« Miami Dolphins making cuts today | Main | Xavien Howard on track to play Thursday, start after that; Drake plays Thursday; Tough news for Pead; great day for Jordan Cameron »

Ryan Tannehill as a runner -- why not?

Ryan Tannehill had two rushes for 22 yards in last week's dress rehearsal game against the Atlanta Falcons. The week before he gained 16 yards on two rushes against the Dallas Cowboys. And although there is nothing eye-popping about an NFL quarterback averaging 19 rushing yards per game there is this:

Ryan Tannehill, the former college wide receiver who is big and fast enough to do damage with his legs, has done very little damage with his legs in past seasons. Last season Tannehill gained 141 rushing yards in adding eight first downs to his team's offensive totals.

And that made Tannehill the NFL's 100th leading rusher.

And that made Tannehill fall in behind such Jim Brownesque rushers as Andy Dalton, who had 142 rushing yards.

And Blaine Gabbert, who had 185 rushing yards.

And Jay Cutler, who had 201 rushing yards.

Unfortunately, it didn't put Tannehill anywhere near double threat QBs such as Cam Newton (636 yards), Tyrod Taylor (568) or Russell Wilson (553).

And the question I ask myself is ... why not?

Why would a guy who is athletic, fast, and smart not use those attributes to help his offense move the chains? And why wouldn't the Dolphins, which have been a points-challenged franchise for some time, use their quarterback's obvious attributes to increase their productivity?

I dunno.

And I don't really care about the past that much as it pertains to this topic. Former offensive coordinator Bill Lazor did what he did and that is past.

The question is whether what we've seen the past couple of preseason games with Tannehill actually running on designed zone read-option plays is a hint of what's to come?

Personally, I think the Dolphins remain lukewarm about Tannehill running the football. They're still trying to hone other things like, well, having him throw the football better.

But it just seems to me if you have a player who can provide this added dimension that threatens and in some instances frustrates the defense, why not take advantage?

Newton, for example, added 56 first downs to the Panthers' total last year just by running with the football. Alex Smith, another mobile quarterback, added 30 first downs to the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive output by running the football.

Why turn down between three or so extra first downs per game?

(And this is where I recognize the quarterback running the football comes with some risk. That risk is injuries. But the rules on sliding are so favorable to quarterbacks now -- in that players aren't even supposed to touch a sliding QB -- that the advantage outweighs the risk. After all, Newton, Wilson, Smith all ran without getting knocked out of starts last year.)

I believe there are two types of NFL quarterbacks -- the classic pocket passers and the more athletic movement quarterbacks.

Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers are pocket passers.

And the names you've read above are some of the movement quarterbacks.

What I do not necessarily understand is why the Dolphins have so far been trying to position Tannehill as one of the pocket passers when he is clearly more suited to be a movement quarterback?

The past couple of games have offered a small glimpse of what can happen if the Dolphins let Tannehill run two or three times a game. I hope that extends and expands in the regular season.