Greg Cote

ESPN’s latest Dolphins slam? Vote of no-confidence for Ryan Tannehill, QB situation

Ryan Tannehill, right, and Matt Moore are ranked 24th of 32 NFL QB situations in ESPN’s latest Dolphins slam.
Ryan Tannehill, right, and Matt Moore are ranked 24th of 32 NFL QB situations in ESPN’s latest Dolphins slam. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Was it something we said, ESPN? Did the Dolphins deny you a media credential or something?

Dolfans may be getting the distinct idea the Worldwide Leader in Sports does not like their team very much.

Earlier this week ESPN.com’s Bill Barnwell graded the Dolphins a D-plus in his NFL “Offseason Report Card,” as first reported here in the Miami Herald. That was the worst grade of any AFC East team. It seemed overly harsh.

So does this:

The same website on Thursday ranked the Dolphins’ quarterback situation a lowly 24th in a “QB Confidence Index” by writer Dan Graziano. That’s third in the division, predictably behind Tom Brady’s Patriots -- ranked first overall -- but surprisingly behind Tyrod Taylor’s Bills, ranked 22nd. Josh McCown’s Jets ranked 32nd. (They’d have been even lower, but there are only 32 teams).

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill speaks with reporters Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, for the first time since getting injured.

The ranking encompasses each team’s QB depth chart, including backups, but naturally is heavily weighted on the starter. The Dolphins are placed in the next-to-lowest tier, entitled ‘Watch Your Back.’ It’s an undisguised slam at Ryan Tannehill.

Writes Graziano: “There's no one ostensibly pushing Tannehill for the Dolphins' starting job. Perpetual backup Matt Moore is of course still there, as is David Fales. Tannehill would have to get hurt or become totally incompetent to lose the job. But the Dolphins played fine with Moore in there last season after Tannehill got hurt. Although Tannehill is technically signed through 2020, the only remaining guarantee after this season is an injury-only guaranteed $5.525 million of his $17.475 million 2018 salary. The Dolphins can escape the Tannehill contract next offseason. He set a new career high in completion percentage (67.1) in his first season under coach Adam Gase, but he has yet to elevate his game to a point that justifies a $20 million-per-year cap charge. The Dolphins didn't draft Tannehill's eventual replacement, but that doesn't mean they're 100 percent confident with what they have for the long term.”

My take: That’s a fair amount of shaky supposition to suggest the Dolphins are not confident in Tannehill. He is coming off his best season, and Matt Moore is a veteran, above-average backup. That combination makes Miami’s QB situation better than it was rated. I’d judge it mid-pack, in the 14 to 18 range. Brady is in a category all his own, but, otherwise, the Dolphins would not swap their quarterback room for any other in the AFC East.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen speaks to the media about Ryan Tannehill's progress after being injured last season during the Miami Dolphins mini-camp at the Dolphins training facility in Davie on Saturday, May 6, 2017.

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