Miami Dolphins’ Coach Joe Philbin wanted to pick his starting QB before the third game of the preseason — which happens to be this Friday. Despite the best laid plans, looks like that’s not going to happen.
After the performances of Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, and Pat Devlin in Saturday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, Philbin now states … “We may have a decision soon, or we may play it out another week. That’s still up in the air. We certainly haven’t come to any decision on that right now.”
Ryan Tannehill started the game against the Panthers and played the entire first half mostly with the Dolphins’ first team offense against the Panthers first team defense — a defense that seemed to be in regular season form complete with blitz packages. Tannehill had six possessions to state his case to be the regular season starter. 5 of the 6 possession were short and unremarkable — mostly 3 plays and outs. The other possession was a sweet 15 play and 71 yard drive that ended in a one yard TD run by Daniel Thomas. Overall, Tannehill was 10 of 23 (47.8%) for 100 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) and no TD passes. The good news is that he did not turn over the ball. The bad news is he was sacked three times and had 4 passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Matt Moore took control at the beginning of the second half with the second team offense. He was 5 of 15 (33.3%) for 57 yards (3.8 yards per attempt) and no TD passes. Moore did not turn the ball over and did not take any sacks. But, Moore was not good — he really did not move the team much — however, he did manage to lead the Dolphins to a FG.
Pat Devlin took control in the fourth quarter with the third and fourth team offense. Devlin was 13 of 20 (65%) for 118 yards (5.9 yards per attempt) and one TD pass. Devlin actually looked quite good — I noted that he commanded the offense well mostly getting plays off quicker than Tannehill and Moore. With 8:00 left in the game and down 23-10, Devlin put together a 12 play and 86 yard drive for TD. Then, with 1:42 left on the clock, Devlin drove the team 49 yards in 9 plays to the Panthers 4 yard line, where he threw an INT in the end zone on a desperation pass with 4 seconds left on the clock.
So … what’s next at QB for the Miami Dolphins? It would seem somewhat logical to give Pat Devlin a shot with the first team in the next game, based on the most recent performances of the trio of Dolphins QBs.
But, seriously … I believe Tannehill has shown enough positives to warrant having another chance with the first team against Atlanta this week. Let’s see whether the rookie can continue to progress. Heck, we know what Matt Moore can do.
Look, I was not a big fan of drafting Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick in the draft. I thought he was too inexperienced, inaccurate, and his release point was not high enough — it seems he throws the ball with a 3/4 side arm motion. Thus far, the word seems to be out about the low release point having had four passes batted down by defensive linemen in the Panthers game. However, this can be readily overcome — Philip Rivers has — Tannehill just needs more reps and better protection. Surprisingly, Tannehill has shown good command of the offense and looks comfortable in the NFL. His first drive with the Dolphins first unit in a preseason game merely consisted of a Reggie Bush run to settle down the nerves followed by an incomplete pass and a pass which was batted down. His second drive was also a three and out. But, the third drive was truly a thing of beauty. It showed the rookie could overcome a slow start and lead his team to a TD on the road. It is also important to remember that Tannehill was 14 of 21 (66.7%) for 167 (8 yards per attempt) and one TD (no sacks, no INTs) in the first preseason game at home against the Bucs — albeit, Tannehill was working with the second team offense in that game — and, by comparison, how poor Matt Moore did with the second team offense in the Panthers game.
Tannehill’s performance in the second game of the preseason needs to be put into proper perspective. In his second game of the preseason, Robert Griffin III was not impressive at all. He was only 5 of 8 for 49 yards with three sacks and one fumble which resulted in a turnover. Like Tannehill, RGIII had 6 possessions — RGIII lead the Redskins to 4 punts, his one turnover which resulted in a TD for the opponents, and one FG. I watched the entire first half of the local broadcast of the Redskins game versus the Bears. The local commentator (Joe Theisman) stated that the game was a learning experience for RGIII, but he was progressing well. RGIII will obviously be the regular season starter for the Redskins. Alternatively in Miami, the press are questioning Tannehill’s ability to be the regular season starter for the Dolphins — this despite Tannehill playing far better than RGIII in the second game of the preseason.
Additionally, in his second game of the preseason, Matt Flynn was not impressive for the Seahawks against the Broncos. You remember Flynn — the guy many (not me) thought the Dolphins should have acquired in the offseason. Flynn was a mere 6 of 13 for 31 yards — yes, I stated 31 yards which amounts to a 2.4 yards per attempt — with no TDs and one sack. Flynn had four drives which resulted in three FGs — the 3 FGs can be largely attributed to the running of Marshawn Lynch (6 carries for 37 yards) and Robert Turbin (10 carries for 34 yards). Considering the Dolphins could only muster 37 total rushing yards in the entire Panthers game, I would say the Tannehill outplayed Flynn — yet, Flynn will undoubtedly be the starter in the regular season for the Seahawks.
So, I say give Tannehill the majority of the snaps with the first team this week in preparation for the Atlanta game. Let him play the first half with the first team in the third preseason game. If he doesn’t deliver the goods, then Moore can start the fourth preseason game against Dallas in preparation for being the regular season starter. I want to give the rookie another shot … what the heck … what do the Phins have to lose?
But ……… it sure would be nice if there were five preseason games. It would be interesting to give Devlin a shot with the first team. He looked damn good in the Panthers game, albeit with the third and fourth stringers.
What do you think?
[UPDATE: At Monday afternoon's press conference and a mere 12 hours after this article was posted, Coach Joe Philbin named Ryan Tannehill to be the starting QB for the Miami Dolphins ("at this time"). Obviously, Coach Philbin read the above article ... just joking!]
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