Ryan Tannehill: the Question and Answer for the Miami Dolphins

How well will the Miami Dolphins do this season?

It's one simple question, but there are so many possibilities. So many different things could go right or wrong for the Dolphins. It's impossible to know what will really happen.

The truth, though, is the above question isn't even the right question to ask. The real question is actually also the answer to the question above (am I making sense here?). The real question is this:

How well will Ryan Tannehill perform this season?

That's the real question, because how well he does will dictate how well Miami does. A quarterback is so crucially important that even if you surround a poor one with a top-shelf group of players you will still struggle to be successful. Miami has brought in loads of talent on both sides of the ball, but if Ryan Tannehill isn't able to hold up his end of the bargain then none of it will matter.

Please, Ryan, save me
It's almost unfair to put that much pressure on a second year quarterback. Jobs are riding on his performance. Tannehill holds Jeff Ireland's job in his hands. Ireland has done an excellent job of building a team with real potential, but if his hand-picked quarterback doesn't work out then it won't matter.

Heck, if he does poorly enough he could put Joe Philbin's job on the line. Philbin would seem to be safe for at least this year, but a three or four win season could change that. No, I don't expect Miami to win three or four games, but anything is possible (any given Sunday, right?).

Tannehill has been overshadowed and overlooked this past season. This year he has the chance to shine.

Can he do it?
Can Ryan Tannehill carry this team? Does he have what it takes to bring Dolphins fans the winning record that they're clamoring for?

Absolutely. Now that he has weapons he will start to blossom. Tannehill is a great quarterback. He's been vastly underrated this year because his numbers haven't been spectacular. No one seems to care that his receiving corps was one of the worst in the NFL.

Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.

The average fan will just look at statistics and not bother studying the player on the field. You guys can't be average fans. Don't allow yourselves to only look at numbers and not bother watching a player play before you form an opinion of them. Statistics are nice. In general they give you a good idea of how well a player can play (except for cornerbacks. Conventional cornerback statistics are almost worthless), but you have to watch the tape too.

Want an example where statistics can be misleading? Just look at Christian Ponder and compare his numbers to Ryan Tannehill. Ponder threw six more touchdowns than Tannehill and one less interception.

Is Ponder better than Tannehill? No, not by a mile, but Ponder had one of the best receivers in the NFL in Percy Harvin and the incredible Adrian Peterson taking pressure off him. Tannehill had the "pretty good" Brian Hartline and Reggie Bush, who are far inferior to Harvin and Peterson.

Statistics are great, but they're not always the whole picture.

Tannehill has the talent and the football IQ to be a successful quarterback. Now he has the necessary tools to go earn that success. It's going to be a fun season to watch.

A Prediction...
Here's what I envision happening for the Miami Dolphins this season.

Tannehill will do just like Mike Sherman predicted and be the "most improved" quarterback in the NFL statistically, which really won't be hard for him to do. He has a lot of weapons at his disposal and another year of experience under his belt.

The Dolphins as a team perform well, despite a difficult early stretch of games and finish the season as a possible wild card at 9-7.

What do you guys think? Will Ryan Tannehill carry Miami enough to earn a winning record? How many games will the Dolphins win? Let me hear it.

Thanks for stopping by. Email me at paul@dolphinshout.com. I'm also on twitter @PaulDSmythe.