With the arrival of the offseason comes what many consider to be the most boring part of football: talent evaluation. It's much more fun to simply watch the players play once they're on the team, not try and figure out whether or not they deserve to be put on the team. For me though, this isn't necessarily the case.
While I do enjoy watching football and covering what happens in the games, whenever I play a Madden game, my favorite part of all is making trades and adding free agents; morphing the roster so that it reflects my idea of a perfect team.
Of course, the National Football League isn't Madden, it isn't as easy as just pushing a button and suddenly having a player you like on your favorite team, and you certainly can't edit that player's attributes to make them better in real life. Yes, I'm guilty of this as well.
So the first step in figuring out what the team needs to do as far as the roster goes is to look at the pieces already in place and figure out if they're worth keeping, or if they need to be shown the door in favor of a younger or simply better talent. Let's start with everyone's favorite position: The Quarterback.
I won't spend too much time dwelling on this since the very idea of Ryan Tannehill not being worth keeping on the roster is beyond asinine and egregious. Ever since the day he was drafted eighth overall in 2012, Tannehill has steadily improved from then to now, and yet for some unknown reason, Tannehill still can't get the respect that he deserves by the national media, and also by Dolphins fans.
There are those people out there who point to Tannehill's struggles with the deep ball and his lack of pocket presence while they erroneously tack on a pathetically simple "he sucks" to their argument. You can say whatever you like about Tannehill's shortcomings, but I can't think of a single legitimate argument that could possibly be made where someone can simply say that as a QB, Tannehill just plain sucks. Nope, you can't do it.
It's amazing to me actually, it seems that the only people who truly believe that Tannehill is a bad quarterback are all Dolphins fans. I've spoken to many individuals who are fans of other teams, and they all think Dolphins fans are crazy for thinking Tannehill is no good. Fans of the Bills say they would love to have a QB like Tannehill. Not good enough since the comparison is EJ Manuel? Ok, I spoke to a Seahawks fan, and he too thought Tannehill had an incredibly bright future. Who's Seattle's QB? Russell Wilson. So there, it's not just wishful thinking by QB hungry fans.
Let's recap. Tannehill is the first QB since Dan Marino himself to throw for 4,000 yards, which he did in 1994...that's two decades ago folks. Tannehill's touchdown to interception ratio has also improved each year he's been in the league. His rookie year, he threw 12 TDs and 13 INTs. His second year, he threw 24 TDs and 17 INTs. He doubled his TD count from year one to year two, but his INTs went up too.
Then in his third year, Tannehill pulled together 27 TDs and 12 INTs. That's the most touchdowns he's ever thrown, and the fewest interceptions he's ever thrown. What's not to like? Also, keep in mind that Tannehill has been sacked 139 times in his first three years, that's really bad, in case you didn't know. Only one QB has been sacked more in his first three years than Ryan Tannehill. That's David Carr, who was a promising young player who many say his terrible offensive line was the reason Carr's career was ruined. He was sacked 140 times, only once more than Tannehill, and yet Tannehill has managed to get better each year, not worse.
I've already spent too much time talking about Tannehill. He has shortcomings to be sure, but there's no QB in the league who doesn't have some kind of weakness...although we're still trying to find a weakness for Aaron Rodgers. At this point, if you're still questioning if Tannehill should be the QB of the future, you should really examine yourself and see if you're biased in your judgment. The question at this point should really be: How much money are we going to give him when the time comes to give him a new contract?
We want Matt Moore! We want Matt Moore! The incessant chants of the Tannehill haters out there swear up and down to this day that Moore is a better quarterback than Tannehill is, and they still beg for Moore to be inserted into the game despite all of Tannehill's improvement. Haters gonna hate I guess. But there is one thing I will agree on with these individuals, Matt Moore is no slouch and is a pretty good quarterback.
Matt Moore does better in areas where Tannehill struggles in particular, mostly with his willingness to go deep. Part of Tannehill's struggles with the deep ball, in my opinion at least, is that he isn't usually willing to take a low percentage shot down the field where it takes not only good accuracy, but also for the receiver to be able to fight for the ball. That is a topic we'll get into another time.
Most of the Moore lovers out there explain that Moore's deep ball is better than Tannehill's, and that may or may not be true. It does however seem true because of Moore's gunslinger mentality. An evaluation of Moore often states that he is a feast or famine quarterback. Either Moore will throw four touchdowns and win you a game, or he'll throw four interceptions and lose it for you. That's just the gunslinger way of being a quarterback, see Brett Favre. Moore is not Favre by any stretch of the imagination, but that mentality calls for more deep balls to be thrown, and so it seems like his deep ball is better.
I have often stated that Matt Moore is the best backup quarterback in the NFL, and that statement is debatable with the likes of Matt Schaub, Matt Flynn and Matt Hasselbeck in the league...did you just see a pattern there? Anyways, the statement that Moore is the best backup in the league is debatable, but one thing that not many would argue is that Moore made far too much money as a backup last season, acting as a 5.5 million dollar cap hit for 2014. That's one expensive backup.
Moore is set to hit the free agent market now, and the question is whether or not Moore is worth bringing back to be that insurance policy just in case something were to happen to Tannehill. My answer in a vacuum would be yes, however, it would have to be at a much lighter price tag. Moore is good, but he's not worth 8 million over two years.
It seems likely that Moore will at least test the free agent market and see what opportunities make themselves known, a potential landing spot could be the Buffalo Bills where he would have a good chance to win a starting job over EJ Manuel, whereas if he were to stay here, he would be condemning himself to being a benchwarmer once again because Tannehill has proven himself. Manuel has not.
With all that being said, should Moore be retained? Yes, he should. But there needs to be the proviso that he takes a lesser contract than he did last time, and considering certain teams' quarterback woes, I find it likely that Moore looks around to see if he can make more elsewhere and possibly even earn a starting job and show what he can do.
He's been bounced around his whole career, and he hasn't really been able to earn a spot on any team for very long, mostly being used as an extra QB on a practice squad in order to give the skill players more reps in practice. He's been with the 49ers, the Vikings, and also, ironically enough, the Dolphins. Yes, the team has brought him on board before to be a camp body and that's all he's ever been. He does have one thing going for him though: his arm.
That may sound dumb, considering the fact that he's a quarterback and his arm is the most important body part for a QB in any situation. But that's not what I mean. Bethel-Thompson has an absolute cannon for an arm, and there have been records of players telling the young man to stop throwing the ball so hard in practice.
Is that enough to keep him on going forward? In my opinion, the answer is no. Strong-armed quarterbacks aren't nearly as hard to find as it is to find actually good quarterbacks. Before Bethel-Thompson there were players like Brock Jensen and Seth Lobato, who had maybe one redeeming quality that kept them around as camp bodies, but no more than that. Bethel-Thompson seems to be nothing more than another one of those.
If I'm the Miami Dolphins, I'm looking to draft a young quarterback somewhere in the middle rounds. However, the team has shown reluctance to do so in the past, so there's no guarantee that will happen. I will be bringing posts to you all in the future, profiling various possibilities to fill the Dolphins backup QB spot. But first, we need to get through the current team roster, and so the next installment will be analyzing running backs. Stay tuned.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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