Ryan Tannehill: An Underrated, Yet Soon-to-Be-Elite Quarterback for Miami

Thomas GaliciaContributor IISeptember 23, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins calls a play during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I have a secret, one that most Miami Dolphins fans already know. It's a secret that the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons have found out in the first three weeks of this NFL season.

Ryan Tannehill is good, really good. I'd even venture so far as to say that he's great. 

By the end of this season, Tannehill will be elite and mentioned alongside such new young guns as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, as the Gang of Four will officially become the Gang of Five. 

It took some convincing of me for this to happen. At the beginning of the season I saw Tannehill as being solid and good, but not yet elite. 

I figured it would take at least another season before he could reach that level, but three games into the season, he can already taste it. 

This Miami Dolphins team wasn't supposed to be 3-0 after their first three games. Sure, you could look at the opener against Cleveland as a winnable game, but some experts had the Dolphins losing it. Indianapolis was expected to come away with the victory in Week 2, and even I had the Dolphins losing to Atlanta on Sunday. 

None of those Dolphins' results have the letter "L" next to them, however, for two two reasons—a Miami defense that has kept it in each game for one, along with the main reason being the man they call "Sho'nuff." 

Running this Miami Dolphins' offense is not an easy task. The Dolphins' best rushing effort came in Week 2 against Indianapolis, when they ran for 101 yards. Miami rushed for 91 against Atlanta, but 49 of those yards came on one run by Lamar Miller in the second quarter. 

Only four teams in the NFL have a worse running game than Miami. 

The offensive line isn't doing Tannehill any favors, either. Through the first three games, the Dolphins' offensive line has allowed an abysmal 14 sacks, an average of 4.6 per game. The number of hurries and knockdowns are even more. 

As for the play-calling from offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, it's been questionable at times, to say the least. We don't see Tannehill in a moving pocket as much as we should (especially with Miami's weak offensive line), nor do we see Tannhill use his athleticism to create plays—a talent he does have that should be exploited more, but that's on him, not his coaches. 

Having no running game, no blocking in front and very questionable play-calling ability is usually the prescription for disaster with a second-year NFL quarterback. Not for Tannehill, though, who has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 827 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. 

His quarterback rating for the season: 94.3. 

Most importantly, Tannehill has shown that he's a leader, which was evident in Miami's game-winning touchdown on its final drive of the game. 

The idea for that final play was actually that of Tannehill's, reported Andrew Abramson of The Palm Beach Post:

Tannehill said the team originally had a different play in mind, but after Atlanta called a timeout he suggested the play to quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, who relayed it to Sherman.

“I suggested that one. It was something I liked,” Tannehill said. “Coach Sherman agreed. He thought it was a good idea.”

It's not so much statistics that show me whether a quarterback has "it", it's the general feeling that his teammates have about him, as well as stories like this that show that someone has the ability to take command of the team when it needs it the most. 

Based off of this and some of the comments made by the Dolphins players after Sunday's game, Tannehill does indeed have that "it" factor that has been missing from the position for the Dolphins since the beginning of the millennium.

It also helps to win a game where the rest of the team played horrible while missing two of its biggest defensive pieces. 

Will you hear this from the national media? Not just yet, as many have pegged Tannehill as a quarterback who's good enough to lead this team, but not yet elite. 

By the end of the season, however, their tune regarding Tannehill will have to change. The national media will likely have no other choice but to call Tannehill elite. 

I'm almost ready to do just that, and could find myself doing it as early as next Monday night.