Ryan Tannehill to Start for Miami Dolphins Against Carolina Panthers Tonight
Legendary broadcaster Dick Stockton just said on 790 The Ticket that Ryan Tannehill is starting for the Miami Dolphins tonight.
— Marc Hochman (@MarcHochman) August 17, 2012
This only confirms what we already suspected would happen. After Tannehill's impressive debut last week, speculation ran rampant that he may supplant Matt Moore on the depth chart for tonight's game.
However, this shouldn't necessarily be construed as Tannehill surpassing Moore, but rather a chance to see if the eighth overall pick is in fact ready to handle a first-team defense.
Last week, Tannehill completed 14-of-21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay's second- and third-team units. He looked calm, cool and collected in the pocket, showcasing a command of the offense.
But, can he do the same against a starting unit?
That's the question Joe Philbin needs answers to tonight.
Fortunately for Tannehill, Carolina's defense isn't particularly good.
It ranked 24th against the pass and 25th against the run last season. Names such as Chris Gamble, Captain Munnerlyn, Sherrod Martin and Haruki Nakamura will trot out with the first-team secondary. So even though Tannehill may miss Chad Johnson, his other targets—Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee, Roberto Wallace, Charles Clay—shouldn't have any issues getting open against a subpar secondary.
Although Tannehill's stats were impressive last week, he still made your typical rookie mistakes—forcing passes, locking in and staring down wide receivers and throwing off of his back foot.
That being said, he also showcased a command of the offense, a beautiful touch, a powerful zip and a quick, fluid release.
If Tannehill plays well tonight, then his chances of entering the regular season as Miami's starting QB will skyrocket (though David Garrard's recovery will factor in as well). But, in order to do so, he'll need to avoid those aforementioned rookie mistakes and to play like a veteran.
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