Ryan Tannehill: QB's Injury Won't Derail Overachieving Dolphins

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28:   Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass as  Bryan Thomas #58 of the New York Jets defends on October 28, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins were considered one of the league's worst teams entering the 2012 season, but an overachieving group, led by rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, has jumped out to a solid 4-3 start.

In Week 9, the Dolphins will take on the Indianapolis Colts with a chance to gain their fifth win of the year, allowing them to remain within striking distance of the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.

According to The Miami Herald (per ESPN), Miami may be without Tannehill after the rookie signal-caller suffered a left knee/quad injury versus the New York Jets last Sunday.

The report notes that an MRI didn't reveal any structural damage, but that "his status for Sunday's game against Indianapolis remains uncertain. The rookie Tannehill could sit out with a bruised quadriceps and...a bone bruise in his left knee."

Injuries like this can be more annoying than anything, but don't expect it to get in Miami's way. Tannehill, despite his steady play behind center, isn't the main reason that Miami has exceeded expectations this season.

Tannehill is completing just over 59 percent of his passes this year, but throwing for 1,472 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions isn't thrilling whatsoever. Obviously, especially for quarterbacks, winning games is what ultimately matters, but that doesn't mean he's the most important part of this team.

Miami still has a solid ground game and run defense to lean on, regardless of Tannehill's presence behind center. Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas will still form a dangerous three-headed monster in the Dolphins' backfield, and the league's third-best run defense isn't going anywhere.

Also, even if Tannehill can't go, backup quarterback Matt Moore has starting experience. He's not a superstar by any means, but I highly doubt teams fear Tannehill much more than they fear the fourth-year Oregon State product.

Moore played well when Tannehill left the game on Sunday after the Dolphins' second possession, completing 11-of-19 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown.

No matter who is behind center for Miami, their only job is to find a way to win. Tannehill hasn't put up gaudy numbers, allowing the Dolphins to take the air out of the ball instead. Playing him before Moore makes sense for the future, but there's not a tremendous difference at this point.

Tannehill may play this week, but he could be sore. If the injury doesn't go away, it shouldn't have a major impact on the Dolphins' season. The team's key producers are still set to go, and a steady defense will give them a chance in many games.

Aside from two matchups with the Patriots and one with the 49ers, Miami could win most of its games to finish the year. Having Tannehill behind center would be preferred, but it's far from a nail in the coffin if he's not.