Saturday 20 January 2018 / 02:22 PM


Since the Dolphins took a chance on Ryan Tannehill in the 2012 NFL Draft, they’ve doubled down on his ability as a playmaker.

After setting franchise records as a rookie, the Dolphins have made it clear and known that they saw Tannehill as the quarterback of the future. And with his play in 2013 and 2014, the Dolphins again decided to settle in on the future, singing Tannehill to a 6-year, $96 million contract.

The 2015 campaign again saw Tannehill put up solid stats, becoming just the fourth quarterback in league history to throw for 3,000 yards in his first four seasons. Tannehill has had the numbers, slinging the ball around like an All-Pro QB. His numbers during his time in Miami are some of the best in football, and it’s a major reason why the Dolphins pegged him as their quarterback – and their near-$100 million man.

But beneath all the numbers, there’s one that stands above the rest: 30-38. That’s Tannehill’s record as the starter in Miami. The team hasn’t made the postseason in any of his years at the helm, and hasn’t finished above .500 in any of his seasons. Tannehill hasn’t won at any step of his maturation process, and at year four of the experiment, it’s time to take a closer look.

Is Tannehill entirely to blame for the losing records? No. The offensive line play has been flat out bad while Tannehill has been under center. But the running game has been there, and while the Dolphins don’t have extraordinary talent around him, they’ve made efforts to put playmakers outside – and it’s failed to create a winning atmosphere. He’s not to blame in full, but when a team pays a franchise QB, the player is expected lift the team around him. Tannehill has fallen short.

The defense has been bad this year, but it’s to be expected. But Adam Gase and company were brought in for the sole purpose of installing a system that would benefit Tannehill, and would give him an offense he enjoys. The Dolphins were supposed to rely on their offense, just like teams such as the Colts, and it was time to take a next step. But that step never came. The Dolphins defense carried the day against Seattle, where Tannehill was a pedestrian bystander.

And in game two, we got to see exactly what Tannehill had to offer. An abysmal first half led to a total domination of the Patriots behind their second- and third-string QB. Tannehill came to life against weak prevent defense. But as the game got closer to a competition, the Patriots tightened up, and Tannehill did what we expect: tossed a back-breaking interception.

Even against Cleveland, Tannehill tossed two INTs, and it took OT to stop them. Then against Cincinnati on Thursday, it all came apart. Tannehill hit Kenny Stills on a 74-yard touchdown bomb on the second drive of the game. After that? Tannehill went 14 of 24, 115 yards and an INT. Just like that, in the fourth year under center for a franchise quarterback, the Dolphins are staring a losing season in the face all over again.

The Bengals just embarrassed the Dolphins offense, making Tannehill look like a rookie. He made throws that NFL novices Carson Wentz or even Dak Prescott aren’t making, and he’s struggling to make any throws that aren’t open routes. Tannehill is a fourth-year project – but one that’s paid like the best player on the team.
Sure, this team has issues all around Tannehill. And he’s far from a huge problem. But he’s not the solution, either.

The Dolphins are in year seven of a rebuild, and it’s time to face the music: Tannehill isn’t the savior.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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