The general rule of thumb is that rookie quarterbacks struggle in the NFL against the blitz. The disguises, exotic looks and increased speed of the game often make it tough on rookies to throw well under pressure.
However, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not having a traditional rookie season. The area where Tannehill is struggling the most is against base defenses. It is part of the reason Miami is 4-6 and has lost three straight games.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Tannehill has the NFL’s second-worst completion percentage (55.2) against four or fewer rushers. When defenses do not blitz, it throws Tannehill off his game. He’s been sacked 10 times and thrown five interceptions against base defenses this season.
Opponents frequently blitzed Tannehill at the beginning of the season, which is normal for rookies. But Tannehill showed the ability to make quick and accurate throws in Miami’s West Coast offense, and had early success. Then, opponents adjusted around midseason by not blitzing as much and dropping a lot of defenders back. That is where Tannehill hit a wall.
The early book is out on Tannehill now that teams have enough film on the rookie quarterback. It will be up to Miami’s coaching staff and Tannehill to make the adjustment in order to have success when teams do not blitz.