NFL Nation: ryan tannehill

QB snapshot: Ryan Tannehill

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
1:00
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A quick observation of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and how he played in the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss in Week 12:

Tannehill
Tannehill had another strong performance in a losing effort to the Denver Broncos. He didn't necessarily put up huge numbers, but he stayed within the flow of the game and nearly matched future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning drive for drive for four quarters.

Tannehill threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also posted his fifth triple-digit passer rating (104.9) of the season. But the most impressive statistic was Tannehill led Miami to five touchdowns in five trips to the red zone. The Dolphins entered Sunday's game ranked 30th in red zone efficiency. This was a big step in the right direction and bodes well for Tannehill and the offense.

The Dolphins (6-5) now have a must-win game against the lowly New York Jets (2-9) on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Miami needs a strong finish from Tannehill, who must continue to produce touchdown drives instead of settling for field goals.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
7:37
PM ET

DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 39-36 loss Sunday against the Denver Broncos.

What it means: The Dolphins suffered their second loss in three games to fall to 6-5. They blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Broncos (8-3) scored 22 straight points in the final period until the Dolphins scored a late touchdown. The 39 points allowed also was the highest amount this season by Miami's defense. The Dolphins are falling behind in a deep wild-card race in the AFC. It most likely will take 10 victories to make the playoffs and the Dolphins need to go 4-1 the rest of the way to hit that mark.

Stock watch: Miami's offense has been notorious for its slow starts. But the group's stock is rising after coming out hot and producing three touchdown drives for its highest-scoring first half of the season. The Dolphins registered 212 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. They also had a season-high 90 rushing yards in the first half, and the early production was needed against Denver’s explosive offense. As far as stock down, Miami's defense didn't play well. The front seven allowed 201 rushing yards and Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas lit up the secondary with 10 receptions for 87 yards and three touchdowns.

Key injuries: Miami suffered two important injuries. Starting left tackle Ja'Wuan James suffered a shoulder stinger in the first half and didn't return. Starting cornerback Jamar Taylor also suffered a shoulder injury in the second half and didn't finish the game.

Game ball: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went head-to-head against Broncos star Peyton Manning and never flinched. Tannehill threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a losing effort. Tannehill also led the team to five touchdowns in five red zone trips. The Dolphins entered the game ranked No. 30 in red zone efficiency.

What's next: With their brutal November schedule now behind them, the Dolphins will begin the final month of the season with a must-win game against the New York Jets (2-8) on "Monday Night Football." This will be the Dolphins' second and final prime-time game of the season. They beat the Buffalo Bills 22-9 on Thursday night in Week 11.

Dolphins vs. Broncos preview

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
8:00
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video When: 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver TV: CBS

Earlier this month, the Denver Broncos (7-3) were poised to enter a stretch of three consecutive road games with their sights set squarely on the AFC’s No. 1 seed. After that road trip ended with a 1-2 record, including a surprising loss in St. Louis this past Sunday, the Broncos are now in a scrap just to win their division.

The Miami Dolphins (6-4) come to Denver having won four of their last five games. They have surrendered 56 points in those five games combined. ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold discuss Sunday’s game.

Legwold: James, Ryan Tannehill was a player the Broncos took a long look at leading up to the 2012 draft as they looked for a quarterback prospect to pair on the roster with Peyton Manning. What’s been the key for his improvement this year and how he’s handled things?

Walker: Tannehill is on pace for a career year. I’ve watched all 42 career starts, and this is the most decisive I’ve seen him with the football. His play speed is better and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has done a good job of accentuating what Tannehill does well and avoiding where he struggles. He’s posted four games with a triple-digit passer rating, including the most recent win over the Buffalo Bills. However, the Dolphins’ offense is getting away with a lot of short and intermediate passes, and I’m surprised defenses haven’t worked harder to take that away. The biggest issues with Tannehill are inconsistency and lack of a deep ball. These are areas that have haunted Tannehill for three seasons, and it doesn’t appear it will change anytime soon. Yet teams haven’t challenged Tannehill to consistently throw deep. I’m curious to see how Denver plays Tannehill.

