J Pat Carter/Associated Press
2013 statistics: 60.4 completion percentage, 3913 yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
After allowing 59 sacks in 2013 due to the mixture of a terrible offensive line and unbalanced play –calling, the Miami Dolphins enter the 2014 season with a much different offensive identity.
Former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was replaced with Bill Lazor, who called plays for the University of Virginia from 2010-2012 and spent 2013 as the offensive coordinator under Philadelphia Eagles coach. Lazor won’t be using an identical playbook to what Eagles coach Chip Kelly employs, but he will be picking up the pace of the offense to burden opposing defenses.
What else will help the Dolphins third-year quarterback is the new-look offensive line. Gone are veterans that don’t fit the zone-blocking scheme, replaced by younger athletes that are more suited to handle the talented defensive lines in the AFC East.
When I went back and charted every throw of Ryan Tannehill’s 2013 season, he was a few throws away from forcing his way into the Pro Bowl conversation last season. Those throws were usually the biggest plays attempted, however: deep balls to star wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Had Tannehill connected on the throws to Wallace where he had clearly burned the secondary, Tannehill would have nearly 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns. Those are Pro Bowl and franchise quarterback benchmarks. Tannehill might not reach those gaudy numbers due to an increased emphasis on the run game in 2014, but his efficiency and consistency will improve in a more dynamic and varied offensive attack.
Miami also added wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, which will provide Tannehill with another reliable target that can go across the middle and make tough catches. Landry joins a talented group of pass-catchers, including Wallace, Brian Hartline, Rishard Matthews, Brandon Gibson, Charles Clay and rookie Matt Hazel.
Between Tannehill’s own growth and what the Dolphins have done to create a better surrounding around the signal caller, he is my favorite surprise quarterback to make the 2015 Pro Bowl.