My goal in this column has always been to give my readers a fresh perspective when it comes to Dolphins news. I try to be objective, I try to give both sides of the story before picking a side, I try to be respectful at all times...but I'm not perfect, I don't claim to be, and there are certain times when I admit I've lost my cool and gone off the deep end.
Talking about Michigan State cornerback (and potential future Miami Dolphins first round draft pick) Trae Waynes become something of a running gag for listeners of the live podcast as I went near insane talking about how badly I didn't want Waynes to be the pick at fourteen.
So because of that little explosion of mine a couple of weeks ago, I intend to approach this next topic with a much cooler head, and go back to what I usually do: give both sides of the story, and then pick my side...but I will say this much, it will be particularly difficult to do so this time around.
Recently the suggestion was made that the Miami Dolphins should look into what the price would be for the San Diego Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers, who is reportedly on the trade block because they're interested in drafting Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
Now, putting aside my personal feelings about Ryan Tannehill for a moment, I'm going to do my best to just use raw numbers and facts to make the point I'm going to make here...and then near the end I'll probably switch back to subjectivity.
The trade proposal being suggested is that the Dolphins would trade Tannehill and their first round pick this year for Rivers, straight up. Now, numbers wise, Rivers has been a top ten quarterback for the past several years. Passing yards, touchdowns...the ever-dreaded QB rating, all of those numbers speak to Rivers' prowess as an NFL quarterback.
Tannehill on the other hand, while improving every year, has yet to break into the top ten ranking of quarterbacks. Keep in mind, all of this is just by the numbers, and I've spoken of the dangers of raw numbers without any film to add context to them before. With that said, let me throw some more numbers at you, and this should be very interesting.
A lot of people like to point to the Dolphins win/loss record when they bring up Tannehill's success as a quarterback, and you can go ahead and believe the stat is valid for this one occasion, as it turns out that this very interesting little number works in my favor this time...which is why it never got brought up.
In 2006, Rivers took over as the starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers after Drew Brees left to go to New Orleans (instead of Miami, thank you Nick Saban, but never mind that). Rivers immediately met with a lot of success, as the Chargers went 14-2 in 2006, 11-5 in 2007, 8-8 in 2008, and 13-3 in 2009. His first four years look pretty good...but now check out the next five years.
In 2010, the Chargers record was 9-7, then they went 8-8 in 2011, 7-9 in 2012, 9-7 in 2013, and 9-7 in 2014. First four years of Rivers' career (with the exception of 2008) were absolutely spectacular, then the next five were pretty mediocre. Of course, that's only based on his win/loss record, not his actual stats. The stats would show his prowess as a top quarterback, yet his team failed to win. What happened?
Those first four years of Rivers' career, were actually the last four years Tomlinson was a San Diego Charger. After he left, the Chargers lost their thunder to match the lightning bolt on their helmets. In 2006, Rivers' best year, Tomlinson led the league in rushing yards with 1,815 and touchdowns with 28.
Then in 2007, Tomlinson again led the league in rushing yards with 1,474 and touchdowns with 15. The Chargers success was almost directly related to Tomlinson, I don't find it a coincidence that once Tomlinson left, the Chargers became a team on the same level as the Miami Dolphins, despite their top ten quarterback.
Now let's look at the logic of the trade itself. The thinking behind doing this trade is that Rivers is a better quarterback right now than Tannehill, and so he would be the missing piece for the Dolphins to go to the playoffs. Here's the problem, Tannehill is young, and still improving. Rivers is 33, going on 34, and he's taken a massive beating these past few years. Sprint or marathon?
This is the conundrum that the Indianapolis Colts had to go through when they went after Andrew Luck. Obviously, Luck is better than Tannehill and I realize that, but bear with me as the philosophy is the same. The Colts decided to invest in the next fifteen years rather than fight for a Super Bowl for the next five with Peyton Manning. Maybe the Colts wouldn't have done it if Manning was sure to be healthy, but that's moot now.
The biggest difference though is that Rivers is not Manning, and even if he were, Manning was signed as a free agent, the Dolphins would have to give up an arm and a leg for Rivers. It isn't worth it in that aspect either.
I won't even go into the obvious scheme mismatches Rivers would create in Miami due to his immobility, as I could go on forever about why this trade for Rivers is utterly ridiculous. Rivers is a better QB right this second, but in a couple of years, that could very well change. It takes more than a quarterback to go to the playoffs and win there, and the Chargers with their top ten QB is a perfect example of this.
Tannehill has yet to hit his ceiling, he's improved every season, and he's done all of that without a decent offensive line and a superstar running back taking the heat off of him. Give him the missing pieces, and you may find that the quarterback position is actually not a missing piece of the puzzle. He's going up.
Rivers, is old and he's getting older; and his team has failed to succeed since the loss of LaDainian Tomlinson. He is trending down. I'll go up the (Tanne)hill slowly instead of raging down the River(s), but that's just me. Do you wanna win now or later? Personally, I feel we can do both with Tannehill...told you I'd go subjective again before it ended.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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