The Broncos have lost two of three and both losses have come by a wide margin. What is the mood of the team heading into Sunday’s game?

Legwold: The mood from the Broncos players and coaches is, essentially, they got what they deserved in losses to the New England Patriots on Nov. 2 and to the St. Louis Rams this past Sunday. They've owned up to it and unveiled the usual vows to repair the mistakes. But perhaps most troubling, for a team that has designs on a Super Bowl trip, is they didn’t have a response after some early trouble in either of those losses. They simply didn’t show the kind of bounce-back capability on the road that any team is going to need if they want to go deep into the postseason. The Patriots had a 24-point second quarter filled with Broncos mistakes and the Rams went up 10-0 in the first quarter. In both cases, the Broncos were wobbly and stayed wobbly. They know they didn’t execute on offense. They let pressure get to Manning, and defensively the Broncos had moments, but never really slammed the door to get the team back in the game. And now with the Kansas City Chiefs at 7-3 as well –- the Broncos have a Week 2 win in hand, but go to Kansas City Nov. 30 –- the Broncos know every week matters as they pursue their fourth consecutive division title.

Keeping with one of the Broncos’ trouble spots of late, defenses have tried to rattle Manning in the middle of the formation. How aggressively do you think the Dolphins will rush Manning, and what’s that mean for Cameron Wake?

Walker: The Dolphins are definitely bringing the pressure. They’ve done that against every quarterback they’ve faced, whether it’s an elite talent such as Aaron Rodgers or a developmental rookie such as Blake Bortles. Manning’s constant audibles and adjustments at the line of scrimmage could provide reason for Miami’s defense not to dial up as many blitzes. But the team knows the best way to win is to get hits, sacks and pressures on Manning. Several players I spoke to were impressed with the way the Rams defended the Broncos’ offense last week. St. Louis provided a nice blueprint, especially with its defensive line. This will be a big game for Wake, Olivier Vernon, Jared Odrick and others on the defensive line to win those one-on-one matchups.

Miami’s pass protection has been an issue lately. What are your thoughts on the Dolphins’ offensive line pass protecting against the Broncos’ front seven?

Legwold: The Broncos are at their best in the pass rush when they move into a six-defensive back look -- a dime package that really plays more like the average five defensive back (nickel) package when safety T.J. Ward moves down and plays at a linebacker spot. They have speed all over the formation, with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware moving around some. As a result, Miller is tied for fourth in the league with 10 sacks and Ware is tied for eighth with nine sacks. They use plenty of pre-snap movement, moving players toward and away from the line of scrimmage, to give the quarterback some indecisiveness, and it’s been a productive personnel grouping. However, some teams have found ways to convert some long third downs; the Chiefs converted seven third downs on third-and-8 or more, while the 49ers and Chargers each converted three times at third-and-6 or more and the Rams converted two third-and-10 situations this past Sunday. Tannehill can extend plays and that will be an issue for the Broncos to consider. But at home they play fast on defense as Ware and Miller have repeatedly caved in the edges of the pocket.

Overall, the Dolphins have had plenty of drama over the last year –- the Broncos had Richie Incognito in for a workout last week -– how has coach Joe Philbin done in the swirl?

Walker: This was a major storyline in the offseason and throughout training camp. But at this point in late November, more than a year since Jonathan Martin left the team and Incognito’s subsequent suspension, the Dolphins have moved on from the fiasco. Miami made the right call to remove both players from its locker room in the offseason. The team didn’t re-sign Incognito and traded Martin to the San Francisco 49ers. That set the tone for a better locker room culture to develop. This year’s team is together, and I think winning six of 10 games has helped. In some ways, earning a playoff spot would validate the thought that they learned from the situation and became better for it.

Denver suffered a lot of injuries last week against the Rams. What’s the latest update on tight end Julius Thomas, receiver Emmanuel Sanders and tailback Montee Ball?

