SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
This will end up among the most telling quotes of Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland’s tenure, and the reason he felt no urgency to move up in the 2012 NFL Draft:
“If we had 8 to 10 more games of film to watch Ryan Tannehill play that position,” Ireland said before selecting Tannehill eighth overall, “I think we’re looking at him in the same breath as Robert Griffin and maybe Andrew Luck. I think he’s got that kind of ability and arm talent.”
Fast forward 17 months, as Tannehill and Luck square off Sunday for the second time. Predictably, Luck has been the better quarterback, with his resume already featuring eight game-winning drives and five fourth-quarter comebacks. Conversely, Tannehill has one of each, last November against Seattle.
So through 17 games for both, how do their bodies of work compare? We picked nine other categories --- aside from the critical game-winning drive statistic. How they stack up head-to-head so far:
### Accuracy. Edge: Tannehill, at least statistically. He has a 58.6 career completion percentage, topping Luck's 54.9. And Luck’s 7.0 average per completion is barely above Tannehill’s 6.8.
### Touchdowns. Edge: Luck, 25 to 13.
### Interceptions. Edge: Tannehill. Luck has thrown four more (18 to 14) but also has attempted 128 more passes.
### Quarterback rating. Edge: Luck, but it’s close --- 78.3 to 76.5. Luck has thrown for a whopping 986 more yards.
### Deep balls. Edge: Even. Tannehill has completed 38.1 percent of passes thrown 20 yards or more (to Luck’s 34.6), and for a slightly longer average (33.6 yards to 31.8). But Luck has completed 35 of those deep balls, Tannehill 21.
### Fourth quarter, close games. Edge: Luck. With a margin of seven points or fewer, Luck has completed 58 percent of his fourth-quarter passes (compared to Tannehill’s 50), has a higher rating (91 to 75) and more touchdowns, four to two.
### Under heavy pass rush. Edge: Tannehill -- Pro Football Focus said he had the NFL’s second-best accuracy last season when under pressure – behind only Griffin and well ahead of Luck, who ranked 23rd. But Tannehill was 3 for 9 when pressured last Sunday, Luck 2 for 4.
### Third down. Edge: Luck. Tannehill was the NFL’s worst in that category in 2012, with a 65.3 rating. Luck was only 22nd, at 75.5. But Tannehill excelled on third down against Cleveland: 9 for 13, 82 yards.
### Rushing. Edge: Luck. Tannehill has 214 yards and a 4.0 average, Luck 293 yards, 4.3. Tannehill has nine fumbles, Luck 10.
NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci insists Tannehill “belongs in the grouping of the top three” 2012 rookie quarterbacks – Luck, Griffin and Russell Wilson, though many would disagree.
Could Tannehill possibly end up nearly as good as Luck? NFL Network’s Mike Mayock doubts it.
“Luck is in a locker-room by himself,” Mayock said. “But Tannehill’s got an extremely high ceiling. I like the way he pushes the ball down the field. I’m a Tannehill fan.”
ESPN’s Cris Carter might the most effusive: “Tannehill is going to be a special player. He has the ‘it’ factor. You can’t win without one of those dudes. When the ball comes out of his hands, it comes out special. He throws the ball exceptionally on the move. Phenomenal athlete for a quarterback.”
CBS’ Phil Simms said he and Boomer Esiason “would have jumped for joy if we had rookie years like Tannehill did.”
Former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, now with NBC, said by phone last week: “Tannehill is progressing relatively quickly. Do I think he can start on a team that can go to the playoffs? Yes. Can he carry his team? I don’t know if he can or not.”
There are still some frustrating moments: the over-throw and under-throw on deep balls to Mike Wallace last week, the erratic ball location at times. But there are many encouraging signs, too: the pinpoint TD strike to Brian Hartline, the deftly-handled fourth quarter drive in Cleveland and the relative lack of bad decisions. And if Tannehill ends up even nearly as good as everyone believes Luck will be, the Dolphins will be thrilled.
### There’s a lot to admire about how Cameron Wake has transformed himself into an elite player, but his discipline with his diet is especially impressive.
He said Friday he has not consumed any alcohol or a single piece of fried food or even a taste of candy or ice cream since he left Penn State in 2005. That's more than eight years devoid of dietary decadance.
So, Cam, you haven't made even a single trip to a fast food restaurant since leaving college? Not one, he says. The worst thing he'll eat is a piece of bacon once every two weeks or so.
