Tannehill Tribunal: Which NFC Quarterbacks Would We Prefer to Ryan Tannehill?
While travesties like Thursday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals are hardly on the shoulders of just one unit or player, it is woefully apparent that quarterback Ryan Tannehill was the primary culprit in the team’s dismal performance a week ago.
As a Tannehill apologist, for a lack of a better term, I understand that Tannehill’s stagnant level of play is due in part to a bevy of different offensive coordinators and an offensive line that at best can be described as a swinging door. However, his lack of development is making me doubt that he can ever become The Guy at the quarterback position. Though there is still a lot of football left to play this season and Adam Gase certainly has as good a chance as anybody to correct Tannehill’s mistakes, I have wondered often which quarterback situations I would prefer to Lauren Tannehill’s husband. So, I think that now is as good a time as any to evaluate on a team by team basis as to which quarterbacks I’d prefer to Tannehill and from there determine if moving on from him at the end of the season is the wisest course of action. So, here is part one of my evaluation of which quarterbacks I’d prefer to Ryan Tannehill, starting with the NFC.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
I am as far away from the Russell Wilson hype train as reasonably possible. Whenever I hear his name thrown out in any MVP or Top 5 QB discussions, I legitimately get a sick feeling in my stomach. Even still, I’d take Russell Wilson in a heartbeat over Ryan Tannehill.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Believe it or not, this one is actually pretty close in the long-run. Palmer is an injury prone 36-year-old former journeyman who has had two or three above average seasons over the last decade. Considering his relatively poor play over the last month, I’d wager that the end is approaching quickly for the former Bengal/Raider. But ultimately, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to last year’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers
Gabbert has definitely improved from his time in Jacksonville, but he’s far from a franchise arm. He has never showed anything that could lead me to believe he could be any more than a serviceable backup, whereas Tannehill has shown flashes of Pro Bowl potential at times.
Case Keenum, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams aren’t 3-1 because of Case Keenum. They are 3-1 in spite of Case Keenum. If you honestly would prefer Keenum to Tannehill, you are an irrational human being and you should probably stop reading this immediately.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Super Cam has struggled mightily this season against some of the NFL’s best defenses, as his 5 INTs and 80.2 passer rating indicates. Jonathan Stewart’s injuries have made the Panthers’ offense one dimensional, and their defense hasn’t played up to par either. However, last year’s NFL MVP is almost sure to rebound as the season progresses. Either way, Cam Newton at his worst is still probably better than Ryan Tannehill at his best.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones’ throwing machine just got done torching the Panthers’ defense for over 500 yards and 4 TDs. Already at nearly 1,500 yards, 11 TDs, and a passer rating of 126.3 Matt Ryan is the early favorite for NFL MVP. I think it’s safe to say I’d rather have the three time Pro Bowler right now.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last year’s first overall pick has had his struggles over the last few weeks, especially with his ability protecting the ball (8 INTS in four games). As many young quarterbacks do, Winston often refuses to take the check down option and instead opts to force throws in double coverage. I’m not exactly a fan of Jameis Winston, but I do understand his sky high potential. But the deciding factor here is his interception percentage of 4.5% of his throws this season. That percentage is nearly double that of Ryan Tannehill’s during his own first two seasons, and for that reason I cannot honestly take Winston over Tannehill with confidence.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
The routine 5,000 yard passer may be long in the tooth at 37 years old, but he still has all of the ability that has made him an award winning, Super Bowl MVP.
Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings
I have to admit, Sam Bradford has looked pretty good the last two weeks. But his performance on the field was rarely his most significant red flag. His penchant for injury is still an area of concern, but considering that he has avoided major injury for two full seasons it is possible that his knee injuries are finally behind him. Assuming he remains healthy, I’ll take the man who somehow is worth 3 first round picks over Miami’s own first round quarterback.
Jay Cutler/Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears
Regardless of who ends up as the starter this week, I’d definitely prefer Ryan Tannehill to an injury prone bust or an injury prone journeyman. If anything, Adam Gase’s ability to have Cutler look serviceable for Chicago last year gives me hope for Tannehill this year.
Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
Last week’s vomit-inducing performance aberration aside, Matt Stafford has been a very good quarterback this season. For the first few weeks he spent his time lighting up the stat sheets with Marvin Jones, or as I like to call him “Calvin Johnson Jr. Jr.” While he still needs to work on his decision making skills, I’d bet a few shekels that the Lions’ quarterback will be headed to his 2nd Pro Bowl by season’s end.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Eli Manning, New York Giants
Peyton Manning’s kid brother is far from perfect, but he is a four time Pro Bowler and a two time Super Bowl MVP for a reason. His tendency for bone headed decisions is more than made up for by his overall arm talent, command of the line of scrimmage, and nerves of steel in crunch time.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
This one is definitely close. Though Kirk Cousins has been performing well thus far into the season after an excellent 2nd half to the 2015 campaign, I’m not quite sold on his viability as a franchise quarterback. Tannehill certainly has better athletic talent, and they have very similar career TD:INT ratios. Cousins makes a very fair share of poor decisions and has been benched more than once in his career with the Redskins. Their career passer ratings are very comparable, though Cousins has the edge at 91.4 vs. 85.3. Even though Cousins may not have the arm talent and mobility that Tannehill does, I’d still rather have Cousins in the long term. First, Kirk Cousins has a playoff appearance in spite of a very flawed roster and an even more flawed organization. Second, and more importantly, Kirk Cousins has progressed each year he has played. By contrast, Ryan Tannehill has regressed since his solid 2014 season where he totaled 27 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions and a 92.8 passer rating. I’m not sure Cousins would perform well in the Dolphins’ system, but I also don’t think he’d do worse.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott has been nothing short of incredible thus far into the season in place of injured Tony Romo. He hasn’t been asked to do all that much, but he’s been as efficient as I’ve seen a rookie be with the football. While it’s easy to say I’d rather have Prescott over Tannehill based on these four games, I’m not sure that I can in all good conscience. Not to take away his accomplishments, but Prescott did not have a single passing touchdown until Week 3 and is averaging less than one passing touchdown per game at this point in the season. He benefits greatly from the best offensive line in the NFL, Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant, and a rookie running back that may already be top 5 at his position. I don’t take his lack of interceptions or his 3 win streak lightly, but I’m not convinced that he would fare better than Ryan Tannehill in Miami… yet.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Like Prescott, Wentz has been phenomenal leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 3-0 record. The difference? Wentz has accomplished what Prescott has, but even better. First, he beat out Sam Bradford for the starting job far quicker than anyone could have foreseen. Second, he carries more of the load than Prescott does, as he doesn’t have the benefit of a top flight receiver or an electric running back. And, finally, he has averaged 250 yards and just under two touchdowns a game with zero interceptions. Considering his 1st round pedigree and top of the line physical talent, I’m going to be very hypocritical and go with Wentz over Tannehill.
In the NFC, there were 11 quarterbacks that I would take over Ryan Tannehill and 5 that I would not. Obviously, this makes Tannehill well below average thus far into this piece, but there are still 15 other starting quarterbacks to sift through. Stay tuned for part two of this series, where I go through the AFC quarterbacks that I’d prefer to Tannehill and a more in depth conclusion as to what the franchise needs to do about the underachieving Miami Dolphins’ quarterback moving forward.
AFC QB verdicts will be released on Thursday.