Tannehill’s Learning Curve: Comparisons to Griese, Marino Unfair — but Fun!

Fairly, or unfairly, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is being Dan Marino-ed at every turn. The way he throws, the way he handles the huddle, the way he handles losses — they all get compared to the Dolphins Hall of Famer. Lofty expectations are heaped upon anyone stepping into the gargantuan iconic shadow of the All-Time-Greatest Dolphin, especially when the team's rabid fan base is hungry for something to be hopeful about after more than a decade of cold crap sandwiches.

It's completely unfair to compare Tannehill to Marino — or any other Dolphins quarterback, really — this early into the season.

But let's do it anyway!

For Miami, quarterbacks compare either to Marino, to 1960s- and '70s-era quarterback Bob Griese, or to a heaping pile of dog crap. So, for Tannehill, the mission is simple: Be Marino or Griese. Avoid being dog crap.

Griese, wearing thick glasses, came out guns blazing in his first game, going 12-for-19 with two TDs and two interceptions in a 35-21 win over the Denver Broncos. But then things fell apart. He completed 50 percent of his passes in his second game, a 24-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and was an abysmal one-for-three in his third game (yes, one-for-three). Of course, he went on to a Hall of Fame career and two Super Bowl wins and now color-commentates Dolphins games on the radio, where he botches players' names like your drunk uncle at a Christmas party.

As for Marino, his first start came against the Raiders, and he completed 64 percent of his passes, throwing two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss. He followed that with a one-touchdown, one-interception game and then a three-touchdown performance for his third game, a 38-35 loss to Buffalo. He went on to obliterate the NFL record book.

Tannehill's first three games have been a little Griese, a little Marino, and a little Cleo Lemon. In his debut against the Texans, Tannehill threw three interceptions and no touchdowns. But against the Raiders in week two, he ran in a TD and threw two others, leading Miami to a 35-13 win. Last weekend against the Jets, he went 16-for-36 for 196 yards and a Pick Six, which is pretty bad.

Three games in, he looks like he's on his way to being Bruce Willis in Die Hard 3. Which isn't bad, because that's probably the best movie of the series. Time will tell. But most of all, everyone needs to stop with the Marino comparisons.

 
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