Dolphins' Big Offseason Signings Can't Obscure Their Big Problem: Ryan Tannehill

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterMarch 8, 2016

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (98) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla.  (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
Joe Skipper/Associated Press

Here we are again: The Dolphins are making a splash in the offseason.

The Dolphins love their splashes, their big names, their free-agent-signing press conferences.

The signing of Mario Williams is another example.

Williams had only five sacks last year but 38 in his first three seasons in Buffalo. Imagine if the Dolphins could get Williams back to that previous form. It's a huge "maybe," because last year Williams didn't seem to give a damn. 

When Williams agreed to sign with the Dolphins on Tuesday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, one of his teammates on the Bills texted me back when I asked about Williams.

My question: "Is it true he gave up on you guys?" The answer I got back: "Yes."

That was it. Good talk, dude.

Mario Williams
Mario WilliamsKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bills players weren't just talking to me about Williams. One told the NFL Network's Albert Breer, when Breer asked about Williams' effort: "Bad. Ask the Jets, they were talking about it before we played them."

He's a big name, though, and the Dolphins love their big names. Their splashes. Those free-agent signings. Because the Dolphins are the offseason champions, like they were last year when signing Ndamukong Suh.

In fact, as analyst Warren Sharp points out, "No team has spent more in free agency the last four years than the Dolphins." And their records, working backward from 2015, were 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, 7-9. 

What needs to be said is that none of their signings really matter. The Williams signing...doesn't matter. Adam Gase as head coach...not sure if it matters. Losing or keeping Lamar Miller...doesn't matter. Suh signed a six-year, $114 million deal last year, and he wasn't a significant factor. He didn't matter.

All that matters is Ryan Tannehill. That's it. That's all.

They could sign Mario Williams or Mario Van Peebles. They could get Adam Gase or Adam West. They could sign Suh, Reggie White and Deion Sanders in their primes. It would still all come down to Tannehill.

I'm no Tannehill basher. It's been the opposite. I'd always said: One day, he will develop into a star. I was wrong.

Gase is a quarterback-whisperer, but I'm not so sure he can fix Tannehill. One thing that's easily noticeable when watching him play is that Tannehill just isn't that good.

Adam Gase
Adam GaseTrevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, I was wrong about him, in a big way, and I'm not sure anyone can fix him, even Gase. There's something missing there, and maybe I'll be wrong again and Gase will transform Tannehill into Tom Brady. The fear I have is we've seen all that Tannehill has.

Last year was a perfect example of the Tannehill okey-doke. It was the early part of the season, and the Dolphins, after firing coach Joe Philbin, beat the Titans and Texans by a combined score of 82-36. Tannehill was 22-of-29 with two scores against Tennessee and 18-of-19 for four scores against the Texans.

It looked like Tannehill was going to make the leap to that next level. Then came his game against the Patriots.

Between the previous two games, Tannehill had strung together 25 straight completions. Against the Patriots, he threw two picks and no touchdowns. It was typical Tannehill.

When Tannehill needs to be great, he's average. When Tannehill plays the average teams, he's great.

Go back to how the Dolphins have spent more offseason cash the last four years than any other team. The quarterback for those seasons was Tannehill. It's not all his fault Miami has struggled, but he's been a big reason why.

Tannehill has yet to develop pocket presence. He can't feel heat the way even the worst quarterbacks can. The offensive line gets blamed, but often the sacks he takes are because he holds onto the football too long. He's also not accurate. Other than that, he's been great.

I missed all that...fell for that Tannehill okey-doke. Yet Tannehill has had multiple offensive coordinators and two head coaches who have been fired. No, not all Tannehill's fault, but he's been the main problem.

I'm slow to the party. Many of you have tried to convince me of these things for years. You were right. I was wrong.

So, yes, here we are again. The Offseason Champion Miami Dolphins are at it again. Splash, splash, splash.

The problem, however, remains the same.

Ryan Tannehill is the quarterback.


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.