Can Ryan Tannehill shine against the AFC East in 2014?

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Lost in all the hysteria of the promise of the Dolphins new regime is the track record of quarterback Ryan Tannehill winning in the division.  Not until last season, did Tannehill show his mettle as a prolific passer with a big win late in the season, in December versus the Patriots.  Surely, one can look at his win versus the Jets and Patriots as big wins, but looking deeper in the numbers the stats are quite alarming if Tannehill is charged with earning the Dolphins their first playoff birth since 2009.

In his first season, Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback went 6-9. He missed all, but one series versus the Jets early in the season in 2012 due to a leg injury on the team’s first offensive series.  After that, backup quarterback Matt Moore took over the game and did what Moore usually does in the backup role, which is win games. However, overall Tannehill had a split with the two New York teams (going 2-2) versus the Bills and Jets, but lost two games to the Patriots.  Tannehill’s record during 2012 was 1-4 in the division one win versus the Bills.  In 2013, he went 2-4 with wins versus the Patriots and Jets.

Last season, Tannehill showed he could win big games outside of the division by winning close contests versus the Colts, Falcons, Chargers, and Steelers.  Here’s the main issue, winning those close contests kept the Dolphins in contention throughout different times during the season, but winning versus the Bills and Patriots in October and Bills and Jets in December could’ve given the Dolphins the division championship.
Statistically, Ryan Tannehill within the division showed a mixed bag of performances.  In 2012 Tannehill threw a total of 12 touchdowns versus all opponents.  Versus the AFC East, in 2012, Tannehill threw a total of 3 touchdowns!  His overall quarterback rating didn’t rise above 93.8.
Fast forward to 2013, a year that proved quite promising and quite deflating at the same time, Tannehill threw 11 touchdowns of the 24 total touchdowns, versus the AFC East.  Overall, his rating as a quarterback surged to a season high of 120.6 versus the Patriots late in the season.
Which begs the question, can the third year quarterback show he can win in this division in 2014?  Can he flat-out own the division and attain a winning record in the AFC East?
Here’s the bigger question: Why hasn’t Tannehill played well in division games overall?
For one, after a bye week in 2013, the Dolphins played their first division game versus the Bills and on the first play of the drive Tannehill threw an out for a pick six.  That very play set the tone for the game as the Dolphins appeared lifeless and listless the rest of the way depending on their defense to win the game.
The 2014 season must be one for Tannehill where he has more autonomy to make decisions.  If he needs to get a first down in the red zone, he needs that flexibility to say no to the stretch play and go for the jugular with a touchdown or a big first down.  Hopefully, new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s playbook will allow for that opportunity next season.
However, this much is known, overall, Ryan Tannehill has a 3-8 record combined since 2012 versus the AFC East.
If Tannehill can’t lead the Dolphins to victory in 2014, it might be time to push the panic button on draft day next season and find the quarterback who can win in the division.
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  • Rob mann

    What this writer does not understand is basic football.The offensive coordinator was the main problem ! Not the QB !You could have put Peyton Manning behind center and would not have any different results with that kind of play calling.Not to mention the line was not protesting that well.Which I also blame on play calling.Tannehill is not a pocket passer.You and Mike Sherman need to realize that.