The third season is the year many experts consider the make or break point for a young quarterback. After taking their rookie year to get up to NFL speed, and improving (or in some cases regressing) in year two, year three is the season for young signal callers to put up or shut up.
Most recently, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers took the NFL by storm his rookie year, and then regressed big time in year two. But when it came time for him to step up in year three, he energized a Carolina team with low expectations all the way to the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs and Newton made his 2nd Pro Bowl.
Same goes for Colin Kaepernick, who after riding the pine behind Alex Smith his rookie year then single handedly destroyed opposing defenses in year two, coming ever so close to winning Super Bowl XLVII. And in the all important year three, Kaep was a Richard Sherman tipped ball away from taking San Francisco to its 2nd Super Bowl in as many years.
The year three question now faces Miami Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as the Texas A&M product enters a crucial point in his career in this upcoming season. According to ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen, this year is the year that Tannehill must produce.
“For Ryan Tannehill, he’s gotta step forward. This is his year. I think now the feeling always is that you better pretty much establish yourself at a high level by your third year,” said Mortensen. “Some people say four, but in today’s NFL it feels like the third year. So I’d say the year coming up for Ryan is huge.”
Around the league, Tannehill’s been receiving a lot of praise, and many believe that he’ll follow in the footsteps of guys like Newton and Kaepernick this upcoming season. ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton thinks that Tannehill’s potential is clearly evident, and that he’ll be able to make the proverbial jump this season.
“I think the biggest thing is the fact that he actually played through all those hits, and I think he grew a lot,” said Clayton. “I’ve liked Ryan Tannehill very much since his first year. I think that you can see that there’s a lot of potential there. I think you can see that he’s able to take the hits. Now it’s a matter of just trying to refine things.”
The Dolphins have a lot of different things to focus on this season, but in this league, it all boils down to quarterback play. For teams to be successful, they have to have a “guy”, a quarterback that they can rely on to bail them out if necessary similar to longtime NFL greats Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. CBS Sports.com’s Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco believes that Tannehill’s progression the top priority for the Dolphins this off-season, regardless of what occurs around him.
“I think the number one priority is growth by Ryan Tannehill. If your quarterback grows and I saw some growth last year, but if he continues to grow, than that’s the first and foremost number one priority for the Miami Dolphins,” said Prisco. “It’s getting him to a level where 30 touchdowns and 10 or 11 interceptions is what he’s good for every year.”