Daily Focus: Does Ryan Tannehill have an accuracy issue?

Not really. We break down the bigger picture in Miami, along with an update on Jamaal Charles and a look at the Browns' QB competition.

| 6 months ago
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Daily Focus: Does Ryan Tannehill have an accuracy issue?


Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.

Does Ryan Tannehill have an accuracy issue?

Reports out of the Miami Dolphins offseason program are that QB Ryan Tannehill is struggling with his accuracy. New head coach Adam Gase affirmed this saying that while Tannehill has made some “impressive” throws, he’s been inconsistent with his ball placement and he hasn’t been on the same page as his receivers as they learn a new offense.

Since being drafted in the first round by the Dolphins, Tannehill has been middle-of-the-road in terms of his adjusted completion percentage – 17th in 2012, 26th in 2013, 7th in 2014, and 19th in 2015. His 2014 season leap was a big reason the Dolphins were a popular pick to make the playoffs in 2015, but the team as a whole struggled and that led to coaching turnover.

Looking a little further at the numbers, perhaps Tannehill’s perceived improvement in 2014 came because he was throwing fewer passes downfield and more passes short. With an average depth of target of 8.8 in 2012, 9.6 in 2013, 8.2 in 2014, and 8.9 in 2015, you can see that his 2014 jump was a product of capitalizing on connecting on easy, short throws that every NFL QB makes.

Tannehill

So does Tannehill have an accuracy problem? Not really. He struggles with the deep ball and that shows up in both his deep passing adjusted completion percentage (averages about 37.5 percent for 22nd in the league) but he has good ball placement on short throws. Gase would be wise to tailor a system for Tannehill to take advantage of his strengths and limit his weaknesses. That seems like such a simple concept but NFL coaches tend to be a bit stubborn in terms of making their players fit their system instead of making their system fit their players. When viewing Tannehill’s career grades, perhaps a coaching change will be able to reverse the downward trend and with Jay Cutler’s notable improvement under Gase’s tutelage that Dolphins’ fans can look towards for hope.

Jamaal Charles still recovering from a torn ACL.

Kansas City Chiefs star HB Jamaal Charles might not be ready to go for training camp according to head coach Andy Reid. He in fact might rest for the entire preseason leaving his week 1 status uncertain at this point. Charles tore his ACL in early October against the Chicago Bears and while we’ve seen players return to form and sometimes even better in as quickly as eight months after ACL surgery, the Chiefs are taking it easy in Charles’ return to activities.

Charles is currently the career NFL leader in yards per carry at 5.5, benefitting from good offensive line play early in his career. Charles’ best season came in 2013 with a +17.1 overall grade. Prior to 2013, Charles had topped 18 missed tackles only twice but has since topped 40 in both 2013 and 2014. Charles has developed into more of a complete back the last three seasons which has been needed since the Chiefs offensive line has really struggled in that time frame.

At the age of 29, Charles’ career is closing quickly. He’s benefitted from never being a “bellcow” HB so the wear and tear that you’d typically find in a veteran HB isn’t there. He could very well struggle early in 2015 until he becomes comfortable on his surgically repaired knee. Adrian Peterson was an average HB in the first half of 2012, a season after he tore his ACL, until he famously ripped off one of the best second half seasons in route to a 2000+ yard season, falling just  yards shy of the NFL record.

Cleveland Browns quarterback competition

The Cleveland Browns are heading into training camp with a QB battle on their hands. With RGIII the presumptive starter for 2016, Griffin didn’t distance himself from Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler and failed to win the starting job in offseason workouts. A phrase that eats at Browns, a quarterback competition will determine the starter.

This should have been expected. RGIII is coming off a season in which he was inactive for much the year and hasn’t played a snap of regular season football in almost two years. Head coach Hue Jackson is implementing a new system and there has been big roster turnover for the Browns this offseason. While RGIII has been working first team reps for most of the offseason program, he still is “mastering the position” according to Hue Jackson.

While we can assume RGIII will eventually win the job, it’d be foolish to sleep on Kessler – the Browns third round pick out of USC. Kessler was the most accurate quarterback in college football under 20 yards in 2015. His ball placement was excellent and was clearly ahead of the pack in the short to intermediate throws. He struggled throwing deep in 2015 after being one of the most accurate QBs in 2014 – the main concern for Kessler is his arm strength.

Kessler

One of Kessler’s biggest strengths is his poise under pressure – 71.0 adjusted completion percent in 2014 and 68.5 percent in 2015, both ranking in the top four of the 2016 class. His two year under pressure grade is very good at +13.8 along with his overall grade. Combine his accuracy, poise under pressure and underrated mobility, Kessler will give RGIII some heat in camp.

