Barry Jackson

Examining how much Dolphins’ Tannehill has improved

Miami Dolphins quaterback Ryan Tannehill celebates with Arian Foster after a throw to Kenny Stills that resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sun., Oct. 23, 2016.
Miami Dolphins quaterback Ryan Tannehill celebates with Arian Foster after a throw to Kenny Stills that resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on Sun., Oct. 23, 2016. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A 10-pack of Dolphins notes on a Monday:

• One of Adam Gase’s missions, beyond transforming this into a winning organization, was making Ryan Tannehill a better quarterback. And in barely more than half a season, Gase already has done it, with Tannehill obviously also deserving a large share of the credit.

Tannehill’s passer rating has risen from 88.7 last season to 91.3, 16th best among all starters and ahead of, among others, Eli Manning (88.4 entering the Giants’ Monday night game), Jameis Winston (87.5), Carson Palmer (86), Cam Newton (86), Joe Flacco (78.3), Jay Cutler (77.1) and Brock Osweiler (74.1).

Tannehill is averaging a career-high 8.0 yards per attempt, better than his career mark of 7.0.

He’s completing 65.3 percent of his passes, well ahead of his 62.3 career mark.

• During the past four games, he has a passer rating of more than 97 in three of them – 97.4 against Pittsburgh, 99.4 against Buffalo and 130.6 against San Diego --- and has four touchdown passes and no interceptions. That 130.6 against the Chargers was the second-best of his career.

A huge key: He has been sacked only three times in those four games.

• This also speaks well of Gase: Chicago’s Cutler posted a career-high 92.3 rating in his one year with Gase as his offensive coordinator but has slipped to 77.1 this season without Gase.

• Passer rating can be an overrated stat, but this might shock you: According to ProFootballReference.com, Tannehill now ranks 27th in NFL history in career passer rating, among qualifying players, at 85.9.

The five directly ahead of him: Otto Graham, Dan Marino, Andrew Luck and Trent Green and Brett Favre (those last two are at 86, just a shade ahead of Tannehill).

Among the hundreds of quarterbacks behind Tannehill in all-time passer rating: Donovan McNabb, Jim Kelly, Flacco, Eli Manning, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts and Warren Moon.

Does this mean Tannehill is better than Kelly, Aikman and Fouts? Of course not. It also raises issues with the NFL’s passer rating formula, to an extent. But it is impressive, nevertheless.

• Two areas where Tannehill must improve: He has a 79 passer rating on third down, which is 11th in the AFC.

And only 37.8 percent of his third down throws have been parlayed into first downs, which ranks 19th. The top two in that category: Tom Brady at 66.4 and Drew Brees at 55.3.

• According to Elias: When Kiko Alonso returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, it was by far the latest in a game that Miami had an interception returned for a game-winning touchdown. The previous latest was by Kenny Mixon with 9:51 to go in the fourth quarter in a game against Denver in 2001.

• Quite a first game for Earl Mitchell off injured reserve; Pro Football Focus rated him Miami’s best defender on Sunday, with three runs stops and three quarterback hurries in 31 highly productive snaps.

• Marquies Gray has been a revelation for Miami, with timely catches and a few outstanding blocks each game, including one on Jay Ajayi’s 40-yard run.

Pro Football Focus has him ranked 37th among all tight ends. Gray played 29 of 51 snaps on Sunday; Dion Sims returned from his concussion and played 49.

• Couple notable snap counts from Sunday: Safety Bacarri Rambo continues to get a bigger role on defense, playing 56 of Miami’s 77 defensive snaps. Michael Thomas, conversely, played 27 snaps on defense…

Mario Williams played just 26 snaps, compared with 55 for Andre Branch, 43 for Cam Wake, and 41 for Jason Jones… Though they all have roles on special teams, offensive snaps continue to be limited for Miami’s offensive skill position rookies. Jakeem Grant got one snap on offense, Kenyan Drake two and Leonte Carroo none.

• Count NBC’s Tony Dungy among those who says he’s now a believer in Miami. And Rodney Harrison said Miami’s running game makes them legitimate.

• Sunday’s Dolphins game is being cross-flexed to Fox. For more on that, a Dolphins ratings surprise Sunday, and some other media notes from Monday, please click here.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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