Dan asked me to take a look at Ryan Tannehill’s performance for this week’s adventures in film to see what was going on in his eighty-six passing yards game against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.
The first thing to say is that Dan Campbell wasn’t kidding when he talked about committing to the run, with twenty-six rush attempts to nineteen passing attempts. Not only that, but because of the lack of consistency in the running game, Tannehill faced a lot of third and longs so it hardly surprising that the Dolphins only managed to gain four first downs in thirteen attempts on third down. In fact they didn’t manage to maintain any drives into the opponent’s red zone, with the only scoring play coming from a thirty-eight yard pass by Tannehill.
Looking at Tannehill’s play on passing downs, it was noticeable that they were limiting the things he had to do. He basically either threw play-action passes from under centre, or threw out of shotgun formations with a slightly skippy gather phase before throwing. It was also noticeable that he was either throwing short passes or long bombs with very little in the intermediate range. Even when he did connect on a six yard pass to Jarvis Landry on a hitch pattern, he missed a very similar throw to Dion Sims on the next down to bring the Dolphins punting unit out once again. The one really good play he had was the long touchdown when he came of the play-action fake and was able to gather, look left across the field to send the single high safety left, then came back to DeVante Parker running deep on the right to complete the touchdown pass. The ball was thrown up high for the six foot three Parker to go get, and he was able to high point the ball and hold onto it as he fell into the end zone. There were short passes that worked as well, but it is hard to say much more as there isn’t that much on tape in this game.
It’s hard to comment on his footwork in the drop as he really didn’t do any traditional three, five, or seven step drops. His arm doesn’t exactly leap of the screen either, which is not necessarily the end of the world as arm strength is one of the most overrated qualities of NFL quarterbacks as they need enough on the ball to get there, but it is really the mental aspects of the game that truly let a quarterback succeed or not. The Dolphins don’t appear to be asking him to do too much in terms of manipulating the game, but equally I only saw him take off on a read-option play once, which went for eleven yards despite Tannehill running the ball being a feature of last year’s improvements. He also suffered a few drops, particularly on the opening play of the second drive when Lamar Miller somehow failed to gather in a perfectly fine pass to him as he ran out of the backfield. You know you are in for a long day when a simple pass designed to get you a completion fails.
In the end, it’s hard to get too much of a read on a quarterback when so much in the offence is going wrong. Tannehill will be going into another offseason of upheaval, but along with what you assume will be a new coaching staff, he’ll be hoping that the front office strengthens his offensive line, and finally gives him bit of stability so he has a fair short of developing. The jury is still out, and with the way the Dolphins are run, it could be difficult for Tannehill to succeed long term in the NFL.