Dolphins Made Mistake in Starting Tannehill?
Did the Miami Dolphins make a mistake when they chose to embark on this season with a rookie signal caller? Are they mistaken for sticking with him? Some fans look at the Dolphins (5-7) record and cannot help but wonder if instead Matt Moore was under center what it might look like. Putting it nicely, the Phins offense has suffered through growing pains periodically thus far. But that was to be expected, was it not?
The truth is Miami did not make a mistake when they named Ryan Tannehill the team’s starting quarterback. Nor has it ben a mistake to stick with him. It is no secret that Ryan is the future of this franchise. The only negative attributed to him coming out of college was his lack of experience at the quarterback position, the Dolphins are rectifying that by starting him. It was a well-known fact that Tannehill wasn’t as NFL ready as a couple of his rookie-class counterparts. That being said, is it fair to judge him in the same regard? Yes and no. An argument can be made for both sides. Tannehill could be held accountable because he was, in fact, the eighth pick overall in the draft. However, the Dolphins knew exactly what they were getting as did the fans when they drafted their man. When disgruntled Dolphins fans look around the league and see other rookie quarterbacks having immediate success frustration starts to set in. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson all have their teams in the playoff hunt. To the naked eye, the Dolphins may have missed on yet another draft pick. Upon a closer look, all three of those other teams have a lot more weapons surrounding their rookie quarterback.
Let’s begin with the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson. For starters, Seattle is a team on the rise and is not in the middle of a transition period like the Dolphins are. In addition to having a head coach and coordinators who are already established, they have the 7th best rushing attack in the league. Marshawn Lynch is no slouch in the backfield and is ranked 2nd in the NFL. A running game is a young quarterback’s best friend. A rushing attack of this caliber can make things downright easy. Moreover, Wilson has the services of a legitimate number one receiver in Sydney Rice at his disposal. He also has a very good number two wide out in Golden Tate. Perhaps Russell Wilson’s biggest asset isn’t even on the offensive side of the football. Seattle sports the 5th best defense in football only allowing 16.8 points per game. Such a stout defense accompanied by a dominant rushing attack makes for a very good situation for a rookie quarterback.
Robert Griffin III has his Washington Redskins back in the playoff window at 6-6. RG3 has weapons of his own in our nation’s capital. Without a doubt he is the most athletic and electrifying player at the position in the league right now. His legs are a threat every time he takes a snap. As a result, he can keep a defense honest by default. The Redskins also have a very potent rushing attack with rookie running back Alfred Morris. Morris’ 1,106 yards is tied for 3rd best in the league. The combination of Morris and Griffin III has the Redskins ground game atop the NFL. Much like Wilson, RG3 has help of a consistent running game. He also has the assistance of wide receivers Santana Moss and Pierre Garçon. Moss is not what he used to be but with Garçon’s speed flanking the other side, he doesn’t have to be.
Last but not least is Andrew Luck. There is no question that Luck is the best pure quarterback in this draft class. He was as close to a sure thing as could be for the Indianapolis Colts. That being said, Luck has weapons of his own. Though he doesn’t have a suffocating defense like Seattle or a ground attack like Washington, he’s not empty handed. Andrew Luck has the luxury of sure-fire Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne to throw to. In addition to Wayne, the Colts added other pieces to help their rookie quarterback. They drafted Luck’s favorite target at Stanford in Coby Fleener who coincidentally was the best tight-end in the draft. They didn’t stop there. Indianapolis also drafted the 2nd best tight-end in Dwayne Allen out of Clemson. They weren’t done. The Colts added a speed demon on the outside in T.Y. Hilton to stretch the field. In review, Andrew Luck has a great Wide Receiver in Reggie Wayne to be the “go to” guy, Coby Fleener to stretch the seam, and T.Y. Hilton to blow the top off the coverage. Luck has considerably less at his disposal than Seattle and Washington but still has weapons nonetheless.
Now on to the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill. The three previously mentioned quarterbacks that are having success have more surrounding them than the Dolphins rookie signal caller. Indianapolis, Washington, and Seattle all have number one and number two wide receivers. Miami is competing with number 2 and number 3 wide outs. Even with Reggie Bush in the backfield, the Dolphin’s ground attack is inconsistent at best. After getting out to a hot start the running game has gone stagnant. Tannehill has a defense that is capable of protecting him. Although that may not always be the case every game the defense an able unit. But when the offense is only scoring 18.9 points per game wins are going to be hard to come by.
The bottom line is simple. Ryan Tannehill needs more talent around him. He needs a number one wide receiver as well as a tight-end. Until then, we can only take what we see from Tannehill with a grain of salt. He has shown flashes of greatness as well as growing pains throughout the season. His upside is still there, he just needs help. A 5-7 record does not do the season he’s had any justice, nor does the immediate success of his rookie counterparts. Before the season started the entire country expected the Dolphins to be a 2-win team. So in reality 5-7 has been an overachieving year. In the first year of a new regime and with a rookie under center, things could be far worse. This team has finally found a franchise quarterback after decades of searching. Why would fans want the team to bench their newly acquired franchise quarterback for a backup? If Matt Moore was under center would the Dolphins have a better record? It’s possible that they would have a couple more wins because of his experience. But by starting Matt Moore the Dolphins would be stunting the growth of Ryan Tannehill and prolonging the learning curb for the quarterback of the future. By sticking with Tannehill the Dolphins have made it clear that the future is now. Fans need to temper their expectations a bit; this team is not a playoff team yet. That being said, they are not too far off. When Miami adds a couple of skill position players, they will be a very scary team.