Miami Dolphins

Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler wants to start even when Ryan Tannehill is healthy

Miami Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler wants to be the Fins’ starting quarterback

Miami Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler wants 1st team QB Ryan Tannehill's job, he doesn't want to return to the bench.
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Miami Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler wants 1st team QB Ryan Tannehill's job, he doesn't want to return to the bench.

No one believes in Brock Osweiler more than Brock Osweiler.

So when he said this on Wednesday, it was completely in character:

“Every single week, in my eyes, is the Super Bowl. Every single week is the biggest game out there because this sport is so special and you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity. So when you do get the opportunity, shoot, I play every single play like it’s my last. I put laser focus on every single play, and I’m playing as hard as I possibly can so hopefully I never have to go back to the bench.”

Here’s the truth: Every player in the NFL believes that.

It’s just that very few backup quarterbacks say it, particularly one who is backing up an injured starter who is the highest paid player on the team.

Yet Osweiler on Wednesday provided an awesome moment of honesty.

And one that Ryan Tannehill will surely hear about at some point. (We imagine that talk radio will have a field day with that sound bite in the days to come.)

But Tannehill has more immediate concerns. He can’t win the job back from Osweiler if he doesn’t get healthy — and he is not that yet, Adam Gase made clear Wednesday.

Gase ruled Tannehill out for the fourth consecutive week, and there’s a growing likelihood that Tannehill will not play before the bye. The Dolphins host the Jets and travel to the Packers in the next two weeks, and then get their week off.

That could be the target date for Tannehill’s return — assuming the strength in his throwing shoulder returns by then.

Tannehill has resumed throwing a football with trainers in recent days, but did not attempt a pass during the 15-minute practice period available to reporters.

“Some days it feels a lot better and some days he doesn’t feel as good. Just keep working through it,” Gase said. “Keep working with the doctors, see if he can do anything else, maybe more than what he’s doing or he may need to do less. We’ve just got to keep going through this process.”

Gase reiterated Wednesday that doctors do not believe surgery is necessary, adding it’s a “rest-type thing.”

But as Tannehill slowly gets healthy, Osweiler has quietly rehabilitated his reputation.

His season stats are nearly identical to Tannehill’s. They have averaged essentially the same number of yards per pass (Osweiler leads 7.6-7.5), have similar completion percentages (65.9 to 64.1, with the edge going to Tannehill) and passer ratings (93.8 for Osweiler, 92.9 for Tannehill).

So Osweiler has a great argument to remain on the field, even when strength returns to Tannehill’s shoulder.

“I think your mentality in this league is when you get your opportunity to play, you never give that guy his job back,” Osweiler said. “That has to be your mentality, and if that’s not your mentality, then you’re just in the wrong business. And that’s nothing personal against anybody. But if you don’t have that competitive spirit, this isn’t the league for you.”

And if he continues playing as he has the last three weeks, the Dolphins will have to make an uncomfortable decision — both in the short and long terms. Gase has already committed to Tannehill being the starter once healthy, but life has a way of changing the best-laid plans.

Plus Osweiler is the infinitely better value. Tannehill’s 2018 cost against the cap is $21.3 million; Osweiler’s is just $720,000.

And the Dolphins’ commitment to Tannehill spikes even higher in 2019, assuming he’s still on the team. Granted, Osweiler can expect a pay raise next year too, should he continue to play well.

Whether it’s one more game or the rest the season, Osweiler knows his time on the field is an audition, both for the Dolphins and the rest of the league.

“You’re always trying to put your best foot forward,” he said. “You’re always going out there, every time you’re on the field, to have success and to help your football team win a football game. You’re never going out there to lose a football or not be successful.

“To go out there and doing some positive things right now, yeah, absolutely it feels good.”

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