The other night, I was drawn into a discussion of the Miami Dolphins. The discussion began, and in truth, never got far from Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is entering his third season, and has been the starter for the better part of two seasons. He offers a prototypical package of size and arm strength. The sense from everyone, but me was that Tannehill had been through a couple of coordinators, played with bad talent and was somehow inevitably poised for a breakout season.
I do not feel the inevitabily of Tannehill’s ascendence. Two years as a starter is a significant body of work, and leads me to believe that if all the circumstances fall into place, he could quarterback a playoff team, but ultimately he does not move the needle.
He is not alone. Quarterback is the most difficult position in team sports, and elite quarterback play is a rare and valuable commodity. An elite quarterback assures playoff relevance in any season he is healthy enough to play. Elite quarterbacks come in various shapes and sizes, but the common denominators are competitiveness, poise and decision making. Quarterbacks are almost presidential in the sense that they are measured as much by the feeling they convey in crisis as they are winning.
The qualities at the elite level, if not fully realized, would be readily apparent in the amount of starts given to Tannehill thus far in his career, and his play has almost lacked definition. He is imminently replaceable and leaves the Dolphins mired in a morass of mediocrity.