Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
All told, quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a slightly above-average game this Sunday.
Tannehill continually takes fire for missed deep connections with receiver Mike Wallace. However, the details of the game matter.
He threw four deep shots toward Wallace during the game and connected on two of them for 110 yards with a touchdown. This is far above-average work for the NFL on balls traveling 41-plus yards beyond the line of scrimmage. So to some extent, the fact that Tannehill's deep accuracy is even a conversation after this game is ridiculous.
The coaching staff continues to set Tannehill and Wallace up for failure by not coaching the timing of these deep shots. You can find here a detailed breakdown of how play design impacted a failed deep shot against the San Diego Chargers in Week 11.
The same thing happened on a 57-yard completion by Tannehill to Mike Wallace. The backfield action involved dropping from under center into an off-center play-fake to the tailback, which necessitated that Tannehill execute a half-roll to come around after the fake and set up for the throw. This meant the football could not come out of Tannehill’s hands until nearly four seconds had passed since the snap.
In the piece linked above, I mention that a 60-yard throw is extremely rare on an actual football field in actual game conditions. Tannehill showed off his arm strength by throwing the football 60-plus yards on this play, yet Wallace still had to slow down considerably for the ball and was barely able to make the catch as the defender caught up. Running after the catch for a 79-yard touchdown was out of the question.
This was a failure by the coaches to adjust their play design according to the abilities and tendencies of their players. Wallace ran an out-and-up route. Because of his speed, the route came off a lot more “up” than "out," and he was too far up the field by the time Tannehill could release the football off the fake.
Tannehill showed rare arm strength during the game with some of deepest passes you will ever see on a functioning football field, yet the ball still fell short. This is a design issue. The coaches need to do a lot better job so that they are not asking the players to overcome their shortcomings as coaches.
Tannehill’s biggest problem continues to be inconsistent focus and decision-making. The first interception he threw on the day was his fault. He failed to clear the ball over the linebacker knifing into the passing lane, and the ensuing tip drill resulted in a pick.
Later in the game, Tannehill scrambled and had a clear path in front of him to run for positive yardage. He may have even gained the first down by running on the play. Instead, he made an atrocious decision to beam a low-trajectory pass at Wallace deep. The pass was converged on by two Panthers defenders, and it should have been picked off.
On the other hand, Tannehill was remarkable on his deep throws during the day and was asked to account for literally 95 percent of his team’s offense (316 of 332 net yards). He threw a ball into the end zone that should have been caught by receiver Rishard Matthews.
He dealt with four drops on the day, a leaky offensive line, bad play design, bad play calls and poor timeout management, yet if Wallace had adjusted properly to the final deep ball Tannehill threw in the game, then the Dolphins would have emerged from the game with an incredible victory directed by their star quarterback.
Position Grade: B-