Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time for Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill to Step Up

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Time for Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill to Step Up

Article excerpt

It's about time Ryan Tannehill put on his big boy pants.

No more excuses about his limited college and NFL experience. No more claims he doesn't have enough weapons, or lacks a consistent running game. Not a word about the struggles of this Dolphins' offensive line, which has gotten him sacked more than any other NFL quarterback. All of those issues are well-documented, and reasonable explanations for this offense's lackluster execution.

But what's also understood is that good quarterbacks - not average ones - make their teams better. Good quarterbacks raise the level of everyone's performance. They show up and deliver in critical stretches where the game and the season are on the line.

That moment for Tannehill will likely come this Sunday when his teammates will need him to seal a victory over the Steelers, which can keep the Dolphins in the playoff hunt. This is their window, and that means it's Tannehill's time to finally show he's The One.

"He oozes confidence" offensive lineman John Jerry said this week when asked about his quarterback's demeanor. "It's verbal, it's in his command of the huddle. He keeps our spirits up and that's been especially big for us linemen this season.

"He's on top of his game."

Really? Is being the NFL's 24th best quarterback the best Tannehill can do? And will that be good enough this season, and in the coming years?

Tom Brady has had fewer weapons than Tannehill most of this season, yet his injury-depleted Patriots possess the NFL's second best record.

Nick Foles, the quarterback selected 80 spots behind the Dolphins' 2012 first-round pick, has started fewer NFL games than Tannehill. Yet he owns the NFL's best passer rating (125) this season, and has the Eagles in the playoff hunt.

Ben Roethlisberger's offensive line resembles Swiss cheese. The Steelers will be breaking in the team's third starting center this week, and Pittsburgh's running game is more inept than the Dolphins'.

Those quarterbacks all raise the level of their team's performance. Justify Tannehill's second-year struggles however you'd like, but he's only been decent this season. He's proven he's better than Chad Henne, but that's not saying much considering he's not on Jay Fielder's level yet. …

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