In Defense Of Ryan Tannehill

Defensive lineman Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks had some disparaging comments to make Wednesday morning about the state of some of the NFL's starting quarterbacks, and he pulled no punches (oops, sorry Dez Bryant. Unintentional, I swear):

"Quarterback is the only position in the NFL where you could be mediocre and get paid. At every other position, you can't be mediocre," Bennett said. "If I was Ryan Tannehill and the most games I ever won was seven, how could you get a $100 million for that? I guess that's the value of the position."

First, a few notes: I believe jealousy is a terribly destructive emotion, and for Bennett to be upset he doesn't make the kind of money quarterbacks do is both understandable and completely rediculous. According to Over the Cap, Bennett is scheduled to make $6 million in guaranteed base salary this season, and his current contract (signed in March 2014) is worth $28.5 million over four years.

Secondly, for Bennett to be unclear about the value of the quarterback position is unarguably absurd; simply ask the Browns, Bengals or Bills about their playoff success since returning to the league in 1999.

Maybe it's just teams that start with "B." I digress.

Lastly, for Bennett to single out Tannehill as a player who has only won seven games in a season as somehow undeserving of his six-year, $95 million-dollar extension is not only nonsensical but shortsighted as well.

Image title

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Had he mentioned Jay Cutler? Sure, I would have wholeheartedly agreed. We all know how I feel about Smokin' Jay. However, Tannehill and Cutler are not only not the same quarterback, they're different players at different positions in their careers.

As you all come to me for sage advice in the world of fantasy, I'll stick to evaluating Tannehill in that role, rather than in the broader sense of "football player." Won't you join me?


First of all, did you know Tannehill was the ninth-ranked quarterback in standard ESPN scoring in 2014 (for those of you who judge a player's talent by whether or not they win you a fantasy championship)? That he completed a career-high 66.4 percent of his passes for a career-high 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns, to only 12 interceptions?

That his yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, yards per game, quarterback rating, attempts and completions were all career-best?

Oh, and he rushed for 311 yards, too.

Pro Football Focus graded Tannehill at a 9.8 overall for the season, good for 11th-best in the league, ahead of Russell Wilson, Eli Manning, and Joe Flacco. He was way ahead of Andy Dalton, as well, but...you know.

Really, Andy. I'm sorry, bro.

Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, he's not a great deep-ball passer (ratings of 56.7, 44.3 and 99.7 from left to right, more than 10 yards downfield), but his downfield throws are steadily improving.

The Dolphins traded linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to the Saints in exchange for deep burner Kenny Stills, a receiver who put up 931 yards on only 63 receptions (83 targets) in 2014; Stills replaces Mike Wallace, who somehow managed to convert from straight deep route-runner to red zone threat. Miami retains the services of Jarvis Landry, a PPR target vacuum who caught 84 passes on 112 targets last season. Jordan Cameron is now the Dolphins' starting tight end, a semi-superstar who has flashed Jimmy Graham-like talent in between injuries, and who is now free of the dumpster fire of northeast Ohio. Oh, and another stellar season from running back Lamar Miller (216 carries for 1,099 yards, 38 catches for 275 yards) provides Tannehill with a well-balanced offensive attack (and I apologize for this terrible cliche) to keep defenses guessing.

Tannehill has more weapons, more talent, and now more money than he's had in his entire career. Not only will he be a solid every-week starter in any league, I believe he has the capability to crack the top five.

Oh, and Mr. Bennett? Tannehill's Dolphins have won eight games each of the past two seasons, so get your facts straight.