers do not lie, the following stats are all courtesy of ESPN… How the numbers are derived is not as relevant as the names on the list. Notice the names in red below, they are all the Super Bowl winning QBs still playing in the NFL. The players ranked 2-4 are multiple winners and it is probably a consensus opinion that Rodgers and Brees will end the season much higher than they are currently ranked. At number 17, Ryan Tannehill is an average NFL QB. Notice where the aforementioned Sanchez resides in the ranking…

Since Miami has a bye week it is a good time to use statistics to see the areas where Ryan Tannehill has done well and where he will need to improve if the rest of the NFL is going agree, the “franchise” tag is appropriate. Breaking down Tannehill’s passing performance by opponent, wins and losses, yardage, and quarter, the good and not so good can be identified and the Dolphin coaches can understand the areas of weakness that need improvement. What follows are Tannehill’s current total stats, the chart for Eli Manning is included for comparison.

The final column on this chart is in the old QB rating formula. A rating above 90 is considered good using this method. The numbers are higher for Manning across board. Tannehill is a rookie and a comparison with a veteran like Manning is not meant as criticism, it is shown as an indication of where Tannehill must go in the quest for Franchise QB status. The Following charts Tannehill’s performance against the teams Miami has played this year.

What immediately jumps out on the chart is how dependent the Dolphins are on Tannehill playing a good game. In every win, his rating is above 90.

Overall, Miami played poorly against the Rams, but the defense kept them out of the endzone and it should come as no surprise that Tannehill had his best statistical game of the season. The slightest mistake by Tannehill in this game would have been the difference. A performance like this against any other opponent except perhaps Houston and Miami would have won. It means, even though he is a rookie, as Ryan Tannehill goes, so go the Miami Dolphins. The following are the stats by yardage splits.

As a note, ESPN has not yet updated Tannehill’s stats for week 6, so the data is a week old. The chart shows the effect of the West Coast Offensive style, the majority of the passes are 20 yards or less and the most prevalent are 10 yards or less. As the passes get longer, the level of difficulty gets higher and that is what separates the Franchise QBs from the rest of the pack. The Franchise QBs are consistently accurate at every yardage. Notice the same chart for Eli manning.

The consistency is nearly identical and even gets better with the longer throws. This may be more of Manning having a better understanding of reading defenses and knowing when to throw the deeper pass. Notice the affect TDs have on the rating, scoring is what wins football games and separates Franchise QBs from the rest. To reiterate, Tannehill’s a rookie, the charts are meant to teach, not to criticize. The next chart shows Tannehill’s passing splits by quarter.

This chart shows Tannehill is better at the beginning and end of games than in the middle. It could be an anomaly, but it seems to point out another inconsistency that will affect the outcome of games. By allowing teams opportunities to get back into games or put games out of reach, such as what happened against Houston.

As the team prepares for the final 10 games of the season these are the indicators of what Tannehill needs to work on. Other teams will be looking at these statistics and will alter their defenses to take advantage. If the shorter passes are more consistently completed and longer ones not, then teams will continue to creep toward the box without the fear of plays being made behind them. This may already have been noticed as teams are shutting down the run with 8 in the box and blitzing more often. There will need to be deeper plays to push safeties back out of the box or Miami will become very easy to defend.

It’s a learning experience for the rookie, but by knowing the deficiencies and working through them, he can get to the level of Franchise Quarterback.

A level not seen in Miami since number 13 retired 13 years ago...