Armando Salguero

Starting QB for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday: Derek Carr?

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr would be playing for the Dolphins if Joe Philbin had his way.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr would be playing for the Dolphins if Joe Philbin had his way. AP

Let’s suspend reality for a couple of minutes. Ready?

The Miami Dolphins will host the Oakland Raiders in a Sunday Night Football game beamed across America, and starting at quarterback for the home team will be Derek Carr.

Starting for the Raiders? I don’t know. Some schlub, probably. Not my concern.

The Dolphins, with Carr at quarterback, should be favored in this important meeting of AFC playoff aspirants because the starter is having a very good season. He’s thrown 12 touchdown passes to his six interceptions and has a 90.9 quarterback rating, continuing to show improvement since the Dolphins selected him in the first round of the 2014 draft.

(OK, just so you are aware, I have never smoked, injected, sniffed or swallowed a recreational drug in my entire lifetime. I had knee surgery once and didn’t take the prescribed Vicodin because I was told it could be addictive. So the previous paragraphs don’t come from some wild trip.)

The previous paragraphs could have actually happened. Seriously.

For those who missed it when I shared the news in January of 2016, the Miami Dolphins would have drafted Derek Carr in the first round of the 2014 draft if then-coach Joe Philbin had gotten his way.

This is how I reported it nearly two years ago:

“After the 2013 season, the Dolphins were awash in drama. GM Jeff Ireland and Philbin were not playing nice with each other. Ross was listening to each and deciding how to resolve the rift -- he decided to fire Ireland. And the idea that offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had to go was being debated. And Philbin didn't want Sherman fired.

“So, I am told, as he tried to save his assistant and friend, Philbin blamed the problems of the Dolphins offense on the players in general and Ryan Tannehill in particular. All this was done within the private confines of the team's practice facility while publicly Philbin followed the narrative that Tannehill was improving and simply needed more work.

“In fact, Philbin was not a Tannehill believer as he led everyone to believe.

“It even reached the point Philbin wanted to replace Tannehill.

“Before the 2014 draft, I am told Philbin pushed for the Dolphins to draft another quarterback. And he didn't want to just draft a quarterback sometime during the multi-day event, like in the late rounds. He wanted a quarterback in the first round. The team was locked in on addressing the offensive line to protect Tannehill. The team was focused on Ja'Waun James in the first round.

“Joe Philbin wanted the Dolphins to draft Derek Carr in the first round instead of James.”

Philbin went to then GM Dennis Hickey and let him know he wanted Carr and wanted Hickey to draft him in the first round. And Hickey rightly looked at Philbin like he had a horn protruding from his forehead.

Craziness.

You’ll recall the Dolphins had drafted Tannehill only two years previously. And Philbin had already jumped off the Tannehill bandwagon in that span of time.

So, yeah, if Joe Philbin had gotten his way Dolphins quarterback Derek Carr would be a thing.

Now, let’s analyze this:

Hickey made the absolutely correct call to ignore Philbin at that time. The new GM had a quarterback who had shown improvement from his first year to his second year. But he needed four starting offensive linemen to protect that quarterback.

So Hickey picked James, who remains a starter today at right tackle, and followed that by picking Jarvis Landry, another good player.

But ...

Time does an amazing job of recasting history. And what looked like not only a desperation move by a head coach disloyal to his starting quarterback at the time, it feels way less egregious years later.

Philbin, for all his flaws and failings, saw a franchise type quarterback in his study of the draft. He knew that quarterback would almost definitely be available when the Dolphins were scheduled to pick. And he wanted that player.

And, we have to admit, Carr is pretty good.

“He’s pretty impressive a lot of times in terms of getting the ball out quick,” Dolphins current defensive coordinator Matt Burke said of Carr Thursday. “When you get to third downs, it (usually) changes a little bit (with other quarterbacks) and it doesn’t with him.

“He’s very decisive in seeing coverages and knowing where to go, so the ball is out quick..He throws a nice deep ball. They’re going to take -- I don’t know a number -- probably 10 to 12 shots a game. They put the ball up and can put it downfield.”

So Philbin, at least on this call, wasn’t suggesting the Dolphins pick a dud.

Now, we must address that how we look at this snapshot in Dolphins history has changed once or twice already. And it might change again.

First everyone thought Philbin was nuts. Lately, that lark suggestion might have improved the Dolphins situation longterm.

And going forward it might change again. Perhaps Tannehill, still the Dolphins starter when he returns from his ACL surgery next season, finally gets a chance to play for a coach who believes in him, in a system he knows, and behind an offensive line that the Dolphins will revamp in the offseason.

So perhaps Tannehill will finally have his chance to show all he can do.

Perhaps Carr is what he is, which is a good but not great player who has hit his ceiling.

And perhaps when we look back on this a decade from now, Carr is a full-blown future Hall of Famer and Tannehill burned out after a couple of knee injuries. We have no idea.

But I know is two things: Derek Carr to the Dolphins would have happened if Joe Philbin had his way. And while that was absolutely the wrong approach in 2014, time has given that idea a fresh shine no one could have predicted at the time.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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