Mandatory minicamps are important for all 32 teams in the NFL. For some teams, it’s a chance for veterans and their respective coaching staff to get in sync while making decisions on the playbook , their packages, and strategies for the upcoming season. For other teams, it’s a chance to get a head start on who will start Week One at a position up for grabs. In our case, the position up for grabs is the most important one: the QB.
QBs can make or break a team’s season. That is why their battles stir up much controversy, debate, and are scrutinized by almost everyone. Over the course of the next few weeks, Into The Endzone will be giving you an analysis on all the QB battles in the league as of the 2012 season. After receiving the positive reviews on my Jets edition, I was recommended to break down the battle taking place at South Beach (Miami). So without further ado, let us begin.
Watching Miami play last season was painful quite honestly. There were times (mostly near the end of the season) when they seemed like playoff contenders, or at least a few pieces away from being one. For the most of the season however, such aspirations seemed ridiculous and would not happen any time soon. The only thing that could be considered consistent last year was that play on the offensive side of the ball was horrendous.
Good QBs can perform wonders for their respective team. For one, they can make their offense lethal regardless of the available talent. They can also make highly ranked defenses look bad, while hiding the fact their defense is terrible. The only thing a team needs other than a QB to perform well (at least in the regular season) on offense is a good O-line, something the Dolphins do have. That’s the formula for success the Indianapolis Colts had for years. While a team will need more than a QB and an O-line to have success in the playoffs, the formula above shows the impact of what a good QB can do.
Over the years, QB play has been a major weakness for the Dolphins. It saddens me that many talented Dolphin teams went to waste (2009 for instance) due to almost no help at the QB position. It is because of this that many of Miami’s loyalest fans were adamant the team lose its remaining games in order to acquire the No.1 overall pick in the upcoming draft and use it on QB Andrew Luck aka “the next Peyton Manning” (Manning turned a 3-13 organization into a 13-3 team within his first two seasons, and has since then carried his team to the playoffs) . Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view-point), the Dolphins went 6-3 the second half of the season and the” Suck For Luck” campaign was won by the Colts (Manning was injured the entire season).
After missing out on FA QBs such as Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, and Matt Flynn, the team was forced to settle with FA David Garrard and drafting Ryan Tannehill. The team is looking to compete this coming season, but can they first survive a three-way QB battle?
The Starter: Matt Moore
Notice how I wrote the starter as Matt Moore. I was quite tempted to just list Moore as a challenger. The only reason Moore is listed as a starter is because he took over after Henne went down with an injury and Henne left to join the Jaguars. Matt Moore is in fact nothing more than a career backup. He will never be a consistent starter in the NFL. The man couldn’t beat out Jake Delhomme, David Carr, or Chad Henne unless they were placed on the injured reserve. Those guys aren’t exactly household names. I have nothing against Matt Moore, but if he can’t beat out those guys, he shouldn’t even be considered an option as a starter unless there is an injury.
Moore’s got a couple of things going for him. He has experience behind the center in the NFL, and was key in Miami’s 6-3 finish to the season. Moore also had the fifth highest QB rating against the blitz and one of the best deep balls in the league. That’s good and all, but the reason he has been a career backup is because he is inconsistent. While there were days when he has success against the blitz and delivers time after time on the deep ball, there were also plenty of days where the pressure got to him and his deep balls will get away from him, leading to interceptions. Also, competitor David Garrard has more experience and success in the NFL with the arm strength as well.
The only possibilities of Moore getting the job are 1) he performs decently during minicamp, training camp, and preseason and the coaching staff recognizes he quarterbacked the Dolphins team that finished the season with a 6-3 record after the offense start to click. 2) Garrard gets injured and the coaching staff feels Tannehill isn’t ready to play in the NFL just yet.
People will be clamoring for Moore to get the job. His inconsistency is preventing me from doing the same. While is performance last year was pleasant, a new offensive coordinator, new scheme, and no more Brandon Marshall would be difficult for a lot of QBs to adapt. The fact that this guy couldn’t play consistently when he had the same offense and coordinator isn’t helping. To wrap it up, Moore will need to do a lot in order to prove he can be a starting QB.
