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Two Sundays ago, the NFL world was focused on the Miami Dolphins, who out of the blue put forth a dominant second half en route to upsetting the New England Patriots on the league’s opening Sunday.
Two Mondays later, the Dolphins are about ready to make a change at quarterback.
In a press conference Monday, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was noncommittal when asked about Ryan Tannehill‘s job security. Philbin said the decision as to which player will start under center Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders has not yet been made.
“We’ll decide our game plan before we leave to play Oakland,” Philbin said. “We’ll utilize the players the best way we see fit.”
Whether this is a ploy to motivate the third-year quarterback that’s come under scrutiny of late or an actual move to perhaps salvage the Dolphins’ 2014 season — and Philbin’s job — remains to be seen.
Tannehill, a former first-round pick back in 2012 when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the No. 1 and 2 selections, has improved in each of his first two seasons as an NFL starter. Last year, he improved his completion percentage (60.4 percent), touchdowns (24) and interception total (17), while leading Miami to an 8-8 mark.
In the early goings of this season, he’s thrown for 624 yards, four touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions as the Dolphins dropped their second straight game — this time to Kansas City — and could find themselves in the AFC East’s basement pending the outcome of Monday night’s Jets-Bears game.
Behind Tannehill on the depth chart is Matt Moore, a career journeyman who has at times showed glimpses of true potential as a backup in Carolina and with Miami.
In his seven-year career, Moore owns an 11-12 record. After joining the Dolphins in 2011, he started 12 games, going 4-6, and finishing the season with 16 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, completing 60.5 percent of his throws.
Not coincidentally, Miami finished 6-10 that year, and Philbin took over as the head coach that offseason.
So will Philbin, who presumably and rightfully should be on the hot seat in 2014, give up on the former first-round pick and go forward with the career journeyman? Or is it too soon to throw the towel in on Tannehill, who keep in mind is in his first season with a new offensive coordinator, his second in three seasons.
If Philbin decides to bench Tannehill, it’s a true display of desperation. He’s trying to salvage his job by sparking the team with the backup quarterback, who of course is every Dolphins fan’s best friend. If Philbin sticks with his guy, Tannehill, he is putting his foot down, saying that he’ll keep his job so long that his guy performs. Any other move to the contrary is a move he believes will convince the Dolphins’ front office that he can be the head coach next year, but probably with a new face under center.
If it were up to me, and it most certainly is not, I’d lean on Tannehill. He’s entering his third NFL season with a new offensive coordinator, and his two losses have come against pretty solid defenses. A game against Oakland could leave him with a three-touchdown stat line and boost his confidence for Week 5 and beyond.
However, if Tannehill comes up with a stinker against lowly Oakland, then we’re definitely considering riding Moore the rest of the way. That’s for sure.
Week 4 is and should be Tannehill’s last chance. The Dolphins haven’t had many high-stakes contests the past few years, but this one might just fit the bill. Tannehill is playing for his job and perhaps salvaging a career. Let’s see what the kid’s got.
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