If you just read Houston wins 30-10, 3 interceptions and 3 sacks, then you won’t get the full picture of Ryan Tannehill’s Dolphins debut.
And before you think I am just being a blind Dolphins fan who is seeing the cup half full, understand that I was Ryan Tannehill’s worst critic and said they’d be foolish to draft him out of Texas A&M. I predicted doom and gloom. I hate being wrong, but I have been wrong before, and could be wrong on Tannehill. I certainly hope I am.
Clearly he has some positive attributes. He seems to have a good feel for the pocket, and a confidence within it. He takes his drop and makes snap decisions. Rarely have I seen indecision in him, or confusion of where to go with the ball. He has shown good arm strength ripping it into tight windows, and accuracy with both short and longer passes. Both physically and mentally he has impressed me, especially when you consider his relative inexperience at playing the position.
At first glance, you’d think he was a disaster in his first game, but he really wasn’t. He wasn’t RG3 either, so don’t get it twisted. I am not saying he was great. He has a long way to go, and may never get to be what all Miami fans want him to be. So he might not become the next Dan Marino, but…well, I just don’t know yet. I just know he doesn’t look like a train wreck and hopeless.
Tannehill had 3 picks on Sunday. 2 of them were balls tipped at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes that is bad luck/good luck/accidental, sometimes it is the quarterbacks fault, and sometimes it is a talented, instinctive defensive player making a great play. I am not sure what category to place Tannehill in, but it is noteworthy that Houston’s JJ Watt and Brian Cushing are both studs. The ball sometimes just doesn’t bounce your way.
But there is this note to be wary of if you are a Dolphins fan. According to ESPN Stats Inc., eight of his 15 interceptions in 2011 at Texas A&M came on tipped or batted passes. In Tannehill’s first preseason start at Carolina three weeks ago, four of his passes were tipped in the first half. So this is a trend, not a blip on the radar.
Tannehill does have a sort of sidearm delivery that looks awkward, but more importantly lowers his release point. It can be adjusted, but it might have as much to do with his decision-making and learning how to throw better into windows in the pocket. Basically, it could improve with experience. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said as much after the game.
The first pick was Tannehill locking onto his target and a good corner in Jonathon Joseph jumping the slant route. Of course, Legedu Naanee didn’t help matters with his route or fight for the ball.
The sacks were a result of offensive line breakdowns and Tannehill trying to hang in the pocket a little too long. He is a great athlete, obviously considering he played wide receiver, and did it well, at Texas A&M. I am more comforted knowing that he isn’t running at the first sight of trouble. I know he can, and will figure out when to do it with more reps.
Overall, it is disappointing to lose and any chance Miami had of winning ended with those second quarter mistakes, but it isn’t about winning this year. That in itself is a tough pill to swallow, even if it’s been a dozen years since Miami won a playoff game. I just try to remind myself that it is about growing and getting better, and I’d say things are off to an encouraging start.