NFL Nation: ryan tannehill

CHICAGO -- So this is what Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks like at his absolute best.

Miami's 27-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday finally showed what a consistent, dominant Tannehill looks like under center. Better yet for the Dolphins, it happened over four full quarters -- not the usual one good half or quarter Tannehill has provided this season.

How locked in was the third-year quarterback? On his second touchdown pass of the day, the Bears took away his first and second options. So Tannehill went to his third progression -- which he rarely does successfully -- to complete a 10-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace.

Wallace said after the game that the Dolphins (3-3) couldn't even hit that play in practice. But with Tannehill in the zone, they made it look easy when it mattered most, giving Miami a lead it never relinquished.

"I was the last read on the play," Wallace said. "On that play in practice, I've been working that [route] probably since I was in Pittsburgh and never got the ball, not one time, on that play. That was the first time.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastQB Ryan Tannehill capitalized on short passes to lift the Dolphins over Chicago in Week 7.
"You could fall asleep on that play, but you gotta stay focused. Honestly, I got that same play on Tuesday or Wednesday in practice and he threw it. We didn't connect on it, and I told him I will be better on it the next time. Tonight was our next time, and we were better."

There have been games when Tannehill was good, but never the best player on the field. That changed in Chicago. Afterward, backup quarterback Matt Moore got a chuckle out of Tannehill by telling him, "You inspire me."

Tannehill's day started with 14 straight completions, and he finished with 277 yards and two touchdown passes. He posted a career-high 123.6 passer rating and didn't have his first incompletion until 54 seconds left in the first half.

First-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is getting a better grasp of his quarterback's capabilities. The Dolphins used a well-devised game plan that highlighted Tannehill's strengths: throwing short and intermediate passes. His longest completion was for 26 yards to backup tight end Dion Sims. Tannehill also used his athleticism by rolling out of the pocket on passing plays, rushing for 48 yards on six carries.

Dolphins tight end Charles Clay said Tannehill's confidence was at an all-time high, especially after getting hot early.

"It's hard to pinpoint, but it was just something about him," said Clay, who had four receptions and caught Tannehill's first touchdown pass. "It gave me confidence, and I'm sure it gave everybody else in the huddle confidence."

Tannehill said he has never completed 14 straight passes to start a game at any level. He did complete 14 straight between the second and third quarters this season against the Oakland Raiders, but this performance was from the start and more dominant.

On this day, if you were open, Tannehill easily identified it and made the right decisions. He completed 78.1 percent of his passes, and eight Dolphins players had at least two receptions.

"Everyone was getting open," Tannehill said. "It's fun to be able to spread the ball around like that."

Was this a one-game performance or a potential career turning point? That remains to be seen.

One of the biggest critiques of Tannehill is he rarely strings together strong games in back-to-back weeks. This season alone he has struggled from half to half. That is one of the major reasons Tannehill is just 18-20 as a starter and still trying to prove he is Miami's long-term solution.

But Sunday's lights-out performance at least provided a one-game snapshot that Tannehill is capable of dominating a game. He has good athleticism and can make most of the throws needed to thrive in the NFL, with the exception of a consistent deep ball.

After six games, it's clear the Dolphins will go only as far as Tannehill takes them this season.

"We're definitely playoff-caliber, and if he's playing like [Sunday], we could be Super Bowl-caliber, honestly," Wallace said. "But we got to put in the work every day. We know it's not going to just come to us. We have to keep grinding and stay focused."
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-14 win over the Chicago Bears:

On the rebound: The Dolphins felt vindicated after their bounce-back performance Sunday evening. Many questioned if Miami would bounce back from last week's deflating, last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers. But the Dolphins put forth one of their most impressive games on both sides of the football, proving they have the talent to play with most teams. Now, the Dolphins must work on their consistency. "People just last week were telling us we were trash," receiver Mike Wallace said. "So we've got to keep our head up and stay focused, no matter good or bad."

Win for the little guys: Much was made of the size difference this week between Bears receivers Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) against Miami cornerbacks Brent Grimes (5-10) and Cortland Finnegan (5-10). But the corners won this matchup. Marshall and Jeffery combined for just eight receptions for 57 yards. Finnegan and Grimes were physical and covered well for most of the game. "You guys made a story of it," Finnegan said afterward. "But Brent said it earlier; we go against receivers who always are bigger than us. It's just one of those things."

Tannehill's wheels: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is running the ball more and it's paying dividends. Head coach Joe Philbin praised Tannehill's wheels after the quarterback rushed for 48 yards on six carries. Tannehill made a long run of 30 yards that gave the Dolphins a lot of momentum. He now has a 30-yard run and a 40-yard run in back-to-back weeks. "He's done a very consistent job in it," Philbin said. "I think it's repetition, repetition, repetition. It paid off today a couple times."

