Joe Flacco comes to town Sunday, giving the Dolphins a close look at the kind of quarterback they hope Ryan Tannehill becomes.
But on paper, the triggerman Ryan Tannehill has actually resembled through 20 NFL games is not Flacco, but Chad Henne.
Skeptical? Check the numbers:
• Tannehill has gone 10-10 and thrown more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (17). He also has fumbled 15 times, losing seven.
• Henne, meanwhile, went 11-9 early in his Dolphins career, throwing 20 touchdowns and 20 picks in that span.
• As for Flacco, his stats are not completely comparable because he appeared in three playoff games as a rookie. But through 20 regular-season games, the Ravens quarterback went 14-6, with 22 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions.
Now, most believe Tannehills upside remains far higher than Hennes ever was. The teams previous 3-0 start would suggest theyre right.
But playing in front of the largest audience in his career nearly 14 million tuned in for Monday nights loss to New Orleans Tannehill raised all the old questions in 60 ugly minutes.
He threw three interceptions. He lost his third fumble of the season. And for the first time this season, he wasnt the best quarterback on the field.
And so, its hard to definitively say that the Dolphins have found their franchise quarterback. But up in Baltimore, they already knew they had their guy at this point in Flaccos career.
We felt like he would be the long-term answer [after 20 starts], Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. But yet, young quarterbacks are always developing. I would say Joe is still developing, too, and hes in his sixth year now.
Of course, not even Super Bowl MVPs are immune to the occasional stinker.
Flacco had his on Sunday, throwing a career-high five interceptions in Baltimores loss to Buffalo.
Its pretty sucky, I guess, Flacco said with a chuckle. People say its the highest number in my career, and I say I hope so.
Of course, when youve won twice as many regular-season games as youve lost in your career, people tend to be more forgiving.
Though Flacco said hes grown more comfortable every year, one of his biggest breakthroughs came between Years One and Two.
Thats why the stakes are so high for Tannehill this year. Quarterbacks are expected to struggle as rookies, and show improvement as sophomores.
Tannehill certainly has done that, with both his completion percentage and quarterback rating improved this year.
But Flacco said Wednesday that stats alone are not a good gauge of a young quarterback.
He explained: When you get back into the film room, is he making the right decisions? Is he going to the right places with the football? Is he getting the offense into the right plays? If hes doing those things, then Id say they have to feel really comfortable with where their progression is and where theyre headed.
To all of those questions, Joe Philbin responded yes on Wednesday. Not even Aaron Rodgers, who he coached in Green Bay, has been completely mistake-free, he inferred.
But Tannehill makes the right reads and throws 95 percent of the time, Philbin said.
If you study quarterbacks over time, theres going to be days when youre not as productive as youd like them to be, Philbin added. That was certainly the case on Monday night.
Hes going to have another opportunity. Its a brand new week of preparation, and Im thinking hes going to play an excellent football game on Sunday.
If so, Tannehill will have a leg up on even Flacco. He threw two picks and lost the 21st start of his career.