Armando Salguero

Dolphins backup QBs not good. Here’s what team will do

Miami Dolphins quarterbacks David Fales (9) and Brock Osweiler (8) during a drill at training camp 2018.
Miami Dolphins quarterbacks David Fales (9) and Brock Osweiler (8) during a drill at training camp 2018. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

On the fifth day of training camp, Miami Dolphins reserve quarterback Brock Osweiler threw his fourth interception. This one was to first-year cornerback Tavese Calhoun and there would have been another had linebacker Terence Garvin not stepped in front of a weak sideline throw and dropped it -- preventing cornerback Cordrea Tankersley, who was waiting for the pass that seemed thrown to him, from intercepting it.

Osweiler had an up-and-down first week of training camp and perhaps that’s being kind because he was terrible the first day and not much better the final day before the Dolphins were given Tuesday off.

(He was solid the second and third day but, sorry, inconsistency at quarterback is not typically considered encouraging).

Osweiler has been working primarily with the third-string offense while David Fales has taken most of his practice repetitions with the second stringers. Bryce Petty, the former New York Jets quarterback, has worked almost exclusively with the fourth stringers.

None of these guys has been great at practice. All have had shining moments. All have made cringe worthy plays, decisions, throws.

It’s not that starter Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have any job security worries. It’s that the Dolphins should have backup quarterback worries.

And yet ...

They don’t.

No one is panicking.

No one is even worried.

I am told by sources familiar with the team’s thinking that the plan to pick either Fales or Osweiler as the team’s backup (Petty is a distant third at this early point) remains unchanged.

Yes, the Dolphins will monitor the waiver wire for a possible veteran quarterback upgrade when teams begin to trim their rosters in September. But the idea that Miami’s 2018 backup quarterback is not yet on the roster is wrong.

That person is likely to be either Fales or Osweiler.

And this is that place in the column where I take a quick pause to bash my head against the nearest wall. Because in my inexpert opinion I don’t agree that either Fales or Osweiler are viable options as starters if Tannehill is unavailable for any length of time in 2018 -- as he was in 2017 and 2016.

The Dolphins, in my opinion, have one chance to be a good team this coming season and that is if Tannehill plays every snap of every game. That gives them a chance.

If Tannehill’s out ... no chance.

And I said this to a team source and his answer was interesting: What team’s season doesn’t go in the tank if they have to play with their backup quarterback?

(Yeah, well, last year Minnesota got in the playoffs with a backup and Philadelphia won the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback but I didn’t argue the broader point that most teams do indeed crash without their starting quarterback driving the show).

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill talks about the fights between the receivers and defensive backs in today's practice. He likes the energy but he doesn't want it to be a distraction.

So, I wonder, what’s the fascination with Fales and Osweiler?

We should start with the idea that they weren’t the first choices. When free agency began, the Dolphins were interested in multiple veteran quarterbacks but every one of those wanted more money than the team was willing to offer.

We’re talking backups wanting $3-$5 million for one year.

The Dolphins got Fales for a $720,000 cap charge if he makes the team. Osweiler, who in 2016 signed a $72 million deal with Houston and collected over $36 million of that from the Texans and Browns, would also cost the Dolphins $720,000 on the cap if he makes the team.

So the Dolphins got both of these guys at a relative bargain.

Of course, the first week of camp has suggested Miami is getting exactly what it paid for. But the Dolphins don’t agree with that stupid Mando attempt at making a joke. They seriously believe their evaluation of both players makes putting them in position to backup up Tannehill the right call.

And it remains the right call, the first week notwithstanding.

So why?

Well, let’s start with current No. 2 David Fales. I explained to you way back in May why the Dolphins might give Fales a chance at the backup job.

Beyond the reasons I outlined in that awesome piece of writing I can add that Adam Gase left the 2017 season finale, in which Fales got his big opportunity to prove himself, with a very positive impression of the quarterback.

I’m told the head coach felt comfortable calling plays for Fales. I’m told he quickly developed trust in Fales and that Fales was excellent making all the checks and reads and the other quarterbacky things Gase loves.

In short, Fales connected with Gase, the offensive coordinator and play caller.

And so here he is.

Osweiler is on the Dolphins because Gase and his staff watched the tape of the player, much of it from the ‘16 season in Houston, and saw extenuating circumstances why Osweiler bombed out.

Osweiler threw 15 TD passes and 16 interceptions but the Dolphins believed several of those picks were not necessarily the quarterback’s fault. They also point to the fact Osweiler led the Texans to an 8-6 record in his 14 starts and the team made the playoffs.

So the Texans watched Osweiler and saw failure as a starter. The Dolphins watched Osweiler and saw possibilities as a backup.

That brings me to the obvious question:

Why not Matt Moore? Isn’t he better than Fales or Osweiler?

Moore knows the Dolphins offense after seven seasons with the team, the last two under Gase. He’s also available.

Well, you’ll recall I told you in January that Moore and the Dolphins were headed for a divorce and I explained why. Yeah, occasionally you learn stuff here.

Seems there is another reason Moore, 34 years old next week, isn’t an option: The Dolphins think he can’t stay healthy enough to help them.

The truth is Moore asked for a day of rest the morning before Ryan Tannehill blew out his knee in last year’s training camp. Just a handful of practices into camp and Moore’s arm was tired.

Moore struggled in his two starts a year ago. He threw four TDs and five interceptions, took a dozen sacks, and lost both games. Obviously, it wasn’t all Moore’s fault, but the Dolphins have seen enough.

So where does that leave Miami after neither David Fales nor Brock Osweiler failed to light it up the first week of training camp?

It leaves the Dolphins with David Fales and Brock Osweiler.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero
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