The Last QB Ranking You’ll Ever Need – Where Does Ryan Tannehill Stand?

ryan-tannehill-dolphins
Ryan Tannehill has started 64 consecutive games for Miami, the most since Dan Marino.

Since the beginning of time, man has pondered the great questions of the universe. Why are we here? What is our purpose? And what is the best way to evaluate quarterback play? Passer rating is usually a pretty good measurement but it falls short in some efficiency areas. ESPN’s ill-contrived total quarterback rating is just as bad as all of its terrible modern programming.

The general fan follows volume stats as gospel disregarding the number of varying factors that fall into today’s inflated figures. If quarterback ‘A’ throws for 4,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, and quarterback ‘B’ throws for 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, most would agree that quarterback ‘A’ was a better player. But if QB ‘A’ has double the number of attempts, his efficiency is not on par with QB ‘B’s percentages and his offense is not going to be as effective.

Touchdown percentage, interception percentage and yards per attempt are a far better barometer. There are going to be exceptions to any algorithm creation, but I’ve found that this one consistently churns out the most effective quarterbacks in the league.

What I have done, is taken those three stats and ranked all 32 teams majority snap taking, or most pertinent, quarterback from one to 32. For instance, in 2013, Nick Foles was first in TD%, INT% and yards per attempt. He scored a one in all three categories. Like golf, we’re looking for the lowest score. We know Nick Foles isn’t the best quarterback in the NFL but, in 2013, he was the most efficient and thus played better than anyone else.

The opposition would argue that, that makes this system bunk, but I would counter by showing Nick Foles 2014 and 2015 rankings as bringing the rule back to a median and highlight 2013 as an outlying exception in the case of Nick Foles.

Andy Dalton peaked up in 2015 and anyone would agree that he was nowhere near that level until this past season.

So what does this mean for Ryan Tannehill? Most reasonable observers would put him in the middle of the pack – or so I thought. The more podcasts I listen to and articles and message board posts I read, you would think this guy has played at a Geno Smith level when that isn’t even close to the truth.

This stat isn’t made for projecting. To do that, we’d have to look into influences like the better pass protection he’ll get with Laremy Tunsil unseating Dallas Thomas or the emergence of Devante Parker. Adam Gase’s influence will obviously be much greater than Joe Philbin or anyone on his staff ever had.

This stat simply measures what a quarterback was for that particular season. In 2015, this is how they stacked up:

2015

Rank Player Team Total Points TD % Rank INT % Rank YPA Rank
1 Wilson SEA 12 2 6 4
2 Dalton CIN 14 4 8 2
3 Brady NE 15 5 1 9
4 Palmer ARI 19 3 15 1
5 Taylor BUF 23 13 5 5
6 Newton Car 25 1 16 8
7 Brees NO 27 14 7 6
8 Cousins WSH 33 12 14 7
9 Smith KC 39 21 4 14
10 Rodgers GB 42 11 2 29
11 McCown CLE 43 24 3 16
12 Stafford DET 49 10 18 21
12 Cutler CHI 49 20 19 10
14 Bortles JAX 50 6 29 15
14 Mariota TEN 50 15 24 11
14 Manning NYG 50 7 21 22
14 Rivers SD 50 19 13 19
17 Roethlisberger PIT 51 18 30 3
17 Hoyer HOU 51 16 9 24
20 Tannehill MIA 52 22 12 18
21 Carr OAK 53 8 20 25
22 Bridgewater MIN 58 30 11 17
23 Winston TB 61 23 26 12
24 Fitzpatrick NYJ 61 9 25 27
25 Ryan ATL 63 28 22 13
25 Osweiler DEN 63 26 17 20
27 Kaepernick SF 69 27 20 23
28 Bradford PHI 75 25 23 26
29 Luck IND 78 7 31 30
30 Flacco BAL 84 29 27 28
31 Foles STL 90 31 28 31
32 Dallas QB DAL N/A N/A N/A N/A

 

This table tells me what I had suspected. The quarterbacks in that 12-20 range can be shuffled in those places from year to year. Just three ranks higher and he’s the 12th highest rated quarterback in the league according to this method. That could be as simple as one more touchdown, one fewer interception and one tenth of a point in yards per pass average.

2014

Rank Player Team Total Points TD % Rank INT % Rank YPA Rank
1 Rodgers GB 5 2 1 2
2 Romo DAL 13 1 11 1
3 Roethlisberger PIT 19 8 5 3
4 Manning DEN 25 4 16 5
5 Brady NE 28 5 6 17
5 Wilson SEA 28 17 4 7
7 Palmer ARI 29 13 3 13
7 Fitzpatrick HOU 29 7 18 4
9 Luck IND 30 3 19 8
10 Brees NO 37 9 17 11
11 Ryan ATL 38 15 13 1
12 Manning NYG 39 10 15 14
13 Rivers SD 42 6 24 12
14 Tannehill MIA 45 14 7 24
14 Flacco BAL 45 12 14 16
14 Smith KC 45 23 2 20
17 Stafford DET 50 24 8 18
17 Sanchez PHI 50 16 28 6
19 Bridgewater MIN 52 26 21 15
19 Kaepernick SF 52 21 10 21
21 Hoyer CLE 60 29 22 9
21 Orton BUF 60 22 12 26
23 Cutler CHI 61 11 23 27
24 Davis STL 63 18 22 23
25 Newton CAR 64 22 20 22
25 Carr OAK 64 25 9 30
27 Dalton CIN 65 20 26 19
28 Smith NYJ 72 22 25 25
29 McCown TB 85 28 29 28
30 Bortles JAX 86 30 27 29
31 WSH QB WSH N/A N/A N/A N/A
32 TEN QB TEN N/A N/A N/A N/A

