Has Ryan Tannehill Officially Hit the Rookie Wall?

Thomas GaliciaContributor IINovember 29, 2012

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins throws against the Seattle Seahawks at Sun Life Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had a season of exceeded expectations in his rookie campaign. However, the two games prior to his fourth quarter against Seattle in Week 12 have prompted a concerning question for Miami.

Has Ryan Tannehill hit the rookie wall?

It's a legitimate question to ask of Tannehill, considering that neither Andrew Luck nor Robert Griffin III have seemed to hit any such wall. The same argument could be made for Seattle's Russell Wilson and Cleveland's Brandon Weeden.

None of them have struggled in the prolific way that Tannehill struggled in his two games against the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.

During that four-day stretch, Tannehill seemed to regress to being the type of player that a lot of experts predicted he would be.

Now before looking at those two bad games that tend to exist on an island, let's first look at the rest of Tannehill's body of work prior to those two games, which has been quite exceptional for the most part.

Tannehill threw for 1,762 yards, five touchdowns, and six interceptions. Is this amazing? By no means, but keep in mind that three of those six interceptions came in Miami's Week 1 loss to Houston in a game marred by pass deflections thanks to now-MVP candidate J.J. Watt.

Miami's record over that stretch was 4-3, and had it not been for Dan Carpenter's missed field goals in Week 3 against the New York Jets or Week 4 against Arizona, it could've easily been 6-1.

Now let's take a look at after Tannehill's stretch, which saw the former Aggie notch his first ever fourth-quarter comeback against the Seattle Seahawks.

Tannehill would throw for 253 yards, a touchdown and an interception in that game, but his biggest contribution came in the fourth quarter where he shredded a Seattle pass defense that is ranked third in the NFL against the pass to the tune of Miami outscoring the Seahawks 17-7 in the final period.

But his two games against Tennessee and Buffalo will stick out like a sore thumb, mainly because of the fact that these two teams possess two of the NFL's worst defenses.

Buffalo is currently ranked 18th in the league against the pass, which is about average. Tennessee, on the other hand, is ranked an atrocious 27th in the league against the pass.

The surprising stat that started most of this talk about Tannehill possibly hitting the rookie wall was the fact that it was against those Titans where Tannehill had perhaps his worst game of the season. In that game, Tannehill completed 59 percent of his passes, but only managed to throw for 217 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions (with two of those interceptions being returned by the Titans for touchdowns.

The following week against Buffalo (only four days later, actually), Tannehill managed to throw two interceptions; however, both of them came in late-game situations where Miami had a chance to win the game.

It's clear from his two performances against Buffalo and Tennessee that Tannehill did hit some kind of rookie wall, but part of the reason for those failings was an offensive line so atrocious that on Miami's report cards for those games, the unit received more F's than anyone would accept from their child.

To add to that, in both games Miami's running game was stymied by two horrendous run defenses and couldn't seem to buy a yard. The infamous Reggie Bush benching occurred during Miami's contest against Tennessee.

But after that, Ryan Tannehill would recover, putting up perhaps his best overall game against one of the best defenses in the league. It's safe to say that Tannehill has officially hit the rookie wall, but against Seattle, he managed to climb over it, further showing the kid's tenacity as well as his talent.