In the third year of Ryan Tannehill’s NFL career, he has taken a huge step into becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league and has started to establish himself as the undisputed leader and starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, he threw for close to 400 yards and added four touchdowns to his stat sheet. Bill Lazor talked about the progress that Tannehill has made and what he needs to do moving forward.
“When I look at yesterday, I’ll just give you some of the specifics. I saw near the end of the game, in the fourth quarter alone, a completion to Brandon Gibson. I saw Ryan stand in the pocket with two guys. It took a little bit longer on the route. I think the defender that was covering Brandon was called for holding and, so the play took a little bit, I saw Ryan stand in the pocket with two guys coming off blocks and he stood in there, made the throw while both of the guys were about to hit him and they did hit him. I saw a play in the first quarter of the game, we ran a play-action and we tried to take a shot down the field, it was covered. He got some pressure late because it took a while and he threw the ball away and avoided a sack.”
While these are little things, Lazor said that this is the stuff he and other coaches want to see as it’s not always about the bigger details and nuances of the game.
“For me, as the coach, when I watched the tape today, I watch those things that tell me, ‘Hey, this guy is playing quarterback.’ It’s not just making the deep throws, it’s not just getting some things out. It’s when you get a blitz that you weren’t expecting and they drop a defender right into your hot throw, and you kind of fit it into a tight window anyway. It’s not a glamorous play, a lot of those aren’t real glamorous plays, but they make the difference in the ball game. That’s what a quarterback has to do in this league. I count all of those little plays as positives and add then add them up. Then of course, one of the hard parts of the job for Ryan is you also have to look at the ones that don’t turn out right and just keep working on fixing them. Those are the kind of things I see him making progress on. Obviously, the production is easy to spot. But as coaches, I think we’ve got to deal with the details of play-by-play moving forward and that’s what we see happening.”
Joe Philbin also pointed out that one of the smaller things that Tannehill accomplished and something that won’t specifically show up in the box score.
“He had a lot of big plays as you mentioned. Maybe one of the bigger ones might have been when we got sacked and we were in a 2nd and 23 and he just comes right back and gets 15, I might not have the exact yardage correct, but he gets a bunch back on a nice throw out to Mike Wallace who ran a good route. That might have been as big a play as any. A sack is a deflating play at any point in time, but specifically when you’re in two-minute mode, and you’re driving for the tying touchdown. I thought that was one of his better plays. I thought he had a lot of good plays in the game.”
Despite the early praise in the press conference, Lazor wouldn’t stand behind the podium and make a definitive declaration as to whether or not Tannehill is the future of the franchise and the undisputed starting quarterback heading into 2015.
“Those aren’t my kind of statements to make. I’m just dealing with this week and what do I need to get him to do to play the Jets because, spending some part of this morning, watching our last game against the Jets. I thought the Jets did a really good job against us. Obviously, I’ve got to find a way to help us get more – 16 (points) was enough to win that one, but it was hard, that was a hard night for us. So we’ve got to get better. I’m really focused on what do I need to help Ryan with this week.”
I wouldn’t read too much into that statement. With big contract negotiations likely on the horizon and Philbin being the head coach, it’s important that too much isn’t said by others. It is doubtful that the coaching staff doesn’t believe that Tannehill is in fact the future. We are simply seeing part of the business side of football starting to play out before our eyes.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs