Matt Ryan: Week 3, at Miami.
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Tale of two halves: Ryan went 16-of-18 in the first half and didn’t throw a single inaccurate pass (and, actually, neither did Ryan Tannehill, making that possibly the first single half this year we haven’t seen an errant pass) but then went 7-of-20 in the second, with all five inaccurate incompletions coming after halftime. The Dolphins forced a number of those incompletions, but part of the issue stemmed from a lack of any receiver other than Julio Jones stepping up for Ryan. Roddy White still isn’t 100% after injuring his ankle in preseason and Tony Gonzalez has had three bad enough games to start the season to make you wonder if 2013’s finally the year he’s going to lose it.
All in all, though, if the Falcons converted two different 3rd-and-1’s deep in Dolphins territory and turned those conversions into touchdowns instead of having to settle for field goals, Ryan still probably would have come out the victor Sunday. Looks like some negative regression towards the mean in close games has met Atlanta’s start to the season, but other than occasional poor tackling by the defense (and this wasn’t a particularly good defense to begin with last year, anyway) this looks more or less like the same old Falcons. Which is to say, a consistently pretty good team.
Ryan Tannehill: Week 3, vs. Atlanta.
The past two games, Tannehill has been doing most things very well – we’ll cover those a little later. He’s also been performing terribly at one particularly important aspect of the quarterback position: reacting to pressure.
Unlike most quarterbacks with poor pocket presence, though, Tannehill’s problem is actually not reacting to pressure fast enough. Unless the Dolphins call a designed rollout or bootleg off a play-action pass (something they’ve done very little of early in the season), Tannehill tends to stand in the exact center of the pocket on every play and rarely deviates from that spot. That makes him a sitting duck to opposing defensive linemen and brings to mind way too many Drew Bledsoe comparisons for a guy who runs a 4.65 in the 40 yard dash. The result has been 10 sacks and four fumbles the past two games – numbers that are usually tough to overcome at the end of the day.
The good news: on just about every play that hasn’t involved a pass rush, Tannehill’s been great. He’s extremely comfortable in his old college coach Mike Sherman’s offense and has been making lightning quick reads all season – if his first option on a play is open, Tannehill’s going to find him instantaneously. He’s also only thrown five inaccurate passes in his 68 attempts the past two games, a remarkably low number for a guy whose biggest question mark coming out of Texas A&M was his accuracy. Chances are, he won’t be able to avoid errant passes at that low a rate going forward. But on the other hand, his pocket presence is also unlikely to remain that bad in the future. At the very least, Tannehilll looks like he’s progressed into a league-average starting quarterback this year and the Dolphins look like a team that will be in the playoff picture all season.