Legwold: That’s been the dark cloud hanging over this team this past week. Sanders, who has been one of the best free-agent signings in the league, is the team’s second-leading receiver with 67 catches to go with 954 yards. He’s now under the guidelines of the league’s concussion protocol, so the Broncos have to simply wait until he is cleared to return. Ball re-injured his right groin as he played just four snaps against the Rams, an injury that kept him out of the previous five games. He is expected to miss, at minimum, two to three weeks. And Thomas suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter against the Rams. While Thomas’ injury wasn't nearly as serious as the team initially feared at the stadium Sunday, he has had ankle troubles before in his career and will be watched closely. His impact in the offense is no small matter. Thomas played just 13 snaps against the Rams and he still leads the league in touchdown receptions with 12, or at least two more than any other player.

The Broncos don’t have a fullback on the roster, so they can’t simply go to a two-back look to cover for some injuries. Tight end Virgil Green and running back Ronnie Hillman were out last week and Hillman is expected to miss additional time. That means young players such as C.J. Anderson and rookie Juwan Thompson have to be ready to be the guys at running back and rookie wide receiver Cody Latimer should get some snaps in the offense as well.


DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is direct and to the point. He is honest in his assessments, whether they are good or bad.

In fact, Lazor did a good job summarizing his philosophy a few weeks ago on how to get the best out of starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

"I have to make things uncomfortable so he can get comfortable," Lazor explained.

Tannehill
In other words, Lazor is constantly pushing Tannehill to test his limits as a quarterback. Despite some rocky moments, Tannehill is making solid progress in his third season. He is on pace for career highs in touchdowns (17) and passer rating (92.2). Most importantly, the Dolphins are 5-2 in their past seven games with Tannehill under center entering Sunday's contest against the Denver Broncos (7-3).

Lazor is doing a good job of accentuating what Tannehill does well, and their chemistry is developing. Tannehill has posted four games of triple-digit passer ratings already this season. He only had four games with triple-digit passer ratings in his previous two seasons.

"I didn’t know what to expect, honestly, coming in," Tannehill said of Lazor. "I came in kind of with an open mind just to see what he brought to the table. I think he’s done a great job of utilizing not only my skill set, but our team’s as well. I think the stuff we do utilizes my ability to move around, make some plays with my feet, and gets the ball in the hands of our playmakers."

A recent NFL.com article, citing anonymous sources, reported a "rift" between some offensive players and Lazor because of his coaching style. This week Lazor shrugged off the report and said his rapport with players is "about what a normal NFL offensive team would be."

"I probably just don’t put a lot of credence on anonymous reports," Lazor said. "Like I said, I enjoy the professionals, the guys we work with. I enjoy coming to work every day because of the people I work with. You’ve been at practice, nothing is different. You’ve been at training camp where you could be at the whole practices. I would like to think that, if the players were asked, that they would say I’ve been professional."

Tannehill said his rapport with Lazor is getting better and better, which is evident in the results. Tannehill is playing arguably the best football of his career over this seven-game stretch.

"It’s good. I think he does a good job of creating a game plan for us, putting us in positions to make plays during the game with his play-calling," Tannehill said. "I think our relationship has definitely grown as the season has gone on. I’ve gotten to know him more, and his personality more, and we’ve gotten more on the same page on not only football stuff, but just joking around with each other as well."

This pair must remain in synch if Miami (6-4) aims to end its six-year playoff drought. Tannehill and Lazor have a chance to prove over the next six games that they can thrive together for the long haul.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

The Miami Dolphins (6-4) have done a lot of things correctly while posting a 5-2 record in the past seven games. But an area of concern that could derail them next week against the Denver Broncos is pass protection, particularly at right tackle.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked a season-high five times in Thursday’s 22-9 victory over the Buffalo Bills, and starting right tackle Dallas Thomas allowed Buffalo defensive end Mario Williams to register 2.5 of his 3.5 sacks.

The Dolphins weakened their right-tackle position after moving first-round pick Ja'Wuan James to left tackle to replace injured Pro Bowler Branden Albert (knee), who is lost for the season. They had several options at right tackle but chose Thomas, who started this season at guard, over backups Nate Garner and Jason Fox.

