Senior NFL Columnist

Dolphins and Titans get it right

Play the kid.

I say it all the time. And the Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans have decided to do just that with their quarterback positions.

The Dolphins have decided rookie Ryan Tannehill is their starter and the Titans are going with second-year quarterback Jake Locker over veteran Matt Hasselbeck.

After seeing both teams in camp, both made the right move.

Neither is a Super Bowl contender, so why not just get on with it and play the young player?

I keep hearing all this talk about how a young quarterback's psyche can be ruined by playing early and struggling. If that's the case, you drafted the wrong guy.

Both Tannehill and Locker were top-10 picks in the first round. That doesn't mean they will automatically have success, but the team that picked them shouldn't be concerned about fragile psyche, or they botched the pick.

There is no comparison between holding a clipboard and playing. Every quarterback I've ever talked with said the speed of the game can't be learned watching it.

The counter is that that Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady sat some and they are arguably the two best in the game. But they were different circumstances. Rodgers had Brett Favre in front of him and Brady was a sixth-round pick who the Patriots didn't even know could play (contrary to what they might say now).

The other thing is quarterbacks are far more advanced now than even then coming into the league.

There is so much more passing on the college level now that these young quarterbacks don't seem awed by the installation process.

In Miami, Tannehill actually knew the offense better than Matt Moore, the man he beat out. That's because it was almost the same offense he ran at Texas A&M. Mike Sherman, the Dolphins offensive coordinator, was the head coach of the Aggies when Tannehill was there.

Tannehill told me last week he plans to talk with some of the other quarterbacks on other teams that have played as rookies.

"When the appropriate time comes I will reach out to them," he said.

When he does, he will hear how playing was the best thing for them. Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan are two who have told me how important it was to their careers to starts as rookies.

The Titans should have started Locker last season. They went with Hasselbeck, went 9-7, and didn't make the playoffs. All that did was hold Locker back a year. Now this will be like his rookie year. At least they got it right this time.

Playing early is the right thing for the quarterbacks.

It's the right thing for the franchise going forward.

Play the kid.

Find out what you have and then if it doesn't work -- like David Carr in Houston -- you can just move on, but at least you know.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
 
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