Because there’s no real foolproof formula for how to handle a rookie quarterback–all the current stars seem to have taken a different route to success–it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins work first-round pick Ryan Tannehill into the offense.
There’s growing sentiment that Tannehill could start from the outset because he already has a firm grasp on the playbook. Strock, though, feels that it’s not just about how well you understand your own offensive concepts. You also need to account for what you’re seeing across the line of scrimmage.
“A lot of similarities for him,” Strock said. “What’s not going to be familiar is that defense because they’re going to be a lot different than he’s ever seen and a lot faster. Not what you see in the preseason; what you’re going to see in actual action during the season.
“There’s a growing period without a doubt.”
The first chance Tannehill will get to show off his physical tools will be in the preseason, but Strock cautions to approach the results with a little skepticism because most NFL teams only use their most “vanilla” packages. The real NFL defensive schemes will use a lot more deception than a quarterback usually sees in college.
“They show you blitz, and that’s what you get,” Strock said. “What you see is not what you get in the NFL.”
When Dan Marino was drafted in 1983, Strock was a part of Miami’s quarterback rotation and saw the team change its identity on the fly. It was an interesting situation because by inserting Marino there was a definite acknowledgement that the team would abandon an offensive blueprint that helped win two Super Bowls.
“Don Shula and his coaching staff had to say, ‘OK, listen. We’ve got this guy with the ball in his hands that’s much more dangerous than he is if he turns around and hands it off. Are we going to change the way we play football for his guy?’” Strock said. “It took them a few games getting into the season until he had an opportunity.”
The Dolphins current situation is a bit different, of course, but it could result in a similar fate for Tannehill. With Matt Moore’s successful run in the second half of last season and David Garrard’s Pro Bowl pedigree, there is no rush to get the rookie on the field before he’s ready. If the team gets off to a hot start, Tannehill would sit even sit longer than Marino, who relieved incumbent starter David Woodley during a Week 5 game at New Orleans.
“I don’t think there’s urgency, to be honest with you, to get Tannehill on the field right away,” Strock said.
If Strock, who was the head coach at Florida International for its first five seasons, was in meeting rooms with Tannehill, he’d advise him to try to learn as much as he can from coaches and teammates.
“Timing with his receivers is so much different,” Strock said. “This is all new as far as he’s concerned. He’s a bright guy. I understand he did very well on the testing and all those different things, he graduated early and I think he has a bright future here.”
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