Ryan Tannehill is a highly-touted rookie quarterback who was a top 10 pick, and therefore, confidence is inherent. Every movie about high school or college football that I’ve ever watched tells me that quarterbacks land hot girls, get special treatment from teachers, and they’re generally pampered and told that all the greatest things in this world can be theirs.
They also say lines that make people who enjoy teen movies yell “booyah!’ or something, and their characters have accents that aren’t clichéd whatsoever…
A truly rich cultural experience.
Tannehill isn’t nearly as good looking as James Van der Beek, but that hasn’t stopped him from wanting to start all of the games. Tannehill missed the first two days of Dolphins training camp due to a brief contract holdout before he had his first full practice yesterday, and he told ESPN’s James Walker that despite his absence and the two veterans ahead of him on the Dolphins’ QB depth chart (David Garrard and Matt Moore), he still thinks he can start.
“I feel like I’m in it,” Tannehill said. “Maybe I am being naïve, but the coaches haven’t given me any indication that I’m not, so I’m going to go out there every day and do my best to get better every day and hopefully win the job.”
No, you’re not being naive, Ryan. You’re just being confident, and that’s the kind of thing that gets the narrative creators frothing with delight as they drool over another young quarterback who can win, or probably knows how to win. Tannehill may be a fine quarterback sometime very soon, and he can and should do everything in his power to win the Dolphins’ starting job.
But if new head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman have any sense whatsoever, they won’t let Tannehill anywhere near a football in Week 1. Seriously, no footballs. Ban him from the mere possession of the one item that makes playing a game of football possible.
We could linger over concerns about Tannehill’s lack of starting experience after he completed just one full season as a starter at Texas A&M. But that’s a crumbling bridge over rough waters that’s long since been crossed. If the Dolphins were confident enough to draft Tannehill at eighth overall when others had him as a late-round pick at best, they’re also confident enough to cast him as the quarterback of their offense for the next decade. Hopefully.
What’s an even greater concern here is the fate of a similarly touted QB just down the road (well, up technically, way up) in Jacksonville who still really sucks. His name is Blaine Gabbert, and he’s still a disappointment so far this year in training camp after being a wreck last year. But arguably, that’s not entirely his fault, and if Tannehill starts immediately, the elements are in place for his 2012 story to have a similar ending.
It’s been Gabbert who’s looked petrified in the pocket, and it’s been Gabbert who’s throws have been wayward after he completed a very Tebowian 50.8 percent of his passes last year for only 5.4 yards per attempt. That’s a whole lot of suck.
But it was the Jaguars and former head coach Jack Del Rio who kept trotting out an obviously shaken young quarterback who even more obviously wasn’t ready. He made 14 starts, and he had the worst passer rating in the league at 65.4. He was left to be Jacksonville’s sacrificial lamb because, well, who the hell else was going to do it?
My mind is still numb due to the lingering affects of the Jaguars releasing Garrard near the end of training camp, leaving only the rookie Gabbert and Luke McCown at the most important offensive position. Once the McCown implosion was officially complete after just one game, Gabbert was left to attempt completions with Jason Hill and Mike Thomas as his leading targets split out wide, thus compounding the suckiness.
Tannehill’s situation isn’t much better. Yes, Cam Newton was brilliant last year. Historically brilliant, but he had Steve Smith, and a very productive TE tandem between Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen. And sure, Andy Dalton was kind of good too, but he had a dynamic rookie in A.J. Green, the speedy Jerome Simpson, and Jermaine Gresham as a reliable outlet.
Who does Tannehill have? Chad Johnson, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, and Legedu Naanee among others. Translation: a veteran who thinks he’s a monster after a 15-catch season, and three other No. 3 wide receivers on any other respectable depth chart. Confident is swell, Ryan, but reality should always trump your happy thoughts.
At best, Tannehill will be given the Jake Locker treatment this year, and only called upon after an injury. At worst, he should start eight games since his surrounding environment in Miami is far more likely to add to recent potentially shattering first-season failures (see: Gabbert, and Christian Ponder).