Thomas looked out of place in his first start at right tackle this season in terms of his footwork, lack of quickness and overall strength against Williams. The competition only gets stiffer Sunday against Denver pass-rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.

Thomas must step up his game if he wants to remain the right tackle for the final six games. He also could use more help from “chips” and double-teams from running backs and tight ends. All of Thomas' 2.5 sacks against Buffalo were allowed in one-on-one situations.
DAVIE, Fla. – Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been limited in practice this week after suffering ankle and right shoulder injuries in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions. However, Tannehill will play in Thursday's primetime game against the Buffalo Bills.

"I'm good," Tannehill said when asked about his health. "Obviously, a little sore, but I’m good."

Tannehill
Tannehill has never missed a start in three seasons. But Tannehill is running the ball more with Miami’s read-option and has taken more sacks in recent weeks. Tannehill is Miami’s second-leading rusher with 245 yards on 33 carries. He also has been sacked 20 times this season, and the wear and tear is adding up.

Another concern for Tannehill and Miami is the loss of Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, who was lost for the season with an ACL and MCL tear on Sunday. The Dolphins will move rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James to left tackle Thursday against a talented Bills defensive line.

Tannehill certainly will not be 100 percent playing in his second game in four days.

“Anytime you play a Thursday night game, physically, it’s tough to get your body recovered and then ready to go again,” Tannehill said. “Not to mention coming off a physical game going into another physical game, this could be a real challenge for us. The coaches took care of us this week in practice and let our bodies recover.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- Maybe it's a mental block for Ryan Tannehill. Maybe it's a physical issue or some combination of the two.

But no team has given the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback more trouble over the past three seasons than the Buffalo Bills.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY SportsIn Week 2 at Buffalo, Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill threw for 241 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
Tannehill enters Thursday's national game against the Bills virtually in a must-win situation. Miami (5-4) and Buffalo (5-4) have identical records and both are fighting for a playoff spot and a tiebreaker in a crowded AFC field.

The Bills have been masterful against Miami's offense the past three seasons with Tannehill under center. The Dolphins' starting quarterback is just 1-4 against the Bills in his career and never threw for more than 241 yards in those five games.

Buffalo also beat Tannehill and Miami three consecutive times by a combined margin of 71-31.

"I hate losing," Tannehill said Tuesday when asked of his record against the Bills. "I don't play to come out and play close games or lose. You play to win. I haven't played good football. I haven't played my best football against them. So it's a big game for us to step up and do that. It's a night game on national television. This is a big opportunity of course."

There will be a lot of eyes on Thursday's game. Miami and Buffalo have been pleasant surprises in the first half of the season and this matchup in some ways will separate a postseason contender from a pretender.

The Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill takes them. He's been great at times and bad-to-mediocre at times, which is reflective of Miami's 5-4 record.

But Tannehill has been mostly bad against the Bills. He posted a passer rating above 74.0 against Buffalo just once, and that marked his only win against the Bills, 24-10, during his rookie season in 2012.

With several injuries and a short week, the Dolphins need Tannehill to produce solid quarterback play. He didn't outright call Thursday's game a must-win, but he realizes the pressure is on.

"We're in the second half of the season; it's coming down to winning games," Tannehill said. "We're in a conference where a lot of teams are playing well right now. There's still a lot of football in front of us but we have to play well."

Tannehill was banged up in last week's loss to the Detroit Lions. He showed up on the injury report with a right shoulder and ankle injuries.

Tannehill said he's "sore" but will be ready for the quick turnaround.

"It's tough," Tannehill said. "Anytime you play a Thursday night game, it's tough physically to get your body recovered and ready to go again. ...But coach took care of us this week in practice and let our bodies recover."

There are no excuses for Tannehill to have another poor game against the Bills. The time for him to step up against his division rival is now.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
11:00
AM ET
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

The Dolphins have greatly improved their pass protection from a year ago. But Miami's offensive line is starting to show signs of wear and tear at the midpoint of the season, and that is concerning going into Thursday night's AFC East rivalry game against the Buffalo Bills.

