After the David Garrard injury and the flashes Ryan Tannehill showed in the first pre-season game, the question of a “battle” between Tannehill and Matt Moore got substantially more interesting. Could the rookie with limited starts in his college career actually pass the team’s MVP from 2011?
I’ll breakdown the five areas I feel are the most important on the decision of this quarterback battle.
MDD Lead Editor: Eric Galko
Playing the quarterback position in the NFL obviously takes arm strength, quickness in release, and mobility when looking at just natural talent. And both quarterbacks possess adequate (and more) skills to play the position. But when you have a receiving corps that doesn’t seem to be winning battles by themselves and an offensive line that hasn’t shown consistency, that extra talent needs to kick in.
In an ideal situation for Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman’s offense, the mobility isn’t a consistent necessity, nor is elite arm strength. But in a team still building, the talent needs to have an impact on the quarterback. Moore is a solid athlete, moves well in space, can make plays with his feet, and gets good velocity. But Tannehill is a great athlete, can make plays in the open field, and has a better arm deep and has shown better velocity. Moore isn’t bad, but Tannehill is clearly ahead of him talent-wise.
Edge: Ryan Tannehill
Coming back as the team MVP, Moore returns with the confidence from his teammates. But with a new head coach, new offensive coordinator, and a couple of new receiving options, he isn’t leaps and bounds ahead of Tannehill here. Tannehill is confident in himself and is willing to take hits in an effort to both get respect from his teammates as well as grow as a quarterback quickly.
Moore has loads of confidence and hasn’t seemingly been rattled by the media coverage of his quarterback battle. But it’s really start or bust for Moore now, as he’s not a quarterback who will get many more options to start after this season, barring injury. For Tannehill, if he doesn’t start at all this year, the pressure won’t be on him at all. I’ll say Moore has a bit more confidence now based on the respect from teammates and his confidence on camera and through struggles, but it’s close.
Edge: Matt Moore
The Dolphins offense this year is based around quick decisions, quick passes, and an up-tempo rhythm to the offense. To run that type of offensive effectively, it’s crucial to make reads pre-snap, know where you are going before the ball is snapped, and being decisive as you transfer from first to second to third read. Also, it takes poise to completely ignore the rush unless it’s required to step up in the pocket and have poise in the pocket.
Moore thrived last year as a “game manager” and was safe with his decisions late in the year. He didn’t hesitate on his second reads, and stayed decisive in his reads after building chemistry with his receivers. However, this is has been where Tannehill has been surprisingly impressive in the pre-season.
In the pocket, he’s not looking at the rush (despite getting crushed last game), and was great at stepping up with ideal foot positioning in college. As for his decisiveness, he’s unleashing his first read if it’s open well, but he’s had some hesitation when transitioning to his second read at times.
While the offense as a whole is “new” to everyone, it seems fairly clear by how quickly he’s developed and the style in which they have played in the pre-season that the offense has similarities to what Ryan Tannehill ran at Texas A&M. Matt Moore, on the other hand, ran a fairly different system last year with the Dolphins.
It’s been a learning curve for both Tannehill and Moore, but Tannehill seems to have the recent background in the style of the offense, a major plus to beginning to feel comfortable. Neither “understands” the offense entirely, but it seems Tannehill has a better feel for what the offense is designed to do, and how to use your skill set to make it work.
Edge: Ryan Tannehill
Performance Thus Far
While the stats for either quarterback haven’t been great, it’s tough to make any argument to say that Matt Moore has outplayed Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill had a sub 50% completion percentage and 3 sacks last game versus the Panthers, he lead multiple touchdowns drives and has made ample throws to have a chance to get first downs.
The edge Moore has over Tannehill is simple: experience. The team has said they are looking for the starter to lead them to victory in Week One. Based on understanding of how the NFL game is, it will be a sharp learning curve when teams are going all out to attack for Ryan Tannhill. Moore was the team’s MVP and lead this team to a 6-6, almost 8-4, the last 12 games of the season, and kept this team consistently in the mix. Tannehill has been better in the pre-season, Moore better over “career”, mostly because Tannehill doesn’t have one yet.
Week 1 Choice: Ryan Tannehill
I’m shocked that I’m in Tannehill’s corner to start. I’ve been a big Matt Moore fan after last season, he has the respect of the team, and has flashed beyond game managing qualities as a quarterback. Tannehill was raw coming out of college, needed time to polish up his game, and comes in with chemistry only with a fringe roster receiver in Jeff Fuller.
But Tannehill’s understanding of what the offense is trying to do, the natural arm and mobile talent he possesses, and the flashes of great play he’s shown thus far in the pre-season, it’s hard to pass on what Tannehill offers. Moore may be the safe bet now to keep this team in the game, but Tannehill can get them into a lead, make a few big plays, and keep this team exciting.
As shocked as I am to say it, I’ll take Ryan Tannehill as my week one starter for the Dolphins. We’ll see if Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman feel the same way.