Ryan Tannehill’s Potential Replacement(s) for 2016

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins have an uncertain few weeks ahead.

On the morning of August 3rd, the Miami Dolphins’ hopes for the 2017 season took a big hit when quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered an apparent non-contact injury to his left knee on a scramble from the pocket. While the organization has not officially ruled Tannehill out for any length of time, it is likely that he will miss at least a few weeks, if not more.  And being a Miami fan, it is fair to say that things traditionally do not work out well for the franchise.

People may debate Tannehill’s place in the franchise’s longterm future, but statistically he is the second best in team’s history. His presence and understanding of the offense that Gase designed is paramount to the success of the team, and his uncertain future has even led to some Vegas sports books to remove the bet on Miami’s win/loss total for the season. So if Tannehill is to miss a significant portion of playing time, what are the options to replace the recently re-signed signal caller.

Matt Moore

Currently the backup in Miami, Matt Moore has had experience as a starter both for the Carolina Panthers and for the Dolphins both in 2011 and in 2016. After Tannehill was hurt in week 14 of last season, Moore played in that game and started three more games. He amassed over 700 yards and had a completion percentage of over 60 percent. While these may not be great statistics for a franchise quarterback, Moore has shown an understanding of the offense and has a working relationship with the other offensive weapons and coaches.

If Tannehill is out for the season, then Miami could make a move for a backup or a more reliable starter. But if he is out for only a few weeks or part of the season, then Miami could survive with Moore as the signal caller.

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler announced his retirement from football and jumped into broadcasting after not receiving a callback from the Houston Texans.  But with the potential longterm injury to Tannehill, Cutler could be reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Chicago; Adam Gase.  Reports are that Cutler has expressed interest in coming to Miami to sign as a backup, and now the Miami Herald is reporting that the team has indeed reached out to Cutler.

Cutler’s best statistical season in Chicago during the 2015 season was under Adam Gase, The question still remains if Cutler would be comfortable being in a position battle with current backup Moore.  But with Cutler’s knowledge of Gase’s offense and both of their success together, Cutler is the best choice if they can reach a realistic contract and if Tannehill will miss most, if not all, of the season.

Colin Kaepernick

Any discussion of signing a free agent quarterback requires everyone to mention Colin Kaepernick.  Regardless of anyone’s view of Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem, or his discussion of the police, or his support of former Cuban President Leader Fidel Castro; he has shown skill during his career in both the pocket and his ability to escape.

The concern is that Kaepernick’s play style is considerably different than the system which Gase has developed.  Case’s system has worked well for Peyton Manning, Cutler and Tannehill; they are much more of prototypical passers than Kaepernick.  Even during the 49ers run to Super Bowl XLVII, Kaepernick and the offense still relied on his legs (with over 60 rushing attempts and five touchdowns) and he only started part of the season.

Adam Gase did change his entire playbook for the Broncos when Jesus Tim Tebow was the quarterback.  But changing the entire playbook for a quarterback who may only be there for up to one season after just installing the current system seems to be a bit of a reach.  Kaepernick’s athleticism does provide a benefit over any of the other options, but the media uproar and lack of fit in the offense seems to be much more of a burden than a help.

Tony Romo

Trade out a bum knee with a bum back.  Tony Romo has ‘retired’ and is officially partnered with Jim Nantz (sorry Phil Simms). But with how the potential trades turned into retirement talk, it seems as if Romo still has the itch to come back.  It was accepted that Romo wanted to go to a contender for the 2017 season, and while Miami did make the playoffs last season they don’t have the continued postseason success (usually happens when a team has to play Bill Belichick and Tom Brady twice a season) that Romo may be looking for.

Romo spent an entire 2016 season resting and recuperating, so he would be coming into training camp rested and ready to play.  He would have to learn a new playbook but being one of the best quarterbacks in Cowboys history that should not be a big problem for the signal caller.  Another advantage is that both the Dolphins and Romo have the same endgame.  Neither are looking for a long term solution and both are trying to win now.  Romo provides a major injury risk but his talents could make the risks worth it.  Even if they call, it would probably take a lot to take Romo out of the booth.  Hell, Phil Simms may even help pay Romo’s contract.

Brock Osweiler

And here’s the left field pick.  Brock Osweiler was traded in the offseason from Houston to the Browns (after signing a huge contract moving him from Denver to Houston). Osweiler has the chance to be signed to a team in every AFC division.  While his time in Houston may have gone poorly he was well regarded in Denver, and they even made attempts to re-sign him.  One of the supporters in the Broncos front office was Adam Gase.  Gase was the quarterbacks coach during Osweiler’s first year in 2012, and then he was the team’s offensive coordinator during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Osweiler understood the offense and played decently (better than Houston at least) in Denver.  Miami is not looking for a long term replacement and Osweiler’s contract is already being paid for by the Houston Texans. This is a low cost, low risk fix for Miami’s quarterback situation.  And if he gets traded to Miami and can remain competent then Osweiler could even be a decent backup for when Tannehill returns.

The only issue is whether or not the Browns are interested in trading him.  There were early reports immediately after the trade that the Browns were going to cut Osweiler (after filching a draft pick from the Texans).  But now they are saying that he has impressed in OTAs and training camp, so it may take more than a phone call to get him.  Would Miami be willing to trade a draft pick for a quarterback for a season, if they are then Osweiler may end up being a steal for the organization.



There are other names that may be floating around, but if Miami is going to sign an additional quarterback then these four outsiders may be getting a phone call from a 305 area code.  Cutler may be the best bet, but Osweiler could be a sneaky option for the Dolphins to attempt to salvage their entire season.  But at least we can all agree that all of these options are better than the potential of running the wildcat all season.

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