The success of NFL quarterbacks is nearly impossible to predict. If you are looking for this article to take the stance that either Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill should absolutely be the starter, you will be disappointed.
The pressures that a quarterback faces are immense, especially for those taken in the first round. Some are able to come in and handle them right away, while others crumble and never recover.
Carson Palmer did not throw a pass in his entire rookie season and turned out to be a great NFL starter. Peyton Manning started all sixteen games as a rookie and will be enshrined in Canton after he retires. Other quarterbacks, like Peyton's little brother Eli, start halfway through their first season. There are successes and busts at every philosophy for handling a rookie.
The bottom line is that the coaches need to be sensitive to the rookie himself, as well as to the dynamic of the position battle. How is it going to affect the team? What is the ceiling of the veteran? And most importantly, at the end of the day, who is the better quarterback?
Many people point to David Carr as a reason to not start a rookie quarterback. He was sacked 76 times in his rookie season, and never amounted to anything in the NFL. There are no other cases like his, however, and one must remember that Carr was on an expansion Houston Texans team that had almost no other talent for him to work with.
People also point to Aaron Rodgers as a reason to not start a rookie quarterback. Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre and did not start an NFL game until his fourth season. Rodgers has now won an MVP and a Super Bowl, but like Carr, his case is unique to him. There is no evidence that sitting a quarterback for a few seasons will ensure he develops into a star.
In recent years, teams have been starting their quarterbacks earlier and earlier. Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert all saw significant action in their rookie seasons. Many of them were very successful, and seem to have bright careers ahead of them.
So should it be Moore or Tannehill? To me, we are just going to have to trust Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman. It is no easy task, because their decision will make or break the future of the organization.
By knowing most of the playbook from his college days, Tannehill definitely has a big advantage. Tannehill is also very mature by all reports, and other rookies praised him on his leadership during rookie camps. Last season, however, Moore showed that he too is deserving of being a starter. Winning six games when many thought he would not win any left a lasting impression on Miami's fans.
I hope that Philbin and Sherman make the right decision. As long as its not David Garrard, who is 6'1", 34 years old, coming off back surgery, looking a bit pudgy and was cut by the awful Jacksonville Jaguars, I'll be happy.