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.