NFL week 16 preview and predictions

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Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in the first quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Armchair Quarterback’s Take Of The Week

More People Should Be Talking About Miami Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

NFL fans often hear about all the promising young quarterbacks in the league today. Andrew Luck is supposedly the second coming of anyone from John Elway to Peyton Manning. Robert Griffin III is supposed to be a dynamic new type of QB that combines great passing accuracy with elite physical tools. Russell Wilson has taken the NFL by storm after having been passed over by many teams because of his smaller stature. Colin Kaepernick lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter. Cam Newton is starting to come into his own and Nick Foles has looked great under the tutelage of Chip Kelly.

….and then there’s Ryan Tannehill.

My guess is that some of you clicked on this article not even knowing who the person in the cover picture was. Tannehill may have been taken only a few picks behind Luck and Griffin, but in terms of hype and publicity Tannehill has been more of a Mr. Irrelevant than future superstar (at least for those who don’t follow the Dolphins). However, with Miami’s win over New England last Sunday, the Dolphins are now in prime position to land the final wild card spot and Tannehill deserves a lot of credit for that.

Tannehill’s rookie numbers may not have held up to the other highly publicized rookie QBs, but in his sophomore season he has closed the gap. Below are the 2013 numbers for Luck, Griffin, Wilson, and Tannehill. Do you know who is who?

62.4%, 259.1 YPG, 7.0 YPA, 23 TDs, 14 INTs, 86.6 QB Rating
58.7%, 235.6 YPG, 6.7 YPA, 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 85.2 QB Rating
60.1%, 246.4 YPG, 7.0 YPA, 16 TDs, 12 INTs, 82.2 QB Rating
64.7%, 219.8 YPG, 8.6 YPA, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 105.0 QB Rating

Those stats belong to (from top to bottom) Tannehill, Luck, Griffin, and Wilson. So in their second NFL season you can make a strong case for Tannehill being the second best QB this season behind Russell Wilson. While Wilson deserves every bit of praise he gets, he’s also the QB on this list that has the least amount of pressure on his passing attack. He has far and away the best supporting cast with an elite defense and rushing attack. Tannehill (as well as Luck and Griffin) are basically being asked to carry their teams’ offenses on their very young shoulders.

Tannehill’s numbers become even more impressive when you factor in the absolutely horrendous offensive line play he has had to deal with. Through 14 games he has been sacked an NFL leading 51 times. That equals about 3.6 sacks per game. Of the other sophomore QBs listed above, RGIII is the next closest in times sacked with 38. That’s almost one whole sack less per game than Tannehill.

Then there is the absolute three ring circus that the Dolphins had to endure with the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito bullying fiasco. That could have easily sent the Dolphins into a tail spin. Instead, the team seems to have pulled together and weathered the storm. That’s pretty impressive for a team lead by a 2nd year QB that didn’t even play QB in college until midway through his junior season.

If anyone is going to try and argue that Tannehill is benefitting from his strong supporting cast on offense, I’d like you to stop and look over the Dolphins roster for a moment. Tannehill’s go to WR this season is Brian Hartline and his running game is a combination of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Mike Wallace is a nice deep threat and Charles Clay has developed into a nice pass catching tight end, but these guys aren’t exactly the 90’s Dallas Cowboys at the skill positions.

Come playoff time, RGIII will be sitting at home and Russell Wilson will be chasing a Super Bowl birth on the back of the most talented roster in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tannehill (assuming the Dolphins can hold onto that last playoff spot (have you seen Baltimore’s schedule?)) and Andrew Luck will carry the weight of their teams’ playoff success on their shoulders. While Luck is basically expected to become a Hall Of Famer some day, you can actually make a strong case that in their second seasons Tannehill has done just as much, if not more, to lead his team to the playoffs.

Yet no one is listing him amongst the NFL’s best young QBs.

If Miami does make it into the playoffs and maybe even wins a game I would guess that the Tannehill bandwagon will start to become a lot more crowded. In the meantime, there are plenty of seats available and I recommend claiming your seat now.

Now on to this week’s game predictions……….

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