Ryan Tannehill And The Great Receiver Race


The Miami Dolphins have had some bad luck the last few days but all is well because Ryan Tannehill is meeting and exceeding our lofty expectations.  As I wrote before, Tannehill just may be the Dolphins’ next big thing.

On Friday, we learned that David Garrard would not play against Tampa Bay because of a knee injury.  On Saturday morning, Garrard had surgery to remove “loose bodies” from one of his knees and will miss 2-4 weeks.  According to an ESPN report, Garrard’s agent, Al Irby, stated that Garrard had felt soreness for a few days and “he could have played on it, but they’d rather do the surgery now to make him more comfortable, rather than fool around with it.”  Coincidentally, on the same day, a report from Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post stated that Garrard was having issues with the playbook.  According to Volin, the Dolphins’ QB coach, Zac Taylor, would have to call in plays to Garrard multiple times in the two-minute drill.  Sometimes, other players had to give him instructions.  The apparent favorite to lead the Dolphins has come crashing down.

Now the competition is between Tannehill and Matt Moore.  Many already believe it is Tannehill’s to lose after his performance against the Buccaneers, going 14-21 with 167 yards and a touchdown.  Yes, he was playing against back-ups but he looked confident and in control.  At one point, he ran up to the line, barking orders at his blockers while pointing at defenders.  I tweeted that it was reminiscent of Peyton Manning.  Friday’s game versus Carolina will be very telling, especially if Tannehill plays with the first team and holds his own.

On Saturday night, the news quickly spread about Chad Johnson‘s arrest for domestic violence.  I was at a midnight pool party and thought someone was joking until I had a dozen I-Phones in my face, inches from the water, with the latest reports.  It instantly sparked a debate about whether Ochocinco would be released.  The very next day, he was, opening the door for another young receiver.

Now, I will attempt to rank the eleven remaining Dolphin wide receivers in what has become an unpredictable race.  I expect the pass-happy Joe Philbin will keep six of them.

1. Davone Bess

Bess has consistently been on the first team, has showed no signs of a lingering injury, and continues to exhibit good hands.  Philbin has used him exclusively in the slot and that is all he we do this year.  Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller are also expected to line up in the slot so we’ll see if his snaps are affected.

2. Legedu Naanee

The new coaches rave about Naanee and his desire to do whatever is asked of him.  Naanee has the physical tools but has yet to blossom in the league.  While his numbers were not spectacular, he was part of a dynamic Carolina Panthers offense last year and he likely contributed in ways that were not reflected in box scores.

3. Brian Hartline

Hartline is being given the benefit of the doubt but I think the Philbin regime is beginning to become frustrated with his injuries.  In the lastest depth chart, he was on the fourth team though I’m not reading much into this.

4. Julius Pruitt

From this point on, the receivers are expected to be special teams contributors.  Pruitt contributes as a special-teamer and has developed a chemistry with Tannehill.  The two connected six times last Friday.  He is currently on the second team.

5. Roberto Wallace

Wallace led all Miami receivers in yardage against Tampa Bay.  He has been the big play-maker for the Phins throughout the pre-season but his issue, in the past, has been consistency.  He could take the next step Friday.

6. Jeff Fuller

Fuller is a big target at 6’4″ and Mike Sherman loves him.  He was playing with the first team today in four receiver sets.

7. B.J. Cunningham

The early knock on Cunningham was his propensity to drop the ball.  He was solid on Friday, even hauling down a high errant throw from Pat Devlin.

8. Rishard Matthews

Matthews excelled as a kick returner against the Buccaneers but, to date, has shown little else.  He is still listed as a fourth-teamer.

9. Marlon Moore

Moore has been moved up to the second team but has shown very little.  Someone must like what he is doing in the bubble.

10. Chris Hogan

A longshot who has remained that.

11. Clyde Gates

The speed demon who is quickly turning into a fourth-round bust.

Don’t forget to watch Hard Knocks tonight.

Follow me on Twitter @RiSantamaria