The Miami Dolphins’ rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill has a problem with passes getting tipped at the line of scrimmage. In Sunday’s 30-10 beat down by the Texans, Tannehill had six passes batted down, according to Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Tipped pass are not good. But they are exponentially worse when they are batted into the air like a volleyball set. When the ball bounces that high in the air, it can be intercepted, which we witnessed twice on Sunday.
If the batted passes were just a result of the Texans defense, it would be one thing. The problem is that young Mr. Tannehill has had issues with balls getting batted at the line of scrimmage before. Mrs. Tannehill does not approve. In college, Tannehill had 19 balls batted at the line. According to the Sherman (who happened to have been Tannehill’s college coach):
“There were only three of them that we thought were his fault. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It was in the game the other day, no question, but the gentleman, (Texans Defensive End J.J.) Watt, has a history of knocking balls down. He’s pretty good at it; I think he had four. And a couple of them were on twists coming down, so the quarterback wouldn’t have seen them anyways. It’s definitely something we’re looking at hard, and checking where he’s putting his eyes. He’ll be better this week with that.”
Sherman seems pretty confident that Tannehill’s problems can be correct by the time the Dolphins take on the Raiders on Sunday. He said that batted balls haven’t been a problem in Dolphins’ practices. He said that it’s not as much about arm angle with Tannehill as it is about him looking for open passing lanes. All of the tipped passes came on short, 3 step drops by Tannehill. It doesn’t help that, as a young quarterback, he tends to stare down his receivers. It might do Tannehill some good to throw a pump fake every now and then to keep the defenders honest. I’m sure all of this will be a big point of emphasis in practice.
There are two groups, other than Tannehill, that can help limit the tipped passes. First, the offensive lineman can do a better job of staying engaged with the defender’s they’re blocking. If a defender gets free and starts to jump, the Dolphins offensive linemen should be shoving them in the stomach to knock them backwards. I’m pretty sure that blocking a defender is a lot easier when their feet aren’t on the ground!
Finally, the Dolphins coaching staff needs to do a better job of making adjustments. On Sunday, during the game, I suggested that the Dolphins run some QB sprint outs or QB waggles for Tannehill. Tannehill throws very well while on the move and getting him out, away from the line would limit the tipped passes. The Dolphins offensive coaches know what they are doing (we hope), so I’d expect to see Tannehill rolling out and the pocket moving more in the Dolphins game against the Raiders.