Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill speaks about the importance of Ted Larsen’s block during the Miami Miracle play.
We’ve all seen the progress from Ryan Tannehill, who’s 13-8 under Adam Gase, sixth in the NFL in passer rating this season and thrown eight touchdowns with just one interception since returning from his shoulder injury. Tannehill, incredibly, has the same passer rating in 21 games under Gase as Tom Brady has in his entire career (97.6).
But there are a couple of final frontiers that Tannehill simply must conquer: Leading a team into a playoffs (he missed the final three games and postseason game in 2016), and improving his play on the road, where his numbers have ranged from mediocre to dismal, depending on the game.
As Tannehill prepares to face a Vikings’ defense that ranks fifth in the league in yards allowed, here are some things to consider, courtesy of a study by The Miami Herald and contributor Anthony Frascone of 3oh5sports.com:
▪ Tannehill this season has a 128.0 passer rating at home (second behind only Drew Brees), compared with just 85.3 on the road. That differential of 42.7 is the second biggest among NFL starting quarterbacks, behind only the Rams’ Jared Goff, who’s 124.5 at home and 78.9 on the road.
▪ This home/road disparity isn’t new for him. In 21 games under Gase, here’s Tannehill at home: 10-1 record, 22 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, a 109.5 passer rating and 21 sacks taken and a 27 points per game average. That’s exceptional.
Here’s Tannehill on the road under Gase: 3-7 record, 13 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, an 86.2 rating and 27 sacks taken and a 16 point per game average.
For his career, he’s 26-17 at home (92.5 rating), 16-26 on the road (83.3). This isn’t all on him, because his pass protection has been clearly worse on the road.
▪ This is what’s most disturbing: In his career, Tannehill is 3-13 on the road against teams that were playoff teams that season. (I included this season’s loss at New England because the Patriots are highly likely to make the playoffs.) During those games, he has thrown 14 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while posting a dismal 73.9 passer rating and taking 53 sacks.
His only road wins against playoff teams: 2012 at Cincinnati, 2013 at Indianapolis and 2015 at Washington. Since that Redskins game, Tannehill has lost four consecutive road games against playoff teams (New England three times, Seattle once) by a margin by 117-48.
An important caveat: While a lot of quarterbacks play better at home than on the road, that’s not always the case. Eli Manning, Pat Mahomes and Matt Stafford are among those who have had much better passer ratings on the road this season.
Tannehill’s inability to win big road games – or even play well in many them – stands high on any list for those who aren’t convinced he should be here longterm. That needs to change starting today.
GASE ON THIRD AND SHORT
One of the reasons the Vikings fired their offensive coordinator is they were predictable on third down, passing far more often than running on third and short. Gase is far less predictable but still often leans pass on third and short. On 3rd and 1 or two over his tenure here, the Dolphins have passed 47 times and run 41 times.
Fifty-five percent of those 47 passes have been converted into first downs, and his unsuccessful attempted passing play on a 3rd and 1 against New England (which he regretted) seemed foolish. Sixty-six percent of those 41 runs have been converted into first downs.
CBS’ Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts are working Sunday’s Dolphins game, a week after calling the Miami Miracle. Eagle had a great call of the final play: “This will end it, or will it?... Oh look out! [Rob] Gronkowski didn’t have the angle!.. Touchdown, Kenyan Drake. A miracle!… A lateral heard round the world! Unimaginable!”
Eagle said by phone that he was happy with the call and happy “that I was in the moment. That’s part of the objective. You go through a mental checklist. Are you accurate, are you coherent and did you convey the emotion of the moment? That’s all you hope for. You can’t prepare for those kinds of moments. These plays live on forever. As an announcer, there is no second take, no going back and editing yourself. You have to live with what the soundtrack says forever.”
If there’s one thing he could have added? “Now you have time to think about it, the Great Drake Escape makes a lot of sense,” he said.
One thing that stood out, Eagle said, is “you call those end of game plays and there’s usually so much bedlam. It usually ends with flags flying, penalties, a disjointed attempt at lateraling and shoveling the ball backward. It’s usually so anticlimactic. To think back now how crisp and clean the Dolphins’ final play was is almost inconceivable.”
By the time Eagle got to the airport after last Sunday’s game, he had 113 text messages. Among those who reached out to him about his call: his friend Kevin Harlan (who had been calling a simultaneous CBS Texans-Colts game that day), ESPN’s Jon Sciambi (they went to day camp together as kids in the New York area) and CBS Sports president David Berson (told him it was a job well done).
Fouts, incidentally, has now been in the stadium for the two most famous Dolphins lateral games off all time – including the 41-38 playoff loss to San Diego in 1982, featuring the Duriel Harris/Tony Nathan end-of-first-half lateral.