Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has yet to start a regular season game for the Miami Dolphins, and already he is set to do something no quarterback in franchise history has done. He's ahead of Bob Griese. He's ahead of David Woodley. He's ahead of even the great Dan Marino. None of those quarterbacks, or any other in team history, has ever started the opening game of the season in their rookie year. When the Miami Dolphins open the 2012 regular season in Houston against the Texans, Tannehill will be poised to do exactly that.
The closest quarterback to do the feat was Rick Norton, who entered his first game as a rookie, and the franchise's first game, in the second quarter of the 1966 opening day game. Griese played in the opening game of the 1967 season, entering the game when starter John Stofa broke his ankle.
Woodley had to wait until Novemeber to get his chance to start, taking over for Griese.
Marino would not see action until Week 5 of the 1983 season, making his first start in Week 6. Of course, Marino took over from Woodley.
Now, as the Dolphins turn to the Tannehill era earlier than they have ever turned to a rookie starter before, no one is expecting the Dolphins 2012 rookie quarterback to match that 1983 rookie's first start. Marino threw for 322 yards, on 19-for-29 passing, with three touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions as the Dolphins dropped the game 38-35 in over time. Marino would only lose one more game that regular season, taking the Dolphins to a 12-4 record.
It will never be fair to Tannehill to compare him to Marino, although every single Dolphins fan will do it. And, if Tannehill can even come close to the success Marino had, Dolphins fans will be happy for years to come. That's all well down the road. For now, we all just have to let Tannehill be a rookie and learn the NFL game.
But, for at least one day this September, a rookie will do something no one else has done in Dolphins history, and for that one day, Ryan Tannehill will be ahead of Dan Marino.