The abuse of Ryan Tannehill has been nonstop the past few years in South Florida. He has been lit up on talk shows, seared by sports columnists. One talk-show host even calls him “Tanne-kill” since he was killing the Dolphins’ chances of winning.
Now even the staunchest critics have to start giving Tannehill credit after what transpired the past two weeks on the West Coast.
After making some of the best throws of his career to help beat San Diego last week, he drove the Dolphins 75 yards in 1:35 to the winning score with 40 seconds left Sunday, on a 9-yard pass to DeVante Parker to beat the Los Angeles Rams 14-10. It was a pressure drive executed perfectly by a player who had three of his starting offensive lineman on the sidelines — and it came on a rare rainy day in Southern California.
That drive came after he led the Dolphins 77 yards to another touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry to cut the lead to three at 10-7 on a day when the offense was essentially a punt-fest.
When it was time to do it, Tannehill did it.
I am not going to sit here and say Tannehill was good Sunday, but when it mattered he was that and a lot more. He has been playing mistake-free football in the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak that has them at 6-4 and clearly in the AFC playoff picture. In those five games, he has five touchdown passes and one interception, that coming against the Rams on Sunday.
The yardage totals in those five games are far from gaudy, with 252 against the Steelers in Week 6 being the best of the five games, but aided by the much-improved running game he is playing much more confidently than at any time in his career.
There was talk this summer that Tannehill might not be the long-term answer in Miami. But you won’t hear that talk now. Tannehill signed a four-year extension last year, one that includes a base salary of $18 million next season. That’s steep, but what are the options if he walks?
Now even that talk seems crazy.
New coach Adam Gase, who is considered a quarterback whisperer of sorts, has believed in Tannehill from the start. When I talked with Gase this spring in his office, he was adamant that Tannehill could have success as a long-term starter. He was quick to note how Tannehill has now been in three different systems in his first four five seasons, which can slow a quarterback’s clock.
Gase also tweaked a few mechanical things, has given Tannehill more freedom at the line of scrimmage and truly believes in what he’s doing. He also said Tannehill lives the position, which is perfect for Gase and his style of coaching.
The Dolphins next play host to the San Francisco 49ers this week, a game they should win, and then comes a tough five-game stretch to close it out. It’s at Baltimore, home against Arizona, at the Jets, at Buffalo and home against the Patriots. If they are to make the playoffs, they will have to fare well against their division rivals.
Quarterbacks are defined by how they close out games to win them, and also how they do in December in a playoff chase. We saw Tannehill get it done at crunch time against the Rams. Now comes the tough part — doing it in late November and December with something on the line.
Tannehill has never played on a winning team with the Dolphins. If it’s to happen this season, he will have to be a big part of it. The final six minutes against the Rams showed us that it’s more than possible — and “Tanne-kill” might be a nickname that needs to go bye-bye.
via CBS Sports