While the past week has consisted of mock drafts and scouting prospects, the NFL offseason does not really kick off until over-reactions and wild speculation start running rampant. For the Miami Dolphins, that day was yesterday, when a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports seemed to suggest the Dolphins were considering a change in starting quarterbacks, benching starter Ryan Tannehill for backup Matt Moore.
La Cafora cited a source close to the Dolphins' General Manager search, who stated the team's head coach, Joe Philbin, had professed his "belief in Moore to several of the GM candidates and demanding more from Tannehill." La Canfora went on to write:
"He definitely wants to push Tannehill more," said one source who has spoken to Philbin about the quarterbacks, "and if he doesn't see improvement he said he might go to Moore at some point. He definitely has a lot of faith in Moore, and they're paying him a lot of money."
Nothing in that report should send out the waves of "impending change" that seemed to emanate yesterday among fans and on Twitter. If the report is true, it's exactly what you want your head coach saying. He should want Tannehill pushed more. He should have faith in a backup quarterback who is being paid $4 million to sit on the bench. And he should say, if his starter is unable to perform, he would not have a problem giving the ball to the second string guy.
Otherwise, why is the second string guy on the roster?
But, don't fool yourself, and don't think anyone around the Dolphins is fooled. This is Ryan Tannehill's team, just as it should be. Matt Moore is not the future of the franchise. Tannehill may be. If the Dolphins are turning the team over to Moore, it means they are once again looking for a "franchise" quarterback, and, most likely, a head coach as well. Tannehill and Philbin's careers are interlocked at this point, and if one fails, they likely both fail.
Tannehill has the potential and the "up-side" that the team needs. Now, entering his third season, is when fans, coaches, and the front office need to see that potential turn into execution. Two months after setting a franchise record of 58 sacks allowed, two months after seeing the team miss the playoffs after needing just one win in their final two games, two months after ending a disappointing season, a decision to replace Tannehill would be an absolute knee-jerk reaction to a poor 2013 from the team.
Tannehill will absolutely enter the 2014 season as the team's starting quarterback. Unless things go horribly wrong, he will finish the 2014 season as the team's starting quarterback. "Pushing" him and "demanding more" from him is exactly what the team needs to do to make him better. But, don't read this report as any indcation that the team is ready to move on from their 2012 first round pick.
The Dolphins are Tannehill's team. Exactly like they should be.