A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Monday night:
▪ On my Twitter account (@flasportsbuzz), I half-jokingly said this on Sunday: “The Dolphins have felt like they could never get a definitive verdict on Ryan Tannehill because of injuries and roster shortcomings around him. Looks like that could be the case again this year because of an injury plagued, diminished offensive line. Sigh.”
As of a short time ago, 250 of you have responded to that tweet, with most sharing the same view: By year seven of his career and at age 30, enough is enough. A judgment on Tannehill needs to be made one way or the other this year, even if the talent around him isn’t entirely what the Dolphins envisioned because of injuries to guard Josh Sitton, center Daniel Kilgore, receiver DeVante Parker and concussed left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
And this can also be said: The best quarterbacks are still able, at times, to make plays when the pocket collapses, when circumstances are less than ideal, when rushers are caving in.
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In this area, Tannehill has ranked well below average since Adam Gase took over as coach in 2016, and oddly has seemed to have regressed, according to metrics provided by Pro Football Focus.
Consider: On plays where the quarterback is under pressure from a pass rush, Tannehill this season ranks 28th in passer rating at a poor 58.5.
Among all quarterbacks who have taken at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps, Tannehill – in those pressure situations – is tied for 24th in completions (13, in 28 attempts), 24th in yards (159) and 22nd in passer rating (58.5), with that rating ahead of only Sam Darnold, Andrew Luck, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Cam Newton.
Tannehill has taken 12 sacks and thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions on those plays under pressure this season. On Sunday on those pressure plays, Tannehill completed 6 of 12 passes for 65 yards but with two interceptions and a strip sack and a dismal passer rating of 26.7.
But keep this in mind, too: Even though Tannehill was playing well before his knee injury in his first year under Gase in 2016, he was one of the league’s worst that year in plays under pressure.
On those plays in 2016 when he faced a successful pass rush, he completed 71 of 133 passes for 840 yards with 29 sacks, three touchdowns, 10 interceptions (second most in the league despite missing three games) and a 49.1 passer rating, which ranked 25th of 28 quarterbacks who started at least 12 games.
What’s odd is that Tannehill - who missed the 2017 season with a knee injury - wasn’t as bad under pressure in 2014 and 2015, when he was sacked 46 and 45 times respectively.
In 2014, his 76.7 under-pressure rating ranked seventh-best among all quarterbacks who started at least 12 games, and he had seven touchdown passes and four interceptions in that situation.
In 2015, his 78.8 rating under pressure (with nine TDs and 10 picks) was 11th best among quarterbacks who started at least 12 games.
So Tannehill, while improving in some other areas under Gase, has curiously regressed in this one.
And yes, it is possible to thrive at times under pressure. The Chargers’ Phillip Rivers has a 121.2 passer rating under pressure this year – more than double Tannehill’s rating. Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is at 98.4 under pressure this season, the Rams’ Jared Goff at 95.9 and the Saints’ Drew Brees at 92.3 entering the Monday Night Football game this week.
So yes, it is fair to judge Tannehill under pressure.
Will there be some mistakes on those types of plays? Of course. But you cannot have three back-breaking turnovers over 20 minutes of game time, as the Dolphins witnessed Sunday.
▪ Count former Dolphins standout receiver O.J. McDuffie among those who have grown impatient with Tannehill.
McDuffie, who has had some very good guests on his and Seth Levit’s podcast The Fish Tank, tweeted Sunday: “My biggest problem with our team, is that I’m never confident we can put a game winning drive together when we need it. That starts with the guy with the ball in his hands.”
McDuffie responded to a fan this way: “He’s definitely not the worst. But when things break down, he’s at his worst. Other QBs have things break down and find a way. That’s what good QBs do.”
The aforementioned metrics bear that out.
▪ Former Dolphins running back Troy Stradford made a good point about Tannehill on Twitter: “Do what he does best!!! Ball out of his hands quick and keep him on the edges –bootlegs, sprint-outs, etc.”
Gase figures to do more of that on Sunday against Chicago.
Considering Tannehill has become one of the league’s better deep ball passers - and considering he has two excellent deep threats in Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant - it’s a shame that it looks like he won’t have the time to launch many deep balls with this diminished offensive line.
Here’s my view on Tannehill: You don’t make a definitive judgment about him until after the season. There’s no need now, in early October, to determine if he’s your quarterback well into the future.
▪ How bad was the Dolphins’ offensive line on Sunday?
Per PFF, left tackle Sam Young – after replacing Tunsil - allowed four pressures in just 20 pass-blocking snaps, including the one that resulted in the Tannehill interception off Durham Smythe’s helmet. Young also committed two penalties.
Left guard Ted Larsen allowed six pressures in the game, including a sack to Geno Atkins.
Right tackle Ja’Wuan James was beaten by Carlos Dunlap on the play that forced the Tannehill strip sack and committed a holding penalty that turned a 3rd and 5 into a 2nd and 20. Atkins beat right guard Jesse Davis for a sack.
But PFF said center Travis Swanson was Miami’s highest-graded offensive player Sunday and Tunsil was second-best. They did good work in the run game Sunday.
▪ Per PFF, the defense played its best game as a unit this season despite missing defensive end Cameron Wake.
Safety Reshad Jones came back after missing the last two weeks and earned an elite 91.9 overall grade, which was second-best among all safeties for the week. Jones recorded eight tackles while not missing a tackle and was targeted twice in coverage, allowing one reception for minus two yards and breaking up two passes.
▪ Per PFF, linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker each had the best games in their young careers “and surely made Ohio State proud in their return to the state in Week 5.”
McMillan racked up six tackles and allowed just 10 yards in coverage on his way to an 88.8 overall grade, tops for all linebackers in Week 5. Baker produced three stops, two quarterback sacks and allowed just eight yards in coverage for the game.
Here are my Dolphins nuggets from earlier Monday.