Miami Dolphins Tannehill Should Start Vs. Oakland Raiders


Joe Philbin is noncommittal when he is asked about Ryan Tannehill starting this week. Bill Lazor was non-committal when he was asked the same question. Both the head coach and the offensive coordinator are obviously weighing the decision to bench Tannehill in favor or Matt Moore or let it ride the way it is.

The media has been very critical of Tannehill’s performance thus far in the 2014 season but fans have been far worse, and it’s only week four. The questing of starting Tannehill or benching him will be a hot debate topic on radio shows, message boards, and all around the water cooler. So should Tannehill be benched?

There is no clear answer as both options could do both the quarterback and the team some good. At this point it all comes down to opinion so here is mine. The Dolphins should start Ryan Tannehill this week against the Raiders in London, England.

For starters it’s a short week. The team will workout and practice but they have a long flight across the pond which means they leave two days early so they can acclimate to the time change and get some prep work in when they arrive. That does not leave a lot of time to make a quarterback switch and get Moore the reps he would need in practice this week to be ready for Sunday. I know the argument, Moore has taken first team reps every week as part of normal practices but those reps are different. Those reps amount to 5% of a teams practice. That is not enough to ready for football game day.

Another argument is that Moore is a professional and should be able to jump in when needed and yes that is true of any back-up who is required to jump in and take over when the starter goes down or is playing poorly. The middle of a game is far different than a mid-week change in starters. For my money, I start Tannehill this week and see what he changes he can make to get better. I have Moore at the ready to replace Tannehill if need be and if that happens or if Tannehill struggles, Matt Moore has two weeks to prep for Green Bay after the bye week.

This is not an ideal situation for the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill was supposed to make a major jump this season and he still may. Understand that this is the first time he has ever changed systems since his college playing days. His entire college and pro career have been managed and run by Mike Sherman. There is a learning curve. Matt Moore is used to change as he had two different OC’s in Carolina before coming to Miami where he then had to new OC’s in the span of two seasons.

The Bill Lazor offense is often called QB friendly and that is a little bit not true. It sets the quarterback up to have the best amount of success but the team needs anchors that help that progression and frankly the Dolphins are not using them. Charles Clay has been nowhere to be seen, Dion Sims is the same. Forget about putting your running backs into the passing game because the Dolphins are not disguising it enough to make it happen. Add to that a WR who can’t connect with his quarterback and vice versa and there are problems.

I’m not blind to how poorly Tannehill has played. Even with the dropped passes (they lead the league) Tannehill has been inconsistent and that very well get worse before it gets better. Unfortunately for Joe Philbin his career in Miami won’t likely wait that long. This is a critical season for the Dolphins as Joe Philbin could be fired at seasons end, Dennis Hickey could be as well. New GM, new HC, more often than not means new QB.

The best route for Miami is to not do anything drastic yet. The popular choice would be to bench Tannehill and put in Moore and it’s possible that Tannehill may learn more about the system on the sidelines with Bill Lazor than on the field. Tannehill isn’t a great leader but he doesn’t get flustered and likely would take a demotion in stride so it’s unlikely to cause friction internally. The Dolphins need to win and while Philbin says the “best 46 players will play” he doesn’t tell us who that one best player is to run the offense.

It’s not a popular opinion to keep Tannehill on the field for one more week. He surely doesn’t deserve that extra chance but the team, as it is today, may stand a better chance of winning Sunday with a quarterback who has been working through the same ups and downs as they have. If Matt Moore starts everyone will rally behind Moore, no question. If Tannehill starts he will be on a short leash. The only thing that bothers me the most and this goes for Joe Philbin as well, is if Tannehill gets the win despite poor play does it all continue in the same fashion? At some point mediocre can not be accepted even within victory.

Short leash indeed.