Ryan Tannehill: The Florida Key

PAt Thorman takes a look at the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill's fantasy prospects for 2014.

| 3 years ago
ryan-tannehill02

Ryan Tannehill: The Florida Key


ryan-tannehillBased on their offseason moves, it appears like the Dolphins will be running the ball more frequently in 2014. However, it would be tough for them to be any more pass heavy than they were last season.

Despite surrendering the eighth fewest points in the NFL, the Dolphins ran on just under 35 percent of their snaps (34.9%). Only the Falcons and Browns passed at a higher rate, and they struggled to 27th and 23rd rankings in points allowed, respectively.

A more scheme-based factor pointing to a rise in rushing attempts is Miami’s hiring of Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator. He spent last season under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia as quarterbacks coach, and has already stated that his offensive philosophy will be impacted by what the Eagles did in 2013. Kelly and company kept the ball on the ground on 47.4 percent of snaps, which was the sixth most in the league.

Along with personnel upgrades that will help the run game, it all adds up to less volume for third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That may seem like bad news for last season’s 15th ranked fantasy passer, but despite placing seventh in pass attempts, he wound up 10th in completions and 13th in touchdowns. Miami’s offense was a steaming pile of inefficiency that culminated with their quarterback finishing 27th in fantasy points per dropbacks, from where he could stare up at the likes of Case Keenum, Christian Ponder and Geno Smith.

Tannehill graded out well(+16.4 overall; 7th best quarterback), due in no small part to the duress he was under. He led the league in sacks by a mile (58, Joe Flacco was second with 48), and 222 of his dropbacks were accompanied by pressure (6th most). His receivers dropped the 10th most passes (33) and he was forced to throw 25 balls away, which was one behind Smith’s league leading total. Tannehill was “aided” by a running game that accumulated the 26th most yards and fewest first downs, despite nearly matching the league average for yards per carry (4.1 vs 4.2). While he was not blameless for what was in essence a lost year, he had plenty of help losing it.

Lazor will help fill a void left by an overly pass-happy play caller who was spawned from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree. If that sounds vaguely familiar it’s because he did the same thing last year, only it was Andy Reid heading out of town instead of Mike Sherman, and he was Nick Foles’ quarterback coach instead of Tannehill’s offensive coordinator. While there are both similarities and differences between Tannehill and Foles, examining them brings hope for the former’s 2014 season.

Less Will Be More

First let’s look at their rookie seasons, with Foles operating under Reid and Sherman pulling Tannehill’s strings. Keep in mind that in 2012 the Eagles ran the ball on just 38.3 percent of their plays, the eighth lowest rate in the NFL. The Dolphins actually handed off 44.8 percent of the time, the 11th highest rate and more than league average for that season (42.4%).

Rookie   QB

Acc.   %

Acc.   % Under Pressure

Deep   Acc. %

TD/INT

NY/A

PFF   QBR

Foles

71.8

64.7

35.7

6/5

5.5

79.7

Tannehill

72.1

72.1

72.9

12/13

5.9

83.3

  • Courtesy of Pro Football Reference & PFF Signature Statistics; NY/A = Net Yards per Attempt

The thing that stands out is there is not much difference other than Tannehill’s edge in deep ball accuracy (20+ yards downfield), which could have been affected by Foles’ relatively small sample (28 attempts vs 51). However, Foles was asked to drop back an unruly 43 times per game, and Tannehill a more manageable 35.1. Tannehill also added 211 yards and two touchdowns on 49 carries against Foles’ 42 yards on 11 rushes (1 TD), and is a superior talent in this area.

Circumstances were turned on their ear for each passer during their sophomore season. Philadelphia ran it the sixth most often and Tannehill threw at an even higher rate than Foles did the prior year (65.1% vs 61.7%). The fact that Tannehill dropped back 41.3 times per game, and Foles only 35.6, was obviously not the sole reason for their statistics diverging so dramatically, but it played a role.

2nd   Year QB

Acc.   %

Acc.   % Under Pressure

Deep   Acc. %

TD/INT

NY/A

PFF   QBR

Foles

74.2

68.1

45.5

27/2

7.88

99.9

Tannehill

70.8

57.7

32.8

24/17

5.44

84.9

For as close as their rookie year stats made them seem, the sophomore season results could not paint a more starkly different picture. One of the very few similarities between the two was Tannehill’s 220 yards rushing was one behind Foles’ 221, albeit with the more athletic Dolphin’s total coming on 18 fewer attempts. It is a modest assumption to project Lazor taking better advantage of this trait during the 2014 season.

Viewing each passer’s seasons side by side gives a better view of how each progressed:

Tannehill

Acc.   %

Acc.   % Under Pressure

Deep   Acc. %

TD/INT

NY/A

PFF   QBR

Year One

72.1

72.1

72.9

12/13

5.9

83.3

Year Two

70.8

57.7

32.8

24/17

5.44

84.9

Aside from slight upticks in PFF’s quarterback rating and his touchdown-to-interception ratio, Tannehill regressed as his supporting cast crumbled around him. He faced pressure on 59 additional dropbacks compared to his rookie year and did not handle it nearly as well as in 2012, when he ranked second in accuracy percentage under pressure.

