Nov 25, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes running back Lamar Miller (6) is tackled by Boston College Eagles linebacker Luke Kuechly (40) during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Kuechly, Tannehill: the Search for "George"

April 28, 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins first round draft pick quarterback Ryan Tannehill holds up a jersey next to his wife Lauren Ufer during a press conference at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Any excuse to put up a photo of Lauren Tannehill is a good one.

I thought it interesting so many draft “experts” claim that Tannehill was “at least a year away” from starting.

I happen to think he’ll be starting from Day One. Can some people not think beyond what’s in front of them? Sherman was ALWAYS Tannehill’s old college coach, no?

As I have said before, he comes into Miami in a unique situation of any QB drafted in the NFL. By now, it’s common knowledge Miami OC Mike Sherman was his college coach.

What people didn’t seem to grasp until recently is what that means. It means Tannehill already has had 2 years of learning under Sherman and in fact it will be Tannehill helping teach the VETERANS some of the finer points of this offense. More than 2 years if you count the time he was a WR, in fact.

Tannehill’s work will come more in film study, learning the NFL’s complex defenses, and how to defeat them. And praying for WRs to fall to Miami from heaven or wherever because they need them badly. Late-round rookies aren’t gonna cut it.

He has recently stated “80% to 85% of the offense is the same” as what he ran in college. He knows the verbiage going in, and knows what Mike Sherman expects from his players.

He also has both the other Miami QBs beaten badly in his physical tools that cannot be coached. This is what provides him with his real edge – specifically, his mobility and ability to throw on the run. With an OL that was upgraded in the offseason and draft, it should be the strength of the Miami offense – WR sure as heck isn’t.

Add to that recipe the fact that Reggie Bush is a great checkdown receiver and Lamar Miller is coming in from Miami (college) and he’s a capable receiver, the Dolphins appear on the road to forming an identity. I just think Tannehill will be the one directing it from the start. No offense to Matt Moore, who played well last season, but when you draft a guy this high it’s hard to keep him benched IF he knows and can run the offense.

As for Panthers’ LB Luke Kuechly, at first glance it is difficult to figure out at which position he’ll be inserted. He’s a natural MLB but Jon Beason is the incumbent, another former first-round pick. Beason “likes” the middle better than the Will spot and Kuechly is just a rookie coming in to camp.

All this means nothing, zilch, zero, however, as I think Rivera wants him a studly MLB to build his defense around, and that’s Luke Kuechly. Sure, LK CAN play ANY of the 3 LB spots – it shows how good a player he is. But if you listen to GM Marty Hurney and Rivera talk about the kid, their words betray them.

“He has great football intelligence.”

“very reliable, dependable”

“sideline-to-sideline player”

“a great communicator”

“one of those guys that makes those around him better”

Most of those comments point to inserting him at the MIKE. They’re the ones that call defensive signals and a good MLB has to be a dependable, reliable tackler. Luke has that in spades. Ron Rivera seemed to go out of his way to say that he can play all 3 spots without anyone asking him that. More “disinformation” there. While what he says is true, he’s still playing chess, not wanting to give other teams an idea where he’ll be inserted.

Beason’s injury history makes him not-so-reliable. Dan Morgan was the same way while he was here. Rivera doesn’t care a lick where Beason “prefers” playing, he’s putting the best players he can out there. The middle of that defense was SO soft last year, Kuechly’s a top-ten draft pick, and frankly, NOT putting him at MLB would be doing the squad a disservice. If you want to seal up that middle against the run, Kuechly’s the one for the job.

Add to that fact that he’s got very little in the pass-rush skill department as he wasn’t asked to rush the passer at BC from the MLB spot, and he’d be playing a bit out of position at the Will spot. Sure, he’s got the physical tools to do it, but if a Will pass-rusher is what you wanted, there were better choices at 9 overall for that. While it’s not exactly a square peg/round hole thing, at the same time it kinda is.

Athletic ability he’s got. Experience, moves, and tools in the toolbox to do it with, he doesn’t.

In college, he was durable and set records on records for tackling. It’s what he’s best at; it’s what he’s used to doing. Taking on, shedding lead blockers and pursuit and tackle was his game in college.

Why on earth take this guy out of exactly what he’s proven his ability to do – lead a defense?

Beason can PREFER to play Quarterback too, but I don’t think he’d steal much time from Cam.

No, Ron Rivera to Luke Kuechly is what the Looney Toons’ Abominable Snowman was to bunny rabbits. He wants his own “little” Mike Singletary running things on the field, and he just got the next closest thing to him in the draft. And my apologies, “PRESSWIRE” has no archived photos of the Abominable Snowman. Otherwise, go read Hemingway.

Also don’t forget this is Rivera’s team. Kuechly is one of “his guys.” Beason is not. Rivera will probably want to put “his guys” where they will be the most effective. It’s how you build a team while putting your own “stamp” on it.

Kuechly doesn’t have the injury history the Panthers’ LBs do and the Mike has been, is, and always will be the most important LB spot and stability there goes a long way to making a cohesive defensive unit.

I still think the Panthers’ brass just more or less told us he’s going to be their MLB with those descriptors. A lot can happen until opening day, but we’ll find out eventually. I can just see the Panthers’ war room on draft day…and seeing Kuechly still there…cut to abominable snowman excitedly snatching up Bugs Bunny. Let us hope he didn’t just grab Daffy Duck by mistake.

If Kuechly had been named “George” at birth, it would be a truly perfect fit.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly Ryan Tannehill

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