The Force will be with the Dolphins

“Need is a terrible negotiator and an even worse evaluator. However, the panic to draft someone who might turn out to be great is immense. Which is why, in addition to worrying about whether Tannehill would be a reach at No. 8, the Dolphins are also worrying about if he'll even be around then. Some other, equally desperate team -- Seattle, for instance -- may trade up to take him first.

The quest to land the quarterback with the Right Stuff -- along with the fear of missing a chance to draft that quarterback -- gets into the heads of football people. Eventually, it can force many people in the game to veer from their principles, abandon strategy and skepticism and ... reach.

Consider, from 1999 to 2011, there were 39 quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the draft, but only 16 drafted in the second round. Teams tend to overrate (and thus) overvalue quarterbacks, and then worry nearly as much about passing on a franchise quarterback as they do about drafting a player who turns out to be a bust.”

Brian Billick

Billick has gotten himself in trouble in the NFL because of a perception of arrogance that billionaire owners do not tolerate from a subordinate. The words above speak of a man who has seen the inside of an NFL draft-room and has identified from being outside, what goes wrong when need becomes the driving force in judgment.

Every coach and GM in the NFL knows their job is riding on the decisions they make on draft day, primarily at the QB position. Send the right name up to the commissioner and a GM is suddenly a genius, send the wrong name and a legacy of failure soon follows. A daunting task will humble even the most confident of men and there is none more daunting than placing your ability to earn a living in the outcome of one decision.

Some men take the path of least resistance, as Jeff Ireland and Bill Parcells did when passing on Matt Ryan for the safety of Jake Long. The number of playoff games the Dolphins and the Falcons have accumulated since that draft should be an indicator of the wisdom of that decision. With each passing year, the decision looms more fateful until the forces that drive the NFL, the QB… Come circling back around again.

Now the name resting at number 8 in nearly every mock draft, from the novice to the self-proclaimed experts has Jeff Ireland right back on the hot seat, with his fingernails chewed to a nub. The Miami Dolphin franchise will move on with or without Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin but the decision made on Thursday April 26th will define their future.

Take Ryan Tannehill and live the results, or pass and hope beyond hope that Tannehill does not become a pro bowl QB. These extremes cloud judgment and lead to overvaluing and over-drafting. These extremes lead professionals and fans alike to see more into a player than what is in front of their eyes on tape. The perfect height, the perfect arm strength, the exceptional 40-yard dash time, are all the tangible things that point to success, but mean nothing in the 4th quarter of a football game.

Joe Montana had none of those things to the degree of his competitors, Tom Brady had so little of these that he was nearly overlooked completely on draft day. Nevertheless, those two gentlemen had something their competition did not have; they had the will to win with the game on the line. Repeatedly, they brought their teams back in college from what seemed like insurmountable odds and won the game.

The intangible force of moxey to drive other players to a higher place is the source of Montana and Brady’s greatness and to overlook it by focusing on the tangibles will lead to failure. The question is can Jeff Ireland clear the cloud of expectation with the clarity of reality? The force of Ryan Tannehill’s personality could not drive those around him to a higher level when games were on the line.

No matter how much Ireland or Philbin wishes this were not true, Mike Sherman is the offensive coordinator of the Dolphins for this very reason. Sherman would be recruiting players as the head coach at Texas A&M if his QB had that certain moxey that defines great QBs. Could Sherman be fooled again into thinking this is going to change? Montana and Brady showed these traits long before they entered the NFL, but moxey was overlooked for tangibles.

Old Ben Kenobi once said, “who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?” Can Ireland and Philbin be foolish enough to follow Sherman if Sherman has not learned his lesson with Tannehill? Can Philbin think he can train Tannehill in the Jedi art of moxey, teach him to use the “force” of his personality to drive others. Unfortunately, there is no “force” detector to measure midi-chlorian levels in a QB. There is only history and not learning from it is the fatal error caused by the cloud of expectation.

If the Dolphins over-draft Tannehill it will be done out of desperation and the incredibly arrogant thought that Ireland, Philbin or Sherman are more correct, than what history has taught them. Perhaps this is a cold, inhuman analysis of a player, but isn’t that what Miami fans have come to expect from Jeff Ireland? If history is a teacher than those same fans should realize, Ireland will not vary from his own past and he will not select Ryan Tannehill.

If the Dolphins do select Tannehill and he fails, don’t be surprised if Ireland is again the man left standing. However, Ireland has shown the “force” of his personality and for that reason, it will be no surprise when the Dolphins select…

Quinton Coples