Originally written October 03, 2012 on The Sports Headquarters:
Dolphins fans should be excited. In what was, without a doubt one of the weirdest games of the weekend, we got to see a rookie breakout, a veteran implode, but more importantly redeem himself. So how did the Miami Dolphins v Arizona Cardinals turn three times and end up in a Cardinals victory over the upstart, but still 1-3 Dolphins?  Let’s take a look. 1. Ryan Tannehill is for real, but he’s still a rookie. There is a little history of the Cardinals giving up big games against rookie quarterbacks, and this game was no different, as Ryan Tannehill showed why he may have been drafted too low at the eighth pick in the draft. You see there are certain things that a young quarterback needs in order to be considered a franchise type player, and well against a Cardinals defense that had been touted as one of the best in the league, he made some throws that just make you say… WOW! Yes my 1st grader did the teleprompter work.   In the first quarter, on the first series of the game for the Dolphins they are set in a terrible 3rd and 10 situation deep in their own territory as we see. What does Joel Philbin dial up?  A simple three man route clearing out the middle of the field for Devon Bess.  The result is one of the prettier throws you will see from a rookie QB and it only resulted in a 16 yard pick up. Why is this such a great play?  Tannehill had to fit the ball into a small window, with William Gay playing a trail technique and Adrian Wilson having the over the top, Tannehill needed to put the perfect amount of touch on the ball to drop it into the basket. Sure this was early in the game, and there were plenty more plays, check out the entire highlight package, but it was early in the game, and set the tone for what Tannehill can do when he is on. Throughout the rest of the game we saw many more instances of Tannehill staring in the face of unrelenting pressure and making plays consistently and doing enough to win the game… well almost. That’s where the part of Tannehill still being a rookie comes in to play. 2. The Cardinals defense isn’t the same without Darnell Dockett Sure the run game of the Miami Dolphins was held in check, and in the end the defense was able to get enough pressure to force two key turnovers to help win the game, but this defense seemed… different. There was little interior pressure, or pressure from just a four man rush, something the Cardinals have been able to generate with relative ease and consistency in the first four games, and it showed as the Dolphins line gave Tannehill time to find an open receiver, and when the Cardinals did bring heat, the Dolphins did enough to slow it and allow the rookie to make a play. Fast forward to this Thursday, and I fear the Cardinals may have a similar issue in their pass defense if Dockett is unable to go. 3. Kevin Kolb needs reins. This may sound odd, especially after Kolb put up semi-good numbers in a gutty performance over the Dolphins, and it may be even sillier given the ineptness of the Cardinals running game, but that shouldn’t matter. Kevin Kolb is not the type of quarterback you can, or should, have dropping back 35-40 times in a game and throwing passes. He needs to be a game manager that can make a play when he needs to, ala his incredible game saving touchdown on 4th and 10 from the Dolphins 15. While that play displayed all the traits of what a franchise quarterback should be able to do, it was his play just minutes earlier, a boneheaded interception that even the most ardent Kolb supporters, of which I am one, couldn’t defend. When Kolb feels the pressure to make play after player after play, he tends to try and force the ball into spaces that few, if any quarterbacks in the league can fit the ball into. Meanwhile when he is asked to protect the ball, keep the chains moving, and spread out the defense enough to give the running backs room to work, he can do that, and look like a damn fine quarterback at the same time. What it boils down to is the Cardinals do not have an elite, top 4-5 quarterback on their roster. What they do have is a guy in Kolb who can be a top 10-12 quarterback in the league, someone who may not put up 300 yards a game and 30+ touchdowns in a season, but someone who can run an efficient and effective offense, that doesn’t turn the ball over, doesn’t put the defense in bad spots, and if he needs to, can win a game for his team. Maybe that isn’t ideal, and what you want from someone who was paid an ungodly amount of money, but it is what he is right now. Overall:  This game is one of those games you are happy as a fan your team won, but honestly you can’t feel good about a whole lot. Sure the defense stepped up when needed, and the offense was able to move the ball around the field in the air, but the Cardinals were thoroughly outplayed by an inferior team talent wise.  The difference in this team and those of Cardinals past, sans the Kurt Warner era, is there is enough talent for them to overcome that game. Meanwhile if you are a Dolphins fan you can hang your hat on this.  That Ryan Tannehill guy has a chance to be pretty special, now if they can do something about those weapons, or lack there of, around him.
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