Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, Raheem Morris had a famous quote for critics that showed the Bucs statistically were not performing well, “stats are for losers!” Morris was probably right, even though the team had started 4-2 last season, dwelling on statistics does not lead to wins on the football field. After 10 straight losses led to his firing, he probably wishes he had listened a little more closely.
Obviously a QB performs better in a win, than in a loss. The quandary in measuring statistical greatness in quarterbacks is whether individual performance numbers are more important than wins or losses. Dolphin fans have seen some of the greatest quarterback play in NFL history in a man named Dan Marino. What Dolphin fans did not celebrate were Super Bowl victories during Marino’s tenure.
Comparing any QB to Dan Marino, especially a rookie is not only wrong, but foolish, Marino is in the hall of fame and Ryan Tannehill can only dream of reaching those lofty standards. The point is, great stats can get a QB into the hall of fame, but wins get a QB a Super Bowl ring. Folks in Miami have seen admirable QB play, but after 40 years, the thirst for a Super Bowl victory is like finding an oasis after a long trek through the Arizona dessert.
The relevance of these
statistical references to the Miami Dolphins comes when trying to
understand whether Ryan Tannehill can lead the Dolphins to victory in
closely contested football games. Take a moment to consider the
following chart breaking down the results of how Ryan Tannehill
performed in wins and losses at Texas A&M in 2011.
The chart shows a breakdown of all the Texas A&M wins and losses in 2011. Excluding Baylor, the 25 average point differential in the winning games came against mostly inferior opponents. The -5.5 differential in losses is telling, excluding the Oklahoma game, A&M lost every other game by an average of 2.8 points. An average of less than a field goal from a 12-1 record.
Mike Sherman is personally well aware of these numbers. It's a trend that continues with the Dolphins and must be addressed and rectified before Tannehill, and in turn the Dolphins can win these close games. Unfortunately the numbers do not lie and will follow Tannehill until he learns from his mistakes.
Poor execution by Tannehill on a pitch play to Reggie Bush early in the fourth quarter killed a promising drive. Tannehill missed Bush on the toss, resulting in a loss of 9 yards. With an opportunity to put Arizona away later in the fourth quarter, the Cards blitzed and according to Tannehill, “we had a little miscommunication up front...”
Richie Incognito missed the blitzer, but it is Tannehill who called the protection and he did not make the proper call. He got sacked and stripped of the ball, with a free blitzer running in his face, he did not tuck the ball, and in fact he never really tried. Cardinals then converted the turnover into the game-tying touchdown drive in regulation.
The game could still have been won through these mistakes, but the interception in overtime was the back breaker. Tannehill again had a free blitzer, but instead of eating the ball and taking a sack, he chose to throw the ball up for grabs. These are the kind of plays that are the difference between winning and losing. These are the kind of plays that define great QBs and guys who have great stats. Taking a sack and punting is sometimes the right choice.
The whispers of poor play calling by not running the ball on 2nd and eight insinuate Ryan Tannehill is incapable of leading the team to victory. Tannehill needs to learn how to win and for that to happen, he has to be put in a position to make the crucial plays. The play calling on the fumble was done to place the ball in the hands of the guy who needs to be the leader of this team.
Tannehill failed, and now his coach is being questioned, and teammates like Reggie Bush lament, “It’s very frustrating when you’re prepared for a team, you know what they’re going to do, and you still let them do it, great teams find ways to win games. Great teams don’t allow those things to happen. Obviously, we’re not there yet.”
Joe Philbin said it best in his press conference today, "This isn't a profession for the faint of heart. We have to accept responsibility for where we are at and still have faith and confidence that we're going to improve on a weekly basis." It’s sometimes easy to forget, Ryan Tannehill is a rookie. His play is better than any rookie on the Dolphins since 1983, but he still has a lot to learn.
To take the next step in his and the Dolphins evolution, Tannehill must understand, sometimes a sack is not a bad thing, sometimes a sack is the right thing. The golfers out there know what it feels like to hit a bad shot and then compound it by trying to be a hero on the next. After calling the wrong protection, do not compound the error by fluttering a pass in the process of taking a hit. Punt and depend on teammates to do their job.
If the Dolphins have any chance for a successful season Tannehill must learn, turnovers are always bad. Do not compound errors by trying to make plays when none are available. Teams begin stoking up the pressure as the games come to a close. It is up to Ryan Tannehill to find ways to win these close games, or the Miami Dolphin's season will end like Texas A&M's season.
What could have been, had the Dolphins come away with victories in close games...