I must admit I didn't think it would be a good idea for the Dolphins to start rookie Ryan Tannehill this year -- at least not early in the season -- because I figured David Garrard would be good enough and Tannehill would be better served learning behind a veteran quarterback.
Well, that's not in the cards now.
Garrard is out of the picture. Although coach Joe Philbin refused to acknowlege Garrard is having knee surgery, likely today, the truth is he's out for at least two weeks and probably twice that long. By then, the Dolphins will have named a starting quarterback.
So the competition for the Dolphins starting job is apparently now a two-man race between Tannehill and Matt Moore.
And if the competition will be decided by whomever is playing better, then that answer right now has to be Tannehill. Obviously, that can change. In fact, it can change on an almost daily basis because as Philbin said, the competition was very close before the game was played.
"I don't think it's huge," Philbin said. "I think it's relatively close, probably."
But the Dolphins have had a scrimmage. And then the first preseason game was played ...
And Tannehill played better.
Moore completed 7 of 12 passes for 79 yards with an interception. His rating was 43.4. He didn't get the team in the end zone, which is my ultimate measure of quarterback success. I grant you, Moore faced Tampa Bay's starters in the first quarter. But he also faced the second-team defense and still didn't score.
Tannehill got the Dolphins in the end zone once and obviously that does not count the TD pass that Roberto Wallace dropped. The pace of the game seemed to pick up when Tannehill was in. He didn't throw an interception. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards. And he seemed to have control of the game, changing the play two or three times to get to better plays.
"We had a fast-tempo run play designed into our boundry and they had blitz called and if had he handed the ball off it would have been a minus play -- minus 3, minus 4 yards," Philbin said. "But he made a quick decision, no hesitation, saw it clearly, got the ball out and we got a seven or eight-yard gain. Those are the kind of things we like to see from a rookie quarterback."
Me, too. Those are the kind of things I like from veterans, too.
Moore is capable of making those kind of changes at the line. He is capable of playing well at times. But let's face it, if Tannehill is this close to him now, if he played better than Moore Friday, what is the point of holding Tannehill back?
Play him. Start him!
The Dolphins are clearly not a Super Bowl caliber team. The idea of nursing the psyche of veterans by starting a veteran is not valid as a result. And it really isn't a factor if the rookie is nearly as good now.
Because he's the future. And I'm not talking about the future in a year or two. At this rate, Tannehill might be better than Moore in a couple of months.
Even Moore accepts his competition is supremely talented. "It's evident and very clear he can play .. I know he's good and talented."
So why wait? Play the kid.