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2015 Free Agency
Will talk about the QB ever stop? No, QB talk never stops, when the QB is good it goes on, when the QB is bad it goes on, but it especially goes on when the QB is somewhere inbetween. Thats when the debate runs hottest, if the vast majority agree the QB is good or bad there is talk, but lacking in the debate area.
The Dolphins QB question starts to simmer at the end of his third season, do you pick up the 5th year option this offseason, or do the Dolphins have him prove a bit more before they commit to another year. A possible regime change has this question firmly in the air, but just based on performance where do we sit.
Tannehill's Troubling Trends, you might think I'd start this off with the deep ball problems but I'm not, there is a more troubling trend I've become more aware of lately. Tannehill has had his "crunch time critics", I've been among them, but recent play by Tannehill prompted me to look closer.
Going back five games, Tannehill has missed on 4 "can't miss" TD throws, all inside the 11 yard line, all to open recievers, two in the Detroit game, both to Clay, one in the Jet game to Gibson and one in the Raven's game to Wallace.
In Detroit, on two consecutive plays Tannehill missed easy TDs to Clay inside the 4 yard line. The first play was a short pass into the left flat from the 4 yard line, Clay was about 5 yards away from Tanne and just needed the ball in front of him to score a TD, but the pass is thrown behind and down on Clays back left hip. Clay manages to catch the ball but in doing so fell down, having to spin completely backwards to have to make the catch, gain of two.
On the next play, from the two yard line, Clay gets open under the goal posts, about ten yards away and right in front of Tannehill, Tannehill puts the ball low and behind again, this time to the right hip, Clay gets his hands on the ball but a defender knocks it away.
In NY, nearly identicle play to the second Clay throw from Detroit, from the four yard line, Gibson gets open going under the goal posts, Tannehill is high and to the right, Gibson can't get his hands on the ball. Only twelve or so yards seperated Tannehill and Gibson who was clearly open, It made me wonder how you miss that bad from that range.
Against Baltimore, From the eleven yard line, Wallace gets about two yards of seperation going into the endzone, wide open, Tannehill throws wide right, would it have been nice to see Wallace sell out for that pass, yes, does that change the fact that Tannehil missed on an easy pass, no.
The really troubling thing all four of these passes has in common, they were all in crucial situations in the forth quater. Crunch time, just the time when you need him to play his best, and he's leaving gimmy TDs on the field. At Detroit it was a tie game, we had to settle for a FG, at NY we were down by a TD, Miller scored on the next play, and against Baltimore we were down by four points, we could have taken a 17-14 lead in the fourth quater, but were still behind after settling for a FG.
To be clear on this subject, these are not the type of passes that signify that your a franchise QB, not at all, these are automatic for a franchise QB, must make throws for any QB. In the case of both Clay throws and the Gibson throw, there was no defenders between QB and receiver, no one to throw over or around at point blank range, all 3 inside the four yard line. Wallace was wide open, he created a ton of seperation in a short space, there was a lot of area where that ball could have been completed, but Tannehill missed, from the eleven yard line There was a stat posted in the Jet game, Tannehill has a 98 QB rating in the first 3 quaters and a 75 QB rating in the fourth, that sent me looking into Tannehill's splits.
On first and second downs Tannehill completes about 63% of his passes for around an 88 QB rating with 40 TDs and 19 INTs On third down he completes 59%, for a 73.5 QB rating with 16 TDs and 17 INTs.
With less than 10 yards to go for a first down or TD, Tannehill has around a 100 QB rating with 44 TDs to 13 INTs, with over 10 yards to go he has a 74 QB rating with 13 TDs to 26 INTs.
When leading or tied Tannehill completes about 63% for about an 86.6 QB rating with 28 TDs and 15 INTs, when trailing he completes 60% for a 79.5 QB rating with 29 TDs and 24 INTs.
