After four consecutive non-winning seasons, Tannehill will enter 2016 as the clear-cut starter. But there are no promises he will remain under center in Miami beyond next season.
With that said, Tannehill certainly needs support from within during this make-or-break season. New offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said that will be one of his biggest responsibilities this year.
Christensen has a wealth of experience, working with stud quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Christensen will work closely with Tannehill in an effort to get him trending upward.
“From every level of coaching that I’ve ever been at and especially this level, I think that’s a lonely position. That’s a lonely position in this league,” Christensen said. “It’s lonely in the locker room, it’s lonely on the street, it’s hard to find friends and it’s just a unique position.
“I’ve always felt like the No. 1 job that I have is to be an ally, to be a safe place where a guy can talk and communicate and have a relationship where you can bounce things off and generate ideas. I’ve always thought the quarterback position is unique that way and I’ve always approached it that way.”
This is great news for Tannehill. In the past year there have been multiple signs of unrest in his security within the organization.
The Miami Herald recently reported Tannehill fell out of favor with former head coach Joe Philbin last year, and that Philbin wanted to draft Raiders rookie Derek Carr in the first round. In addition, Tannehill made an off-hand comment to a practice-squad teammate after an interception in practice that didn’t go over well in the locker room, especially with the defense. Tannehill also went through two head coaches and two offensive coordinators to cap a chaotic year.
Tannehill put up decent numbers with 4,208 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, but he regressed in several key areas. Tannehill was among the worst quarterbacks in the AFC on both third down and in fourth quarters. His completion percentage (61.9) and passer rating (88.7) also were down compared to 2014.
Miami hired rookie head coach Adam Gase, in part, because of his successful track record with fixing quarterbacks. But Gase can no longer spend all his time with one player and one position now that he has to run the team. Therefore Gase, a former offensive coordinator, entrusted that same role to Christensen.
According to Christensen, he has been impressed with Tannehill so far.
“I visited with him and his wife when I came in for the interview and I had a great breakfast with them and as much as you can do in an hour there, but I’ve been extremely impressed with him,” Christensen said. “He’s been extremely productive and he’s played some awfully long stretches of good football. He seems like a guy that has all of the things that you’re looking for. A guy who wants to be good, who has it in perspective and (I’m) really looking forward to seeing him on the field a little bit.”