The culture of football has been evolving rather rapidly, as this season there are potentially five rookie quarterbacks starting in the 2012 NFL season.
The days of rookie guys like Aaron Rogers and Carson Palmer sitting out a couple seasons to learn behind a veteran like Brett Favre and Jon Kitna are long gone.
This season proves that rookie quarterbacks are no longer going to wait around to learn from the vets, instead they’re being thrown in the fire and learning as they go.
At 24, rookie Ryan Tannehill will be leading his team into the 2012 regular season as the starting quarterback.
This Texas A&M athlete will be readily accepting all challenges thrown his way on the grand stage.
“I wanted to be the starter,” Tannehill said. “As a competitor, that’s just human nature. As a competitor, to want to be the guy. I was going out there every day trying to prove that I could be the guy to win games for this football team and, right now, that’s the case.”
As the 17th starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, since the legendary Dan Marino left the franchise, Tannehill will be bearing the No. 17 on his jersey and looking to return this team to greatness.
Rookie head coach Joe Philbin made the decision to start Tannehill going ahead into the home game against the Atlanta Falcons. Following David Garrard going down after a freakish left knee injury that happened off the field, Matt Moore and Tannehill were left side by side competing for the job.
Matt Moore has 12 game starts under his belt with the Dolphins, finishing the 2011 season with a 60.5 pass completion percentage and an overall 87.1 quarterback rating. As a journeyman, Moore been a backup before in the league and has equivalent skills to Tannehill but with more experience in the quarterback position.
However, he’s not the guy that the coaches want to make the face of the franchise for the next ten years.
Tannehill has proven that he understands the intricacies of the offense and can perform at the pro level as a quarterback that can lead his team to success. In his first two preseason games, Tannehill went 25-for-47, for 267 yards and one score. In comparison, Moore was 12-for-27, for 136 yards and one interception.
At 6’4″ and 222 pounds, Tannehill’s size, strength, poise, and overall atheltic ability make up a phenomenal skill set at the quarterback position.
It seems as though the new NFL model is to hand the rookies the keys to the offense instead of a clipboard with a notepad.
“We didn’t hand him anything,” Miami coach Joe Philbin said. “Nothing is forever in this league if a guy doesn’t play well, at any position.”
The Dolphins want the next Peyton Manning or Aaron Rogers, someone to lead their team into a bright future over the next decade and hopefully those years are filled with multiple championships.
With colleges throwing the ball more than ever, there’s a parity between the pro and college levels making it easier for rookie quarterbacks to explode into the league with earlier success than those rookies who have come before.
Tannehill’s familiarity with newly added Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will be of big help with acclimating to the pro level. Tannehill and Sherman worked closely together at Texas A&M as quarterback and head coach.
Tannehill’s cannon isn’t the only quality he brings to the field, while competing for a job as the starting quarterback in college, he also played as a receiver for three seasons.
In an offense that utilized true receivers, Tannehill was extremely productive on the offense before finally being named the starting quarterback and team captain his senior year. As a quarterback, knowing the timing of receiver’s routes is critical, and Tannehill having experience as a receiver will bring that knowledge to this Dolphins offense.
As the 8th overall 2012 draft pick, Tannehill will be the first quarterback taken by the Dolphins in the first round since Marino who spent 17 seasons with the team.
This franchise is hungry for a Super Bowl, the last time they saw that excitement was in 1972 when they propelled all the way to the championship game with an undefeated record.
The 2011 NFL Draft class was a diamond studded group of quarterbacks who have proven that they can quickly assimilate and produce at the next level with guys like Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton.
If history proves anything, Tannehill along with Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson, will do the same.