“After a through evaluation of the quarterback position we have come to the decision that
It came down to a battle between Tannehill and veteran incumbent starter
Philbin had made it clear from the beginning that this was going to be an open competition and stuck to his guns, even when veteran
“As I’ve said many times in this room they’re very, very professional, both of them,” said Philbin, who is in his first year as a head coach. “It was tight and I have tremendous regard for Matt as a football player and as a member of the Miami Dolphins. He’s a true professional and you feel for guys because they compete and come to work everyday and they want to start. (Ryan’s) excited obviously and this is the best decision that we could make at the present time.”
Having that chance to start the second preseason game and experience going against Carolina’s first-team defense definitely paid dividends for Tannehill. He ran a lot of no-huddle and was able to make corrections at the line of scrimmage, showing his decisiveness and poise.
Three days later, after getting a chance to reflect on the experience and look at film of his performance, Tannehill expressed confidence that he grew a lot as a quarterback and clearly it strengthened his position.
“I think it helped a lot and I think we learned a lot as an offense,” said Tannehill, who finished 11-of-23 for 100 yards in the 23-17 loss. “We can’t start a game like that. We’ve got to come out and move the ball early, especially when the opposing offense is moving the ball and putting points on the board. We have to counter that and come out and respond, so I learned a lot and we’ve just got to get first downs, move the ball and get points on the board.”
Now the Dolphins can finish their preparation for Friday night’s third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium. This is the first time Philbin is game planning in earnest for a preseason opponent and confirmed on Sunday that this week was being treated like a regular-season game week.
Between Tannehill’s performance throughout training camp and in the first two preseason games on the field and the way he looked on film to the coaching staff, Philbin felt he had enough information to feel comfortable with his decision. There was a visible upside to what Tannehill brings to the offense.
“We think he’s very poised, we think he’s a mature individual and we don’t think it’s too big for him,” Philbin said. “We think he has a good grasp of the concepts that we’re utilizing on offense, both in the run game and the pass game. There are some good pictures of films in the two games that he’s played where we’ve been off to the side and he’s redirecting guys and getting people in the right spots. We think he has a chance to be an accurate passer in this league, he has good mobility, he throws the ball well on the move, so I think he has a chance to be a very good player.”
Some of Tannehill’s teammates on the first unit echoed Philbin’s analysis of the rookie and his potential after seeing how he handled himself in a hostile environment against the Panthers. He did not turn the ball over and he engineered a 15-play, 71-yard scoring drive.
“He sounded like an NFL quarterback,” second-year center
Fifth-year wide receiver
“I think he looked great. He looked really comfortable out there and I know he was excited about the first start and I was excited for him,” Fuller said. “He came out and I think he executed his game plan well.”
Obviously, Sherman’s opinion was factored in heavily to the final destination and when he addressed the media Sunday he gave a pretty telling evaluation of Tannehill.
“He’s making good decisions and that’s the most important thing a quarterback has to have,” Sherman said. “He has the talent to make the throws and he’s making good decisions. … I think he’s very much acclimated himself to the speed of the game at this point, and I don’t think that’s an issue.”
So Tannehill, who wears the number 17, will be the 17th different starting quarterback for the Dolphins since Marino retired following the 1999 season.