I’m not big on far flung what-ifs, but when the local NFL team is hurtling toward a 1-5 start and an eighth consecutive season out of the playoffs, sorry, it’s just too tempting.
So we look ahead to what could be the Dolphins’ most interesting and important quarterback decision since that which followed the 1999 season, when Miami moved (awkwardly) past fading superstar Dan Marino.
Ryan Tannehill is in save-himself mode. We are hearing Dolfans’ growing impatience with him, which only winning will tamp out. Surely the front office will at least consider making a change if the team ends this season 0 for 5 on making the playoffs with Tannehill. They’ll decide by next spring if he’s worth the investment.
An ESPN.com story by Bill Barnwell this week puts the chances of Miami parting with Tannehill after this season at 40 percent. I think the odds are Tannehill is still a Dolphin in 2017. Amid myriad other problems, he continues closer to the solution than the problem for this franchise. But if the team does decide to be bold (or desperate) and chance a change, well, the timing could be good. A lot of interesting veteran names could come available after this season.
Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler (whom Adam Gase coached), Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins are just some of the names who could be gettable. Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater — pending Minnesota’s choice — might be available. There is even speculation San Diego could trade Philip Rivers. (I’m mentioning only possibly available QBs who might be seen as upgrades over Tannehill. Sorry Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sorry, RG3.)
The 2017 draft is not strong for quarterbacks (DeShaun Watson? Brad Kaaya?), so a stopgap veteran might be the way to go should Miami move beyond Tannehill, who still would have trade value for certain teams such as the 49ers and Browns.
I’d not rule out a healthy Romo, 36, for example, if Dallas sticking with rookie Dak Prescott made him available. Carson Palmer, 37 next month, is in his fourth very productive season with Arizona. QBs have a long shelf life. If there is a Tannehill lesson it’s that you don’t spend a top-10 draft pick on a passer unless you have a real conviction he’s the long-term answer. If that faith is lacking, then a proven veteran with some miles left might be the way to go.
It could be something the Dolphins need to mull over by the spring if Tannehill ends his fifth pro season still enveloped in doubts.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Reason for hope, Dolfans: Two 1-4 teams (Chiefs and Texans) went on to make playoffs last season. Reason to not get your hopes up: The 15 TD passes by Sunday’s visitor, Ben Roethlisberger, are most through five games in Steelers history.
▪ Titans’ Marcus Mariota accounted for four TDs in Miami last week (three pass, one run) — the fourth time he’s had a four-TD game in his 17-game career. Previous player to do that four times in first 17 games: Charlie Conerly in 1948-49.
▪ Cowboys are first team in NFL history with a rookie QB and RB over 1,000 yards passing (Dak Prescott, 1,239) and 500 rushing (Ezekiel Elliott, 546) in first five games.