Ryan Tannehill: What Rookie's Impressive Debut Means for Dolphins QB Battle

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIAugust 10, 2012

DAVIE, FL - MAY 4: Ryan Tannehill #17 takes a snap from Terrence Brown #60 of the Miami Dolphins during the rookie minicamp on May 4, 2012 at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

With ESPN's Chris Mortensen reporting David Garrard's knee surgery is set to take place, rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has moved one more step up the ladder to a starting job for the Miami Dolphins.

Tannehill responded to the news with a solid preseason debut against the Buccaneers, but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill as they say.

While these coming stats need to be taken with a big grain of preseason salt, Tannehill performed well in his first NFL exhibition game. The former Texas A&M player completed 14 of his 21 passes, good for 167 yards and one touchdown on the night against Tampa Bay.

Tannehill's main quarterback competition, Matt Moore, did not look as great. Though Moore did complete over half his throws, he did throw an interception.

With the preseason game recapped, it's time to come back to reality. Moore is a veteran quarterback who has been with Miami longer than one NFL offseason, which is more than his counterpart can say.

As Bleacher Report AFC East Lead Blogger Erik Frenz wrote after news of Garrard's injury broke, Moore was ahead of Tannehill on the depth chart beforehand and likely will remain ahead of him.

The former Carolina Panther posted a career-best season for Miami last year, with 16 touchdowns, almost 2,500 yards and albeit nine interceptions.

While it's not the most staggering numbers ever put up by a Miami quarterback, Moore did better than Chad Henne ever did while with the Dolphins.

Moore did fine for this team last year, and considering the Dolphins are very much still rebuilding, having Tannehill learn from a veteran and get a year in the NFL under his belt wouldn't be a bad idea.

That doesn't mean the rookie still can't earn the job, however. New Miami head coach Joe Philbin was on the Green Bay coaching staff when they elected to choose Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback over a semi-retired Brett Favre in 2007.

That little factoid goes to show Philbin doesn't have any problem starting an unproven, young quarterback over a veteran, which bodes well for Tannehill heading toward September.

If Tannehill continues to show up Moore during preseason outings and training camp practices, Philbin won't hesitate to roll into the regular season with his rookie quarterback starting under center.