This was the night the Miami Dolphins found a backup quarterback.
At least that’s how this preseason finale that didn’t otherwise see one starter or significant backup play a snap was billed. And if you’re believing everything the Dolphins have been saying about the backup quarterback job then ...
...That backup quarterback has been on their roster all along -- which coach Adam Gase has repeated multiple times.
...The competition between Brock Osweiler and David Fales came go down to this final preseason game.
...And whoever played best would be Ryan Tannehill’s backup.
So it seems reasonable to believe Brock Osweiler is going to be the new Dolphins backup quarterback. It has to be his job.
Oweiler had the better game Thursday night. He started and got the Dolphins in the end zone the first time they had the ball. And the second time they had the ball. And the fourth time they had the ball.
The Dolphins scored 21 points in the first quarter and Osweiler played a role in every score. Osweiler also led a third quarter touchdown drive.
Osweiler completed 11 of 14 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in the first half. His quarterback rating was 121.7. It was the most impressive a Dolphins quarterback, including Ryan Tannehill, looked in a game this preseason.
He finished the game with 16 completions in 25 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns. His rating was 106.6 at the end of the night.
Fales, meanwhile, didn’t fare as well when he got in the game in the second quarter. He threw an interception. He didn’t get the offense in the end zone. And the unit just didn’t look quite as fast or well timed or efficient.
The Dolphins looked choppy with Fales under center.
Now, all this being said, we need to tell you about nuance and context because everything with this Dolphins backup quarterback situation isn’t quite as clear as I just wrote it, even though everything you just read is true.
Sure, Osweiler played well. But his work came against backups. A good number of the players Osweiler just torched are not going to be in the NFL after this weekend. And, frankly, a good bunch of players Osweiler just played with aren’t going to be in the league, either.
Yes, it was cool to see Osweiler succeed. But it was cool like a six-foot 40-year-old man dunking on eight-foot baskets is cool.
Gase came into this game hoping to see Osweiler play well and convince him he’s worthy of winning the backup job because, well, he just wasn’t convinced beforehand. The truth is most people within the Dolphins organization were leaning toward Osweiler before this game was played.
But Gase holds a special feeling for Fales. He really likes Fales. He likes calling plays for Fales.
So Gase needed to see something to get him to go along with the many others within the Dolphins organization.
Even now, with Osweiler playing as he did, I would not be surprised if the Dolphins keep Fales. Because, again, Gase likes Fales and thinks he’s worthy of being developed further.
And, as one source told me this week, quarterback is the toughest position to develop a player. So don’t be surprised if the Dolphins don’t cut either Osweiler or Fales.
Well, how about trading for a quarterback that somehow is going to be a major and obvious upgrade over either Osweiler or Fales?
Hard to fathom. If the Dolphins do add a quarterback in the next few days, it would more likely be a practice squad type.
And having said all this ... Does any of it really matter?
Look, if at any point this season a quarterback not named Tannehill is taking significant snaps because Tannehill is injured again, then the season is headed to disaster.
And that’s good, believe it or not.
Because if this season steers us toward another Tannehill injury, the third in three seasons, it will be time that the earth realize it’s time to move on from Tannehill after the season. And if that’s the case, one obvious way to replace him is to earn a high draft pick and select the best quarterback available.
And the last thing anyone needs is a solid backup quarterback turning a failed season that looks like 4-12 and a top five draft pick into 6-10 and a mid-first-round pick instead.
I know this seems counter-intuitive. I know the Dolphins would think this some sort of blasphemy -- to suggest losing is better than winning when the starting quarterback goes down.
Except look at history.
Last year the Dolphins lost Tannehill. And the team moved heaven and earth to replace him with Jay Cutler. Did Cutler save the season?
The only thing he did was keep the Dolphins kind of, sort of afloat enough that they couldn’t draft early enough to get one of the top four rookie quarterbacks in the last draft.
The Dolphins are not a Super Bowl team. They are not going to the Super Bowl with Tannehill. And they’re not going to that game played right here in February without him.
What can happen if Tannehill goes down, is that we set the stage for a reset at the position in 2019.
And Brock Osweiler, nor David Fales nor anyone else the Dolphins might pick up to be the backup the next couple of days is going to change that.
So bring on the 2018 regular season. It’s Ryan Tannehill or bust, folks.