It’s time to move on from the backup quarterback discussion. At this point, it is a waste of time and energy when we could be talking about something else. Even this column, 611 words deep, spends too much time talking about it.
But, I hope this will show you why we should all move on. That’s because if we are talking about it as a long-term solution at any point in this season, we may as well just start looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s the reality of this situation.
Phinsider Fanatics: “But Matt, what if Brock Osweiler, David Fales or Luke Falk lead the Dolphins to a deep playoff run like Case Keenum did with the Minnesota Vikings and or what if they lead the Dolphins to a Super Bowl victory like Nick Foles did with the Philadelphia Eagles?”
Let’s look at both situations. Keenum played most of the season, but the Vikings are and were built on an elite defense. Keenum had to simply manage the game without losing it for them. While he did show flashes, he has essentially been a backup his entire career. There is a reason for this. There is also a reason why the Vikings let Keenum go and instead chased an outsider, Kirk Cousins.
When the Eagles were 10-2, Nick Foles took over in the third quarter in their December tilt against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles won, 43-35 and clinched the NFC East. They only had to beat the struggling New York Giants in Week 15 and then the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 to clinch the top spot in the NFC. They did, and Foles didn’t play the full game in Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Thus, opponents had very limited film on Foles with the Eagles, and when they got to the Super Bowl, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson added plenty of new wrinkles to keep the New England Patriots off balance. That’s all without even taking the stingy Eagles defense into account.
With that, you’ll see why long-term success in the NFL with a backup quarterback is unlikely. If you are successful, it’s because you have an elite defense that can carry the team. So, if God forbid, Ryan Tannehill goes down with a season-ending injury, the Dolphins season will be lost.
That’s why, at that point, the discussion won’t necessarily be around which backup quarterback can lead Miami to the playoffs. It will be about who the Dolphins can draft in the 2019 draft to replace Tannehill. Hypothetically, with three injuries, the Dolphins would not be able to rely on Tannehill as their franchise quarterback moving forward.
But don’t tell Head Coach Adam Gase that the season would be lost.
“Really, at the end of the day, we talk about that being one of the most important positions in professional football. Our thought process is we’re going to try to develop guys and get them ready to go and if we ever have any situation where we need the next guy to get up, we want to make sure we have the right guy. We’re going to keep working with the two guys we’ve got.”
While the coaches and players won’t give up, the reality of the situation will be staring at all of us in the face. That’s why the Dolphins backup quarterback discussion, when discussed in the context of a long-term situation for this season, is a waste of time. If it’s a situation where you’re talking about it for a few weeks, that is a different story. Long-term? Not worth it.
Unless of course, the Dolphins catch lightning in a bottle.
Matthew Cannata is the host of Phinsider Radio, which you can hear on iTunes and other podcast platforms. During the season, shows will be released after the Dolphins games have concluded and on Wednesday mornings. Follow him on Twitter: @CannataNFL.