Can Tannehill survive NFL's No. 2 defense?

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
2:03
PM ET
For Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill's regular-season debut, he gets the league's second-best defense from last season.

Tannehill
Tannehill
Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

The surging Houston Texans will host Tannehill and the rebuilding Dolphins on Sunday. The good news is Tannehill will make his first start that counts in his home state of Texas. The bad news is it comes against a Houston defense that was dominant last year under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The Texans were third against the pass and fourth against the run. Houston also was sixth in the NFL with 44 sacks.

In other words, there is nothing the Texans didn't do well defensively last season.

Can Tannehill have success making his first pro start with receivers resembling an expansion team? The odds do not look good.

Tannehill had some good moments in the preseason. He knows the West Coast offense, can make all the throws and the potential is there. Those are the reasons he beat out incumbent Matt Moore for the starting job this summer.

But Sunday's game against Houston is looking like a tough, uphill battle for Tannehill. He's on the road, facing an elite defense and his supporting cast isn't good enough or consistent enough to make Tannehill's job easy.

The Dolphins appear to be throwing Tannehill to the wolves in Week 1. But the biggest goal for Miami in 2012 is to get the rookie quarterback prepared to play well in future seasons. Sunday against Houston could be a tough (but good) learning experience for Tannehill.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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