Ryan Tannehill: Week 1 Struggles Show Rookie Is Not Ready for Big Stage

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2012

HOUSTON,TX - SEPTEMBER 09: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins fumbles the snap in the first quarter against the Houston Texans during the season opener at Reliant Stadium on September 9, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin might have made the wrong decision by starting Ryan Tannehill at quarterback in his first career game.

The rookie from Texas A&M was named the Week 1 starter after beating out incumbent starter Matt Moore during the preseason. Veteran David Garrard was also in the mix until he got injured.

Unfortunately, Tannehill struggled in his NFL debut. In a 30-10 defeat to the Houston Texans, the quarterback threw three interceptions and had zero touchdowns. He finished with a respectable 219 passing yards, but it was on 36 attempts in which he only completed 20 of them. His overall quarterback rating was a 39.0.

What made things worse was the fact that he could not get any aspect of the offense going throughout the game. The unit managed a field goal in the first quarter but were shut out for the rest of the game. A 72-yard punt return by Marcus Thigpen resulted in the only touchdown for Miami.

A poor first game is not uncommon, especially against a Super Bowl contender like the Texans. However, the rookie looked completely overmatched and not ready to lead his team.

Tannehill is hurt by a lack of experience at the position. He was a receiver at Texas A&M until partway through his junior season. When he became a full-time quarterback, he showed great potential with his arm strength and athleticism. However, he also struggled with accuracy at times and showed poor decision-making with 15 interceptions his senior year.

For these reasons, many believed the Dolphins selected the youngster with the No. 8 overall pick of the draft as more of a project. He had talent, but he was too raw to play early in his rookie year if at all.

However, the Miami coaching staff threw him on the field and are forcing him to learn as he goes. This will not only hurt the team as it tries to win games, but it might hurt the quarterback's confidence as well.

If the team turns to Matt Moore, Tannehill can learn on the sidelines while getting limited playing time. Moore performed admirably last season with an 87.1 quarterback rating and a 16-9 touchdown to interception ratio.

Either way, it does not seem like the Dolphins will be competitive in many games this season. At least they can help set up the future by bringing the rookie along slowly.

Tannehill will certainly get other chances to redeem himself. Miami better hope the rest of his career goes more smoothly.