Shutdown Corner

Tannehill struggles in first game since being named Dolphins’ starter

MJD
Shutdown Corner

Earlier in the week, Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin named rookie Ryan Tannehill the Dolphins' starting quarterback. On Friday night, Tannehill had his first chance to reward Philbin's trust as the Dolphins hosted the Atlanta Falcons in a week three preseason game.

Things didn't go horribly for Tannehill, but they weren't great, either. If you're a Dolphins fan, there was enough there to inspire at least mild excitement. Maybe you're better off not to direct your excitement towards this season, because the supporting cast just isn't there, but there's no reason to be down on Tannehill himself.

His final numbers looked pretty poor ‒ 11-of-27 for 112 yards, no touchdowns and one interception ‒ but the raw numbers miss some things. There were drops and one ball that was thrown away, and Tannehill could've easily had a notch in the touchdown column, too.

Here's the fine-toothed comb. Tannehill dropped back and attempted to throw 29 times, and here are the specific results of each dropback:

• 1st and 5: Tannehill looks for Legedu Naanee on a quick slant. It's in front of him, as Naanee had stopped his route. Incomplete.
• 1st and 10: Again to Naanee, this time on about an 8-yard comeback. Asante Samuel was all over him. Incomplete again.
• 3rd and 15: Middle screen pass set up for Reggie Bush. Completed.
• 3rd and 4: The pocket collapses around Tannehill, but he tucks and runs, showing some pretty good legs. First down, Dolphins.
• 2nd and 12: Wanted Naanee on about a 15-yard comeback on the left sideline, but the pass was too tall.
• 3rd and 12: Interception. Tannehill wanted to go about 13 yards over the middle to Davone Bess, but middle linebacker Sean Weatherspoon tipped it over Bess' head, and Thomas DeCoud picked it off behind him.
• 2nd and 1: Quick screen to Legedu Naanee. Complete.
• 1st and 10: Wanted Naanee over the middle, but threw it behind him.
• 2nd and 10: Attempted a quick five-yard hitch to Anthony Fasano. Pass appeared to be there, but Fasano dropped it.
• 3rd and 10: Tannehill throws to Bess on an 11-yard comeback. Complete, despite good coverage.
• 1st and 10: Finds Davone Bess down the seam for a 20-yard completion.
• 1st and 10: Tannehill bootlegs and finds a wide-open fullback.
• 1st and goal from the 8: Wanted the slant, but his receiver was tightly covered and he tried to force it. Incomplete.
• 3rd and goal from the 4: Tannehill throws to a tightly-covered Fasano just across the goal line, and puts it in a good spot, away from the coverage. Fasano dropped it. Should have been a touchdown pass.
• 2nd and 8: Six yards to Fasano over the middle.
• 2nd and 9: Tannehill finds heavy pressure on a play action pass and throws the ball away. Nice job here.
• 3rd and 9: Under pressure again, Tannehill is hit from behind and fumbles. Dolphins recover.
• 1st and 10: Five yard out to Rashard Matthews. Complete.
• 3rd and 4: Looking for Fasano for about six yards, Weatherspoon broke it up. Fasano wasn't open. Tannehill shouldn't have tried.

First-half two-minute drill:
• 1st and 10. Five yard attempt to Fasano, and Tannehill put it on him, but Fasano couldn't hold on as he was hit.
• 2nd and 10: Threaded the needle on a six-yard throw to Davone Bess. Complete.
• 3rd and 4. Tannehill throws 11 yards down the left sideline to Bess in a narrow window. Complete for an important first down.
• 1st and 10: Quick slant to a wide-open Steve Slaton. Complete.
• 1st and 10: Tannehill attempts a five-yard out to Clyde Gates. The ball is tipped before it gets there, though, and is nearly intercepted.
• 2nd and 10: Flushed from the pocket, Tannehill looks for Marlon Moore on the sideline. Incomplete. Would've required a perfect throw and a difficult catch.
• 3rd and 10: Pass completed short to Fasano, who is held short of the sticks.

Second half:
• 1st and 10: Tannehill throws deep down the left sideline, 32 yards to Clyde Gates, who very nearly brings it in. The throw was excellent, but Gates just couldn't get his feet in.
• 2nd and 10: Looking short for running back Charles Clay. Broken up.
• 3rd and 10: Tannehill feels the pressure and tucks and runs. Well short of the first down.

And that was the end of the night for Tannehill, as he was relieved by Matt Moore. Tannehill started the game slowly, but did eventually settle in and make a few good throws in a row. He made some mistakes, as every rookie will, but he made some very accurate throws, too. He also showed that he can tuck the ball away and run it when necessary. It was a somewhat encouraging performance.

Matt Moore wasn't very effective in relief, and neither team could get the Dolphins in the endzone. They ended up losing to the Falcons, 23-6.

There are positive signs all around Tannehill, but the 2012 is going to be tough on him. It would be tough for anyone quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins. His offensive line isn't great, nor are his receivers, and opposing defenses will sit on short routes. But if you're a Dolphins fan, hopefully Reggie Bush can build on a good 2011 and take some pressure off the passing game. If he does, Tannehill might be able to sneak up on some teams have a big game here and there.

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