The Miami Dolphins are about 3 hours away from me right now. On a normal weekend, I would be at that game. This is not a normal weekend unfortunately. That being said, it’s not a normal weekend for Joe Philbin either. He has a choice to make. Let Matt Moore start the game or start rookie Ryan Tannehill. If I were coach Philbin, the decision would be an easy one.
Give it to the rook.
UPDATE: Apparently, Joe Philbin reads our stuff. Within moments of this posting, Dick Stockton who will call the game announced on local Charlotte radio that Ryan Tannehill will be the starter tonight. The part of Philbin reading this stuff was a joke. “But his sister does!” – oh, can you name that reference?
To me, the reasoning is quite simple. You want to see what your kid can do with the first team and frankly, if you start Moore, you won’t know. You can pull Moore after a series or two and put Tannehill in the game to run with your first team offense but how long will the Carolina Panthers run their first team defensive unit? It’s not all about having your QB taking first team snaps, it’s about that same QB taking snaps against an opposing teams number 1′s.
Let’s say that Matt Moore takes the first team reps tonight and doesn’t fair very well. Next week, you have to make the same choice you are making tonight. Do you turn it over to the rookie or do you give it to Moore. The third pre-season game typically is a three quarter starters acclimation to the season. You get the work done. Your back-ups watch from the sidelines. For Philbin and company, he needs a QB set and ready to go come next week.
Conversely, if you start Tannehill and he shows that isn’t ready to lead the team as the starter, you know going into next week that Moore is your guy and you start him and get the playing time he needs going into the regular season after PS4. The last thing that Philbin can afford is to have a QB controversy going into week 3 of pre-season. You need to iron it out and make a decision. All things being equal right now, and according to many sources they are between Moore and Tannehill, you go with the youngster.
You have plenty of tape on Moore and you know that he can at least win you some games. You know he plays better than he practices and you know he can take the hits that come from top NFL defenders. You have none of that with Tannehill. You need to get that with Tannehill. Tonight is the best opportunity for Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman to see what they have in front of them.
Training camp has broke and that means moving forward it’s regular season prep work. You work your units together to get the continuity going. You work your first team QB with the first team offense 80% of the snaps and give the number 2 guy the remaining 20. Which means you have to know who your QB is going to be.
Tonight is an opportunity for Philbin to start the kid. If Tannehill goes out and performs well with and against the first team units, then you look to see what Moore did with the second teams. You weight the two together and you have an easier decision. Why? Because you have two bodies of work to weight against each other. Matt Moore may lead this team on the field come week 1 of the regular season. Ryan Tannehill is still only steps behind from taking that over. Joe Philbin can’t make up his mind. Or at least isn’t telling anyone what his decision is.
For Philbin, it’s a simple issue. Alleviate some of the question marks. Make your own job easier by making a decision to find out what your decision should be. That is to start Tannehill tonight. As I said, if you don’t, and Moore does not look like he has a grasp with the offensive firsts, your are putting Tannehill in the drivers seat next week and he too may show that he is not ready as well. Eliminate the unknown by making it known.
Tonight, there is little downside to starting the rookie. There is however a lot of upside. It allows Philbin to make a better decision going into next week and as a result, the season. The Miami Dolphins as a team will be much better prepared when this decision is finally made.