We’ve seen it a bunch of times: a second-contract quarterback who due to their own averageness or organizational incompetence is dumped from one team then experiences a Renaissance with another.
Our latest example: Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill was let go by the Dolphins after years of bang average interspersed with brief flashes of brilliance – most notably a season that was cut short by a knee injury when Tannehill looked like he had finally pieced it all together.
The Dolphins bailed. Tannehill was shipped to Tennessee. He rode the bench for a little while then took the lead role when Marcus Mariota was benched for his own stretch of mundane play. Then, liftoff.
Tannehill exploded into, legitimately, one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s a fact. By the metrics, Tannehill finished fifth or better in each of the following categories: DVOA, completion percentage under pressure, completion percentage to targets in tight coverage, completion percentage from a clean pocket, completion percentage on third downs.
You might be able to bluff one of the metrics, but not five. Most importantly, he ranked second in the league in big-time throws v turnover worthy throws, the single best measure we currently have of a quarterback as a “passing playmaker”. He trailed only Russell Wilson and was comfortably ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes.