It's now the tail end of year number 2 for this former number 1 draft pick in Miami. Ryan Tannehill, leading up to this season had a high level of expectation that after starting the season with 5 TDs to 2 INTs, being mentioned in the same breath as Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck seemed achievable. However, after paying a visit to the Bayou in New Orleans and throwing three interceptions, Tannehill found himself in dire straits and looking for a way out of the shadow that is Dan Marino in Miami.
Yesterday versus the Jets Tannehill turned in another great performance and his best performance this season throwing for 331 yards, 2TD, and posted a 94.2 rating. In the first half of the game, even if the Dolphins didn't score a single touchdown, Ryan Tannehill was throwing the football at a high rate and completing passes. His first drive lead the Dolphins to scoring chances inside the 40 yard line if not for a missed Caleb Sturgis field goal. The offense appeared to stall in the first half due to the inability of Tannehill to deliver the football deep along the sidelines (pass thrown out of reach to WR Marlon Moore) and a bad pass to TE Charles Clay. In fact, one aspect of the Dolphins offense that has been missing all season is that safety valve that extends drives in a big tight end that can catch passes at the sticks for first downs. However, bouncing back from those poor drives, Tannehill found Clay later on a seam route that drove the Dolphins just past mid field hauling down a pretty pass that was thrown over the head of a linebacker sinking back into coverage for the Jets. It was Clay's ability to grab that pass and extend the drive that would lead to bigger and better things in the second half.
At the end of the first half, the Dolphins were already leading the time of possession with short time consuming and yard eating drives. Tannehill having sustained one sack, didn't resume the misfortune of getting sacked from behind since he found a way to compensate for the Jets pass rush by stepping up in the pocket and tucking the ball and running for positive yardage if he didn't see an open receiver. The fact that Tannehill began to run yesterday and was responsible for 25 of the 105 yards rushing in the Miami offensive attack.
In the second half, the Dolphins quarterback found that same moxie that has made him successful at bouncing back. With the Dolphins leading 6-0 at the half, upon getting the ball back on a fumble, Ryan Tannehill used his legs and arm to get the Dolphins inside the 35 yard line. Tannehill on a quick pass slant, a staple of a West Coast offense, fired a pass to the hands of WR Brian Hartline and Hartline did the rest breaking a tackle and turning a first down catch into a touchdown for 28 yards. On the next drive, needing to make a play on 2nd down, Tannehill motioned to Mike Wallace and hit him on a high comeback route pass with rookie Dee Milliner loosely covering him. It was a perfect play for Mike Wallace because he jumped for the pass which was already beautifully timed before Wallace made his break back to the football. There, Wallace grabbed the football spun and sprinted to the end zone untouched. At this point, this is all the Dolphins would need and the rest was keeping control of the football and the clock.
Three things stick out about this performance for Ryan Tannehill. The first was Tannehill's ability to sense the pressure and then rely on his legs to get positive yardage and first downs. Tannehill on the run appeared to be the same runner he was in college, running fluidly and with purpose. Next, Ryan Tannehill in the huddle made sure he and his receivers were on the same page. That is, the trust he established all season long, finally started to click with not only Hartline, but Mike Wallace. The passes to Wallace and the touchdown passes the past two weeks is a testament to the urgency placed on Tannehill working with Wallace and making it work. Finally, Ryan Tannehill demonstrated his calm and poised presence even though he did not have a touchdown pass in the first half. His ability to bounce back from adversity is astounding.
As the Dolphins continue a drive toward the goal of making the playoffs, one thing is for sure, that their franchise quarterback is more than improved than a year ago and ready for big things in Miami.