Foles

Acc.   %

Acc.   % Under Pressure

Deep   Acc. %

TD/INT

NY/A

PFF   QBR

Year One

71.8

64.7

35.7

6/5

5.5

79.7

Year Two

74.2

68.1

45.5

27/2

7.88

99.9

Foles improved across the board, and dramatically so in touchdown-to-interception ratio, net yards per attempt and PFF’s quarterback rating. Kelly’s arrival was obviously the main catalyst of Foles’ blossoming into one of the best statistical passers in the league. The question is if Lazor can bring with him to Miami key ingredients that hoisted a seemingly pedestrian quarterback to fantasy stardom. Can a comparable passer like Tannehill raise his game under similar circumstances, and unlock the potential of a gaggle of low cost fantasy weapons?

How much of an improvement can he make if the Dolphins simply ran the damn ball?

While the success or failure of play action passes do not necessarily hinge on how effectively a team runs the ball, it stands to reason that how often they hand off does play a role. In 2013, out of the top seven performers in quarterback rating on play action passes, five of their teams also finished in the top seven in total rushing attempts. One of the two that did not was close, as Peyton Manning ranked first in play action QBR while Denver handed off the 11th most. Tony Romo ranked seventh in the metric, although the coaching cursed Cowboys were a brain-boiling enigma that we can disregard as a game flow afflicted anomaly.

Keeping in mind that the more often a team runs, the more believable their run fakes become, consider what the two passers did during their rookie seasons on play action throws. “N-PA” stands for non-play action.

Rookie   QB

%   PA (rk)

PA   Comp%

PA   YPA

PA   QBR

N-PA   Cm%

N-PA   YPA

N-PA   QBR

Foles

24.0 (8th)

54.4

4.4

65.7

62.9

7.1

83.7

Tannehill

15.4 (23rd)

65.8

10.4

121.2

56.9

6.1

67.7

In 2012, the Eagles ran it less than the average team, and the Dolphins slightly more. Foles’ unusual decline in performance while using play action may have been a result of this, or just a small sample size blip. Tannehill finished as the league’s second most highly rated quarterback on play action passes, as a rookie. So of course Sherman’s offense used it even less often in 2013.

2nd   Year QB

%   PA (rk)

PA   Comp%

PA   YPA

PA   QBR

N-PA   Cm%

N-PA   YPA

N-PA   QBR

Foles

32.7 (2nd)

58.1

10.8

134.9

67.0

8.3

109.0

Tannehill

14.8 (21st)

60.0

8.7

109.6

60.4

6.3

76.6

Tannehill still performed better when he used a run fake, but his numbers declined from his rookie year. On the other hand Foles ripped it up on play action passes, and often. All of his improvement is not owed to the Eagles being one of the most run heavy teams in the league, but it sure did help.

Obvious Disclaimer Time

It is overly simplistic to say that Tannehill can mimic Foles’ ascension based on rookie year stats, old scouting reports, a new play-caller, and an expectation of increased efficiency due to more handoffs.

Joe Philbin will not be mistaken for Chip Kelly anytime soon. Newly signed Branden Albert is no Jason Peters. Free agent import Shelley Smith is a strong run blocker but is not in Evan Mathis’ league. Mike Pouncey is no Jason Kelce, Mike Wallace is no DeSean Jackson, Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller combined is not half of LeSean McCoy. Nobody in their right mind would predict an exact duplication of what Foles did in 2013.

Yet before last season, not even Foles’ mother could imagine the transformation that would take place. He was the 32nd quarterback chosen in redraft leagues (209th overall), according to myfantasyleague.com ADP data. The starter as of last offseason, Michael Vick, was the 15th passer off the board (112th overall), which represented a huge drop from his 2011 eighth place quarterback ADP (46th overall). Expectations were not high.

Contrast that to this offseason and Tannehill’s current quarterback ADP of 17th in redraft (143rd overall). The 25 year old Tannehill (26 by Week 1) is going even lower in keeper leagues, with an ADP of 18 at his position (188th overall), behind Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Andy Dalton, and Ben Roethlisberger. He may not climb all the way up to fourth like Foles did, but all things considered it’s a solid bet he will be looking down on at least those four passers a year from now.

 

Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman

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Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out our new Mock and Companion Draft Tool! Utilizing our updated player projections, run a quick mock draft and see where this year’s crop of free agents are coming off the board in early fantasy football drafts.



Pat Thorman is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner.

  • james

    Mike Pouncey is very good.

  • CountMahdrof

    Mike Pouncey is no Jason Kelce? Mike Wallace is no DeSean Jackson? We’ll see.

  • Pat

    Pouncey is indeed very good. He’s still no Kelce.

    Didn’t intend it to come off as a knock on Pouncey as much as pointing out that Kelce is arguably the best in the league.