Miami's offensive line allowed three sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Detroit Lions. It was the third time in four games Tannehill has been sacked three times or more. The Dolphins have allowed 10 sacks total over that span.

Fixing this problem will be even more difficult after Miami lost starting left tackle Branden Albert for the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. Albert was the Dolphins' best and most consistent offensive lineman this season.

The Dolphins' offense must get back to what made them successful in the season's first half. That includes establishing a running game early as the foundation.

Miami's rushing attack has done a good job most weeks of keeping defenses off balance. That keeps defenders guessing and helps the Dolphins' offensive line pass protect.

Replacing Albert won't be easy. Miami rookie first-round pick Ja'Wuan James has been solid at right tackle. But expect some growing pains on the left side for James. He will face the opponent's top pass-rusher on most weeks.

Dallas Thomas must also step up as the Dolphins' new right tackle, and Miami needs Shelley Smith or a healthy Daryn Colledge at guard to be stable.

DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins lost Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, arguably their most consistent offensive player, on Sunday. Miami will put Albert on season-ending injured reserve; according to a source, he has dual ACL and MCL tears in his right knee.

Albert's recovery time is expected to be nine to 12 months. But the Dolphins (5-4), who are battling for a playoff spot in the AFC, cannot afford to sulk. They have the Buffalo Bills (5-4) visiting Sun Life Stadium on Thursday in a big game for both teams.

James
The spotlight now is on first-round pick Ja'Wuan James. He thrived at right tackle in the first nine games and developed into one of the NFL's top rookies. But James' responsibility becomes even greater as he protects Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blind side for the remainder of the season.

James must make some important adjustments while going from right tackle to left tackle. For starters, he will face most opponents' best pass-rushers on the left side. There are also subtle things mechanically that James must adjust to on a short week.

James' playing style fits at left tackle, although he played mostly on the right side in college at Tennessee. James' pass protection is ahead of his run blocking at this stage in his career. Coach Joe Philbin also described James on Monday as a "good athlete" and "smart guy." Miami will need all those traits to show in the final seven games.

Miami's entire offensive line will be remade with Albert sidelined for the season. In addition to James moving to left tackle, Dallas Thomas moved to right tackle and Shelley Smith moved to left guard. Philbin said that is the lineup you will likely see Thursday against Buffalo, with perhaps a wild card being the health of Daryn Colledge, who missed the past two games with a back injury.

But the most important piece on Miami's offensive line is James, who must rise to the occasion if the Dolphins expect to make a playoff push in the season's second half.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions return from their bye to face the Miami Dolphins, kicking off the second half of their season. Here are four things to watch.

Fairley
1. Defensive tackle rotation: The Lions and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin have been good about being able to mask season-ending injuries to Stephen Tulloch, Nevin Lawson and Bill Bentley using various packages with multiple players to amplify their strengths in his system. Trying to do this with Nick Fairley's injury will be a bigger challenge because Detroit gives up 4.29 yards a rush when Fairley isn’t in the game compared to 2.5 yards a rush when he is. That is a major difference, and the hole that will challenge Austin the most. Expect to see a combination of C.J. Mosley, Darryl Tapp, Caraun Reid and Jason Jones in the middle.

2. Calvin Johnson's return: Johnson has looked like his typical self in the portions of practice open to the media this week, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is still going to keep an eye on Johnson’s conditioning and how that right ankle is holding up throughout Sunday’s game. Detroit had already been playing Johnson fewer snaps than last season before the ankle injury to keep their star receiver fresh, but figure Lombardi is going to be watching it heavily again this week. That said, Johnson is quite motivated to make some plays in his return, and a focused Calvin Johnson is an even more dangerous Johnson than normal. He could be in line for a big day.

