This is how Bill Parcells
I’m talking about the
guessing, of course. No one is pretending to know what the now-silent Dolphins
are thinking relative to the 2008 NFL Draft, especially when it comes to the
all-important quarterback question.
John Beck doesn’t know, and
he works for Parcells. Ditto the newly signed Josh McCown.
While Parcells may be
silent, the supposed Beck-McCown battle to come speaks volumes. Surely the Dolphins
can’t be comfortable in starting the below average McCown. It would be suicide.
So why don’t the Dolphins
just name Beck the starter and be done with it?
The reason is that John Beck
is not the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback of the future.
Why? Because Bill Parcells
hasn’t said he is and Beck hasn’t proven it.
So, who is?
There’s no other possible
conclusion until Parcells says otherwise.
For those of you who don’t
know, Ryan is the top rated quarterback in this year’s draft. At least one
scouting service has him graded at the same level as Eli Manning, better than
Beck and Brady Quinn in 2007, with a Top 5 general consensus. Some are already
convinced that he is the next bonafide franchise quarterback. Ryan’s recent pro
day workout at Boston
College, attended by the
Dolphins’ Chris Grier (Director of College Scouting) and David Lee
(Quarterbacks Coach), reinforced his elite status.
"The thing this guy has
is his ability to win. And that's what you like in a quarterback”, said Kansas City’s Herman
Edwards. “Some guys can do a lot of things. But, in the end, can he win?”
"He's very levelheaded.
The players believe that if he has the ball in his hands at the end of the
game, that you have a chance to win the game. He has that demeanor about
himself. He's fiery, but he keeps himself under control."
All of what Edwards says
about Ryan is true. There’s no question that BC won a lot more games with Ryan,
the reigning ACC player of the year, than they would have otherwise.
Parcells and his pals (namely
GM Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano) will pour over Ryan’s college
career and form their own collective opinion. They’ve already scheduled a
private evaluation with Ryan.
This is what you do when you
are considering one of the riskiest decisions in all of sports, drafting a
quarterback with your top overall pick. You have to become reasonably convinced
that he’ll really be a franchise-caliber quarterback.
Alas, there is no magic
formula for making this determination. What’s between a quarterback’s ears, and
his ability as a difference-maker, matter more than how tall he is and how far
he can throw the football.
This is why the safest
pick for the Dolphins is Virginia DE Chris Long, son of Hall of Famer Howie
Long. Everything about this kid, his ability, his coaching, his maturity, and
his pedigree, smacks of a Parcells-type player. Furthermore, if you are going
to invest close to $30 million in guaranteed money, you want to have a player that
you know will be a difference-maker at a cornerstone position.
Chris Long fits that
Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long is another player like
this, though to a lesser degree. However, the depth at tackle in this draft is good
enough that the Dolphins could address the need in round two and still get a
very good player.
Going Long is the safe play,
but is it the right one?
The problem with playing it
safe is that you don’t win in the NFL without a very good (or great) quarterback.
The Dolphins simply do not have such a talent. And, when you are in the midst
of a rebuilding exercise, as the Dolphins are, one of the cornerstones you
build your team around is a winning quarterback.
That player certainly isn’t
McCown, and no one is sure it is Beck. So where does this leave the Dolphins?
Yes, the Dolphins could select
a quarterback in the second round or later. Unfortunately, there appears to be
a significant fall off from Ryan to the next group of guys. With the premium on
good quarterbacks, it may even be a third tier of talent that Parcells will have
to choose from if he waits too long. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; half
of the quarterbacks in the Top 8 in passing in 2007 were not first round picks.
The Dolphins were very
fortunate to land John Beck in the second round of the 2007 draft. He’s a
smart, strong, accurate passer with poise, maturity, and a terrific work ethic.
Beck’s a quality person, too. One could fairly say that he has many of the
qualities that Parcells demands in a quarterback.
So let me be quite clear. I
am not suggesting that Beck is a bust or is incapable of being the quarterback
of the future. My point is that, today, no one is reasonably certain how Beck
is going to turn out.
This is the biggest problem
Parcells faces: he doesn’t know if he has a quarterback that can lead this team
to a Super Bowl.
Ryan is already good enough
that people believe he can lead a team to a championship. This doesn’t mean he
will, but it is one heck of a vote of confidence.
On the other hand, no one
gave Beck such an endorsement last year and no one would now.
So unless Parcells, or one
of his underlings, is ready to stand up and anoint Beck, they have no choice
but to keep Ryan squarely in their sights.
Again, this is how Parcells
wants it. If another team thinks the Dolphins will draft Ryan, whether they
intend to or not, trade offers are more likely. And, heavens knows, the
Dolphins can use all of the extra day one picks they can get.
But if an attractive trade
offer doesn’t materialize, and there hasn’t been a trade involving a top 5 pick
since 2004 (coincidentally for Manning), the Dolphins will be facing a very
Do they play it safe and
select Chris Long, or do they take a chance at being great and go with Ryan?
This may be the single
biggest question they face in the Parcells era.