Rapid Reaction: Miami Dolphins

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' 27-14 win Sunday over the Chicago Bears.

What it means: The Dolphins continue their roller-coaster ride by picking up a key road victory and improving to 3-3. This was a complete performance on both sides of the ball. Miami cashed in on three red zone touchdowns and forced three turnovers on defense, bouncing back from a last-second loss in Week 6 to the Green Bay Packers. The Dolphins, who have yet to win two in a row, will try to work on their consistency.

Stock watch: Dolphins fans have been clamoring about the lack of fast starts. Miami finally got it going early by jumping out to a much-needed 14-0 halftime lead on the road. The offense moved the chains and had early touchdown catches by tight end Charles Clay and receiver Mike Wallace. The defense also picked off quarterback Jay Cutler and held the Bears scoreless in the first half. The second half wasn't as clean. The Dolphins allowed two touchdowns defensively and had a field goal blocked. However, Miami was good enough in the first half that it didn't matter.

Jones, Shelby make impact: The Dolphins received key contributions from two players who were recently suspended. Miami starting safety Reshad Jones had his best performance of the season in his second game back. He recorded seven tackles and a second-quarter interception to set up a Miami touchdown. Sunday also marked the first game back for Derrick Shelby, who missed one game after being arrested at a nightclub. He registered an early sack off the bench.

Game ball: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets his second game ball of the season. Tannehill was locked in and threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 123.6 passer rating. Tannehill produced a near-perfect first half by completing his first 14 passes. His first incompletion happened with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.

What's next: The Dolphins will continue their stretch away from Miami with another road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6). The Dolphins will play four of their next six games on the road.
DAVIE, Fla. -- A case can be made that the biggest optimist in the Miami Dolphins' locker room is starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Through the ups and downs, wins and losses, Tannehill’s mentality has remained consistently positive in his belief in himself and the team.

The Dolphins (2-3) have lost three of their past four games. But Tannehill senses a turnaround as Miami prepares to play the Chicago Bears (3-3) Sunday at Soldier Field.

“Guys are hungry to make plays, hungry to get better,” Tannehill said. “Just make the plays that are there and be crisp. We have the talent. We have every piece that we need to put this puzzle together. Now it’s just a matter of doing it.”

The Dolphins have enough good players to compete with most teams. But inconsistencies have plagued the team.

Tannehill has been inconsistent as well. He’s thrown for 1,146 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions and has an 81.5 passer rating.

Just three weeks ago, Tannehill was in a tough spot. He got off to a mediocre start to the season in his first three games and Miami head coach Joe Philbin was noncommittal when asked if Tannehill would remain the starter leading up to the team’s Week 4 game against the Oakland Raiders.

Tannehill answered against Oakland with his best game of the season. He also had some good moments last week against the Packers, a game in which he threw two touchdowns in the second half and two interceptions in the first half.

The Dolphins aren’t quite in must-win territory Sunday against Chicago. But time is running low on Miami. The Dolphins must string together wins now if they want to remain in the playoff hunt in the AFC.

“There’s definitely an urgency,” Tannehill said. “Do I think we thought to go out and not play with urgency? No, but I think there’s definitely an intensity that it’s being brought to the practice field. I think some of the best practices we’ve had this year were the past two days, Tuesday and [Wednesday]. There’s an intensity on the practice field.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It was like the Green Bay Packers were back in San Francisco, circa January 2013, last Sunday in South Florida.

Only this time it was Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill -- not Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers -- who fooled the Packers with the read-option play.

It was really only one option play -- OK, maybe two or three -- that fooled the Packers this time. But when Tannehill ran for 40 yards on a second-and-5 play in the third quarter, it left outside linebacker Clay Matthews looking just as fooled as Erik Walden was by Kaepernick in that playoff loss.

[+] EnlargeCam Newton
AP Photo/AJ MastPanthers quarterback Cam Newton gained 107 yards on 17 carries against the Bengals.
"I know you guys are looking for someone to blame," Matthews said this week. "That's kind of how the zone-read works, is kind of forcing them into one way or another and having those players react off it. It's not, 'one guy is to blame.' It's having responsibilities to it. It's hard to explain.

"We're doing everything we need to this week to kind of make it as black and white as possible, as far as 'This is this and this is that.' That way there is no confusion throughout the game or in general."

That's a good idea considering what the Packers might face Sunday at Lambeau Field against the Carolina Panthers. Last Sunday, the Panthers ran the read-option 12 times in their 37-37 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals and averaged 5.75 yards per rush doing so, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only one team ran more read-option last week than the Panthers. It was the Dolphins, who did it 18 times.

Against the Bengals, Cam Newton ran for 107 yards on 17 carries -- not all read-option, of course -- after rushing for just 42 yards on 14 attempts in Carolina's first five games.

