The Miami Dolphins spent the off-season doing everything they could to provide fifth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with a chance to succeed. Could Tannehill be set for a breakout similar to Drew Brees?
— They hired the “hot” coordinator and Quarterback Whisperer in Adam Gase.
— They’ve removed the intellectual shackles, allowing Tannehill to change plays at the line.
— The o-line is reconfigured (again) in an attempt to reduce sacks.
— The offense appears to support Tannehill’s athleticism. It will be interesting to see how he performs “read option” plays.
However, as Dolphins fans, the word “hope” has evolved into nothing more than a set up for disappointment.
All of the aforementioned moves can be viewed as logically positive steps. The Dolphins need to understand where Tannehill’s ceiling resides. Gase needs to make that determination quickly in the first of his five-year contract. Rightly, Gase admits he would “fall on a grenade” for Tannehill.
In the hope department, let’s take a look at Tannehill’s first years as a Dolphin vs. Drew Brees with the Chargers. As we know, Brees enjoyed mixed support among Chargers fans after his four years. The team drafted Phillip Rivers and Brees was allowed to walk after sustaining a massive shoulder injury.
Nick Saban’s tenure with the Dolphins may have been brief, but his decision to sign Daunte Culpepper instead of Drew Brees serves as a key reason why the Dolphins slipped into the NFL’s lower echelons. On the one hand, given the failure of the Dolphins offensive lines over the years, we wonder if Brees would’ve prospered with the Dolphins roster. Remember, Chad Pennington suffered a shoulder injury and saw his career ended thanks to a sack.
We can never assume signing Brees would’ve created the exact result New Orleans enjoyed. That being said, we can compare Tannehill’s early career with Brees. The question is this: Is this the year Tannehill enjoys that “a-ha moment?”
Drew Brees Stats
Ryan Tannehill Stats
Scrubbing Brees’ first year where he completed 15-of-27, the pair actually match up with a .622 completion percentage (rounded).
Brees owned a better record, going 11-4 in 2004, and 9-7 in 2005. Tannehill has yet to enjoy a winning season, but we know football is a team game with the QB playing a major leadership role.
These two part ways in the Touchdown Department, however. Brees recorded 79 TD passes to Tannehill’s 54.
Brees was also sacked HALF as a much as Tannehill: 90 times vs. 184. However, Tannehill enjoyed nine Fourth-Quarter Comebacks to Brees’ five.
Tannehill Reasonable Expectation
Brees’ first year in New Orleans (2006) produced a 10-6 record and only a glimpse of the future. He completed 356 of 554 passes (64%) for 4,418 yards and 26 TD’s. Since that season, Brees has never failed to pass for less than 4,000 yards in a season. In fact, he passed for over 5,000 yards in the Saints’ 2009 season and finished 8-8. He tossed for 681 fewer yards in 2010, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.
If Gase is indeed the QB whisperer the media and experts claim, we should see Tannehill achieve Brees’ 2006 numbers.
Tannehill must make a huge leap in the leadership department. Rumors have swirled about lack of support in the Dolphins locker room. On the field, Tannehill needs to display confidence and fire. There’s too many times where he just quietly goes about his business. We need to see him leading a pre-game Maori Warrior chant like Brees.
Can you imagine seeing Tannehill fired up like this? By the way, “Who Dat?” way more inspiring than, say, “Fins Up” (which makes me throw up).
The good news: Brees evolved into this. This did not happen in San Diego.
You’re a Dolphins fan and rightly ask: “What can go wrong?”
From a skeptical point of view, Gase’s success appears overblown. So he made Peyton Manning better in Denver. It’s Peyton Manning. And the accolades lavished for his work with Jay Cutler appear overblown as the Bears’ offense did not appear earth-shattering. But, then again, anyone who can get a stubborn Cutler to take their advice might have some persuasiveness.
Gase can fully support Tannehill this season and if the QB fails to deliver, we’ll likely see a change going forward. Gase has nothing to lose by rightly and openly supporting his “franchise” quarterback.
We only hope that Gase, as a first-time head coach who’s also taking on play-calling duties, can handle everything thrown his way.
What do you think?