Teammates kid him by giving him “shots” of water, and rookies bring him a bag of grapes every day.
“Nutrition translates to performance, and [not eating] two cheeseburgers – for the edge it gives you, it’s worth it. I can eat cheeseburgers for 15 years [in retirement]. The difference if I ate crap could be just one inch.” But he's convinced it makes some difference, not only in how he plays but also how quickly he heals from minor injuries.
Wake managed to add eight pounds this offseason by eating a ton of chicken, fish, salads, vegetables, fruits and egg whites (more than a dozen as part of spring breakfasts).
Wake said his diet habits have “rubbed off” on Paul Soliai and Derrick Shelby, and he good-naturedly tells less health-conscious teammates: “See, if you had that salad, you would have made that play!”
### Amid some people questioning offensive coordinator Mike Sherman for not getting Mike Wallace more involved early in last Sunday's game, keep in mind that Dolphins players respect Sherman and his ability as a play-caller, but some players thought last season that he stuck too long with plays that weren’t working.
### The Colts downgraded starting tight end Dwayne Allen from questionable to doubtful, which is notable because of the Dolphins' difficulty stopping quality tight ends. Allen, beginning his second season, had a career-high 75 receiving yards in a game against the Dolphins last season.
### The Heat initially balked when Michael Beasley’s agent called to say Beasley would like to play here. But Pat Riley re-considered, and the concerns of Riley and Erik Spoelstra were eased when they met with him last week. Look for Alonzo Mourning to be closely involved in his mentoring.
### Beasley's addition has been well-received by players so far. “Well, well, well, the homie is back,” Mario Chalmers tweeted last week. “I want every Heat fan to welcome back my brotha.” Chalmers and Beasley were tight, and Chalmers has behaved more maturely since Beasley left.
Dwyane Wade considers Beasley "an unbelievable talent" with "potential to be a great player" and tweeted: "Welcome home Beas. We got your back."
Some Heat people who know Beasley well believe he's a good guy at heart -- albeit immature. Udonis Haslem was impressed when Beasley showed up at the 2010 funeral for Haslem’s mother, even though Beasley had been traded to Minnesota earlier that offseason.
### Riley, Spoelstra, owner Micky Arison and several players were among a significant Heat contigent expected at LeBron James’ wedding in San Diego on Saturday, with the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony and Clippers' Chris Paul among others receiving invites. "What a beautiful wedding," Arison tweeted afterward.
Wade tweeted that he got a flat tire on his drive there. A dancing Riley, Spoelstra and LeBron were among those who attended Haslem's wedding in Palm Beach last month.
### The Marlins have told people they are very interested in first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu, 26, the Cuban defector who hit .374 with 35 homers in 71 games in 2012, and .382 with 13 homers in 42 games this season.
But teams aren’t allowed to make offers yet and the Marlins know they easily could be outbid by a big-market club, with the Giants and Red Sox among those interested. The biggest contract for a Cuban defector was the Dodgers’ seven-year, $42 million deal with Yasiel Puig; many expect Abreu’s to top that.
### Even though elite football/basketball recruit Derrick Griffin, now reportedly in prep school, said he plans to enroll at UM in December and immediately play basketball, UM tells us he will not be eligible to play in basketball games this season, per NCAA rules.
### Quick quiz: Of the 10 or so UM players who have left the program since the end of last season, which one departed to pursue a music career?
Answer: running back Danny Dillard, who never ran with the power or force UM expected for a player his size.... By the way, receiver Jontavious Carter --- thrown off the UM team --- has surfaced at Bethune-Cookman and is already playing.
### UM feels very good about its post-Stephen Morris future at quarterback, with freshman Kevin Olsen making a good early impression (he's likely to redshirt) and oral commitment Brad Kaaya (rivals.com's No. 8 quarterback prospect in the country) thriving at his West Hills, Cal. high school, including TD throws of 75, 75, 33 and 81 yards on Thursday night.
UM's other oral commitment, three-star Mobile, Ala.-based Malik Rosier, also is off to a good start this season. By the way, Kaaya is 6-4, Olsen 6-3, Rosier 6-2. Offensive coordinator James Coley said he prefers taller quarterbacks.
UM wasn't surprised Hialeah's Alin Edouard de-committed. UM expected he would when it became clear to him that the Hurricanes weren't especially interested. His biggest advocate at UM during his recruitment was Mario Cristobal, who since left for Alabama.