CHICAGO — So this is what Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks like at his absolute best.   Miami’s 27-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday finally showed what a consistent, dominant Tannehill looks like under center. Better yet for the Dolphins, it happened over four full quarters — not the usual one good half or quarter Tannehill has provided this season.


How locked in was the third-year quarterback? On his second touchdown pass of the day, the Bears took away his first and second options. So Tannehill went to his third progression — which he rarely does successfully — to complete a 10-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace.   Wallace said after the game that the Dolphins (3-3) couldn’t even hit that play in practice. But with Tannehill in the zone, they made it look easy when it mattered most, giving Miami a lead it never relinquished.   “I was the last read on the play,” Wallace said. “On that play in practice, I’ve been working that [route] probably since I was in Pittsburgh and never got the ball, not one time, on that play. That was the first time.

  Ryan Tannehill
QB Ryan Tannehill capitalized on short passes to lift the Dolphins over Chicago in Week 7.


“You could fall asleep on that play, but you gotta stay focused. Honestly, I got that same play on Tuesday or Wednesday in practice and he threw it. We didn’t connect on it, and I told him I will be better on it the next time. Tonight was our next time, and we were better.”


There have been games when Tannehill was good, but never the best player on the field. That changed in Chicago. Afterward, backup quarterback Matt Moore got a chuckle out of Tannehill by telling him, “You inspire me.”


Tannehill’s day started with 14 straight completions, and he finished with 277 yards and two touchdown passes. He posted a career-high 123.6 passer rating and didn’t have his first incompletion until 54 seconds left in the first half.
First-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is getting a better grasp of his quarterback’s capabilities. The Dolphins used a well-devised game plan that highlighted Tannehill’s strengths: throwing short and intermediate passes. His longest completion was for 26 yards to backup tight end Dion Sims. Tannehill also used his athleticism by rolling out of the pocket on passing plays, rushing for 48 yards on six carries.   Dolphins tight end Charles Clay said Tannehill’s confidence was at an all-time high, especially after getting hot early.   “It’s hard to pinpoint, but it was just something about him,” said Clay, who had four receptions and caught Tannehill’s first touchdown pass. “It gave me confidence, and I’m sure it gave everybody else in the huddle confidence.”  Tannehill said he has never completed 14 straight passes to start a game at any level. He did complete 14 straight between the second and third quarters this season against the Oakland Raiders, but this performance was from the start and more dominant.   On this day, if you were open, Tannehill easily identified it and made the right decisions. He completed 78.1 percent of his passes, and eight Dolphins players had at least two receptions.


“Everyone was getting open,” Tannehill said. “It’s fun to be able to spread the ball around like that.”


Was this a one-game performance or a potential career turning point? That remains to be seen.   One of the biggest critiques of Tannehill is he rarely strings together strong games in back-to-back weeks. This season alone he has struggled from half to half. That is one of the major reasons Tannehill is just 18-20 as a starter and still trying to prove he is Miami’s long-term solution.  But Sunday’s lights-out performance at least provided a one-game snapshot that Tannehill is capable of dominating a game. He has good athleticism and can make most of the throws needed to thrive in the NFL, with the exception of a consistent deep ball.   After six games, it’s clear the Dolphins will go only as far as Tannehill takes them this season.  “We’re definitely playoff-caliber, and if he’s playing like [Sunday], we could be Super Bowl-caliber, honestly,” Wallace said. “But we got to put in the work every day. We know it’s not going to just come to us. We have to keep grinding and stay focused.”


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs 24 14
Passing 1st downs
17 10
Rushing 1st downs
7 3
1st downs from penalties
0 1
3rd down efficiency
4-11 5-12
4th down efficiency
1-1 2-3
Total Plays 69 51
Total Yards 393 224
Yards per play 5.7 4.4
Total Drives 10 9
Passing 256 172
25-32 21-34
Yards per pass
7.1 4.6
Interceptions thrown
0 1
Sacks-Yards Lost
4-21 3-18
Rushing 137 52
Rushing Attempts
33 14
Yards per rush
4.2 3.7
Red Zone (Made-Att) 3-6 2-3
Penalties 7-84 2-15
Turnovers 0 3
Fumbles lost
0 2
Interceptions thrown
0 1
Defensive / Special Teams TDs 0 0
Possession 37:22 22:38


Miami Passing
R. Tannehill 25/32 277 8.7 2 0 4-21 93.9 123.6
Team 25/32 256 8.7 2 0 4-21

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Chiefen Walker was conceived and born from two joyous primates at the end of the lovefest known as the ‘60s. Forced to endure the television shows of the ‘70s, and inspired by Captain Kirk, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Batman...

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