Breaking Down Ryan Tannehill's Form at the NFL's Midseason Mark

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIOctober 24, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 14:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins walks off the field after winning  a game against the St. Louis Rams at Sun Life Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Ryan Tannehill is in very good shape after his first six games in the NFL, having guided the Miami Dolphins to a 3-3 record going into their matchup against the New York Jets.

Tannehill's development over the first six games has been extraordinary. After throwing six interceptions in his first four games, Tannehill has gone his last two games without a turnover. When he takes care of the ball, Miami is undefeated for the season.

The reason for Tannehill's rapid improvement from week to week can be attributed to how he's thrown the ball. Tipped passes were a concern after his first start against the Texans.

But Houston's performance since the Miami game has shown those issues to be more a product of J.J. Watt and the Texans defense, not so much a problem with Miami's offense.

Tannehill has made two key adjustments: He's no longer locking on to just one receiver, and he's changed how he throws the ball. Both of these changes allow him to do a better job of evading the pressure that defensive lines have brought towards him.

You can see this progression just four games later in Miami's Week 5 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Look at how different his form is, as well as how much the Dolphins have been able to move the pocket for him, letting him better evade the pass rush. 

Because of this, Tannehill's handling of the blitz has received effusive praise from teammate Reggie Bush, praise that was illustrated in George Richards' piece in The Miami Herald:

“[Defensive] coordinators are going to want to pressure the quarterback because they want to see if he can handle the pressure. That’s something you kind of already know. It’s just built in for rookie quarterbacks, and you know they’re probably going to stack the box if you’ve got a pretty solid running game. Those are all things that we’ve been seeing, but, at the same time, I think Ryan has handled it amazing and he’s done a great job with it.”

Tannehill has gone beyond doing a great job with the blitz. He has managed to find holes in the defense and exploit them. With more teams focusing on the run against Miami, Tannehill has taken much more of the offensive load and has been effective and efficient running the offense.

His feel for the game has perhaps been his best attribute. On this play you can see that the Cardinals are about to send five men at Tannehill on 1st-and-10 at the 20-yard line.

That strategy would quickly backfire on Arizona, as Tannehill was able to overcome the Cardinals blitz and find a wide-open Brian Hartline for an 80-yard touchdown run. While the play was being run, Tannehill was able to spot Hartline deep and decided to air it out to him. Earlier in the season, Tannehill would've likely checked it down to Reggie Bush or Anthony Fasano.

Tannehill's maturity is one of three big reasons for the Dolphins' success this season, and it will be a major factor in determining whether Miami is playoff-bound in 2012.

From the looks of it, not only are the Dolphins true contenders for the final playoff spot in the AFC (as well as the AFC East title, as they're only a half-game back of New England), but Ryan Tannehill is well on his way to becoming the second Miami athlete to prove the guy in this video wrong in 2012.

As great as it feels to be a Dolphins fan right now, I wouldn't want to be the guy who said Tannehill would be a bus-

Well I might have said that when he was drafted, but I eventually changed my mi-

Yes, I am the guy who somewhat said Tannehill would be a bust then. But I'm proud to say that his progression has changed my mind. The truly scary part is that he's only reached about 50 percent of his true NFL potential.




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