YOU BE THE JUDGE: HOW DO WE ASSESS TANNEHILL’S CLUTCH PLAY MOVING FORWARD?

You be the judge, the series where I pose a question, then, get out of the way and let you provide the answer.

An area of Tannehill’s development under Gase that will be interesting to watch in 2017 will be his ability, or lack thereof, to raise his level of play at crucial points of the game.

The ability to pull off a 4th quarter game winning drive is often touted as a measure of a QB’s ability in the clutch. After all, the top three QBs in this category are the absolute elite of Hall of Fame caliber signal callers. Peyton Manning (56), Dan Marino (51), and Tom Brady (50).

When compared to the other QBs from the 2012 draft to this point in their careers, Tannehill ranks 3rd in 4th quarter game winning drives.

4th QTR Game Winning Drives

On The Road

Russell Wilson

16

8

Andrew Luck

14

6

Ryan Tannehill

10

4

Kirk Cousins

6

2

Nick Foles

5

2

Robert Griffin III

3

1

That said, this is one of those statistics I often warn about because it can be incredibly misleading. Just consider that Tom Brady has only managed four 4th quarter game winning drives in the last two years, while Aaron Rodgers has only pulled off two over that same span. The reason for this is, of course, because the Patriots and the Packers played well enough to hold a lead going into the 4th quarter in the vast majority of their games. Thus, if a quarterback plays exceedingly well, he may rarely find himself needing to pull off late game heroics.

That is not to suggest that this has been the case with Tannehill. During the Joe Philbin era the Dolphins were a 4th quarter dumpster fire on a regular basis, seemingly giving up sacks on every crucial 3rd down play. In other words, the Phins couldn’t win the close ones.

Interestingly, under Gase, the Dolphins were 8-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and their only two losses in such games came at the beginning of the season against Seattle and New England on the road. Yet, once the team got rolling, they pulled off a string of 8 consecutive wins in close games. Perhaps the highlight of this run came against the Rams, when, after the Phins’ offense had proven ineffective the entire afternoon, Tannehill somehow orchestrated two 4th quarter drives that ended in TD passes to Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker for the win.

When discussing clutch play, one must also take into consideration the question of 3rd down conversions. The Dolphins have ranked near the bottom of the league in this category for years, and it is one of the few issues that did not improve significantly in Gase’s first season with the team. There are many factors that go into successful 3rd down conversions, but there is no denying that quarterback play is chief among them. As such, it will be interesting to see if the Dolphins improve in this area during their second season in Gase’s offense, and it will be of particular importance to keep track of Tannehill’s conversion ratio when the Phins decide to throw in these situations.

So, that brings us back to our original question. How do we judge Tannehill’s play in clutch situations moving forward? Do we rate him on 4th quarter comebacks, winning close games, 3rd down conversions, avoiding close games altogether, all of the above, or something else? I could, of course, offer up a myriad of other measures, but now it is time for you to be the judge. So let me know.

How will you be assessing Tannehill’s clutch play in 2017?

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