Less than one hour before the Dolphins began their 2012 preseason, a high-ranking team official was weighing the meaning of quarterback David Garrards injury when he said, Well be fine. We have another guy named Tannehill. Maybe this is our Drew Bledsoe moment.
He was referring to the unexpected injury Bledsoe sustained in 2001 and comparing it to Garrards unexpected knee injury. That Bledsoe injury led the New England Patriots to play Tom Brady.
Well, after Friday nights 20-7 exhibition loss to Tampa Bay, it is clear the Dolphins need the kind of incredible turn of events the Patriots enjoyed over a decade ago when they discovered Brady. Otherwise, things are looking a bit like the past few years again.
The Dolphins, you see, need Ryan Tannehill to become a superstar because they need something that significant to rescue them from their doldrums.
Without that, these Dolphins look more like the team that has struggled to creep above .500 the past three years. Yes, Joe Philbins head-coaching debut got a little brighter when the third- and fourth-team players were in the game in the third and early fourth quarter.
But most of those players will be unemployed or on the bench when the regular season begins.
The players Miami is counting on this season, the starters who performed so well in practice the past couple of weeks, were simply outplayed.
In the first half, Miamis starting offense was shut out while the starting defense yielded two touchdowns one to Tampa Bays starters and the next to a unit comprised largely of backups, including second-string quarterback Dan Orlovsky.
Orlovsky, whose claim to fame is that he was the guy who stepped out of the end zone during that winless year in Detroit, looked like a star against Miamis defense.
He completed all eight of his passes and finished with a 114.1 quarterback rating. (More on that in a moment.)
Dolphins starter Matt Moore, meanwhile, was unspectacular despite the fact that Philbin said he played well. Instead of using the moment to make a statement, Moore left the game with only question marks.
Moore has gotten rave reviews from coaches for his leadership and has a reputation for playing well even when he doesnt practice as well. Except after this game, Moore is now following unspectacular practices with an unspectacular game.
He didnt get the first-team offense on the scoreboard. He didnt get the second-team offense on the scoreboard either. And he threw an interception when a pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and into the arms of Lavonte David. Moore finished with a 43.4 rating, the lowest of Miamis three quarterbacks.
The troubling thing?
Moore was not the only Miami veteran who struggled.
Chad Johnson, Miamis most accomplished wide receiver, dropped the only pass thrown his way. The drop came on a crucial third-down play that would have delivered a first down.
Johnson said later he felt anxious in his Dolphins debut.
Anthony Fasano, Davone Bess and Legedu Naanee were much better with the starting unit, and Charles Clay, Roberto Wallace and Michael Egnew did fine work with the backups.
All things considered, Miamis backups played well enough to suggest that the depth chart needs more scrutiny. All things considered, the greatest disappointment of the evening had to be the play of the defense. The Dolphins defense was so bad that Philbin didnt recognize it.