Miami Dolphins: 5 Reasons David Garrard Must Start at QB in 2012

Ross Bentley@@imrossbentleySenior Analyst IJuly 2, 2012

Miami Dolphins: 5 Reasons David Garrard Must Start at QB in 2012

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    Going into training camp 2012, the Miami Dolphins look to have a three-way battle brewing between Matt Moore, Ryan Tannehill and David Garrard to determine who the starting quarterback will be.

    However, in my mind, there is only one solution.

    David Garrard must be the starter in 2012 if the Dolphins want to be successful moving forward in a very difficult AFC East. 

    Sure, Moore succeeded towards the end of last season, and Tannehill has the potential to be the Dolphins' franchise QB down the road, but for this season, Garrard provides the attributes the Dolphins need to be successful.

    Here are five reasons why the Dolphins must choose Garrard to be their starter when their regular season kicks off September 9th in Houston

5. Leadership and Experience

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    I put these two attributes together because normally you cannot have one without the other.

    David Garrard possesses both. Garrard, at age 34, is a 10-year veteran in the league. He has started in over 80 professional games and thrown for nearly 90 touchdowns and over 16,000 career passing yards.

    Garrard is also a former Pro Bowler and has accomplishments that neither Tannehill nor Moore can live up to at the NFL level.

    Garrard has also shown that he has what it takes to lead a team into the playoffs. Garrard took the Jaguars to the playoffs in 2005 and 2008, and led his team down the field to beat the Steelers in the 2008 playoffs. 

    Garrard's experience and proven ability to lead is what the Dolphins need, especially with their young receivers. 

    In all of his time in Jacksonville, Garrard was able to be successful without ever having elite wideouts, which will be the case for the Dolphins in 2012.

4. He Knows How to Run the West Coast Offense

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    With new head coach Joe Philbin coming in, the Dolphins are still getting used to running the West Coast offense that Philbin has implemented. 

    Many wondered why Miami decided to bring in Garrard even though that had Moore and drafted Tannehill. When you think about his experience running the West Coast offense, it makes perfect sense.

    Garrard told Vito Stellino of The Florida Times Union that the West Coast offense is a "perfect" fit for him. Garrard excels in getting the ball out quickly and making his progressions on the field early on in the play, so he can get the ball to the right receiver, as you can see diagrammed by B/R columnist Erik Frenz in this piece. 

    Garrard has played in the West Coast offense before, and the learning curve for him coming into this year with Miami is slim to none, making him the smart bet to be the starter come opening week. 

3. He Is 100 Percent Healthy

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    Being released by the Jags last season may look to some like a red flag, but in reality, it could be a blessing in disguise for Garrard.

    Despite garnering interest from the Colts, Dolphins and Raiders during the season, Garrard opted to stay out of football after being released last season. Now it's paying off.

    Garrard took that time to have surgery on a herniated disk in his back so that when he signed with a team in 2012, he would be ready to go.

    Garrard has battled through injuries his entire career, including his much-publicized battle with Crohn's disease, but he has always been tough enough to battle through them.

    Now with his back healed up at 100 percent, Garrard should be in tip-top shape for 2012 with the Dolphins. 

2. He Compares Favorably to Matt Moore

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    Garrard becoming the starter is not just about what he brings to the table—it is also about what his competition is lacking.

    Many Dolphins fans are clamoring for Matt Moore to retain his starting job from last season. Moore went 6-6 as the starter with Miami and threw for 16 TD and only nine INT.

    However, Moore has been inconsistent throughout his career. He was given the opportunity to start in Carolina over three different seasons and never seized the job.

    Moore may have had success last year, but with a new coaching staff in place, a new offense, and no more Brandon Marshall to throw too, Moore's season could very well turn out to be an anomaly. 

    Garrard has done more than piece together just one decent season—he has done it consistently, year after year. Many people forget that in 2010, Garrard's last full season, he had one of his best years in Jacksonville.

    In fact, when you compare Garrard's stats in 2010 to Moore's last season, you will see that the comparison is not that much different.

    Garrard started 14 games in 2010, with 2,734 yards, 23 TD, a 64.5 completion percentage and only 15 INT.

    In 2011, Moore started 12 games, threw for 2,497 yards, had a 60.5 completion percentage and had 16 TD and nine INT.

    Given that their statistics are similar, Garrard's ability to run the West Coast offense, as well as his veteran experience, gives him the edge over Moore. 

1. Ryan Tannehill Is Not Ready

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    Even if Garrard beats out Matt Moore, he will still have to deal with the possibility of Ryan Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft, taking over his starting job going into the season.

    Tannehill has plenty of talent, and it's not hard to see why the Fins opted to go after him early in the draft with the idea that he would be their QB of the future.

    However, this is not a Cam Newton or Sam Bradford-type situation, where Tannehill can come in immediately and make an impact.

    Tannehill is still raw and needs time to understand the Dolphins system. Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post notes Tannehill's "untimely mistakes, particularly when throwing into traffic" as one of the reasons that he is falling behind  in the team's QB battle. 

    The Dolphins understand they simply cannot have turnovers if they want to compete in the AFC East this season.

    The Bills are much-improved and will be in the mix for a playoff spot; the Jets still have a lockdown defense that can win them football games; the Patriots are the defending AFC champions. 

    There is little room for error at the QB position if the Dolphins want to win now.  

    Tannehill may be the answer at this time next year, after he has taken a season to learn the nuances of the NFL game and master the playbook.

    Or, he could come in late next season if the Dolphins find themselves out of the playoff hunt. 

    However, if Miami wants to make a run at a division title, they can't afford to put up with Tannehill's rookie mistakes. Instead, going with the proven and durable David Garrard is the right solution for Joe Philbin and his staff.