Monday was a busy day in the quarterback competition world. First, we awoke to the news that the Tennessee Titans had anointed second-year QB Jake Locker as the starter. A few hours later, the Miami Dolphins did the same thing, announcing that rookie Ryan Tannehill would run their offense.
Both players hadn’t exactly lit the world on fire in the previous preseason games, and both QB competitions could have extended for a much longer period of time. Tannehill was 11 of 23 for 100 yards against the Panthers, while Locker was 4 of 11 for 21 yards and one interception vs. the Bucs. Certainly not the stuff of legends.
Instead, they didn’t wait. Teams made the call, went with the future being now, and that was that. Things may change, guys may get pulled, but these are the starters going into the season. Which begs the question …
Why didn’t they wait?
The reason is the same for both teams. The third preseason game is it.
Unlike the first two, game plans are used for the third preseason game. You install a plan, your opponent does as well, and you compete using those sketches. The preseason isn’t the regular season, but this is as close as you come. If you think you know who your quarterback is — and obviously these teams had more than an inkling — it behooves you to put them in there and let them work within the confines of that game plan. I’m told this was a significant factor for both teams.
Both looked bad last week. But how much better will they look when they have prepared all week for the specific opponent, know what plays will be run, and are given every opportunity to succeed? And by contrast, how will they adjust when teams game plan for them?
That’s really a big issue, too. For the first time, the Titans and Dolphins can begin to understand how opponents will attack their younger passers. They will receive a small roadmap for what Week 1 will look like, while also being able to gauge how Tannehill and Locker readjust. All of this creates a multi-beneficial situation for starting them. You get the best facsimile of what live bullets will feel like, an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
Tennessee could have waited and let it play out, even if Locker was slightly better than Matt Hasselbeck in practice. Miami could have waited until David Garrard came back from knee surgery, considering he’d been the starter before his freak injury.
But there were too many important reasons to have your starter in place before this week’s games. So, why wait?