Why Ryan Tannehill Shouldn't See the Field Until 2014
It's a strange analogy, I know, but bear with me.
Tannehill is the emblem of hope; the light at the end of a cold, dark tunnel this franchise has toiled in for the last decade. The Dolphins must coddle him, nurture him and groom him until he's prepared to spread his wings (pardon the corny cliche) and enter the real world.
There is insurmountable pressure on Tannehill to become a franchise quarterback. I would even argue that no single draftee in the team's 46-year history faced as much pressure as Tannehill will once he inherits the starting job.
If he fails, then Stephen Ross will have no choice but to purge his front office. The coaching staff probably wouldn't survive either. The Dolphins would be set back for another three to four years, fans might actually burn down team facilities and the organization's luster would fade beyond recognition.
Because there's so much riding on Tannehill, is it ludicrous to suggest he shouldn't see the field until 2014?
I don't think so.
For starters, Tannehill isn't polished or battle-tested. He's extraordinarily raw. Just because the Dolphins used a top 10 pick on him does not mean they're going to rush him into the starting job.
We saw how that worked out for John Beck.
Tannehill only started 19 games at Texas A&M, which is remarkably low for a quarterback selected in the first round, let alone the top 10. The only starting quarterbacks with fewer college starts are Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez.
Cassel sat on the Patriots sideline for three seasons before stepping into a starting role, and Sanchez was far more impressive and successful at USC than Tannehill was at Texas A&M.
Tannehill's inexperience also suggests that he may need extra time to develop. Remember, he was playing wide receiver three years ago. He's a freak athlete who might just be scratching the surface of his potential, and it's vital that Miami does not encumber his development by rushing him into action.
Secondly, consider this list: Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick. All six held clipboards for at least two seasons before stepping into starting roles, and all have enjoyed highly successful careers.
Both Rodgers and Rivers, like Tannehill, were first-round draft picks. Given their elite statures, I'd bet both are grateful for their days on the sidelines.
Finally, the Dolphins still have plenty of work to do. The right side of the offensive line is a major question mark as is the safety corps. There's minimal depth at cornerback and wide receiver, and there's no guarantee Daniel Thomas or Lamar Miller will ever pan out.
When should Ryan Tannehill start?
On top of all of this, the Dolphins are in danger of losing some combination of Jake Long, Sean Smith, Randy Starks, Reggie Bush and others to free agency next season.
If this team isn't ready to win next year, then there's no reason to rush.
For the record, I expect to see Tannehill under center in 2013. With a full season under Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman, along with veteran signal-callers Matt Moore and David Garrard, there's no doubt Tannehill could be ready and could be successful.
But I don't want to see another quarterback fail, and the Dolphins certainly don't either.
You wouldn't throw your child into the deep end if he didn't know how to swim (Well, some of you might), so let Ryan Tannehill get his feet wet before pushing him into NFL waters.
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