The folks at ProFootballFocus.com, the grading website that has gained a significant foothold among NFL fans and even some teams wanting in-depth and independent player grades, really love Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Even as Tannehill’s honeymoon has ended in some circles and his poor performances are critiqued more closely and excused far less, the PFF guys would argue a close look at Tannehill should be welcomed by the player.
That’s because Tannehill has turned in two uninspiring games to open this season, games both he and Dolphins coaches have candidly said are not meeting their own standards, but the PFF guys insist Tannehill rocks!
ProFootballFocus says Ryan Tannehill is so far the third-best quarterback in the NFL.
It’s right there in their quarterback ratings: Matt Ryan No. 1, Aaron Rodgers No. 2, and Tannehill No. 3.
So what does Tannehill think of being graded third-most effective quarterback in the NFL?
“Not accurate by what I’m considering,” Tannehill said this week. “I haven’t been playing up to my standards and up to our standards as a team. Just have to get better.”
It is not accurate because, well, it is not true.
Anyone with eyes, anyone who has watched Tannehill play this season knows he is still battling accuracy issues and, frustratingly, the lack of accuracy that has been a concerning part of his deep passing game has crept into his intermediate passes as well.
Watch Tannehill against the New England Patriots in the opener and the Buffalo Bills last week and you see slant throws behind their intended targets. You see square-ins that are placed too high or a couple too low.
Sometimes the receivers adjust and make the plays anyway. So the passes are completed. Tannehill gets credit for them. But a handful of those throws that were completed result in shorter gains than if they were rightly placed.
“I just haven’t been putting the ball in the right spot. I haven’t been at my best,” Tannehill said. “It’s got to change and it’s got to change fast.”
This is where it must be said Tannehill also has made some beautiful throws this season that merely resulted in an incompletion because the passes were dropped. So far tight ends Charles Clay and Dion Sims and running back Lamar Miller have hurt Tannehill and the team by dropping excellent passes.
And in gauging Tannehill’s 81 passes, the PFF people make the case that if Tannehill were getting more reliable help, his mainstream statistics would get a significant boost and there would be no conversation about how badly he needs to improve because, after all, he has the third-best QB grade of any NFL quarterback.
ProFootballFocus provides an entertaining and insightful look at the game that more and more fans are increasingly interested in. I respect what they do and admire their passion for doing it.
But their quarterback grades give me serious pause.
Consider that while Tannehill is the No. 3 graded passer by PFF, Phillip Rivers is No. 12, Peyton Manning is No. 13, Jay Cutler is No. 18, and Russell Wilson is No. 27.
Those quarterbacks have combined to throw 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Manning and Wilson have not thrown an interception this season.
Is the handful of drops by Miami pass-catchers so significant that Tannehill thus grades better than those others?
Then there is this:
Tannehill has been getting love from PFF his entire career. As rookies, Tannehill was graded higher than Andrew Luck.
So that’s about the drops right? No, Tannehill suffered 36 dropped passes that season while Luck suffered 50.
So sacks right? Tannehill was under more pressure, right? No, Luck suffered 41 sacks to Tannehill’s 35, according to PFF’s own statistics.
So how did the case being made for Tannehill this season work against Luck in 2012 when Luck also had better mainstream statistics?
That ’12 season PFF graded Tannehill ahead of Colin Kaepernick, going so far as giving him a better rushing grade than one of the NFL’s best running quarterbacks. The site also graded Tannehill ahead of Cutler, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton.
Last season the PFF guys had Tannehill as the No. 5 graded quarterback in the entire NFL. There goes the defense that this year’s grade is merely the product of a small sample size.
Tannehill in 2013 was graded ahead of Cam Newton, Rodgers, Kaepernick and Luck.
Those grades tell me one thing.
My eyes tell me something much different.
Trust your eyes, people.
Trusting those grades should lead the Dolphins front office to immediately extend Tannehill’s contract because they suggest he was a Top 5 quarterback last year and has picked up right where he left off this year.
That’s not the case.