5. The Dolphins love them some Ryan Tannehill. I spoke with Tannehill Saturday, mostly about his workout in front of pro scouts and coaches on the Texas A&M campus last Thursday. But we also talked about how much work the Dolphins, picking eighth in the first round, are doing on the kid.
Club officials, including GM Jeff Ireland and coach Joe Philbin, dined with Tannehill in College Station Wednesday night, then spent about 90 minutes with him on the greaseboard Thursday after the workout. Any doubt now that Tannehill won't get past No. 8, where Miami picks?
Noted NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell says Tannehill is a more accurate passer on the run than Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, which is something to say for a guy who played wide receiver for two-plus seasons while waiting for the quarterback job to be his in 2010.
Tannehill worked with quarterback consultant Chris Weinke on his mechanics after the 2011 season, ironing out the herky-jerky motion in his pass-drops and working on opening his hips better on deep sideline throws to the left. But the attention from teams always goes to his time at receiver, where he was moved -- by former A&M coach and current Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman -- as a freshman because two quarterbacks were ahead of him.
"I was an arrogant little freshman at the time,'' Tannehill told me. "I said to coach Sherman, 'I think you're making a mistake.' He sort of chuckled to himself. I forget what he said. But they just told me to go out the next day at practice and run some routes. Two days later, I was in the starting rotation at receiver. Obviously, I was frustrated, but now I realize it gave me a different look at offensive football -- what receivers go through, how they see defensive backs, where they like the ball delivered. Things like that. So it worked out all right.''
It's pretty clear Cleveland and Miami are the leading candidates for Tannehill. I think he'd be a better fit in Miami because, after 19 starts at quarterback in college football, he may need a year of seasoning and time to get used to a new system before feeling the weight of a franchise on his shoulders. And right now, Matt Moore has more security -- and faith from the fan base in Miami -- than Colt McCoy has in Cleveland. One bad month and the fans would be calling for Tannehill in Miami. But one bad half in Cleveland and the chants for Tannehill would begin. Check out what Moore did in the last nine weeks of the regular season versus a rather prominent Super Bowl hero:
|Matt Moore vs. Eli Manning|
|Last nine weeks of the 2011 regular season|
6. Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh are actually on speaking terms. They don't hold the bitterness of The Nightmare Handshake against each other, though it certainly hasn't been forgotten. Interesting to note that after the handshake-turned-confrontation last season, the two actually spoke in the tunnel before adjourning to their locker rooms, and had a semi-heated, semi-civil conversation about the event, according to Schwartz. Both of them, I'm sure, would like to have a do-over on it. Interesting that Schwartz was miked by NFL Films that day. I bet that was some terrific audio that was forever buried from the postgame meeting on the field.
7. Bill Belichick is showing Greg Schiano the ropes. Mentor and mentee were together a lot in Palm Beach. "He knows every player in the National Football League,'' said Schiano, the new Tampa Bay coach. "When you're a young coach you go to clinics with a pad full of notes. As you get on in coaching, you know who you are and what you believe in, so maybe you'll go someplace and come away with a note or two. He's the one guy still when I sit with him, I still have two pages of notes. That shows you how bright he is. He's treated me very well.''
I wondered the other day, when Belichick retires, if Schiano is the kind of guy he'd recommend to be his successor as Patriots coach. You never know what the future could bring.
8. Stephen Ross is not backing down. "When you try to do big things, you're going to swing and miss sometimes,'' the Miami owner told me. "It hasn't made me a shrinking violet.''
Ross told me he never offered his coach job to Jim Harbaugh last year and the Dolphins didn't have the comfort level and familiarity with Peyton Manning that Denver had with him. He also said he thinks Jeff Ireland "has done a terrific job and is a great talent evaluator,'' and the way to build a winning team is primarily through the draft.
I was encouraged to see Ross be more public during the meetings. He's begun to talk to the media in south Florida more, which he needs to do, and he picked his spots nationally, as he did with me last Tuesday. "We had to get out of the bunker mentality,'' Ross said, and he's right.
This draft is extremely important for Miami. If the Dolphins love Tannehill, they have to find a way to move up for him, even at the risk of overpaying.
9. There are many more football people who think Tim Tebow with the Jets is a dumb idea than those who think it's smart. As one GM told me during the meetings: "Just watch it ruin Mark Sanchez. He can't take the booing as it is. With Tebow subbing for him every game and the pressure to get the ball to Santonio Holmes, Sanchez will crack.''
I disagree, vehemently. I don't know if Tebow's ever going to be a starting quarterback in the league for five or six years, or for any length of time. But I do know he can be an asset to a winning team. And if Sanchez can't take the pressure, that's tough. He should play somewhere else.
I thought Tebow was going to be used five to eight snaps a game, but listening to coach Rex Ryan in Florida, he sounds like he's open to more -- up to 20 -- with the field spread, near the goal line, on two-point conversions, and maybe even using Tebow as the personal protector on the punt team. Having a defense in alert mode for Tebow will be a benefit no matter how accurate he is. Or isn't.
10. Now we know what Green Right Slot Spider 3 Y Banana is. One of the great pre-draft TV shows every year is the series ESPN does with Jon Gruden sitting down with the top quarterback prospects and deconstructing their games. On Friday night, Gruden's session with Andrew Luck was on, and he challenged Luck for making a dumb read on a throw against USC -- on Green Right Slot Spider 3 Y Banana, one of Luck's favorite plays and one that he just got greedy on. He should have checked down to the fullback, Gruden was saying, but instead threw to his right to the wideout, with the matador cornerback for USC picking it off and taking it all the way back for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
You could see why Gruden's so successful at this. Quarterbacks read him, and they learn from him. Luck accepted why he should be happy to take the short gains instead of the big risks that backfire. "You can't go broke taking a profit,'' Luck said to Gruden.
I'll be tuned in tonight at 9 -- yes, instead of Kentucky-Kansas -- when ESPN rolls out Gruden's session with Robert Griffin III.
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