Ryan Tannehills conspicuous absence was the news of the day as the Dolphins set sail on their 47th year with the start of preseason training camp on Friday. That was bad enough. Your No. 1 draft pick needs to be at work from Day One, especially if hes a quarterback trying to absorb waves of new information and be seen as a team leader all at once. But why Tannehill wasnt there was worse.
He turned 24 on Friday, but he didnt get his birthday off. His absence as one of the NFLs last three unsigned first-round draft picks arose from some serious mixed signals from the Dolphins, who say all the right things about this kid being a franchise player and future star but havent shown all that much confidence in him with their actions.
The contractual snag essentially was that Miami wanted to limit the guaranteed money Tannehill was owed in the event he was waived cut prior to his four-year contract expiring. Hmm. Strange. One side of the management mouth is telling Tannehill hes The Man, the future, while the other side of the management mouth is telling Tannehill theyre worried enough about him being a bust to try to cover their financial tail in the event he is.
Here is another way the Dolphins are inviting fans to wonder how confident the team is in Tannehill:
Why isnt he being looked to as the starter right away?
He should be (assuming he reports to camp any time soon), if he is as talented as his being drafted eighth overall indicates. If he is an elite quarterback in the making.
Miami needs to give Tannehill his guaranteed money and then hand him the football or at least a fair opportunity to win the job. Hey, if youre in, go all in. If you say this kid is the future, fast track that future by starting it now. Let the learning curve begin, on the job, under fire, so Tannehill will get to where hes going quicker.
Hes the chosen one, the golden child, The Franchise, cornerback Sean Smith called Tannehill on Friday. The first time I get one of his passes [with a practice interception], I might have him sign the ball.
Rookie QBs do start in the NFL. It isnt against the rules. And Miami is the perfect situation for a rookie to take over, especially because Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehills college coach.
If this were an expected playoff team with a premier sitting quarterback say the Patriots with Tom Brady naturally the rookie would be in sit-and-learn mode.
But this isnt New England, and the veterans dueling for the starting job here are not Brady, they are the nothing-special duo of soft incumbent Matt Moore and journeyman import David Garrard.
This is closer to the situation last year in Cincinnati, where Andy Dalton (a second-round pick) started as a rookie and played well. (Some said he wasnt ready, either).
At the very least I hope Miamis is a bona fide three-way competition. I hope I can believe new coach Joe Philbin when Friday he said, Ive read these reports about hes ahead, hes behind, hes not ready thats all news to me.
Who puts Miami in a better position to win right now should not be the priority here, not with a team whose Las Vegas betting over/under is seven wins. It would be better and in the long run smarter to win six games this season with Tannehill, as he banked that essential experience, than to win, say, eight games with Garrard or Moore.