Miami Dolphins & Miami Hurricanes: Brad Kaaya or Ryan Tannehill?
Sometimes less really is more.
The University of Miami came into the season with a lot less talent because of losing seven players to the NFL. The program also got to see the departure of their head coach Al Golden mid-season after an embarrassing 58-0 home loss to No. 1 Clemson. In spite of having less talent and less leadership around the program, for some reason this team never found a way to give up. Instead of quitting and disappointing everyone, this team rose from the ashes and had themselves the best year under their leader and starting quarterback, sophomore Brad Kaaya. The Hurricanes now enter into the bowl season with an 8-4 record including big wins over teams like Duke, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Kaaya had himself a remarkable year in his in spite of having 20 fewer snaps than he did in his freshman year.
Kaaya in his freshman year threw for 26 touchdowns so the fact that he only threw for 15 in his sophomore year is a bit alarming. However, the most important stat on any quarterback is their touchdown to interception ratio. Last season as a freshman Kaaya’s touchdown to interception ratio was 2.1. In his sophomore year, he grew as a signal-caller and a decision maker and only threw four interceptions finishing with a 3.75 touchdown to interception ratio. Kaaya also finished with a career-high in completion percentage connecting on 61.7% of his passes.
Kaaya might’ve thrown less in his sophomore season, but his value and production have drastically increased because he’s not doing too much. Now the Hurricanes are now looked at as one of the teams in college football that is in the right path because their quarterback is one of the best in the country.
Meanwhile in Miami Gardens, Fla. 40 minutes up the road from Coral Gables, Fla. where the University of Miami campus is located, there are many questions surrounding Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The two quarterbacks, Kaaya and Tannehill each share the Sun Life Stadium roof, but it looks like only one of them is a legitimate keeper inside of the stadium.
Tannehill, on the other hand, has played a total of 60 NFL games and it doesn’t look like he’s the answer to the Dolphins woes. To paraphrase Sun Sentinel writer Omar Kelly, he’s not the sole reason why Miami has 10 games where they’ve scored less than 21 points, but he’s not the solution either.
With one flip of the coin, Tannehill has been the best quarterback that the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino. On the other hand, if you were expecting a franchise-type, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Tom Brady or Drew Brees type of quarterback then keep looking because Tannehill isn’t in their class.
However, though many love to bash his game, it’s ok that he’s not one of those players. What Tannehill is though is a prototypical game manager. Instead of forcing the issue and having him air out the football 58 times like he did against the New York Jets last Sunday, maybe it’s time to start to put the reigns on his game a little bit more. This season when Tannehill throws the football 29 times or less the Dolphins have a 3-1 record. In three out of four of those games Tannehill’s teammate, running back Lamar Miller has eclipsed 100 yards.
“I’d love for it to be our identity. If we could have running be our identity obviously looking at it today it was close the whole time and at the end of the day we gave ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter” said Dolphins center Mike Pouncey.
In the league, there are only a handful of quarterbacks, if that many, who can single-handedly decide the outcome of the game. For example, just look at the last few Super Bowl winning quarterbacks outside of Tom Brady. Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, all reached the Super Bowl not because they are elite quarterbacks, but because their overall team was awesome. Instead of attempting to force the issue on Tannehill’s shoulders to perform at a level that he’s not capable of, why not attempt to fill out the roster and make sure that the entire team is well?
The Dolphins will have some personnel decisions to make across the board with their team. Something they also need to keep an eye on is Kaaya. Some believe that Kaaya is created from the Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers mold and that thought alone should be enticing enough for Miami to take a flyer out on a kid who plays in their backyard.
These two quarterbacks this season have mirrored each other not because of their production on the field, but because when they’ve done less, they’ve actually done more. Sometimes less truly is more.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.