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Ryan Tannehill: Boom or bust for Miami Dolphins QB

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His first four years under center, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown plenty of potential. Unfortunately, potential doesn’t win championships. While it is true he may be the greatest Miami quarterback since Dan Marino. More fans should be concerned about him being the next Bob Griese. You should know him as the last quarterback to win the Dolphins a Super Bowl. In terms of getting over the hump, Tannehill has moved past his “make or break” season and has inched into his “put up or shut up” season.

A career filled with excuses from fans has let him off the hook. This season fans need to hold their quarterback more accountable. What excuses will fans have to make for him this season? “He doesn’t have talent around him.” Name one team with more young weapons than the Miami Dolphins. “He is under coached.” Not only did Miami go out and get one of the up-and-coming coaches in Adam Gase, but they also brought in Clyde Christensen who has spent his years with quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. “He doesn’t have an offensive line.”

Strike 3! You’re out.

After drafting one of the best players in the draft, Miami has hit the offensive line jackpot. A couple weeks into the preseason and this unit should be running on all cylinders. So who is left to blame but Tannehill? Where do coaches need to go from here to get him over a stat hump and winning football games?

Drop predictability from the playbook

One thing Clyde Christensen and Adam Gase will be in charge of is switching up the Dolphins offense. Miami far too many times abandoned the run in favor of airing it out. Plenty of teams have had great success in their pass first offenses. The Miami Dolphins have not been one of them. Players such as Jordan Cameron and Kenny Stills disappeared in Miami’s offense.

Even the players who were utilized correctly ran the same predictable screen route too many times. While the theory in the NFL is “get the ball to your playmakers”, there’s no sense getting them the ball if they’re going to instantly be met with a defender. Gase and his counterparts have been known to use the entire field. Shaking up the passing game this year is a must in order to get Tannehill over the hump.

Run, Ajayi, Run

It’s hard to believe the Miami Dolphins have only had one season with a 4,000 yard passer and a 1,000 yard rusher. Two seasons ago, Ryan Tannehill and Lamar Miller were the first duo to accomplish that feat. However, Miami quickly course corrected and went back to pass happy the next season. While too many ‘Phin fans were disappointed in letting Lamar Miller walk, they should expect a better showing out of Jay Ajayi.

Not only does Ajayi posses the similar explosiveness down field, many times last season he could be seen fighting for those extra inches. Too often Miller would get stood up and pushed back at the line, Ajayi should be able to move the pile on his way to a first down. With the 2016 NFL draft the Dolphins boosted their backfield a little more with the draft of Kenyan Drake. Showing flashes of his NFL capabilities in college, if the coaches can fast forward his transition, fans will be treated to a duo that will make them forget all about Lamar Miller. Help is on the way Tannehill. Hang in there, buddy.

Plenty of Pass Catchers

Gase and company decided their stock of wide receivers wasn’t enough in this draft and went out and drafted two more, Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant. Tannehill should have no shortage of pass catchers down field. Jarvis Landry and Devonte Parker will continue to be playmakers. Kenny Stills will be playing for his next contract. Adam Gase loves to utilize his tight ends so Jordan Cameron should return to pro bowl form. Even Dion Sims has shown improvement throughout the years.

Miami returned all of them before adding Carroo and Grant into the mix. That’s 7 down field targets, not including the running backs. Obviously Miami won’t be able to put them all on the field at the same time. However, Miami shouldn’t have an issue running different packages and Tannehill finding the open man.

Attack First Offense

One of the main improvements this year will be the ability of the offense to audible. One of Tannehill’s main struggles has been at the line of scrimmage. The biggest surprise coming out of last season was Bill Lazor handcuffing the Dolphins’ ability to audible. Call it what you will, while sticking to the play keeps a certain tempo going, not allowing the quarterback to audible consistently forces them to play from their heels. Quarterbacks may be able to see what’s coming but force to stand in the pocket and take hits or try and make something of broken plays. Sound familiar? With a revamped offensive line and the green light to change plays as he sees fit Tannehill should be in full control of this offense.
There seems to be a vast difference between Adam Gase’s Dolphins and Joe Philbin’s. Puzzle pieces don’t seem like close fits anymore jammed in at the edges. Every bit of Miami’s new offense seems to be set up for success. Weapons? Check. Offensive line? Check. New fast pace running game? Check. Game changing quarter back? … It’s on Tannehill’s shoulders. Time to see what kind of game face the kid really has.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com