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The Ryan Tannehill era has officially begun. A day after saying he was in no hurry to name a starting quarterback, Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said Monday that first-round draft pick Ryan Tannehill will be the team's starting passer when the season opens on Sept. 9.
"This is the best decision we can make at the given time," Philbin said at a press conference Monday. On Sunday, he told The Miami Herald, "We're in a process right now. We may have a decision soon, or we may play it out another week. We certainly haven't come to any decision on that right now."
Tannehill beat out Matt Moore for the starting gig. Moore started the final 12 games of the 2011 season after Chad Henne was lost for the year due to injury. The team let Henne walk as a free agent over the offseason, adding Tannehill through the draft and veteran David Garrard via free agency.
Garrard seemed to have the upper hand in the race for the starting job early in training camp, but he underwent surgery a week ago, effectively killing his chance to start in the season opener.
Tannehill started the Dolphins' second preseason game on Friday night, completing 11 of 23 passes for 100 yards in a 23-17 loss. With two preseason games under their belts, neither Moore nor Tannehill have blown away the coaching staff with their performances.
Tannehill has completed 57% of his passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, while Moore has completed 44% for 136 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The offense has struggled to move down the field in general this preseason, averaging an anemic 5.4 yards per pass attempt.
"Do we have to be better? Yeah," Philbin said Monday. "Were there some accuracy issues? Sure. Was there a time or two our quarterbacks could have stepped up to avoid pressure? Absolutely. But they did do some good things."
The Dolphins have two more preseason games to go before the season opens on September 9. Friday's matchup against Atlanta, the third of the preseason, will be treated as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with starters expected to play the first three quarters.
With that in mind, the decision to name Tannehill starter today seems logical. Philbin wants Tannehill to receive as many reps with the first-team offense (and against Atlanta's first-team defense) as possible, so as to be better prepared for the regular season.
It seemed inevitable that Tannehill would get his chance to start when the team used the eighth pick of the 2012 draft to select him. But few expected Tannehill's debut to come so early. Either way, Tannehill has been given the chance to move the franchise out from under the shadow of Dan Marino once and for all.