In four of their nine losses, the Dolphins had the ball, late in regulation, needing a touchdown to win. In each of those games — against the Jets, Cardinals, Colts and Bills — they fell short.
When facing the Cardinals and Bills, Tannehill committed two costly late turnovers, including a fumble in Arizona with the Dolphins up a touchdown, needing only to run out the clock. The Cardinals recovered, tied the game and ultimately won in overtime.
Meanwhile, Andrew Luck had nearly an identical quarterback rating last year as Tannehill. But his team captured a wild-card playoff spot because the Colts converted 43 percent of their third downs and had seven fourth-quarter or overtime wins.
It’s also a huge reason why Luck, along with fellow phenoms Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, has his jersey displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Tannehill does not.
“Someone has to find a way to win the game,’’ Tannehill said.
“Being the quarterback, being the leader, I want the ball to be in my hands if the game’s on the line, to win the game.’’
Statistically, Tannehill had a decent season for a rookie, and under normal circumstances, would have been given more credit.
He completed 58 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. No Dolphins rookie has ever thrown for more than his 3,294 yards.
And many believe he’ll only be better in Year 2. Mike Sherman said on draft weekend that he expects Tannehill to be the league’s most improved quarterback. NFL.com listed him as the No. 1 player expected to “Make The Leap’’ this season.
If so, that would be an excellent sign of things to come.
For quarterbacks, the second season as a starter is often when things begin to click. Eli Manning’s quarterback rating jumped more than 20 points from Year 1 to 2. Brother Peyton had a similar breakthrough, while some — like Drew Brees and Matt Ryan — didn’t truly blossom until their third seasons.
That might be too late for Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who is in the final year of his contract.
“You’ve got to move the team into the end zone,’’ Ireland said of Tannehill. “That’s obviously what we’re trying to get accomplished here. ... How he does it, really doesn’t matter to me. Just get your team into the end zone.’’
Added Tannehill: “You are going to go through good times and bad times. [If] you have a bad play, you are going to have to recover from that. I think [it’s] just as much mental as physical.’’