Concession #1: I understand. I really do. We've all been starved...STARVED for a QB since Marino. And we look at Tannehill...and we want to believe. But we're cynical. We've been bitten before.
Some of us are starting to question Ryan Tannehill. He's the rookie who didn't make the playoffs...he didn't get the hype along with Luck, RGIII, and Russell Wilson. He didn't get the publicity of the "rookie QBs in the playoffs." He quite simply wasn't as spectacular as any of them.
Concession #2: The elephant in the room is the line of thinking that "Tannehill didn't have any weapons" is just an excuse for his lack of production.
I've seen him on TV, and I've seen him live. I will argue this point to the death: His receivers were completely unable to get separation this year. Now, that being said, I will concede this point. Tannehill did not make his receivers better.
You want to tell me that great quarterbacks make their receivers better? Fine. I'll give you that. By this line of thinking, Ryan Tannehill is not a great QB.
Now that I've given the concessions and brought the debate to a point where we can possibly look at Ryan Tannehill objectively, let me ask you something.
What were Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson doing on October 30th, 2010?
I'll save you the trouble...they were starting at least their 19th game as a college QB. Wilson had far more than that. Ryan Tannehill was starting his first. By the time he FINISHED his college career, Tannehill had 19 starts. To put it in perspective, Ryan Tannehill will have his 46th start as a QB outside of high school some time in late 2013. Russell Wilson had that many before he was even drafted. To break it down a little further, Russell Wilson had his 20th start at QB against Western Carolina. Ryan Tannehill had it against the Houston Texans.
So, you can spit numbers at me all you want, and I'll ask you this first and foremost about the stats: How many of the quarterbacks he was compared to converted from WR to QB midway through their junior seasons in college? That's really what I don't think people take into consideration: Less than two years after he was running routes as a wide receiver in college, Ryan Tannehill STARTED against one of the Super Bowl favorites in the NFL. He's STILL learning. He learned every single week this year. He's made mistakes, and he learned from them. He doesn't try to do too much...yet. He was absolutely, positively spoon-fed this offense.
And why not? Like I said, he's still raw. Giving him weapons will undoubtedly help. But that's just numbers.
Let me tell you, then, what I see.
I see a kid who's poised, confident, and eager. He doesn't miss many reads. He doesn't panic. And when he sees the open receiver, he puts the proper touch on the ball. He rarely repeats his mistakes. He's teachable. And good God, does he pass the eye test.
I see someone who may very well be a franchise QB. He has all the tools, and hasn't done anything to make me think otherwise.
And let me tell you what I SAW. This past weekend, I watched four playoff games. And there were at least a dozen occasions where I thought "Tannehill would have made that throw." Admittedly, it happened about four times with Andy Dalton, but I'm not even counting the Joe Webb performance.
This kid HAS it. And by sometime in 2013, we just might be riding him into the playoffs.