There was a graphic on one of the many football shows on one of the many sports networks Monday morning that read “Young Guns” and listed 12 quarterbacks in their first, second or third years with their respective 2013 records.
Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III. Russell Wilson. Cam Newton. Andy Dalton. Colin Kaepernick. Jake Locker. Christian Ponder. Brandon Weeden. Terrelle Pryor. EJ Manuel.
Heck of a group, right? Sure, but someone was missing.
A guy who has got his team off to a blazing 2-0 start to the season. A guy who’s won two road games against overhyped summertime teams. A guy who was a top-10 pick, led his team to seven wins in 16 starts in his rookie year, and a guy who was playing wide receiver for his college team fewer than four years ago.
What’d Ryan Tannehill ever do to the media? For whatever reason, no one is batting an eye at the Dolphins’ second-year quarterback. Where’s the magazine puff piece? Where’s the introspective, fish-eyed lens on his rise to prominence? Keep looking. Dude is boring, I guess. If boring equals wins, I’d take him as my franchise quarterback.
Last week, Tannehill went into Indianapolis, where the Dolphins were heavy underdogs, and outplayed Andrew Luck in a Miami win. The Dolphins are now 2-0, looking better than the Patriots, and Tannehill is in the top 15 of passing yards, QB rating and completion percentage.
Both wins have come on the road against AFC opponents. Tannehill goes up against the Atlanta Falcons in Miami this Sunday. Steven Jackson’s out, Roddy White’s playing hurt, and there are a million other reasons other than Ryan Tannehill that will be used if the Dolphins win the game. He’s used to it, I’m sure.
These are the guys I gravitate toward. The ones who don’t do seven magazine covers in an off-season. The ones who don’t do the Super Bowl Radio Row rounds four times in one week to promote multiple endorsement deals.
Is Ryan Tannehill worthy of making a Top 12 list of young quarterbacks? I’d say so. If he keeps winning, he may need to be included, moving forward.
This Week’s Peter Schrager Podcast
We had two great guests on this week. Jeff Pearlman, the author of several New York Times’ Bestsellers, including the popular “Sweetness” and “Boys Will Be Boys,” discussed the complications in writing a “true” sports biography and the media backlash he received for revealing the complete portrait of Walter Payton. Mark Lepselter, Lawrence Taylor’s longtime agent, spoke about the man, myth, and the legend that is “LT,” as well as offered guidance on current players who are looking to get into the post-career media world. Download here.
Cheat Sheet Trivia of the Week: DeAndre Hopkins was the first rookie wide receiver to score a touchdown in overtime since Week 17, 2006. Which receiver caught an overtime touchdown pass that week?
Now, on to the picks.
Last Week: 11-5
Overall Record: 19-13 THURSDAY NIGHT
Kansas City at Philadelphia: Last week at this time, there was talk of Chip Kelly re-inventing the sport of football and the way it’ll be played for the next 40 years. Then the Eagles went out and lost at home to a team that was playing on a short week and at 10 a.m. their local time. Football’s funny that way. I like “Chippah” and his Eagles to bounce back and spoil Andy Reid’s return to Philly. Pick: Eagles 28, Chiefs 23
SUNDAY, EARLY GAMES New York Giants at Carolina: The Giants started the season 0-2 in 2007 and we heard a lot of the same things we’re hearing now. The defense is too porous, the running game is nonexistent and Eli is just careless. That team went on to win Super Bowl XLII. This one? Let’s see if they can beat Carolina in Week 3. I just don’t see Coughlin and Eli losing such a make-or-break game. Those two always seem to find a way. Pick: Giants 24, Panthers 23
Houston at Baltimore: Ray Rice is banged up, Joe Flacco doesn’t have any legitimate number 2, 3, 4 or 5 options and the D is still figuring things out. The Ravens are rare home underdogs in this one, and the Texans have looked the part of a Super Bowl contender through two weeks. But Ray Lewis is being inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor. M&T Bank Stadium could be something special. I don’t question the power of No. 52. Not after last year. Give me the Ravens. Pick: Ravens 20, Texans 17
Detroit at Washington: Is there such a thing as a Must-Win in Week 3? Yes. Since 1993, only three teams have started 0-3 and made the playoffs. The Redskins need this one. RG3 needs this one. Heck, Mike Shanahan needs this one. I just don’t see it happening. Detroit — led by No. 90 in the middle — will dominate the line of scrimmage and Calvin Johnson will wreak havoc on an overmatched ‘Skins defensive backfield. Cue up the volume on any and all Kirk Cousins talk. Pick: Lions 33, Redskins 20
