Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Dolphins' QB situation

I still don't know enough about the Brandon Marshall situation to give any further thoughts. I'll just say again that it makes for a lot of uncertainty about the team and what they have planned for the immediate future. One of those uncertain issues is the QB position. So I wanted to give my thoughts on it since there seem to be a lot of options.

The first option I want to address is the only one that is currently on the team, Matt Moore. I was increasingly impressed with Moore after every game last season. He started out a bit slow. But given a new team with an offensive line that had struggled to protect Henne, that could be expected. He wasn't much better than Henne at avoiding sacks. But one thing he was unquestionably better than him at was throwing the long ball. Moore was top 5 in Air Yard %, which is a stat from AdvancedNFLStats that shows what % of your total passing yards came from the air as opposed to receiver yards after the catch. Basically what the stat shows is that Moore was aggressive in trying to get the ball downfield and was pretty successful in doing so.

While Moore was good downfield, I think Henne was better with the shorter routes. This matters because you can't always force the ball downfield. And if Moore wants to become a complete QB he has to be able to take the short stuff and let the receivers get some YAC. I'm not sure how capable Moore is going to be at this and his overall game going forward. But since Henne has singed with Jacksonville (good signing for them) and we have Moore for another year, I would be comfortable giving him the chance to improve. If he improves and turns out to be a good QB we can sign him long term and have a guy who is still fairly young. If he doesn't improve we can move on to finding another QB.

Who might that other QB be? It increasingly sounds like it won't be Peyton Manning. So I won't waste much space discussing him. If healthy he would have been nice to have. But that's an uncertainty. And even if he was, it was a short term solution because of his age and injury history. So beyond Manning and Moore, we are left with looking to free agency and the draft. The most talked about FA QB is Matt Flynn, the back up from Green Bay.

The Flynn correlation to the Fins is easy to see. The new head coach, Philbin, was Flynn's offensive coordinator in GB. So they are comfortable with each other and Philbin probably has as good idea as any as to what a team can expect from Flynn as a potential starter. My problem with the idea of signing Flynn is the price and the lack of production, which are related. Flynn has thrown only 132 passes in the NFL. Plus he only started one year at LSU. Statistically speaking you can't really say much about a player with that kind of sample size. We can't know if his production is indicative of who he is as a QB or whether it's a big outlier and he is much better or worse than his number indicate.

So from the standpoint of trying to predict what kind of QB he will be moving forward and thus compensating him based on that production, we can't really say. And the prospect of investing a lot of money into that situation scares me. If we can get him for a relatively cheap price I would probably be ok with taking the chance. But given what little I've seen from him, at this point I would be more comfortable given Matt Moore that money.

The other option is to draft a QB. Luck was out a long time ago. And now RG3 is gone. I was on the suck for Luck bandwagon early on. And I'm still of the mind that we made a mistake by not being able to get a better shot at one of those QBs. But all may not be lost. There are still some QBs in the draft that merit attention, Ryan Tannehill probably being the most intriguing.

I don't pay much attention to college football. So I can't break down Tannehill. But I will say that the same thing worries me about him that does Flynn, which is that he has very little experience. He started out as a WR at Texas A&M. That at least shows he is athletic. But having only started, I think, 18 games is not a great indicator going forward. One of the more predictive things for successful QBs in the NFL is having started a lot of games in college. The reason is rather obvious, being that even the great QBs need time to learn the position. So if we were to draft Tannehill he would probably need more time to learn than most rookies.

Given that we have Matt Moore under contract for another year, it might not be a bad idea to let Tannehill sit and learn under Moore. This would allow us to further evaluate Moore while giving us a prospect that we can develop for the future. I would be ok with this situation. But a problem with going this route is that it prevents us from using that first round pick on another position. We now have a need at WR, along with needs on the offensive line, pass rusher, and safety. Though I heard we signed a potentially good safety yesterday. Still, Yeremiah Bell is getting old. So I guess it all boils down to how highly you think of Tannehill and the other QB prospects the draft. If you think they can be good starters I think it makes sense to draft one of them in the first round. If not, I think you can address another need with that pick and stick with Moore for another year. I prefer one of those options over spending a lot of money on Flynn.

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