Ryan Tannehill: Why He Won't Get Best of Rookie QB Matchup vs. Colts

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 2, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 28:   Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins drops back to pass as  Bryan Thomas #58 of the New York Jets defends on October 28, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Indications are that Ryan Tannehill's left knee injury won't keep him out of the Miami Dolphins' Week 9 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. With that being said, don't expect the No. 8 overall pick to get the best of his more highly touted rookie counterpart.

Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post has the latest on Tannehill from Thursday's practice:

Tannehill appeared to be moving well Thursday during the first 30 minutes of practice that was open to the media. He wore a compression sleeve and a brace over his left knee for the second consecutive day and still isn’t back to 100 percent, but he also displayed good mobility while dropping back from center and throwing on the run.

What has also been made clear to Volin by his sources is that Tannehill will be on a short leash if his knee hampers him too much. Even if he can play the entire game, though, Tannehill has a much less favorable matchup than Colts QB Andrew Luck.

The addition of cornerback Vontae Davis to the Colts' secondary has quietly made a huge impact, as the team is now a top-10 pass defense. Part of that may be due to how well opposing teams run the ball, but the CB duo of Davis and Jerraud Powers along with Pro Bowler Antoine Bethea and savvy strong safety Tom Zbikowski form a stellar secondary.

Unfortunately, Davis will be out for Sunday's game, according to ESPN's injury report. However, Bethea will be able to still play center field effectively, and Powers can lock down whomever is presented as the top receiver for the Dolphins.

Miami does have a pretty strong running game to set up decent opportunities for Tannehill to throw, gaining nearly 116 yards per contest on the ground.

At least, that's the perception.

Other than an electric, 172-yard performance in Week 2, Dolphins running back Reggie Bush hasn't eclipsed 100 yards rushing in any game this season. Rookie Lamar Miller also had 65 yards in that tilt with Oakland, which has heavily skewed Miami's statistics.

Therefore, while the Colts aren't exactly stout against what is the Dolphins' biggest strength offensively, the matchup isn't as lopsided as it seems.

On the other hand, Luck and company have a top-10 passing offense and will face a weak Miami secondary, whose yardage numbers may balloon due to opponents' lack of success running the ball.

However, the Colts aren't a running team anyway. Luck has thrown the seventh-most passes in the league, and has proven more each week that he can command the line of scrimmage and get out of bad offensive plays.

A fluky last-minute loss is all that has kept the Colts from being undefeated at Lucas Oil Stadium—and from a relatively shocking 5-2 record. Had the Dolphins pulled out two overtime games, they would sport a 6-1 record themselves.

The playoff implications are massive, but too many factors are stacked against the Dolphins QB.

Without any truly viable, healthy receiver options besides Davone Bess, Tannehill will have to deal with the typically tough Indy pass rush, a thin list of playmakers and a knee injury in a rowdy road environment.

Tannehill will still have a successful rookie campaign overall, but he should struggle this week. In a quarterback matchup sure to happen more than a few more times between the top-10 picks, expect Luck to get the better of this one.