In the first three quaters Tannehill completes about 63% for about an 87 QB rating with 43 TDs and 25 INTs, in the fourth quater Tannehill completes 56% for about a 73 QB rating with 14 TDs and 13 INTs. Also, when trailing with four minutes or less, Tannehill completes in the low 50% range, with a QB rating about the same and 5 TDs to 10 INTs.
These stats are painting a picture of a QB who is not getting it done in crucial situations in particular, take out third downs, fourth quaters and trailing in games and Tannehill has good stats, but you can't do that. He is showing a pattern, a tendency to underperform in crucial situations, like the four passes in the last five weeks.
Then you also have the deep ball issues and the pockect awareness issues as well, but the underperforming in crucial situations is much more important, a QB that is not helping you win those close games isn't going to last. So in the end will Tannehill be just a better version of Henne, a talented QB you have to move on from, because they just aren't it.
Tannehill will have to start playing much better in crucial situations if he wants to make his mark in the NFL, a good start would be a win in NE.
Offensive Line (specifically Dallas Thomas) - Let's call it what it is. Dallas Thomas is not even a mediocre right tackle. 3 sacks and 2 pressures allowed. But to be fair, the entire offensive line struggled. The running lanes disappeared in the 2nd half, when the Dolphins would even bother calling a run, but more importantly, the offensive line failed to protect Ryan Tannehill. 6 sacks and 14 pressures allowed. That means Tannehill was under some kind of duress for about half of his drop backs. This isn't the first time this season that Tannehill is facing some sort of pressure on about half his drop backs. Poor protection doesn't give receivers time to get open when the Dolphins want to go downfield, which isn't often. The announcers kept talking about how the Dolphins didn't go downfield or call deep routes. Well, I can partially understand why seeing as how this offensive line at this point isn't much better than last year's unit at pass protection. There is still work to do, especially at guard and with depth on this unit.
Kevin Coyle's Defense - I specifically mention Kevin Coyle's defense because this is the unit he built. His philosophy of bending but not breaking doesn't work in December. What works is pressure, hitting, aggressiveness. All too often, Dolphins defenders are asked to sit back and react. This gives the offense an advantage, especially when the offense has a competent quarterback. The Dolphins came out aggressive, playing press coverage, hitting, getting penetration. That disappeared towards the end of the first half, when the Dolphins went into their predictable prevent defense against the 2 minute drill. It was completely invisible in the second half. From day one, Coyle put his imprint on this defense, switching it from a very effective 3-4 to the 4-3 unit we see today. That was the first mistake. The second mistake was going more zone heavy and moving away from the press coverage most good defenses in the NFL play. He owns it.
Officiating - The Dolphins lost because they got beat, but the officials certainly didn't help with some bad calls. Specifically the ineligible man downfield calls against Mike Pouncey. Those calls happened on big plays and they were wrong. The worst one was when Tannehill completed a 31 yard pass to Mike Wallace that set up the Dolphins in the red zone. The bad call wiped out the 31 yard play and on the next couple of plays the Dolphins started moving back and were taken out of field goal range. Another call that cost the Dolphins points was when the Dolphins sacked Joe Flacco for a safety. The correct thing to do would have been to call it a safety and then review the play. Because the refs didn't call it a safety, they put the onus on the Dolphins to ask for the play to be reviewed. Another thing to point out is that they kept calling the Dolphins for ineligible man downfield, but failed to call the Ravens for a pick on the Steve Smith touchdown when it was clear Torrey Smith was doing nothing but blocking the DB as soon as the ball was snapped. Every game has bad calls, but they usually even themselves out. They did not in this game at all.
The Dolphins now have a tough road to finish with a winning record, let alone get into the playoffs. The biggest failure on this team has been the coaching, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and the play of the offensive line in protecting the quarterback. At the very least, Kevin Coyle needs to be replaced, but ideally the Dolphins replace Joe Philbin and bring in a coach with more guts. Playing it safe only gets you to around .500 at best. That is what the Dolphins are, a reflection of their head coach.