While the Miami Dolphins are focusing on this Friday's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, fans are looking a little farther forward. Like three weeks in the future. As in the opening game of the regular season at the Houston Texans. While the Dolphins coaching staff is trying to set the starting lineup for the Panthers games, fans are trying to predict the starting line up against the Texans. And, of course, the specific question is, will rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill be the guy to take the first snap of the year for Miami?
All indictaions seem to say the eighth overall draft pick is ready now. That would put him well ahead of the schedule most fans, and media members, thought he would have when he was selected by the Dolphins. The team was ridiculed for taking a quarterback that high in the draft, when he was known to need time to develop. Little did any of us know, that "time to develop" could be the preseason.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was asked yesterday if Tannehill was ready to start at the NFL level. "We'll see, you know we've still got some time," the first-year head coach replied. "There are still three more games in the preseason, a game week preparation. We're going to have to make that decision.
"I like his demeanor, I like his poise, I like his approach to the game; I think he's a serious person. I think he's...he's a football player. I know that's a vague term, but the more good football players we can have on this team the better."
Like Philbin, running back Reggie Bush was asked after yesterday's practice if Tannehill was ready to be the guy for the Dolphins. " "I don't know. Thank God that's not my call. I think Ryan, when he does get his chance, whenever that may be, I think he'll do fine. I think he's look great, like I said, these past couple weeks and I was really impressed by him today. Thank God I'm not the one who has to make that call."
Tannehill worked with the second string offense inlast week's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He clearly stood poised in the pocket, was not rattled by defensive pressue, and made some great throws. The offense moved with a better rhythm and more efficiently under Tannehill, but, to be fair to quarterback Matt Moore, who started the game, Tannehill's success also came against second and third team defenses.
Tannehill finished the game 14-for-21 passing for 167 yards and a touchdown.
But, it's the attitude of Tannehill, and the throwing ability he has shown, that has a lot of people looking at him as the player most likely to win the team's quarterback competition. While ealry in camp both Moore and Tannehill were behind David Garrard, a knee injury to the veteran quarterback has opened the door, and Tannehill appears poised to step through it.
When asked about the starting role, Tannehill responds, "I don't know. It's not up to me to decide, but I'm just going to go out here every day (and) try to do the things I can do to make this team better. (I) try to improve my game as much as I can every day and, hopefully, when it comes that time, I'm that guy. I want this team to win, so if I'm not the best guy at that time, I want this team to win."
Asked earlier this week about if Tannehill could be the starting quarterback for this Friday's game in Carolina, Philbin replied that the team will "let things play out."
"As the week progresses, we're going to kinda make a decision," he continued. "Our plan all along was to hopefully get all three of those quarterbacks reps with the first group in preseason. Again, we haven't quite crossed that bridge yet."
Tannehill very well may be doing enough to earn that shot with the first team. Don't be surprised if, once he gets it, he doesn't give it up.