Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rest of Fins' offense not making QB decision easy


In their second preseason game, the Dolphins started rookie Ryan Tannehill in hopes of clarify their quarterback competition.

Instead, the Dolphins' offensive showing on Friday only muddled the competition further and may have lowered the expectations for Miami's offense in 2012.

Hoping to carry the momentum from a strong training camp and impressive performance in Miami's first preseason game, Tannehill went three-and-out in four of his five drives in the Dolphins' 23-17 preseason loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

Coach Joe Philbin had been planning to name the Week 1 starter before their third preseason game next Saturday. He seemed a little demoralized when asked who will be his starter after the game.

“I don’t know that, to be honest with you," he told the media, according to the Palm Beach Post. "I really don’t.”

The final score of a preseason game is ultimately unimportant, but the opportunities for evaluation are invaluable.

First, the positive. Tannehill engineered a 15-play second quarter touchdown drive that featured a few long third-down conversions. He displayed a clear command of the offense and found his open receivers. The drive was capped by a one-yard touchdown by tailback Daniel Thomas, who up until this point in his career never showed an ability to convert short-yardage situations.

But this night had many more negatives than it did positives.

Miami went three-and-out in all but one of their first half drives. The drives stalled due to poor protection, penalties and pass deflections at the line of scrimmage.

Speaking to the latter point, Miami's offensive line was often unable to slow down Carolina's front-line push, resulting in a few batted balls at the line of scrimmage. But another factor is Tannehill's low release point. His throwing motion is quick, but the height in which he releases his passes is particularly susceptible to being swatted at the line.

His offensive line must improve its blocking to sustain his throwing lanes to account for this part of Tannehill's mechanics.

Tannehill remained positive following his team's flat performance, but if the Dolphins' supporting cast can't improve in the next few weeks, then the season will be full of adversity no matter who wins the starting QB job.

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily