Reality Check: Dolphins’ Tannehill and Bumphis


Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) on the sidelines during a game against Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Even if you only been semi-plugged in during the last week of Miami Dolphins training camp you have heard the whispers.  “Tannehill looked awful,” said ESPN’s Merril Hoge in reference to the quarterback’s limited showing in the Hall of Fame game against Dallas.   Former NFL Head Coach Dennis Green piled on with,”I don’t think Ryan’s a great quarterback” during a segment of the NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp.

Or perhaps you have listened to a prominent local Dolphins columnist who continually sings the praises of undrafted wide receiver Chad Bumphis.

Before we start clamoring for Miami to draft yet another franchise quarterback or fit Bumphis for his bronze statue in Canton, Ohio, let’s take a step back and be realistic.

Ryan Tannehill threw a whopping five passes on Sunday night and completed two.  So basically we are now judging a quarterback on how he looks on the basis of three throws?  Another pass was flat dropped to the best of my recollection which brings us to two questionable throws.  One of those was an admittedly poor throw behind Marvin McNutt.  That would be starter Marvin McNutt, the same McNutt who has a slightly greater chance than me of making the roster once regular starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline return from injuries.  The point is that you can’t really expect Tannehill and McNutt to have any sort of timing or chemistry at this point.

Did Tannehill look extremely comfortable in the pocket?  No, of course not.  Would you with Jonathan Martin or the prospect of rookie Dallas Thomas protecting your blindside (which is much more of a concern for the team at this point)?  Now, Tannehill apparently threw four interceptions in a practice this week and concerns about his deep throw accuracy and tendency to lock onto receivers are legitimate.  But this is what you sign on for as fans with almost all second year quarterbacks.  Tannehill is not Andrew Luck (My jury is still out on the likes of Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson).  We know that and expecting him to be Luck or that guy up in New England is pointless and perhaps damaging to the young man’s development at this critical juncture.

If Tannehill throws a couple more clunkers in extended action during the rest of the preseason, then I would be far more likely to criticize him and so should you.  Even then, what’s the alternative?  Matt Moore, who took an inexcusable sack for an NFL veteran?  Pat Devlin, who cleans up games against a bunch of guys headed for the waiver wire?

The waiver wire brings us to the unheralded Bumphis. Look, you have to like the way Bumphis goes into traffic to get the ball.  His five catches for 85 yards on Sunday night were impressive.  However, his cutting a route short which led to Devonte Holloman’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown was not.  More importantly, rookies, especially undrafted rookies flash ability early in camps.  Let’s see if Bumphis gets significant snaps even by the third preseason game and what he does with them.  Till then is he much different than last year’s Dolphin camp phenom Chris Hogan?  “7-Eleven” was released by the Dolphins after his Hard Knocks television fame and now will be lucky to make the Buffalo Bills’ roster never less contribute.  Bumphis is at least as likely to follow this path as he is to continue his surprising play.

One more harsh reality for Bumphis is that 5’10” receivers who like to work in traffic usually don’t stay upright for long.

Tannehill might continue to struggle at quarterback and I hope Bumphis is a future star at wide receiver.  The reality is they probably land somewhere between those extremes.  So let’s be realistic and temper those quick judgments.