Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Ryan Tannehill was a quarterback in high school but was then converted to wide receiver in college at Texas A&M. After two years, Tannehill begged for a chance to play quarterback and waas given the opportunity. Since his junior year, he hasn’t looked back and parlayed it into being selected number eight overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The fact that Tannehill was so athletic made it puzzling why he wouldn’t run more in his first two years in the NFL. Former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman never truly answered the question when asked but instead, said that Tannehill must go through his progressions before deciding whether or not to take off or try to complete the pass. However, this year under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, Tannehill has become a dangerous threat on the ground in the new read-option based offense. Through six game, Tannehill has picked up 150 yards on 22 carries and that number only looks to move up as we move through the rest of the season.
“It’s a part of the offense. It’s something that can be a positive thing,” Joe Philbin said. “It’s not rocket science. It’s not the magic pill, but it’s something that we’ve utilized game-by-game based on how our opponents line up and how we anticipate them playing that particular scheme. One week could be emphasized more than another. Some weeks may not be, but I think it is something defenses have to spend some time on tape to demonstrate the ability to at times run it effectively. I think that’s going to devote some practice time to it.”
Against the Chicago Bears, Tannehill took off on a 4th and 1 and gained over 20 yards but not before he dragged two Chicago Bears defenders for about 12 yards prior to being tackled. Philbin said he loved every part of it and it ignited some energy into the team.
“I loved that. I thought it was great. I think he, after contact, got contact at after 12 yards. I think he was smart. He had good ball security at that point in time and was able to drag guys. Those types of runs, we showed the whole team just the running backs, the tight ends and the wide receivers, when you break tackles or carry guys five, six, seven, eight extra yards, I think it’s a momentum building for the whole team.”
One of the biggest concerns is an injury to Tannehill because once he crosses the line of scrimmage, he is treated as a runner and no longer a quarterback. Philbin said that if a defender is coming straight on, they want Tannehill to slide but otherwise, he’s free to do what he wants. Philbin said he wouldn’t call the game any differently just because he fears an injury.
“We have to do whatever we have to do to move the ball in the game. If we feel like that’s the best way to do it, then we will call it a bunch of times. If a team defends it awful well and we don’t seem to have the answers to get it going, we probably aren’t going to call it a whole lot. We haven’t put any restrictions, limits. It’s hard to predict. I said last week, if you would have asked me last week, I would have said we probably are going to be handing the ball off all day. Things change when you get to the game.”
Lamar Miller, who is a focal part of the read-option play, said there are many things that happen before and right after the ball is snapped and keeping his focus is essential.
“You just have to be ready. You never know when he is going to be with the ball or you keep it. I just try to read my block like he’s going to give me the ball every time. We have to be really quick because you never know what the defense is going to do. He’s been doing a great job of just reading the defense.”
Miller also said he worries sometimes when he sees Tannehill running too often because he doesn’t want him to get hurt but he also said Tannehill has been smart about it and knows when to get down. In addition, he said it really motivates the offense when they see Tannehill taking off for a big run and battling for extra yards.