In a perfect world, rookie Andrew Luck would be sitting out the 2012 season learning behind Peyton Manning or some other wily veteran. In Washington, number 2 overall pick Robert Griffin, III, would be holding a clipboard instead of likely running for his life for 16 weeks of regular season football. Ah, if only this were a perfect world. If it were, Ryan Tannehill would have already won the starting job in Miami and a ray of sunlight would shine down on the Dolphins logo.
Of course this ins’t a perfect world.
When it comes to the Miami Dolphins however, Joe Philbin‘s team has one thing that the Redskins and Colts don’t. They have two viable options to start the season at QB while letting Mr. Tannehill learn from the comforts of the sideline. It is not an indication that Tanny will be a bust, that he already is a bust, or that the Dolphins yet again made a huge mistake in round one of the draft. It simply means that given the current state of the team, David Garrard and Matt Moore possess more experience than Tannehill at this level. It’s fact.
Many fans immediately want to thing that Tannehill should be the starter. He knows the system better than the veterans, he was coached by the Dolphins OC, Mike Sherman, in college, and comes with a higher draft expectation than any QB since, you know, “that guy”.
In 2007 the Dolphins drafted John Beck in round 2 and Cam Cameron stated that Beck would sit the entire season and learn. Fans didn’t like that approach but it was the right call to make. By years end, we as fans had already seen enough to know that not only was John Beck not ready to start a game yet, we also had formulated the opinion that he never would be. And we would be right. Tannehill is a bit different though.
No one believes that Ryan Tannehill was going to be ready to play out of the gate. Sure, he could start if the team absolutely needed him to, but unlike in Cleveland where a 28 year old rookie needs to get on the field, in Miami Tannehill can wait out his turn. As it should be. As Miami fans we all know that the QB situation in Miami has been a joke over the years, but we also realize that we could just as easily ruin a player by tossing him into the fire far too soon. Remember, even “that guy” didn’t start the first half of the season.
The fact is there are some in the media who want to point out that the Dolphins are once again failing in some regard for taking a QB 8th overall and having him sit on the bench. The truth is, in the NFL, you invest high in a QB and you need to cull that QB’s talent to a different level. While some players will succeed right out of the gate, Ben Roethlisberger is really the only one that immediately comes to mind, others will take some serious knocks. John Elway, Peyton Manning, and Troy Aikman come to mind. Yet for most others, it takes time. Drew Brees was considered a bust in San Diego his first two seasons, Steve Young was ran out of Tampa Bay. Jim Kelley was with the USFL. Even Aaron Rodgers rode the pine behind Brett Favre who himself had been pulled off the Atlanta squad as a back-up.
The Dolphins are taking the “ride the bench” approach with Tannehill, now, simply because they can afford it. Matt Moore would be the ideal choice to start. If he shows success he becomes a player that is a tradable asset. He has to win that job however and if the rumors are true, that is currently held by David Garrard. Yet here is the thing. Training camp hasn’t started yet.
It’s easy to sit back and judge players based on mini-camps and OTA’s but there is no contact allowed. Which means soft coverage, no pressure, and basically just a day out for some hot Florida sun conditioning. The pads however go on at the end of the month on July 27th when the Dolphins open training camp. That’s when we will start to see who rises to the top and who bubbles on the verge of losing their roster spot.
For now, fans tend to get a little riled up when the notion that a guy like David Garrard is the starting QB. They want the young guy or the QB who went 6-3 to close out last season. That still may be the case. Who knows, Ryan Tannehill may jump them all when the flow of the game and the speed of the offense is in his face. It won’t however be an indictment on his ability if he doesn’t. For Miami, right now, at QB, it is that proverbial perfect world. They have two QB’s capable of going out and playing on Sunday’s without having to rely on the inexperience of a rookie. Great college QB’s have been ruined in year one at the pro-level for being thrown in too soon.
While we as fans will point to the eventual success of QB’s after enduring 1-11 seasons as rookies, the reality is those teams really didn’t have much choice. The Dolphins do have that choice. If sitting Ryan Tannehill for a season or even part of a season is possible, then it’s the right move for the team, and for the development of a young QB. Ryan Tannehill is supposedly the third string QB on the Dolphins roster. I’m fine with that. For now.