Ryan Tannehill is a bottom-5 QB in PFF grades right now

Sam Monson explains why Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has had such a rough start to the 2015 season.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Ryan Tannehill is a bottom-5 QB in PFF grades right now


In what is becoming a year of surprising quarterback play, the performance of Ryan Tannehill has fallen off a cliff along with that of most of his Miami Dolphins teammates.

PFF has always graded Tannehill a little better than the general perception of his play, ranking him above Andrew Luck controversially before the season began. People will be pleased to hear that Luck is now ranked just above Tannehill over the 2015 season — but at 33rd and 34th in the NFL, respectively, that’s not a whole lot to shout about.

Both Luck and Tannehill have been mired in poor play this season. Each has had a single mediocre outing that served as the high point of their seasons. Other than that, they have been competing for how badly they can play.

Tannehill has only completed 56.7 percent of his passes those season, and while he has suffered from 10 drops, he has been accurate on only 69.9 percent of passes when those are factored out. That is just the 24th-best mark in the NFL, worse than Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Josh McCown.

When offensive coordinator Bill Lazor came over from Philadelphia, it looked like Chip Kelly’s coaching tree would begin attacking the NFL at large. The Eagles were having huge success on the ground and deep down field, and the system looked like a perfect fit for Tannehill to be successful. It was working last season, and that’s part of the reason we were grading Tannehill so well. The running game with Lamar Miller was a force, and Tannehill was efficient with the shots the offense was creating for him.

It’s almost as if that offensive system had an expiry date, with this year seeing the wheels fall off both the Eagles and Dolphins offenses so spectacularly.

It is definitely not impossible for quarterbacks to play well independently from the offense, and to succeed in spite of what is around them rather than working with it — but it is rare, and extremely hard to sustain.

This season Tannehill is being pressures on 43.7 percent of his dropbacks (highest percentage in the league), up from 38.4 percent last season. The running game as a whole is actually averaging almost the same per rush as a year ago, but that is built largely on the back of a few gimmick plays to Jarvis Landry. While Miller was averaging over five yards per carry in 2014, this season he has managed just 3.5 per carry behind a poorer-performing offensive line.

To make things worse, when Tannehill can get the ball to a receiver, he is seeing it dropped more often. Last year the Dolphins receivers dropped 29 passes from him. This year they have already dropped 10.

Even at his best, Tannehill never really looked like the kind of quarterback who would raise everybody’s game and carry a team on his back. Within a well-functioning offensive system, though, he did look like a quarterback who could take the team far. With the system imploding around him this season, he just looks unable to halt the destruction.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Rodney

    Everything about the team is terrible. He’d look good on a team like the Bengals. Or even a team with a decent offensive line. Just bad football from Miami right now

  • Alisson Vieira

    With this OLine he´s is playing for this life …

    • corners

      I agree, only thing thats not bothering me is kickoffs and punt returns

  • chimmy fallon

    Just above Luck? If you watched him chuck it out of the end zone inside the 10, 7 times in a row Sunday morning, I would rate him rate him just above some high school kid out of London England

  • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

    really thought he was gonna step it up this year, had been progressing every year up til now, can’t do it all alone tho obv

  • Brit

    Tannehill is good when he has time to throw. The other thing about pressure is that it has cumulative effect. When the defense is in your face every play, you start expecting them to be in your face. Even on the plays when they don’t get pressure, it’s still in the back of the QBs mind.

    On the other hand, when a QB consistently has good protection, he gains confidence that he’s going to be protected and can focus on reads and throws. When Flacco got his SB and put up great numbers, his offensive like was giving him all day to throw on every pass play.

    When the Dolphins get Branden Albert healthy, Tannehill will improve. If they could pick up a legit starting guard via trade, Tannehill would improve even more. The Dolphins O-line has been ridiculously bad.

  • Chris from the Cape

    I agree that with help he can develop into an average QB, but this story, even if partly true, is pretty hard to live down in Fins’ lore:
    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/25328471/report-dolphins-practice-squad-was-told-to-go-easy-on-ryan-tannehill

    • Tim Edell

      Not really sure what is funny/hard to believe about this story??

  • Tim Edell

    Lamar Miller has 37 carries in 4 games. I realize he has been banged up but for Tannehill to succeed they must be able and stick with the run game.