If you are surprised by this headline, you should be. It doesn’t really make a ton of sense. However, this is a legitimate consideration down in South Beach where the Miami Dolphins coaching staff is currently dissecting a 34-15 loss at the hands of the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs. Sure Tannehill didn’t look very good in the game, but I am shocked that I am seeing people calling for him to be replaced. It just does not add up to me that Miami would be looking to pull the plug on Tannehill so soon.
Let’s look at his stats. So far, in Tannehill’s very short career (only 35 games) he has thrown for 7,831 yards (roughly 225 yards per game), 40 touchdowns (just over one per game), 32 interceptions (just under one per game) and has an average quarterback rating of 78.6. Those numbers don’t jump of the page, but you need to look into them a little bit. Tannehill is only beginning his third season in the NFL. His rookie numbers are not that impressive but not many rookie quarterbacks’ are. From year one to year two, Tannehill threw 12 more touchdowns and for over 600 more yards, falling just short of 4,000 for the season. That is a nice improvement for just one year. His quarterback rating also jumped from 76.1 to 81.7. Statistically, there is some hope for him, even if he has had a bit of a rough start to 2014. (Stats from espn.com).
Because his stats are not eye popping in a pass heavy league, people argue that Tannehill is not a suitable quarterback. But can you really blame him for it? His supporting cast has been awful. He had the worst offensive line in football last year as he was sacked a league-high 58 times last year or 3.63 times per game. He also has not had much help in the running game either. The Dolphins ranked 26th in the NFL last season running the football and only mustered eight rushing touchdowns as a team, one coming from Tannehill himself. Then there are the receivers. I don’t really have too many statistics on this one but Tannehill hasn’t had much to work with. He has big play threat Mike Wallace who is a solid receiver but then the drop off following that is enormous. Rookie wide out Jarvis Landry and consistently average Brian Hartline are nice options and Charles Clay is a serviceable tight end but none of them really make Tannehill’s life much easier. They make a couple of plays here and there but none of them is a playmaker in an offense that desperately lacks one.
Now to break down Tannehill’s first games of the season. He looked average in the season opener against New England finishing with a completion percentage of 56.2 and throwing for 178 yards. He did not play great but he made enough plays to help the Dolphins win. The running game finally stepped up and made a difference for him making his life easier. Then the second week against the Bill, the Dolphins offense reverted to 2013 form. Tannehill got sacked 4 times and was asked to throw the ball 49 times as the running game was stagnant all day finishing with only 80 yards (Tannehill had 11 of them) at less than 4 yards a carry. He managed a touchdown pass but he also threw an interception. Despite him not playing well, he was still Miami’s best offensive player. Then yesterday against the Chiefs, Tannehill was truly at fault. He avoided throwing an interception but his completion percentage dropped below 50 and the running game did plenty to help him finishing with 132 yards excluding Tannehill at 6.9 yards a clip. Once again though, Tannehill was sacked four times and definitely felt the pressure.
What this long-winded analysis is trying to get at is that I don’t think it is fair to blame this all on Tannehill. He hasn’t played particularly well to start the year but he is not the only player failing to meet expectations. The running game has been up and down through 3 weeks. He still doesn’t have a go to offensive playmaker and he is still there as one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the game. If Tannehill continues to fail to show up, then maybe it is time to look elsewhere. Otherwise, benching the third year kid for a veteran back up in Matt Moore doesn’t add up. The Dolphins organization already knows what Moore can do and he is not going to be improving any time soon. Tannehill being as young as he is can still get better. If you ask me, they need to stick with this kid a little longer before they declare him a bust.