Hitching My Wagon To Ryan Tannehill

December 31, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; Texas A

There is no secret on this site or on our message boards that I am not a fan of Robert Griffin, III.  Nothing personal about him I think he is one of the nicest non-egotistical athletes to come out of the college ranks in a long time.  For that reason alone I wouldn’t throw a shoe through my television if the Dolphins drafted him.  At number 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9.  In no way would I trade up for the kid at 2, 3, or 4.  I simply do not believe that he will translate to an “elite” NFL QB.

As I said, I wouldn’t throw a shoe through my TV.  That does not equate to I would draft him at those spots if he were available.  I don’t share the can’t miss label that many have put on RGIII.  I don’t buy into the hype of a QB who will elevate his team or the talk that he can be and/or is a pocket passer.  To me, and everything I have seen on tape or during a game, shows me that he is a two look QB who pulls it down and runs too early.  These first two paragraphs should be enough to get me chastised in the comments…have at it.  I’m hitching my wagon to Ryan Tannehill.

For me, I have a plan.  If I were Mr. Ireland that is.  Free agency poses limited opportunity for the Dolphins in terms of finding a future star QB.  I would still go after one.  One as in only one.  No his name isn’t Peyton Manning.  This has been debated in almost every NFL city that needs a QB and frankly, I just don’t see where taking a risk on Manning in FA is worth the risk.  Too many questions.  It was reported on the Sun-Sentinel by David Hyde that the Washington Redskins by way of a non-official talk with DC Jim Hasslett that the team is focused on Manning, trading up for RGIII, and not on the Matt Flynn wagon.  It’s obvious Miami is not in position to jump up for RGIII and I say let Washington take the risk on Manning.

So what is my plan and why am I up on Tannehill?  Honestly, I wish I knew exactly about Tannehill that is.  My plan however is simple and to some degree costly for the Miami Dolphins on several levels.  The team needs playmakers but they also need a future QB.  That might very well be Matt Moore.  We don’t know.   I would enter the free agent period trusting Joe Philbin.  If he says Flynn is the guy, I sign him.   Yes, he will cost a lot, upwards of 8-10 million a year but I think that number could be lower if the interest of other teams is scant.

Flynn’s contract could be structured and should be structured with a reasonable amount of guaranteed money spread over the life of the deal (up to 5 years) and low base salaries in years one, two, and three.  This puts pressure on Flynn to perform to earn the remaining two years of a five year deal.  I would force him to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job.  A competition I suspect he would win.  Moore makes a capable back-up if he can’t beat out Flynn who would be learning an offense he already knows the basics of.

That’s where Ryan Tannehill comes in.  It’s expecting a lot to throw money at two front end QB’s.  Tannehill would almost assuredly be taken in the first round and the Dolphins could either take him at number 8 or 9, something I am warming to or they could trade down a few spots if possible and take him then.  The new rookie salary pool makes it easier for the Dolphins to carry the salaries under the cap for at least two years.  If Tannehill out-performs Moore, you release Moore.  If both Flynn and Tannehill work out, you have someone you can trade.  San Diego’s QB situation with Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers comes to mind.

It’s a risky gamble I admit, especially given the needs in other areas for the team.  If the Dolphins want to fix the QB situation once and for all, they need to finally take a risk that is more substantial than drafting a round 2 QB and a tertiary level free agent QB like Matt Moore.  Hitching your future to Manning can be problematic due to both the unknown injury status (will you honestly trust Miami’s doctors to evaluate that injury?) and his age.

If given the choice between Flynn and Tannehill, I’m actually resigned to going with the younger and likely rawer prospect of Tannehill.  There is something about this kid that I like.  Forget the fact that Mike Sherman knows this kid.  A converted WR, Tannehill has an almost “IT” factor about him.  He is a pocket passer with legs that can get him out of trouble.  Not like RGIII who’s legs are truly his best weapon and his arm is the back-up.

Tannehill seems to understand the defenses, which he should considering he saw the formations from the outside looking in as a wide-out.  He is quick in the pocket and while his release isn’t Dan Marino fast, it’s not slow by any means.  He also possesses a natural ability to move in the pocket and fire with accuracy both in the pocket and on the run.  He is still a raw talent and there will be a learning curve hitting the NFL.  Yet for my money, which of course it is not, the upside that Tannehill has and his ability to adjust on the go, makes him a special talent.

Three months ago Tannehill’s name wasn’t being mentioned as a first round type of QB, his foot injury did nothing to improve his stock.  However, the more tape that is seen of this guy the more scouts are realizing that he could bring a special element to the game.  Consider that the top of the draft consists of Andrew Luck, a pure pocket passer who undoubtedly will go to the Colts at number 1, and RGIII who is a run-oriented gunner with a very good arm who will likely go second.  Each of those QB’s are different on many levels.  Tannehill seems to sit directly in the middle of both in terms of his style of play.

Ryan Tannehill will be throwing for teams on March 29th but will not throw at the NFL Combine that starts this week due to his foot injury.  He will be on hand to do many of the statistical stuff as well as the interviews with teams.  RGIII announced that he will blow teams away in the interview process and he likely will.  He is one of the smartest kids coming out of college.  Tannehill will need to do the same to prove that he is ready to take that next step in his football career.

For me, this process is only getting started.  Luck, RGIII, Tannehill, Weedon, and so on, will all have their names slotted in the coming weeks leading to the end of April’s draft.  Tannehill may slide or rise.  Washington and Cleveland both need QB’s and only one can land RGIII or Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn or whoever else becomes the flavor of that franchise.  Could be one of those teams that risks an earlier pick on Tannehill.  At this point anything is possible.

For the Miami Dolphins however, they need to realize that they simply cannot put all of their franchise in one basket.  Take a risk.  Get a QB in free agency, draft another early, and let the future play out.  Competition and good coaching are the keys to successful QB’s and the Dolphins for far too long have relied on one and never the other at the same time.  Matt Flynn and Ryan Tannehill are both financial risks together and questionable prospects as well.  The options for the Dolphins are limited regardless.  Of course they could simply sign Kyle Orton and forgo a QB in the draft and then wait around for next season to see what happens with guys like Landry Jones and Matt Barkley.

One thing is for certain.  Every fan has their own opinion and every fan disagrees with someone else.  In the real world, it doesn’t matter what we think or what we believe.  It’s what Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland decide to do.  It’s also a 100 percent certainty that the debating and rage over who should and will be the next QB is far from over.

Topics: Jeff Ireland, Joe Philbin, Matt Flynne, Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, Peyton Manning, RGIII, Ryan Tannehill

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