 

Easily the best year of Ryan Tannehill’s career, the interception number is really impressive. Bill Lazor’s offense was so meticulous and created such a low number of big plays that the 24th ranking in yards per attempt kept him from being a top ten quarterback. This is another case of that 12-20 shuffling theory. Tannehill is ahead of the same guys that just barely eclipsed him in 2015.

2013

Rank Player Team Total Points TD % Rank INT % Rank YPA Rank
1 Foles PHI 3 1 1 1
2 Manning DEN 9 2 4 3
3 Brees NO 17 4 7 6
4 Rodgers GB 19 6 11 2
4 Rivers SD 19 5 10 4
6 Wilson SEA 21 3 13 5
7 Kaepernick SF 27 12 8 7
8 Romo DAL 29 7 9 13
9 Roethlisberger PIT 37 13 14 10
10 Bradford STL 40 10 3 27
11 Cutler CHI 42 9 24 9
12 Newton CAR 43 11 18 14
12 Smith KC 43 16 2 25
14 Brady NE 45 21 6 18
14 Dalton CIN 45 8 25 12
16 Stafford DET 47 14 22 11
16 Griffin WSH 47 25 16 16
18 Luck IND 49 22 5 22
18 Palmer ARI 54 18 28 8
20 Ryan ATL 56 20 17 19
21 Cassel MIN 58 17 26 15
22 Glennon TB 59 15 12 32
23 Tannehill MIA 63 19 21 23
23 Fitzpatrick TEN 63 23 23 17
25 Campbell CLE 69 26 15 28
26 Manuel BUF 74 24 20 30
27 Henne JAX 79 31 19 29
28 Manning NYG 80 27 32 21
29 Schaub HOU 83 29 29 26
30 Smith NYJ 81 30 31 20
31 Pryor OAK 86 32 30 24
31 Flacco BAL 86 28 27 31

 

This was a more consistently bad version of Ryan Tannehill. Ranking in the high teens/low 20’s across the board, he was not very good in his sophomore season.

gase.jpg
Among other things, Adam Gase’s influence will help elevate Tannehill up this chart.

 

Overview:

Clearly, Tannehill’s best trait is his propensity to protect the football. His interception rate is always his best score while his yards per attempt average perpetually knocks him down the quarterback ladder. The yards should come up slightly, but not a ton, because of the function of this offense. Adam Gase admitted this league is played within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and his best option, Jarvis Landry within a few yards of where he lines up.

The touchdown rate should climb significantly, however. We’ve already seen in the pre-season that Adam Gase is far superior at creating scoring opportunities once in the red zone than those he has succeeded in the big chair in Miami. That, and Devante Parker is the best red zone option Tannehill has ever played with.

I think the main thing these lists prove is a lot of volatility. Quarterbacks get so much credit and so much blame for how their teams play. I used to bet on games based on quarterback match-ups but I’m learning more and more that organizational stability and coaching are far more important than any player on the field.

Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t that great last year statistically. Landry Jones was able to come in and succeed when Big Ben was hurt.

The Dolphins are a dysfunctional organization that makes coaching hire blunders on the regular, fails to develop players, makes questionable roster decisions and whiffs on most of its draft picks.

The quarterback is not the issue. He is consistently in the average range of quarterbacks on these lists and does it with offensive lines held together by duct tape and coaching staffs that still think Dallas Thomas is a viable option to go near a football field.

If Bill O’Brien can get the vastly limited Brian Hoyer to play better than half the quarterbacks in the league, if Nick Foles can be the highest ranked quarterback in a season, if Ryan Fitzpatrick can find himself in the top ten, then there’s no reason Ryan Tannehill can’t do the same.

Hell, the Patriots won 11 games the year Tom Brady missed 15 games.

There are four or five quarterbacks in this league that will consistently take their team to the post-season and they are exceptional players, no doubt. Just because you don’t have one of those players doesn’t mean your quarterback must be immediately replaced.

It’s crazy how foggy Dolphins fans are in their recollection of how bad we used to have it. Where do you think Trent Green, Daunte Culpepper, AJ Feely, Sage Rosenfels, Cleo Lemon (the list goes on) would’ve ranked on these lists? Some organizations habitually have quarterbacks ranking in the bottom third.

That pathetic quarterback shuffle never even came close to seeing the Dolphins trot out the same starter for 64 consecutive games. Ryan Tannehill is sturdy, dependable, and reliable and has all the arm talent in the world and the desire to be great.

So when the Dolphins average 26 points per game and the quarterback finds himself near the top 10 on this list at the end of the year, remember how foolish you look asking for him to be replaced because the defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Quarterbacks shoulder too much blame and inherit far too much credit. While very important, they are not as important as the league wants you to believe.

 

Follow me on Twitter @travis_writes

You can contact me via email at traviswingfield@yahoo.com

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