Despite being in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race, the Miami Dolphins should always be keeping one eye on improving in the offseason. It's pretty obvious that we're a much improved team in many aspects, but there are also a few areas in which we've regressed. If Jeff Ireland truly has a vision for this team, then next season should be the time when it all comes to full fruition. These next few posts will basically be my idea of what an improved team would look like, and I want you, my fellow Phinsiders, to grade my performance. Am I an Ozzie Newsome? Or "Fireland"?
I'll address each position one at a time, starting with the QB position.
The faith I have in Ryan Tannehill had a massive growth spurt after the victory in Pittsburgh. Despite being outplayed statistically by Ben Roethlisberger, Tannehill came through when it really counted and managed to get us over the top in the fourth quarter. I unfortunately cannot definitively say that he has that killer instinct that QBs like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Peyton Manning has. At least not yet. He may have thrown that final touchdown pass, but it wasn't him who ran for 55 yards to get us into position for that last throw...although that 1st quarter 48 yard scamper was something we definitely need to see more frequently.
Tannehill is still improving, I get that. I'm willing to wait a couple more years to really see if he can be "the guy", and in my heart of hearts I think he will be. But if he's gonna take things to the next level, he needs a QB behind him, someones besides a Matt Moore and Pat Devlin to really push him to take that next step. Now who are some available free agents coming onto the market next offseason?
Here we have Chicago Bears Quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. Both QBs are in contract years and one of them is expected to be let go. Given the current circumstances, the likely one would be Cutler. But never underestimate the power of the media and what they'll do if a big name QB gets disrespected. The Bears would probably never hear the end of it (and Brandon Marshall might snap in half) if the franchise decided to permanently switch to their backup QB, despite his overwhelming success.
But I see it like this. Jay Cutler, being an almost elite QB, would either push Tannehill to be better, or push him out of the way because he's better. Either way we come out with a great Quarterback to lead the offense.
Now the case for Josh McCown. It would seem like a bit of a lateral move to trade Matt Moore for draft picks only to sign Josh McCown who is basically Matt Moore in a different uniform. But McCown has proven that he can perform at a very high level, and it appears that Moore can't push hard enough to win the starting job from Tannehill. Having a QB like Josh McCown would really push Tannehill to improve without necessarily taking the job away from him.
My verdict on these two QBs however, is no. Cutler would ask for elite money and the starting job handed to him on a silver platter, and McCown likely will be re-signed by the Bears anyway. So the next options in my mind are?
Say what you will about Josh Freeman, he proved what he could do starting in 2010 all the way to 2012, but he was handed a bad deck and couldn't play with the cards he was dealt. An awful head coaching situation in Tampa Bay led to his release (which he wanted anyway) and with barely a couple of weeks to learn the Vikings offense, he was thrust headfirst into a game against the New York Giants (who at this point were ticked off from all the losses) and he severely messed up in that game.
But with a whole offseason with a new team under his belt, I'm confident that Josh Freeman would be able to at least push Tannehill for that starting job, making both QBs stronger in the long run.
My verdict on Freeman would be yes if the price is right, but he wouldn't be my first choice. Freeman is still a young Quarterback, and like Tannehill, he's still learning the game of football. What we really need is veteran leadership, a QB who's faced the fires of the NFL and knows how to deal with them. Therefore we reach my top choice for the new QB in Miami.
...What? Ok fine, but I already made the case as to why Tebow would work down here. Now for my real choice.
Michael Vick's tenure in Philadelphia is likely over thanks to the emergence of one Nick Foles. But that doesn't mean that Vick has nothing left to contribute to a team. You may wonder why I choose Michael Vick over all the other QBs I listed, and now I'll explain why.
Vick is now a seasoned veteran who's gone through the fires the NFL has to offer, and he's managed to keep a cool head about it. His past will probably never disappear in people's minds, but like it or not, he is a changed man and he offers a quiet leadership (quiet being the key word since Philbin hates outspoken leaders) that not many players have.
Vick would also push Tannehill for the starting job. Despite his being a good soldier on the Eagles sideline, we all know Michael Vick wants to play. He'll be doing his absolute best to get behind center as the starter and that's something that Tannehill's never had to deal with. Also, his ability to scramble out of the pocket is something defenses used to fear, and they could again if he could just get his head on straight. In Philly he was getting beat up so badly that he actually took a hit one time in the ribs, and the first thing he grabbed was his head. We may not have the best O-line YET, but after this next offseason we should be significantly improved to the point that Vick could at least begin to get comfortable.
Now the biggest reason I prefer Vick over all these others. Money. He'll push, he'll fight, but he also realizes he's on a short leash. Michael Vick with all his talent and all his athletic ability, will not be looking for top QB caliber money, those days are gone. Vick will look for a decent contract (similar to what Moore got from us most likely) and try to prove himself once more. A Quarterback who is hungry to play is just what Tannehill needs to push him to the next level.
Now why not keep Moore? Well a lot of teams next year are going to be looking for a QB, and since Washington is looking to put Kirk Cousins on display, most likely to be traded in the offseason, I figure we should look to see what we can get for Matt Moore. He's a good QB, not a great one by any stretch of the imagination, but for some teams he'd be good enough to win the starting job. Teams like Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Minnesota, or even the Jets come to mind. It's always good to have more picks, and next year will be the last year of Moore's contract, I'd rather ship him off for something than let him leave in Free Agency for nothing. As for Devlin, I like him, but Tannehill needs someone to push him, Devlin can't yet.
Now there are certainly a lot of rookie QBs out there, the likes of AJ McCarron out of Alabama, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, the list goes on and on. But the reason I say no to all of them is the fact that they'd either be drafted too high for the Dolphins' tastes, or because they'd be a bigger project than Tannehill himself. I would rather bring in a seasoned veteran than a new rookie all over again while Tannehill is still on his way up.
So tell me Phinsiders, what choice would you make? Do you agree with my Michael Vick choice? Maybe a different QB? Or one that never made the list? Make your choice and comment, I'd love to hear from you.