It has to be hard for Dolphins fans on Sunday morning to wake up and realize that their former first round draft pick, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, just let his new team, the Titans, to their second-straight stunning road upset Saturday night to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Yes, Tannehill, whom the Dolphins gave away to the Titans, including agreeing to continue to pay most of his 2020 salary for his new team this season, it’s not the only reason why Tennessee is rolling.
No, clearly running back Derrick Henry is as big a key, as anything with his power running and wearing down defenses. Also clearly, Tennessee’s second-year coach, Mike Vrabel, has instilled a physical, opportunistic defense that’s playing great football especially in stuffing Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson the last two weeks.
Yet, Fins fans cannot help with watching Tannehill make key throw after key throw, not just in the regular season but now with these games meaning everything, and wonder how in the world did Adam Gase not develop him further? And why, after firing Gase, did GM Chris Grier give up on him, so quickly?
First, here are the facts: Tannehill’s overall stats are not spectacular in either win in these AFC Playoffs. In fact, even though he threw two touchdowns in Saturday’s night 28-12 win in Baltimore, he became only the second quarterback in the last 45+ years of the NFL Playoffs to have at least a touchdown pass but throw for less than 100 yards and his team still win back-to-back playoff games.
Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers was the other one to do it the mid -1970s.
Still, you cannot deny that when Vrabel chose to put former number 1 pick Marcus Mariota on the bench for inconsistent play and turnovers back in week 6, that it didn’t turn the Titans season around.
That’s when Tannehill came out the next week at home against the Chargers and threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a win. He led them on a run of winning six of seven starts total. And, in every one of those games, Tannehill threw for either at least 300 yards or for at least two touchdowns or a combo of both. His play has been consistent, and at times, very good for Tenneessee.
Further, when you total up his 11 games started, Tannehill now has an 8 – 3 record (including these two playoff wins), and he has only one game, a 30 – 20 loss at Carolina in early November, where he had two interceptions.
One game in 11 starts.
And, since that November Carolina game, Tannehill has thrown only 3 picks total, while throwing 19 TDs. Oh, and Tennessee is now 7 – 2 over those next nine games.
Sure, Miami fans can point to him tearing his ACL at the end of their 2016 season and then, electing not to have surgery, but rather rehab for almost 8 months, only to re-injure the ACL the following August of 2017 in training camp.
That cost him the entire 2017 season, as well, due to surgery.
And, Miami fans can point to his shoulder injury in October 2018 which sidelined him for five games in the middle of that year, sent the Fins into a plunge and they never recovered.
Yes, Dolphins fans can also blame former coach Adam Gase, who obviously had a knack for running off talented players left and right (Jay Ajayi? Jarvis Landry?) over his last couple of years in South Florida. And, it helped get him fired.
And, an argument can be made that under this past year circumstances with first-year coach Brian Flores and as poor as Miami’s offensive line and skill players overall were in 2019, that Tannehill might have only been a similar to the four or five wins Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterbacked in Miami, anyway.
Nevertheless, he is obviously showing leadership and success and making critical throws like one last in the first half:
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 12, 2020
That 45 yard second quarter laser to Khalif Raymond pushed the lead to 14-0 Saturday night, put the Ravens on their heels further, and set the stage for Tennessee to suffocate them.
Tennessee’s season essentially has been saved with Tannehill’s veteran leadership and the ability to balance their offense of Henry ramming the ball at opponents with those big time throws.
Yes, you don’t accidentally win 9 of 12 starts, including three straight must-win games on the road: week 17 in Houston, last week in Foxboro and Saturday night in Baltimore.
Tannehill, who’s also being paid 80% of his $9 million salary by the Dolphins, just did that for Tennessee.
Oh, and this will be the first of probably several times this week that it will be written or mentioned, he’s now 60 minutes away from an AFC Championship Game win. That would put he and his Tennessee teammates in the Super Bowl at….. Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Have another sip of that orange juice on Sunday morning (or whatever you’re drinking) Dolphins fans on that thought, too.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.