The Dolphins and Panthers square off Friday night in Carolina and though it is only the second preseason game, there is great interest among Miami Dolphin fans. The intrigue is generated by the slightly veiled implication, the Dolphins will start Ryan Tannehill...
The lip service Miami fans heard prior to training camp was that Tannehill would sit and watch for at least half the season and perhaps the whole season, if Moore or Garrard got the team rolling early. That notion quickly changed when Garrard required knee surgery, taking him out of the picture for four weeks and Moore got off to a slow start in training camp. Ryan Tannehill has played more like the veteran, and showing the ability to lead the team at least as well as Moore, further jeopardized the plan.
So, with great anticipation, Miami Dolphin fans will get to watch the team start a first round quarterback and that hasn’t happened in twenty eight years. There is a lot riding on Tannehill and many have said, it is foolish to throw him on the field when he is unprepared because a rough start would hurt his confidence. The other rationale is, if Tannehill has it, then like Payton Manning, even going 3-13 is not going to damage his confidence.
The key then probably does not have as much to do with Tannehill as with Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman. Quarterbacking is equal parts confidence, intelligence and ability. There have been many QBs with rocket arms who were not smart enough to grasp a playbook or read a defense. In contrast, many QBs could memorize an offense and dissect a defense, but without the arm strength to make plays in tight windows or the durability to stay on the field, they didn’t make it. But, there is a reason confidence was listed first of the three ingredients, it is the most critical.
Without Confidence, the other ingredients do not matter, a QB is a leader and that confidence is what makes other players follow him. Confidence starts with a head coach, a coordinator and a position coach that realize they have a special player. They have the confidence to jump on that boat, just as the players in the huddle and the fans in the stands, all want a piece of the magic.
In today’s NFL and probably for most of the league’s history, coaches and QBs have been successful or failed together. Tony Sparano failed in Miami because Chad Henne did not win the confidence of his teammates. It could have been as simple as Henne commanding Brandon Marshall to shut his mouth and catch the ball. The bottom line is, Henne did not instill confidence in his teammates and his coaching staff never fully recognized him as the leader of the team.
Joe Philbin could make the same mistake with Tannehill, but he has done a very nice job of paving Ryan’s way by shipping Marshall to Chicago and unceremoniously dumping Chad Johnson. Where Sparano invited the problems for Henne, Philbin has eliminated them for Tannehill. Mike Sherman’s comment that perhaps Tannehill was overconfident, was very telling in what he thinks of the young man.
The Dolphins may have lost in the Manning sweepstakes, but they clearly allowed other options like Matt Flynn and Alex Smith to walk away because they had their sights set on Ryan Tannehill. They did not compete with Washington for RG3 and Andrew Luck was a done deal, it means they knew, aside from Manning and perhaps even if they signed Manning, they were after Ryan Tannehill.
Matt Moore and David Garrard are not in the running as the future face of the Miami Dolphins. That distinction belongs to Ryan Tannehill and it means all the way from Jeff Ireland, to Joe Philbin, to Mike Sherman, there is a consensus, Ryan is the man. It is an organizational confidence Miami Dolphin fans have not seen since Don Shula and Dan Marino.
Does it mean the future is now? The thought here is, the only thing that is going to accelerate Ryan Tannehll’s acclimation to the NFL is being on the field and learning the speed of the game by being part of it.
Like Payton Manning, Tannehill may have a rough start, but one thing was clear in Indianapolis when Manning was drafted and it is clear again with Andrew Luck, the team was/is theirs, and they have the full confidence of the organization. This year’s win loss record has little to do with whether Luck is the future of the franchise.
Matt Moore - David Garrard, is there a single Miami fan that believes this team belongs to either of these two men? Why then waste time? This game against Cam Newton and the Panthers should go down as a demarcation line in Dolphin history, the day Ryan Tannehill officially took the reins in Miami!
Tannehill may not play well, he may light it up, but if a GM and coaching staff is confident enough to stake their future on this young man, let him play. Let him make the mistakes and take the lumps, all the while standing behind him 100%.
Let the Ryan Tannehill era begin in Miami!