A weekly analysis of the Miami Dolphins' quarterback play.
Rewind: Miami second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill improved to 3-0 as a starter this season and 10-9 overall with a 27-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Tannehill’s numbers were not overly impressive. He threw for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. However, Tannehill showed growth as a young quarterback, outdueling Atlanta Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter and producing a late comeback. Tannehill was masterful on Miami’s final touchdown drive, completing 9-of-12 passes and throwing the go-ahead touchdown to rookie tight end Dion Sims.
Fast-forward: The quarterback matchups only get tougher for Tannehill. After producing back-to-back wins over Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Ryan of the Falcons, Tannehill must now square off against Drew Brees in New Orleans. Brees is off to another good start for the high powered Saints (3-0). It will be up to Tannehill to keep pace with Brees, a tall task. Tannehill has beaten some good quarterbacks early in his career, but potentially outdueling Brees would be the biggest to date.
Protection issues: The Dolphins have allowed 14 sacks in the first three games, including five against Atlanta. At times, the running backs didn’t pick up blitzes, and at other times, the pocket collapsed. Tannehill also has a penchant for holding the ball too long. All of this needs to improve if Tannehill is going to stay healthy and upright for 16 regular-season games. Tannehill showed up on the injury report last week for the first time with a right shoulder injury. It’s not serious, but it is a warning to the offense that it must protect its franchise quarterback.
Prediction: The Dolphins began the year with five tough games, and this was the one I pointed to as the most difficult. The circumstances and matchups in this game simply do not favor Tannehill and Miami. The Saints are a heavy blitzing team, and picking up blitzes is a weakness for the Dolphins' offense. Tannehill has an even-keeled personality, so I do not expect him to be overwhelmed or intimidated by the bright lights of playing on “Monday Night Football” for the first time in his NFL career. However, I expect the Saints to make things tough for Tannehill in this game.