Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill tries to target problem of inaccuracy

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) drops back to pass in the fourth quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) drops back to pass in the fourth quarter as the Miami Dolphins host the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. STAFF PHOTO

Ryan Tannehill has been married for more than two years. His NFL honeymoon probably ended sometime this week.

If Twitter and talk radio are any indication, fan patience with the third-year quarterback is wearing thin.

Tannehill was expected to shine in Bill Lazor’s offense. Instead, his production through two weeks has not been appreciably better than it was under Mike Sherman.

The Dolphins were again flummoxed by the Bills’ defense on Sunday, and Tannehill’s inaccurate day was a big reason why. The Dolphins’ final four possessions resulted in a punt, two turnovers on downs and an interception.

Furthermore, Tannehill might actually be regressing. Dating to Week16 of last year — which would be a quarter of a season — he has been among the worst quarterbacks in football, at least on paper.

Of the 20 NFL quarterbacks to start the past four regular-season games, Tannehill has the worst completion percentage (53.4) and the second-lowest passer rating (61.3). Only Matt Cassel has been less efficient (his passer rating over that span is 59.1).

Tannehill, poised when faced with some uncomfortable questions Wednesday, argued that last year’s performance shouldn’t be connected to 2014. But he also agreed that he needs to be better.

“Obviously, I’m a competitor, I want to play well,” Tannehill said. “When you don’t make the play, you’re not happy with yourself. You look at it on tape, and it doesn’t make you feel good inside. But that doesn’t change the fact of what it is. It boils down to coming out on the practice field and doing it the right way here.”

Tannehill’s accuracy has been the most troubling aspect of his game. He has never been great with the long ball — he has completed just 1 of 7 passes this year thrown 20 yards or more — but lately, Tannehill has labored with even the easy throws.

He misfired three times on screen passes Sunday. He overthrew Brandon Gibson on what should have been a touchdown. And even when he completed passes, they were often in a place where receivers could do little with them.

As a team, the Dolphins have gained 243 yards after the catch through two games. By way of comparison, backup Eagles running back Darren Sproles has 176 yards.

“I think it boils down to feet, just being consistent in footwork and getting the ball out in the right spot,” Tannehill said.

The Dolphins’ struggles aren’t limited to Tannehill. Their receivers could do a better job, too. Tannehill has had at least two potential touchdown passes dropped in the first two games.

Additionally, the team made it a point to emphasize route timing in practice Wednesday, according to Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

“It doesn’t look like much against air, [but they] are very, very important periods where we make sure and we have the time, detail, the exact depth, the exact spacing horizontally on the field, whether we want the ball at the waist, the chin, above the helmet,” Philbin said. “It’s not just the accuracy of the quarterback. It’s the detail and the precision of the wide receivers that make it all go in the passing game.”

Still, the old adage in football is the quarterback gets too much of both the credit and the blame. Fans can’t tell when a receiver doesn’t run a route at the correct depth. Everyone can see when Tannehill misses a wide-open Mike Wallace on a deep ball.

Tannehill’s struggles have done nothing to jeopardize his place in the lineup. He’s the starter and would likely need to completely collapse for that to change. Plus, he has played poorly in the past but has rebounded each time.

After losing five of six games during the height of the team’s bullying scandal last season, the Dolphins reeled off wins in four of their next five games to get back into the playoff picture. Had they won either of their final two games, they would have made the playoffs.

Instead, it was the beginning of Tannehill’s slide. He has thrown just four touchdown passes in his past 49 possessions.

“I’m upset at myself for the way that I’ve played. Obviously, I want to get it corrected,” Tannehill said. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and it starts with this week. You flip it around in one week and you play well and you start stringing good games together. It’s just a matter of going out and taking care of business this week.”

Trending down

Ryan Tannehill in past four games: 79 of 148 (53.4 percent) for 705 yards, 4 TDs and 5 INTsPasser rating: 61.3

Five worst completion percentages (among QBs to start each of past four regular-season games):

Chad Henne59.0 percent

Matt Cassel57.0 percent

Tom Brady56.3 percent

Eli Manning55.8 percent

Ryan Tannehill53.4 percent

Five lowest passer ratings (among QBs to start each of past four regular-season games):

Ben Roethlisberger77.3

Joe Flacco68.2

Eli Manning68.1

Ryan Tannehill61.3

Matt Cassel59.1

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments