Tannehill Progressing Throughout Preseason

Posted Aug 26, 2013

Quarterback's measure of progress isn’t so much related to statistics.

In today’s NFL, it’s pretty difficult for a starting quarterback to fly under the radar, but that’s pretty much what Ryan Tannehill has done this preseason.

The Dolphins’ first-team offense got off to a slow start in each of the first three preseason games and struggled in the red zone against Tampa Bay Saturday night, but the numbers show Tannehill doing an impressive job throwing the ball.

Through the Dolphins’ first four preseason games, Tannehill has compiled a passer rating of 98.6, a figure that would have ranked him seventh last season among all starting quarterbacks. To put that number in perspective, Tom Brady finished the 2012 season with a 98.7 rating.

“I’m progressing,” Tannehill said after the 17-16 loss against Tampa Bay Saturday night. “I think that there is still things I need to work on, but I think I’m moving in the right direction. There are still some plays that I should be better at, but I’m learning and trying not to make the same mistake twice.”

In that game against the Buccaneers, Tannehill had a 90.0 passer rating after completing 17 of 27 passes for 150 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Keep in mind, though, that those stats would have been better had it not been for a couple of drops, including one in the end zone by Brandon Gibson.

Tannehill has been on a roll, really, since a forgettable outing in the Hall of Fame Game against Dallas. His rating was a tremendous 120.1 for the game at Jacksonville and almost just as good the following week at Houston (119.0).

For Tannehill, the measure of progress isn’t so much related to statistics.

“It’s not a specific thing; it’s an overall confidence,” Tannehill said. “Am I making good decisions? Am I getting it to the right play? Am I going the right place with the ball and making decisions with the ball faster than I used to be. All of those things play into it as well as moving the ball down the field.”

In their most extensive action of the preseason, the first-team offensive players moved the ball pretty well against Tampa Bay in the first half.

The Dolphins racked up 180 total yards and 15 first downs, but what irked everyone afterward where the shortcomings in the red zone.

Miami scored only one touchdown despite have a first-and-goal on three different drives. The first drive of the game, in particular, was frustrating because the Dolphins held the ball for more than 8 minutes before being forced to settle for a field goal.

“It doesn’t raise (the) alarm, but we definitely will work on it and look at things we did well (and) things we were a hair off,” Tannehill said. “We had some chances, and we were just a hair off. Again, this is still the preseason. We are still ironing out some small wrinkles. I saw some good things of us moving the ball down the field. Now we just got to fix that one little thing that will get us in the end zone instead of being a foot off. ”

Tannehill was able to get the Dolphins in the end zone right before halftime in the Tampa Bay game, marking the third consecutive game his night of work ended with a touchdown.

Tannehill had his share of quality throws throughout the preseason. Against Tampa Bay, most notably a quick strike to Brian Hartline to convert a fourth-and-3 from the Bucs 12-yard line on the first drive of the game. Against Houston, Tannehill threw a bullet to Mike Wallace between two defenders for a touchdown. Against Jacksonville, he floated a beautiful pass down the middle of the field over a linebacker and right into the arms of tight end Dustin Keller.

When Head Coach Joe Philbin was asked to assess Tannehill’s development last week, he talked not about the quarterback’s passing but rather the mental part of the game.

“He redirected the blocking schemes correctly on the first play of (a couple of) games,” Philbin said. “It’s not like he was out there and, ‘Oh my gosh, what is happening?’ He saw exactly what was happening, communicated it to the offensive unit what needed to be done. Again, he is ready to play. He knows what he was doing. Those were good things. ”

There have been a lot of good things from Tannehill this preseason. Without question, he’s been more effective than last preseason when he ended up with a 66.9 passer rating.

Tannehill would be the first to admit there still is more work to be done, but his preseason showing clearly is reason for optimism.

Asked Monday to assess where he is now compared to the 2012 preseason, Tannehill didn’t hesitate in his answer.

“A lot better,” Tannehill said. “It’s hard to quantify, but there’s so many instances where I can be better than last year. I feel like I’ve worked to improve those areas all offseason and heading into this year.”
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