3. The running back split: Before injuries knocked Joique Bell and Reggie Bush out of various games in October, the running backs were going at close to a 50-50 split of snaps while very rarely ending up on the field together. Expect that to change Sunday. Between Bush, Bell and Theo Riddick, the Lions now have three capable backs who can make big plays and run routes out of the backfield, an offset tight end spot and in the slot. That gives Detroit more flexibility with its personnel, especially while the team’s tight ends continue to battle back from injuries. Expect to see more personnel groupings with two running backs on the field, but don’t be surprised if at least one is lined up as a receiver in those sets.

4. Containing Ryan Tannehill: This is somewhat related to the first thing to watch. Detroit’s defensive line has faced quarterbacks who can run this season in Cam Newton and Geno Smith, but none run the zone-read with the efficiency Tannehill has the past three weeks. Tannehill’s ability there means the Detroit front seven has to stay disciplined in its rush lanes and can’t freelance much because Tannehill can take a small crease and turn it into a big gain -- similar to what many college teams now run. If the Lions do a good job on the zone-read, they can force Tannehill to pass, and Though he has been very good passing, they turn him into a more traditional quarterback that way. Doing so helps Detroit immensely.

Revised prediction: Miami Dolphins

November, 7, 2014
Nov 7
11:55
AM ET
» AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South | Preseason picks

Miami Dolphins reporter James Walker revises his season prediction at the midway point of the season:

Preseason prediction: 8-8

Revised prediction: 9-7

Why the Dolphins will finish with a better record: The Dolphins are 5-3 and a little ahead of the pace I expected this season. Three straight victories against the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers have put the Dolphins in good standing to make a push for the playoffs during the second half of the season.

There have been several surprises that have led to Miami's fast start. First, the defense is one of the best in the NFL. I expected Miami’s defense to be good, but this group is playing at an elite level. The Dolphins are ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the pass and allowing just nine points per game in the past three weeks. The Dolphins have a chance to be in nearly every game with their defense playing at such a high level.

Second, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is playing some of the best football of his career, and is finally learning to be consistent. He has posted three triple-digit passer ratings in the past five games. It is no coincidence the Dolphins are 4-1 during that span. It is clear when Tannehill plays well, Miami is very tough to beat.

The second half of Miami's schedule is more difficult than the first half. The Dolphins still have tough games against the Detroit Lions (6-2), Buffalo Bills (5-3), Denver Broncos (6-2), Baltimore Ravens (5-4) and New England Patriots (7-2) this season. However, Miami is talented enough to compete with every team on its schedule.

I can see nine wins for the Dolphins this season -- and maybe 10 if the team stays healthy and consistent. It remains to be seen if that would be good enough to make the postseason in a crowded AFC playoff field.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had an up-and-down three seasons. But lately Tannehill is starting to find consistency and play some of the best football of his career, while the Dolphins (5-3) are on a three-game winning streak.

Here are some impressive statistics Tannehill is putting up in Year 3:
  • Tannehill has a passer rating of at least 109.3 or higher in three of his past five games. He's posted passer ratings of 123.6 and 125.6 in two of the past three games.
  • Tannehill
    Under Tannehill, Miami's offense is averaging 30.6 points per game since Week 4, which is fifth highest in the NFL.
  • Tannehill's completion percentage (63.3) through eight games would be fourth all-time in Dolphins history for a single season.
  • According to ESPN Stats & Information, Tannehill has an 82.9 QBR in his past five games.
  • Tannehill joined Steve Young and Michael Vick as the only three quarterbacks in the past five years to post a run of 20 yards or more in four straight games.
  • Tannehill is second on the Dolphins in rushing (245 yards) and averages 7.9 yards per carry. He owns Miami's longest run of the season at 40 yards.
  • Miami's offensive line has allowed just 17 sacks on Tannehill in eight games.

Tannehill is still out to prove he is the long-term solution in Miami. Keeping up these kind of numbers for the remainder of the season will go a long way.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- One of the biggest issues for Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been his lack of consistency. But there are recent signs that show Tannehill is making strides in that department in his third season.

Tannehill has posted a passer rating of 100.0 or better in three of his past five starts. He has been on his "A" game lately in victories over the Oakland Raiders (109.3 passer rating), Chicago Bears (123.6) and Sunday's 37-0 blowout win against the San Diego Chargers (125.6 rating). It's not a coincidence that Miami is 4-1 during this stretch in which Tannehill is playing some of the best football of his career.

