Ryan Tannehill Needs Miami Dolphins Receivers to Do Their Jobs

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IAugust 28, 2012

Aug. 24, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

This is not an indictment on Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

How could it be? He's not the one dropping passes.

The Dolphins' lack of pass-catching talent has been a talking point all offseason, and unless they start...umm, catching passes, it'll be a talking point during the regular season as well.

And that's not good for a rookie quarterback trying to prove himself to an organization and fanbase that has a lot riding on his success. In all, there were seven dropped passes against the Falcons. You'd be hard-pressed to put more than 25 to 30 percent of the blame on Tannehill for any one of those drops.

Just look at this egregious drop by tight end Anthony Fasano.

This couldn't have been simpler: a five-yard hitch route outside the hash mark. Tannehill does all he can, with a quick release and well-placed throw that only Fasano can catch.

Only problem: He doesn't catch it.

A tight end is a rookie quarterback's best friend, but only if he's catching the passes being thrown his direction. On the night, Fasano dropped three passes.

But perhaps none were more painful to watch than this drop in the end zone.

Fasano was covered well by Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas, but Tannehill did an excellent job of putting the ball in a spot where only Fasano could get it. It hit him square in the hands. There's no reason it should have hit the turf.

The announcing team mentioned that Fasano didn't get his head around quickly enough, but if it's a quick pattern at the goal line, he should be ready for the throw to come the second he turns his head.

He's typically a sure-handed tight end, so his case of the drops will likely subside, but Fasano's errors cast a grim foreshadowing of what's to come for the Dolphins offense if the top players don't perform.

Wide receiver Legedu Naanee, who was rated the worst wide receiver (out of 115 qualifying wideouts) in the NFL in 2011 by Pro Football Focus, has been listed as one of the top pass-catchers on the depth chart posted on the team's official website.

But if he keeps up performances like what we saw from him against the Falcons, that won't last long. At least two drops were attributed to Naanee, and again, we see what should be an easy throw-and-catch become a head-slapping error on behalf of the targeted pass-catcher.

It's a five-yard slant—nothing special, and in fact, a bread-and-butter route of the West Coast offense. If you're going to be successful running that style of offense, you had better have receivers who can run the slant well and catch the ball.

It seems, however, he had trouble with that last part.

That wasn't his only drop on the night, as he had another that looked eerily similar just a few plays later.

Here is what PFF's Ben Stockwell had to say in previewing the Dolphins offense, specifically Naanee and the pass-catchers:

That a player the caliber of Legedu Naanee started their first preseason game raises serious questions about this receiving corps. If the players behind him have potential, they should be playing and trying to prove that potential with the first team. A receiving corps built on potential, catching passes from an uncertain quarterback situation? 

Yeah, my thoughts exactly. 

There is one glimmer of hope for the Dolphins wide receivers. Let Davone Bess show you how it's done.

Bess concentrates on the catch despite the incoming defender, and Tannehill puts enough mustard on the throw to zip it right past a closing Dunta Robinson.

Not once, but twice in a row, Bess makes difficult grabs in traffic.

This time, the 5'10" receiver climbs the ladder, making yet another brilliant catch, and puts his slippery suit on to create yards after the catch.

To be sure, Tannehill didn't exactly make it easy on his receivers with every single pass he threw, but that will be the case all season long with Tannehill still learning the ropes of the NFL and adjusting to the speed of the game.

The least his receivers can do is reward him when he gets it right.


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.


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