Ryan Tannehill Is Not the Problem for the Miami Dolphins Offense, so What Is?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IAugust 25, 2012

Tannehill can't carry the team by himself. You're not misreading that.
Tannehill can't carry the team by himself. You're not misreading that.Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Tannehill has not disappointed in his first three outings for the Miami Dolphins. That includes last night against the Atlanta Falcons.

It doesn't look pretty in the box score, where the rookie quarterback went 11-for-27 for 112 yards and an interception, but Tannehill was not the problem. 

Look to the Dolphins' shaky corps of pass-catchers for a majority of Friday's biggest miscues.

Tight end Anthony Fasano dropped three passes, including one would-be touchdown on a simple four-yard pattern. The other receivers combined for three more drops on Tannehill's watch, with wide receiver Legedu Naanee accounting for two of them.

Tannehill went 1-for-5 on the opening two drives, but two of those incompletions were drops by Naanee, who is listed as one of the top pass-catchers on the Dolphins depth chart. That status has always been a bit dubious and could be in jeopardy if Naanee's issues executing in game situations continue.

This goes beyond Naanee and Fasano, though.

The pass-catchers have been considered a weakness by anyone who's been paying attention and/or watching Hard Knocks. Why else would the Dolphins go after Chad Ochojohnson?

Miami general manager Jeff Ireland himself lamented the lack of top-end pass-catching talent on a recent episode of Hard Knocks, saying: "We've got fours, fives and sixes. What we need are threes, twos and ones. And I have to find out that we have to find out who those threes, twos and ones are and if we have any of those guys."

Essentially, what Jeff Ireland is saying is, "Will the real wide receivers please stand up?"

It's only the preseason, but early indications are that the Dolphins don't have any of "those guys" he was talking about. If they do, those guys have two weeks to step up and make themselves known.

In a high-tempo offense in which one of the goals is to run 90 plays per game, one of the most important things for the Dolphins to do will be to convert third downs. They went 3-for-11 on third down with Tannehill under center against the Falcons, but there were two drops by Fasano on third down and one play in which the tight end ran a nine-yard pattern on 3rd-and-10.

Tannehill is not the problem.

Regardless of blame, if the Dolphins want to achieve that magic number of 90 plays, they'll have to do better than that.

The best glimpse we got of what the offense should look like at the tempo the Dolphins want to play came in the second quarter when they marched 78 yards on 13 plays in just three minutes and 57 seconds of game time. Tannehill was showing great command of the offense, specifically the no-huddle, as he has throughout the preseason (except those first two drives).

Dolphins radio announcer Jimmy Cefalo pointed out that the Falcons were gasping for air (per The Palm Beach Post). The average amount of time between each play was just 17.6 seconds. Everything was going according to plan.

But Fasano had two of his three drops on the drive, and it would have ended in a touchdown were it not for the aforementioned drop in the end zone. 

Tannehill is not the problem; the pass-catchers are. The current unit lacks top-end talent but has a lot of youth with potential. There's always the possibility that someone could step up.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot the Dolphins can do about it either way at this point. Unless they plan on scrounging the scrap heap as cut-downs are announced, the Dolphins will have to roll with what they have on the roster and hope that the real wide receivers do, indeed, stand up.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained first-hand.