Miami’s starting quarterback impressively outdueled MVP candidate and Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers at Sun Life Stadium. Tannehill completed 11 of his first 13 throws and produced back-to-back touchdown drives to start the game. He finished with 288 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“Just getting more comfortable in the offense and getting out and playing. I think that’s been the biggest thing,” Tannehill said. “That, and guys around me are making plays. When that happens, obviously it elevates my play.”

Miami offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has done a good job of focusing on Tannehill's strengths.

For example, the Dolphins rarely throw the deep the ball, which is an area Tannehill struggles. Tannehill had only one completion of 25 yards or more Sunday and the offense still produced 37 points. But Lazor has Tannehill throwing short and mid-range passes accurately while also using his athleticism to run the football more and move the pocket. Tannehill had his fourth straight game with an explosive run of 20 yards or more.

Miami's offensive line also has been a major upgrade. The Dolphins have allowed just 17 sacks in eight games. They are on pace to allow 34 sacks this season, well below last year's franchise-record 58 sacks. Miami allowed zero sacks of Tannehill against San Diego.

“You look at the offensive line, who did an outstanding job in pass protection [Sunday], kept me clean and I got to go through my progressions,” Tannehill said. “[I] got to No. 4 in progressions a couple times and [they] kept me clean.”

The formula is fairly simple for the Dolphins: Miami is 4-1 this year when Tannehill posts a passer rating of 80.0 or higher. The Dolphins have a lot of talent and they can compete with just about anyone when they get consistency from the quarterback position. But when Tannehill is playing poorly, that puts a lot of pressure on other aspects of the Dolphins to have little margin for error. Miami is just 1-2 in the first half of the season when Tannehill posts a passer rating below 80.0.

It's clear the Dolphins (5-3) will go as far as Tannehill can take them this season.

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

November, 2, 2014
Nov 2
4:10
PM ET

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 37-0 victory Sunday over the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: It is time for the Dolphins to be taken seriously as a playoff contender at the midpoint of the season. Miami (5-3) won its third straight game -- and to manhandle the Chargers (5-4), another playoff contender, from start to finish was an impressive feat. Miami took a 20-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. This was as dominant and complete a performance that I've seen from Miami against a quality opponent in a long time.

It was the Dolphins' first shutout win since December 2006 against the New England Patriots. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this also ended San Diego's streak of 241 straight games without being shut out. There are a lot of teams in the AFC mix for the playoffs, and the Dolphins deserve to be added to that list.

Stock watch: This was a complete victory. Therefore, the stock for Miami's offense and defense are on the rise after Sunday's game. The Dolphins' offense finally got off to a lightning-fast start by scoring back-to-back touchdowns on the first two drives of the first quarter. Miami also started the third quarter with a touchdown drive to take a commanding 27-0 lead. The Dolphins' defense harassed San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers (138 yards) all game and picked him off three times. The Chargers waived the white flag and pulled Rivers late in the third quarter. San Diego had no answers on either side of the football.

Grimes shines: Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes had his strongest game of the season with two interceptions of Rivers. Grimes had blanket coverage on Keenan Allen throughout the game and held the Chargers' No. 1 receiver in check with just four catches for 47 yards. Grimes now has three interceptions in the past two games.

Game ball: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill bounced back from an average game last week against Jacksonville with a stellar game against the Chargers. Tannehill threw for 288 yards, three touchdowns and a 125.6 passer rating. He completed 11 of his first 13 attempts and was decisive and accurate with the football.

What's next: The quality of competition does not stop. The Dolphins continue their challenging month of November next week with a road game against the first-place Detroit Lions (6-2). Detroit is coming off a bye week and is 3-1 at home this season.

The San Diego Chargers (5-3) will travel to face the Miami Dolphins (4-3) in an important game with early playoff implications. Both teams could be fighting for a wild card in the AFC, which would make owning the head-to-head tiebreaker important.

