Dolphins wide receiver Greg Jennings appeared on ESPN's First Take Wednesday morning and hit on a variety of intriguing topics during his segment. Jennings, who answered all the questions with refreshing candor, admitted that he thinks Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre, despite what he's said in the past, and weighed in on the Peyton Manning scandal, saying that he doesn't hold the alleged incident over Manning.
Jennings also discussed his own quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Again, Jennings spoke openly about the subject and wasn't afraid to criticize Tannehill and the previous coaching staff. The main takeaway: Jennings doesn't think Tannehill is "elite," though he at least partially blames the coaches for Tannehill's struggles.
Here's how the conversation went (you can also watch it here):
Skip Bayless: "How far is Ryan Tannehill away from being an elite quarterback?"
Jennings: "Don't know. So, with saying, 'I don't know,' I guess what I'm saying is he's far. I'm being honest. None of us know. I've made the statements about them [the coaches] babying him thus far through his career. It's like he's been handcuffed. I've played with Brett [Favre], I've played with Aaron [Rodgers], I've played with great quarterbacks. So, you can assess, and you can quickly tell if one has it or not. It's been difficult for me to even tell if [Tannehill] has it or not, because he hasn't been given liberty. I'm just being honest, like simple checks at the line of scrimmage are not in his control. Until the end of the season, when there was a coordinator change, he was not allowed to check out of a play."
Stephen A. Smith: "Was it true that he was getting picked apart by practice players? Is that true about Ryan Tannehill?"
Bayless: "The practice squad had to be told to back off a little bit, take it down a notch."
Jennings: "That was true. In [Tannehill's] defense, that was a Friday's practice or it might've been a Saturday's. It's kind of like a 'Feel Good Friday,' so he is going to make the throw regardless. In his defense, he's not expecting the defender to try to make a play on the ball on Fridays, because there is no contact, we don't want anybody on the ground. That's just the way it is, that's the rule of thumb, across the league in the NFL, on Fridays. So, that was what took place. Now, as far as Wednesday, Thursday, no. No. Does he get picked off in practice? Yes. Every quarterback does. But to the point of him being an elite quarterback, a great quarterback, we don't know. It says a lot how much the trust level is with Ryan up until this point, if you don't give him freedom. In my opinion, if you don't let me be who I am, who you drafted me to be, you don't really trust me. That's just my personal opinion."
If you recall, back in October, a report claimed that the Dolphins told their practice-squad players to go easy on Tannehill so the struggling quarterback could gain back some confidence. That report, which was written by The Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson for the National Football Post, also claimed that Tannehill told practice-squad players, "Enjoy your practice squad paycheck, enjoy your practice squad trophy." Tannehill responded by calling the report "slanderous." But according to Jennings, that report wasn't entirely wrong, though he didn't touch on Tannehill's reported comments.
This past season, Tannehill completed nearly 62 percent of his passes for 4,208 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 picks, and a passer rating of 88.7. The Dolphins, who fired Joe Philbin midseason, went 6-10.
Now with Adam Gase onboard as the team's new head coach, the focus remains on Tannehill. Gase, who earned plenty of praise for his work with Jay Cutler this past season, will once again be tasked with getting the most out of a middling quarterback.
Jenning's segment ended with a final question from First Take host Molly Qerim, who asked Jennings, "Are you going to be there in Miami next season?" Jennings responded by saying, "I'm under contract," before reminding us all that he was also "under contract with the Vikings" when they released him last March.
In 2015, Jennings caught 19 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown.