Dolphins make statement by starting Tannehill

Dolphins make statement by starting Tannehill

Published Aug. 20, 2012 6:48 p.m. ET

DAVIE, Fla. — Ryan Tannehill isn't appreciably better than Matt Moore. Tannehill isn't appreciably better than David Garrard. That was never a requirement.

Tannehill, the eighth pick of the draft, was named the Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback on Monday because he's just as good as Moore and Garrard. That was the only standard he had to meet, and he slightly exceeded the standard during training camp and two preseason games.

"We didn't hand him anything," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.

This is exciting news for Dolphins fans. It means Miami is slightly ahead of schedule with Tannehill.

It also means Philbin, the first-year coach, has made the second major decision of his time in charge. The first was releasing wide receiver Chad Johnson.

Tannehill is the future, but most thought the plan was to allow Tannehill to sit and learn this season. The thought was to be patient with the young QB. Apparently, Philbin didn't think that way.

"I didn't have a lot of preconceived notions as to who it (the starting quarterback) was going to be," Philbin said.

Most figured veterans Moore and Garrard would outclass the rookie, at least for the first part of the season. If the competition was close, the Dolphins had to go with Tannehill. To do otherwise would make no sense. It would only be deprive the franchise of progress. Most figured Tannehill, a former wide receiver who started at quarterback for two years at Texas A&M, would be lacking a bit. He wasn't lacking at all.

"He's making good decisions," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said Sunday, "and that's the most important thing a quarterback has to have."

Tannehill is 25-of-44 passing (56.8 percent) for 267 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He has an 82.3 rating, which would have ranked 17th in the NFL last season (Moore ranked 12th in 2011 at 87.1).

Moore has been worse this preseason. He's 12-of-27 (44.4 percent) passing for 136 yards, no TDs and one interception.

Garrard was out of the competition because he required knee surgery prior to the preseason opener. He's expected to miss another couple of weeks, and his roster spot might be in jeopardy.

Forget all that garbage about Tannehill not having much help at wide receiver and a suspect offensive line. That'd be the case for any Dolphins quarterback. Throw the kid in there. If his confidence is so fragile it gets shattered by dropped passes and sacks, he isn't your man.

As for what to expect from Tannehill, just know there's going to be a learning curve.

The wide receivers, led by Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee and Brian Hartline, are subpar. The right side of the offensive line, which includes guard Artis Hicks and rookie tackle Jonathan Martin, is suspect. The tight ends, starter Anthony Fasano and reserves Charles Clay and Michael Egnew, haven't shown much. The running backs, led by Reggie Bush, are adequate.

That's about as complimentary as you can be about Tannehill's crew.

Through two preseason games, the Dolphins offense has been terrible, producing just three touchdowns and one field goal. That's not winning football. But that's not totally Tannehill's fault.

Tannehill, through performance and circumstance, has earned the right to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback for the regular-season opener at Houston on Sept. 9. He will be the 17th man to hold that job in the last dozen years.

We'll see how he keeps it, but Philbin made the right call by naming Tannehill the starter.