Challenger #1: David Garrard
Oh how the mighty have fallen. I remember when Garrard had that magical 2007, and his QB rating was fourth best in the league. Despite making the Pro Bowl in 2010 (which isn’t as impressive as it once was but is nevertheless an achievement), his current team, the Jaguars, kicked him to the curb a few months after Blaine Gabbert was drafted. While I am disappointed in the Jaguars for making a dumb decision like that, I can help but think about what Garrard can do for the Dolphins.
For one, he’s the only QB on the depth chart familiar with running the West Coast offense, the new scheme the Dolphins will be running in 2012. He also is consistent, something I have stressed this entire post. Earlier, I said that Garrard had more experience than Moore; I wasn’t kidding. Garrard has been in the league for 10 years, and has thrown for over 16,000 yards and almost 90 TDs in his six years as a starter. He’s guided his team to the playoffs before, and can still make on his feet. Garrard is consistent and has attributes that will hopefully be utilized by the Dolphin.
Challenger #2: Ryan Tannehill
Out of all three QBs, Tannehill has the smallest chance to start. While the team did draft him with the No.8 pick in the recent draft, Tannehill (to put it mildly) is raw. He spent a good deal of time playing WR in highschool before being thrusted into the role of QB. Due to this, he doesn’t even have the same experience as the other QBs in his draft class. The end result is that Tannehill will spend the season learning the intricacies of the West Coast Offense. The thing that makes Tannehill’s status debatable is the Dolphins OC, Mike Sherman, was Tannehill’s HC at Texas A&M. He will know Tannehill’s strengths, weaknesses, and what he already knows. The familiarity could potentially speed up Tannehill’s learning process.
Regardless of how fast Tannehill learns, the skill set is all there. He has a ton of arm strength, along with great pocket awareness. If he breaks his containment, he has enough speed to do damage in the open field and can throw accurately on the run. The intangibles (leadership, work ethic, intelligence, character) are all there as well.
Tannehill is the wildcard in this situation. My best guess is that it will take a year at most before Tannehill fully understands the whole system. It probably will take less time, but I put a year just to be safe.
I really don’t understand the love Moore is getting from some people. I know it’s a what have you done for me lately league (something I have preached time after time) and that Moore is coming off a 6-3 end to the season, but inconsistency throughout his career has to be accounted. With that said, I will give Moore the benefit of the doubt and temporarily put that to the side. He lacks the skill set (or at least to the degree) his competitors have. His season last year also paled in comparison to Garrard’s most recent season as a starter. With that all said, he will be the backup QB for the season due to his experience.
David Garrard is a shell of his former self, but I feel he still has the ability to succeed. The fact that he has significantly more experience in the West Coast Offense will do him wonders. Garrard is only two years removed from his 3,000+ yard season, but I feel he can still touch the 3,000 yard mark if he stays healthy. Rather than join a team last year, Garrard made a smart move and opted to spend the year getting back to being 100% healthy. With him healthy for the first time in a while, except something good. Garrard will be the starter.
Tannehill. The wildcard of this battle.While Tannehill is among the smartest QBs that currently play the position, it isn’t easy to learn how to be an NFL QB. I’m confident that Tannehill will be able to compete next year once he’s mastered the nuances of the game. The Dolphins are trying to find out how to win now, and Tannehill is in no condition to do that just yet. So with that said, Tannehill is the 3rd stringer.
This was a tough battle to write about, as all three QBs had the potential to start. Ultimately I had to go with my gut feel and what I have seen over the years out of each of them. Who knows who will end up being the starter? Any thing can happen between now and Week One. For now, it looks like to me that Garrard will be the man.
That’s it for now. Do you guys agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Want me to write about a specific QB Battle? Don’t hesitate to ask. Please rate the article and follow Shrederdude63 on Twitter here.