Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Does Ryan Tannehill have an accuracy issue?
Reports out of the Miami Dolphins offseason program are that QB Ryan Tannehill is struggling with his accuracy. New head coach Adam Gase affirmed this saying that while Tannehill has made some “impressive” throws, he’s been inconsistent with his ball placement and he hasn’t been on the same page as his receivers as they learn a new offense.
Since being drafted in the first round by the Dolphins, Tannehill has been middle-of-the-road in terms of his adjusted completion percentage – 17th in 2012, 26th in 2013, 7th in 2014, and 19th in 2015. His 2014 season leap was a big reason the Dolphins were a popular pick to make the playoffs in 2015, but the team as a whole struggled and that led to coaching turnover.
Looking a little further at the numbers, perhaps Tannehill’s perceived improvement in 2014 came because he was throwing fewer passes downfield and more passes short. With an average depth of target of 8.8 in 2012, 9.6 in 2013, 8.2 in 2014, and 8.9 in 2015, you can see that his 2014 jump was a product of capitalizing on connecting on easy, short throws that every NFL QB makes.
So does Tannehill have an accuracy problem? Not really. He struggles with the deep ball and that shows up in both his deep passing adjusted completion percentage (averages about 37.5 percent for 22nd in the league) but he has good ball placement on short throws. Gase would be wise to tailor a system for Tannehill to take advantage of his strengths and limit his weaknesses. That seems like such a simple concept but NFL coaches tend to be a bit stubborn in terms of making their players fit their system instead of making their system fit their players. When viewing Tannehill’s career grades, perhaps a coaching change will be able to reverse the downward trend and with Jay Cutler’s notable improvement under Gase’s tutelage that Dolphins’ fans can look towards for hope.
Jamaal Charles still recovering from a torn ACL.
Kansas City Chiefs star HB Jamaal Charles might not be ready to go for training camp according to head coach Andy Reid. He in fact might rest for the entire preseason leaving his week 1 status uncertain at this point. Charles tore his ACL in early October against the Chicago Bears and while we’ve seen players return to form and sometimes even better in as quickly as eight months after ACL surgery, the Chiefs are taking it easy in Charles’ return to activities.
Charles is currently the career NFL leader in yards per carry at 5.5, benefitting from good offensive line play early in his career. Charles’ best season came in 2013 with a +17.1 overall grade. Prior to 2013, Charles had topped 18 missed tackles only twice but has since topped 40 in both 2013 and 2014. Charles has developed into more of a complete back the last three seasons which has been needed since the Chiefs offensive line has really struggled in that time frame.
At the age of 29, Charles’ career is closing quickly. He’s benefitted from never being a “bellcow” HB so the wear and tear that you’d typically find in a veteran HB isn’t there. He could very well struggle early in 2015 until he becomes comfortable on his surgically repaired knee. Adrian Peterson was an average HB in the first half of 2012, a season after he tore his ACL, until he famously ripped off one of the best second half seasons in route to a 2000+ yard season, falling just yards shy of the NFL record.
Cleveland Browns quarterback competition
The Cleveland Browns are heading into training camp with a QB battle on their hands. With RGIII the presumptive starter for 2016, Griffin didn’t distance himself from Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler and failed to win the starting job in offseason workouts. A phrase that eats at Browns, a quarterback competition will determine the starter.
This should have been expected. RGIII is coming off a season in which he was inactive for much the year and hasn’t played a snap of regular season football in almost two years. Head coach Hue Jackson is implementing a new system and there has been big roster turnover for the Browns this offseason. While RGIII has been working first team reps for most of the offseason program, he still is “mastering the position” according to Hue Jackson.
While we can assume RGIII will eventually win the job, it’d be foolish to sleep on Kessler – the Browns third round pick out of USC. Kessler was the most accurate quarterback in college football under 20 yards in 2015. His ball placement was excellent and was clearly ahead of the pack in the short to intermediate throws. He struggled throwing deep in 2015 after being one of the most accurate QBs in 2014 – the main concern for Kessler is his arm strength.
One of Kessler’s biggest strengths is his poise under pressure – 71.0 adjusted completion percent in 2014 and 68.5 percent in 2015, both ranking in the top four of the 2016 class. His two year under pressure grade is very good at +13.8 along with his overall grade. Combine his accuracy, poise under pressure and underrated mobility, Kessler will give RGIII some heat in camp.