Like most highly drafted quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill was snatched up by an organization thin on blue-chip talent. The Miami Dolphins rookie passer has overcome that to produce an impressive body of work in Year One.
ESPN's Ron Jaworski is a tireless tape watcher and a proponent of judging quarterbacks independent of the talent around them. Even so, Jaws told Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post that Tannehill suffers from a lack of playmakers in Miami.
"Well that clearly is the issue," Jaworski said. "And I thought early in the season I saw a quantum leap from Ryan Tannehill. I did not expect him to play well early, like most quarterbacks. I think (Robert Griffin III) has been the biggest surprise -- the consistency over 10 games -- but I thought Tannehill had a streak there where he was playing very well."
"There's an ebb and flow to young quarterbacks," Jaworski said, "and there's an ebb and flow to every offensive team and defensive team in the NFL as the season goes, and adjustments are made. And I think what you're seeing now is teams are adjusting to what the Dolphins are doing. ... So I think when you look at a quarterback, particularly a young rookie quarterback in a new system, you need all the other components to be perfect, to be really at optimum levels, and they haven't been. And I think that has really impacted Ryan's performance."
It's easy to forget Tannehill was billed by draft experts in the spring as a promising but raw project needing a full season, if not more, to watch and learn. Instead he's been the Dolphins starter from the beginning.
He's struggled during Miami's three-game losing streak -- throwing two touchdowns and five picks while watching his completion percentage plummet -- but these ups and downs aren't unusual for a first-year player attempting to grasp the most demanding position in sports. Tannehill's recent swoon doesn't diminish a sense in Miami that the Dolphins have finally found a quarterback to build around.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.