Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins may not be completely sold on Ryan Tannehill as a franchise quarterback, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, but Tannehill is playing some of his best football at the end of his rookie season.
In the past two weeks, Tannehill was a combined 35-53 for 350 yards, four touchdowns, and most importantly no interceptions. Over the same period, Tannehill has a quarterback rating of 109.8. Going back four games, Tannehill hasn’t thrown an interception in 137 pass attempts.
Overall, Tannehill has thrown for 3,059 yards with one game left to go this season. The rookie out of Texas A&M has started every game for the Fins this year and his game has significantly improved throughout the years. His season passing yards make him only the fifth quarterback in team history to throw for 3,000 yards in a single season, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Comparing Tannehill to the last quarterback the team drafted, Chad Henne, shows some similar numbers, albeit in fewer games for Henne.
Henne completed 60.8 percent of his passes in 14 games in 2009 while throwing for 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Henne averaged 205.6 yards per game through the air and 10.5 yards per completion for a quarterback rating of 75.2.
This year, Tannehill has completed 58.4 percent of his passes for 3,059 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Tannehill averages 11.7 yards per completion and averaged 203.9 yards per game through the air. Overall, Tannehill has put together a quarterback rating of 76.9 for the 2012 season.
The difference between the two has been the confidence Tannehill carries himself with on the field and his athletic ability. Tannehill has runs for at least 30 yards in each of his last two games and is comfortable throwing on the run, which Henne never was throughout his career.
Teammates have taken notice of Tannehill’s improvements with Reggie Bush saying, “It looks like he’s improving and maturing.”
Both Henne and Tannehill won seven games in their first year as a starter, while Tannehill has one game left to get the elusive eighth win this season.
In the final month of the season, Tannehill has led his team to a 2-2 record, but has yet to throw an interception. His quarterback rating in December of 88.5 is his second best this season and the rookie quarterback rating has run the ball 22 times for 140 yards and a touchdown in December.
Tannehill has improved his quarterback rating in two of three months of the season. In September, the Fins went 1-3 and he had a quarterback rating of 66.4. The quarterback rating spiked to 98.3 in October as the Fins were undefeated.
In November, Tannehill came back down to Earth and the put up a 68.3 quarterback rating and threw twice as many interceptions as he did touchdowns. Finally, he’s bounced back in December to his quarterback rating of 88.5
Not surprisingly, when Tannehill has a quarterback rating of at least 88.5, the Dolphins have a record of 5-2 this season. When Tannehill is below that mark, the Dolphins were just 2-6.
For comparison sake, Henne also took the team to a 2-2 record in December 2009, but threw four touchdowns to six interceptions for a quarterback rating of 75.9 and Henne had just eight rushes for 21 yards.
So is Tannehill the long-term answer for the Dolphins? It’s still way too early to give a definitive answer to that question. But, Tannehill has shown that his game is improving with each start he makes for the Dolphins.
He’ll likely hit the proverbial sophomore slump next season, so seeing how he bounces back from that will help determine his future in Miami. But, for the first time in a while, the Dolphins head into next season with some confidence at the quarterback position.