San Diego at Tennessee: The Titans should have gone for two on Sunday. Up 1, they scored a touchdown with less than 5 minutes to go and decided to kick the extra point to extend the lead to 8. On the road, you’ve got to go for the throat! They didn’t, and the Texans found their way back into the game, and ultimately won in overtime. We’ll see what kind of team Tennessee is on Sunday. If they’re for real, they’ll be able to bounce back. At home against a Chargers defense that’s given up 61 points in two weeks, they should. Pick: Titans 24, Chargers 20
Arizona at New Orleans: Two weeks into the season, you can argue no off-season acquisition has made more of an impact across the league than Carson Palmer in Arizona. The quarterback situation in the desert was abysmal last year. Now, this is a team you have to worry about every single week. Drew Brees will get the best of him this weekend, but it will be closer than you think. Saints move to 3-0. Pick: Saints 27, Cardinals 24 Tampa Bay at New England: This game smells fishy to me. No coach knows Bill Belichick better than Greg Schiano, and the Buccaneers have lost their first two games by a combined 3 points. After Josh Freeman slept through a team meeting last week, everyone — I mean EVERYONE — jumped off the Tampa bandwagon they were all riding in August. New England’s offense has looked terrible the first two weeks. Let’s not pretend these are the Patriots of old. Upset special. Give me the Bucs. Pick: Buccaneers 31, Patriots 24 Cleveland at Minnesota: Before we consider the Vikings a team that’s done and ready to be discarded, just realize that they haven’t played a home game yet. The Browns? Yeah, I have no real silver lining for them. Pick: Vikings 31, Browns 13 Green Bay at Cincinnati: My big takeaway from the Bengals’ Monday night win over Pittsburgh? Both teams have serious problems on the offensive end. Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert — the Bengals’ first two picks of the 2013 NFL Draft — showed flashes, but the Cincinnati offense just doesn’t seem to have the same high octane go-power as the rest of the league’s elite teams. Green Bay is going to put up the points, regardless of who they’re playing. Can Cincinnati keep up? I don’t see it happening, even if the game is in Ohio. Pick: Packers 34, Bengals 23
St. Louis at Dallas: The Rams didn’t beat the Falcons, but they sure beat them up. This is a punishing defense. Going into Dallas and coming out with a win won’t be easy, but this could be the league’s most ruthless defense’s first big coming-out party. On paper, this one screams Cowboys. Give me the Rams. Pick: Rams 27, Cowboys 23
SUNDAY, AFTERNOON GAMES
Atlanta at Miami: Tannehill! I love this Dolphins team as a real sleeping giant. The front seven is among the very best in the league, and the receiving tandem of Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline is sneaky good. Look, no one wants to believe Jeff Ireland’s built a winner, that Ryan Tannehill’s the guy, or that this team is ready to compete with the Patriots for the AFC East crown. But that’s OK. They don’t care. Pick: Dolphins 23, Falcons 20
Buffalo at New York Jets: Lost in E.J. Manuel’s last-minute drive on Sunday was a career-best 4.5-sack effort from Mario Williams. Quietly, the Bills defense has put together two stellar efforts to start the season. A name to watch? Rookie Kiko Alonso. The former Oregon Duck has been all over the field the past two Sundays. I like Buffalo to get the road win in New York, a place they were embarrassed a season ago. Pick: Bills 28, Jets 13
Jacksonville at Seattle: Johnny Football or Teddy Bridgewater? Start the discussions now, Jags fans. Pick: Seahawks 31, Jaguars 17
Indianapolis at San Francisco: In addition to Luck-Kaepernick, you have the under-reported storyline of Luck and Pep Hamilton going back to Northern California where they both honed their skills in the college ranks. I like Indy, but I just don’t think they’re up to the task of beating San Francisco at Candlestick. San Francisco was embarrassed last week on national television. They won’t lay another egg. Pick: 49ers 34, Colts 24 SUNDAY NIGHT
Chicago at Pittsburgh: Is it time to hit the panic button in Pittsburgh? Yes it is. The once mighty Steelers have been beaten up on both sides of the ball by both the Titans and Bengals in two weeks of action. Chicago should do the same. Of all the things that have transpired in the past 24 months, the Steelers showing Bruce Arians the door two years ago is one of the craziest of all. This could be a very long year, Steelers Nation. Pick: Bears 27, Steelers 20
Oakland at Denver: The scariest thing about the Broncos’ red-hot start to the season is that they haven’t looked remotely close to any good in the first half of either of their wins. What happens when they actually put a complete four quarters together? They might on Monday. Watch out. Pick: Broncos 41, Raiders 20
Cheat Sheet Trivia Answer of the Week: Santonio Holmes, a rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the time, finished the Steelers’ forgettable 8-8 2006 season on a high note with a 67-yard touchdown reception in overtime against the Bengals.