The first game that counts in 2014 won’t be played until the New England Patriots come to town on September 7, but there’s been plenty of work to dissect from the last three weeks. It looks like Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s playing time could be over for the preseason, as backups Matt Moore and Seth Lobato should take all of the snaps tonight against the St. Louis Rams. Training Camp and the first three weeks of the preseason provided Tannehill the opportunity to test drive his new offense and get comfortable with the timing and functionality of the new scheme. Here’s some of what I’ve observed watching the third year quarterback work at his craft.
1) The Offense Has Flexibility – Tannehill seems to have picked up the offense throughout the off-season, and really gain momentum as the weeks of training camp progressed. He seemed confident and in total command of not only the players around him, but located the football with more consistency then at this point last year. Different route combinations have helped the skill players create space in the secondary. The movement and motion allows Tannehill more consistent pre-snap reads which should help him protect the football and lead to a higher completion percentage starting in week one!
2) More Imagination In The Offense – The influence of the zone-read running play or the bubble screen that sometimes is attached to that particular running play is allowing Ryan Tannehill to expose his athletic ability. Just this one play alone is creating a stretch or applies pressure to the edge of the defense. Outside tight end screens and frequent check downs running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller will demand more from opposing linebackers, and that illusion creates space in the secondary. I’ve also seen more play-action passing that subtly moves the pocket, allowing the offensive line better angles to protect with Tannehill getting a few yards deeper with his drop. this creates more room in the pocket and extended routes either on crossing patterns or deep post-seam routes behind the secondary.
3) Mechanics Are Better – If there’s one area that new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor wanted to address with his starting quarterback was his footwork within the pocket. The corrections and the hard work put in by Tannehill has allowed feet to dictate when the ball should come out and he looks less ridged and more athletic in his delivery. I still believe he can continue to improve in this area to play more on the front half of his feet, allowing him to plant, push and release with more quickness. This offense is predicated on the quarterback getting the ball out on time and Tannehill has done that consistently through his quick understanding of the offense, and his improve fundamentals when throwing the football.
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