Who will prevail in this matchup? ESPN Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams and ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker discuss:

Walker: Miami has won two in a row and San Diego has lost two in a row, so momentum may be a factor in this matchup. Where are the Chargers in terms of confidence and ending their losing streak?

Williams: The Chargers are a veteran-led group that understands the ebb and flow of an NFL season, so confidence will not be an issue traveling on the road to face the Dolphins. Two of San Diego's three losses have come on the road, against teams that have one loss apiece (Denver and Arizona). San Diego's other loss was a three-point setback to AFC West rival Kansas City at home.

The Chargers don't make a lot of mistakes and generally force opponents to beat them. Coach Mike McCoy is meticulous in his game-day preparation and his staff is skilled in making in-game adjustments. I expect San Diego will be ready for whatever the Dolphins plan to do scheme-wise on both sides of the ball.

The Dolphins are doing a nice job of running, ranked No. 6 by averaging 138 rushing yards per game. How has new coordinator Bill Lazor turned things around on offense?

Walker: Most people expected Lazor to come in and quickly fix the passing game, but he has made his biggest contribution with the running game. Miami's ground game has been consistent, whether it was Knowshon Moreno early, Lamar Miller lately or even quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has three runs of 30 yards or more in the past three games. Lazor has done a good job of spreading out defenses and calling run plays at the right time. His read-option with Tannehill and Miller has been a huge success. Miami's passing game still needs work, but there is progress.

West Coast teams often don't look the same in Miami; San Diego hasn't won here since the 1981 season. How are the Chargers combating that and will the 10-day layoff help?

Williams: Although West Coast teams traditionally struggle in early games traveling east, the Chargers have been relatively successful of late, posting a 7-5 record in 10 a.m. PT games since 2012. The extra days off have given this banged-up team a chance to get some players healthy, and with Philip Rivers controlling the offense, the Chargers are competitive more times than not. One of the keys for San Diego will be the possible return of running back Ryan Mathews. Out for the past six games with an MCL sprain, the Fresno State product could help provide some much-needed balance to San Diego's offense if healthy and cleared to play on Sunday.

After starting 1-2, the Dolphins have won three of their past four games to get back into the AFC playoff race. What has been the difference?

Walker: Part of it is the schedule. The Dolphins cannot hide from that fact. All three of Miami's victories during this stretch have been against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7), Oakland Raiders (0-7) and Chicago Bears (3-5). Those are bad teams the Dolphins must beat if they want to be considered playoff contenders, and to their credit they took care of business.

The Dolphins are 1-3 against teams with winning records. That is why this game against San Diego is such a good measuring stick of where the Dolphins stand. Miami's next four opponents have a combined record of 22-9 (.709 winning percentage), so we are going to find out quickly whether the Dolphins are contenders or pretenders.

San Diego was banged up before its previous game against the Broncos. Where are the Chargers injury-wise heading into Sunday's game?

Williams: The Chargers should be in a better place health-wise. Four weeks ago against Jacksonville, the Chargers barely had enough healthy bodies to fill 46 spots on the active roster. Along with Mathews, cornerback Brandon Flowers and running back Donald Brown are possibilities to return from concussions. Pass rushers Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) and Cordarro Law (ankle) also should have a chance to make it back on the field on Sunday. Offensive linemen D.J. Fluker (ankle) and Rich Ohrnberger (back) have been playing with injuries, so the extra time should work in their favor as well.

The Dolphins are No. 3 in passing defense, holding teams to just 212 passing yards a game. How does the front seven set the tone?

Walker: Miami's front four are the strength of the entire team. The Dolphins have waves of good players, starting with defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon and defensive tackles Jared Odrick, Earl Mitchell and Randy Starks. Miami also is getting contributions off the bench from Derrick Shelby, Chris McCain and Dion Jordan, who recorded a couple of tackles in his first game off suspension. This group sets the tone for the defense. The Dolphins' linebackers have been inconsistent with the exception of Jelani Jenkins, who leads Miami in tackles (53) by a wide margin.

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