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • crosseyedlemon

    I thought Andy Reid deserved coach of the year honors last season for overcoming the loss of Charles and directing the Chiefs to an extended win streak but it would be insane to think an achievement like that could be duplicated again this season.

  • Emmett Smith

    Perhaps they’ll let Tanehill use a WCO-based offense. It’s worked for short-armed QBs since Virgil Carter

    • crosseyedlemon

      I’m not sure arm length is the issue. The Dolphins keep bouncing from coach to coach and scheme to scheme so it’s really no surprise that Tanehill has not developed the way a lot of fans expected he would. Have to admit I’m impressed that anyone would remember the name Virgil Carter. Didn’t he end up playing in the CFL?

    • Roddy Jamming Smitty

      Tannehill is best when their is a heavy running game in place.

  • gllmiaspr

    Good article, For the 1st two years of his career Tannehill played a WCO under Sherman. The results were not there as the offense was rather predictable and Mike Wallace had a problem fitting into it. But PFF loved Tannehill who was the fifth ranked QB according to PFF in 2013.
    Ironically Mike Wallace helped the Lazor’s offense succeed in 14. Even though he did not catch the deep balls that he wanted he did very well in the short and intermediate routes. 9 of Wallace’s 10 TD were in the red zone. He also opened routes for Landry and Clay
    Last year without Wallace, defenses started to play more man to man against the Dolphins. Landry was the only WR that could consistently beat man coverage and Lazor’s answer was to go for a lot of deep passes.
    This year with a different coach and system I hope Tannehill will do better.

  • Buckeye Finfan

    I usually don’t disagree much with PFF but I have to disagree with deep ball issues.

    I’m wondering just where you get your information when you talk of deep ball struggles. Especially when it is clearly proven that his deep ball was good with anyone not named Wallace. This past year he was tied for 6th in 20+ yard passes, tied for 4th in 40+ yard passes. That’s not a QB with Deep ball problems. Even Omar Kelly admitted he was wrong about Tannehill’s deep ball.
    We all should have a lot of hope for Ryan Tannehill. Here we have a QB who was not supported (due more to interoffice politics than anything else), who was handcuffed w/o audibles and stuck trying to make plays work that won’t because any other QB (like Wilson) would have the ability to switch out of that play with a terrible Oline and he still made some respectable numbers in 2015. He was 9th in yards with 4208, 8th in completions, 8th in attempts, 15th in TDs, 13th in first downs, putting him in the top half of QB’s in the league. All while being tied for 3rd in number of sacks this year. Yes he need to improve in several categories I did not list. My point is he got over 4,200 yards in spite of all the things working against him. You can argue all day about the quality of the yards etc. but this is still the NFL and the yard aren’t just given away. With everything working against him he still managed to be in the top half of NFL QB’s.
    I would like to point out how many people were saying last year that Tannehill had no deep ball and how wrong they all turned out to be. The point with that is that people get so sure of thinking that a player is no good in at this area or that area but then the player comes out different the next year and proves people wrong. It happens all the time. Players have ups and down. BTW, anyone notice that Wallace didn’t get many yards this year with Bridgewater who was supposed to be better for him?
    Here’s some more information for you. There were 7 games in the last 2 years where Albert, Pouncey and James started and played healthy. During those 7 games Miami went 6 – 1 and the loss was to Greenbay in the last minutes of a well played winnable game. During those 7 games Tannehill’s QBR was over 100 in all of them, the team average over 140 yards running per game and scored an average of 35 points. This proves how good the team can be with Tannehill as QB when he is given solid O-line play. It also shows why the Oline is so important and how decimated we were with injuries. In 32 games to only have 7 with our 3 top starters and very poor backups it’s little wonder why we lost so many games. Top that off with a coaching staff that believed in finesse and taking what the opponent gave you instead of attacking the opponent and it’s easy to see why the team failed under Philbin. While RT still needs some improvement in pocket presence and 3rd down efficiency and red zone, we hired the person who can help him with that. The team still has too many holes to go real far this year but 8 or 9 wins is very possible. Learning a new system will probably hold them back a bit too so no one expects a lot this year.

    • Roddy Jamming Smitty

      It’s inconsistencies with Tannehill is the problem. And their is a deep ball issues with Tannehill. I’m still thinking that this is his last year to prove his the man in Miami. Or its QB change next year