3 NFL Coaches Who Will Suffer for Their Starting QB Decision
Football coaches are faced with numerous tough decisions throughout the course of a season.
Who should play where? What scheme fits the personnel? Who matches up best with Player X?
Their list of questions is endless.
But perhaps the most important and influential decision an NFL head coach can make is at football's most important position. Many coaches have the luxury of having an All-World talent at quarterback, so they don't face a difficult decision between two players.
Just ask Mike McCarthy or Bill Belichick.
Let's take a closer look at three NFL coaches who will be scrutinized for their starting quarterback decision.
3. Joe Philbin
Dolphins' QB Depth
1) Matt Moore
2) Ryan Tannehill
3) David Garrard
Who Should Start: Tannehill
Joe Philbin comes to Miami with some vital experience working with perhaps the league's best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. Philbin is a smart, no-nonsense coach, but he's in a tough position in naming his starting quarterback for the 2012 season.
The Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick in this year's draft, far earlier than many believed Tannehill deserved to be drafted.
Nonetheless, the rookie is firmly entrenched in a battle with incumbent Matt Moore to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback.
Moore quietly put together a solid 2011 campaign. After a 0-4 start to the season, he started the final 12 games of the season and led the team to a 6-6 record. Moore's passer rating for the 2011 season was a respectable 87.1, and his 16 touchdown passes far outweighed his nine interceptions.
Despite Moore's success last season, Philbin and the Dolphins would be wise to start Tannehill in 2012.
Regardless of who the starting quarterback is, Miami isn't expected to compete for a playoff spot with either New England or Buffalo. The focus for this season should—and will likely be—on the future.
Tannehill was impressive in his preseason debut, completing 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and compiling a passer rating of 106.6.
Anytime a quarterback battle is as close as the one currently going on in Miami, the coach's decision is open for criticism if the team is losing.
But Philbin knows a good quarterback when he sees one, and Tannehill should be given the keys to the car as a rookie.
2. Mike Mularkey
Jaguars' QB Depth
1) Blaine Gabbert
2) Chad Henne
3) Jordan Palmer
Who Should Start: Gabbert
Gabbert's rookie season was largely unimpressive and—to a certain extent—worrisome to the Jaguars and their fans. So, entering the 2012 offseason, many expected Jacksonville to bring in a proven veteran to push Gabbert for the starting job.
The Jaguars signed Chad Henne in hopes of providing some competition in the starting quarterback battle, but early returns on Henne have been pedestrian even by Gabbert's standards.
At this point in the NFL offseason, it certainly looks like Gabbert is Jacksonville's best option to start. But that doesn't necessarily mean Mularkey's head won't be on a platter at some point in 2012.
In his rookie season, Gabbert consistently displayed "happy feet" in the pocket and a hesitance to get rid of the football. His offensive line was leaky, which flushed Gabbert out of the pocket and forced some poor decisions, but his 50.8 completion percentage and 16 turnovers were disappointing for someone who registered only 12 passing touchdowns as a rookie.
If Gabbert fails to show improvement early this season and the Jaguars continue their losing ways, Mularkey's decision to start him will be put under the microscope.
And with the way Gabbert looked as a rookie, that seems like a distinct possibility.
1. Rex Ryan
Jets' QB Depth
1) Mark Sanchez
2) Tim Tebow
3) Greg McElroy
Who Should Start: Sanchez
Rex Ryan will not suffer for the decision he makes in choosing his starting quarterback—which will be Mark Sanchez—but Ryan will take heat simply because Tim Tebow is behind Sanchez on the depth chart.
When the Broncos emerged victorious in the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, the heavily populated "Tired of Tebow Troop" prayed that Tebow would end up somewhere as a backup. That way—even if it were only temporary—Tebow would be a footnote instead of the headline.
And football fans got their wish. Tebow was traded to a team where he'd be the backup.
But where is Tebow, now the second-team quarterback?
New York. The media capital of the world. Under the often outspoken head coach Rex Ryan.
Tebow's move to New York has resulted in more practice updates than any player in NFL history, and it has given the league its very first introductory press conference for a backup quarterback.
Tebow is a larger-than-life personality, and he gets the headlines, but Sanchez is undoubtedly a better overall quarterback at this point.
However, Sanchez better hope he and his offensive teammates click early and often in 2012, otherwise the Tebowciples will be calling for Ryan's head and for their Messiah to be inserted into the starting lineup.
Given the uncertainty and injuries among the Jets' offense, the outlook for the 2012 season appears cloudy at best. If the Jets are anything short of spectacular to start the season, the nails-on-a-chalkboard chants of "Te-bow" will be amplified across the football world yet again.
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