"It's a concept we spent a lot of time [on Wednesday] at practice," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Obviously Cam Newton runs it very well; he's been running it for quite some time. He's an excellent football player, he brings a dynamic to the read-option as far as his ability to run the football. That was clearly evident in the Cincinnati game.

"We're preparing and how we handle it, there's other elements involved and other factors involved, but it's definitely a primary concept in the NFL. So we're much better prepared today than we were probably a couple years ago, and I think that's like anything in this game, we've seen it more and we've spent more time on it."

In the big picture, the Packers actually handled Miami's read-option better than you might think. The Dolphins averaged just 4.78 yards per attempt in that formation, according to ESPN Stats & Info. They gained 86 yards on their 18 read-option plays, and 40 came on Tannehill's run. Tannehill kept the ball on one other read-option play and picked up 3 yards to convert a second-and-1 in the first quarter. Running back Lamar Miller's 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter also was a read-option play.

One theory for Matthews' inability to get much done against the Dolphins -- he failed to record a single tackle -- was their liberal use of the read-option, which in theory slows down Matthews from playing his usual aggressive style, because he first has to assess where the ball goes.

Don't think the Panthers failed to notice that.

"Yes, you do game-plan accordingly," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said on a conference call with reporters at Lambeau Field this week. "You also look at some of the other things they've had problems with and some of the other teams that had success against them and you try to figure out the best way to attack them."
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn't sure whether he believes in momentum for individual players. But if there is such a thing, Tannehill should feel good about his chances heading into Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.

Tannehill is coming off his best game of the season with 278 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-14 win over the Oakland Raiders. Tannehill had a 109.3 passer rating. Before that, Tannehill had three mediocre games that led to questions about his status as Miami's starter.

The Dolphins (2-2) will need more stellar quarterback play from Tannehill against the Packers (3-2). Green Bay Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out with seven touchdowns the past two games and the team is averaging 40 points over that span.

A confident Tannehill believes he's turned the corner and is ready for a shootout, if necessary.

"When you play a good offense, in general, you understand you're probably going to have to put up a lot of points," Tannehill said. "We understand that. I think we have the playmakers across the board to do it. I think we started going the right way a couple weeks ago in London."

Miami finally appears headed in the right direction offensively. This group is well rested and coming off a bye in Week 5.

The Dolphins are expected to get Pro Bowl offensive lineman Mike Pouncey (hip) back in the lineup. Running back Knowshon Moreno, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, also is practicing this week and could return from an elbow injury.

Green Bay has the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 163 yards per game. That is a good matchup for Miami, which has the fifth-best rushing offense at 142.3 yards per game. Look for the Packers to stack to line to mask this weakness, which means Tannehill should get plenty of opportunities to produce through the air.

Week 4 against the Raiders was the first time this season the Dolphins' offense produced enough explosive plays. Tannehill had three passes of 20 yards or more and running back Lamar Miller added a rushing attempt for 21 yards.

"I think the last game gave everyone on the offense more confidence," Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "Let's face it, you can do your best, but it's hard to predict going into a game how it's going to go. If it takes the defense helping us, we'll take it. But we've got to do our job. Every time we go out there, we've got to try and score.

"We've got to build an attitude that, when we send the offense on the field, their job is to score until the end of the game when we tell them to run the clock out."

Miami's defense has allowed 30 points or more only once this season. But this could be one of those high-scoring games at Sun Life Stadium.

Either way, Tannehill says he's ready.

"I don't know what it's going to take," Tannehill said. "You never know until the game. But we have a lot of respect for their offense and playmaking ability. As an offense, it's our job to score."

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

It is hard to criticize the Dolphins this week following a 38-14 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders. Miami did nearly everything right and played a full 60 minutes of winning football for the first time this year. Most important, Dolphins third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill (278 yards, two touchdowns) responded with his best game of the season to quiet critics about his status as the starter.

But even with the big victory, the Dolphins remain sloppy with ball security. Miami had three turnovers -- two fumbles, one interception -- and still beat the Raiders in London’s Wembley Stadium by 24 points. The Dolphins (2-2) can get away with a trio of turnovers against the awful and winless Raiders (0-4). But Miami can’t expect sustained success when turning over the football, especially against the better teams.

Miami's three turnovers came from Tannehill's fourth-quarter interception and a pair of fumbles by tailback Lamar Miller and rookie receiver Jarvis Landry on punt returns. You're not going to bench Tannehill or Miller for making errors. But one potential solution is to replace Landry at punt return after the bye week. Landry's had two fumbles on punt returns, and the Dolphins have veteran returner Marcus Thigpen back on the roster.

The Dolphins have nine turnovers in four games. Interestingly, all of Miami's games so far have been decided by 13 points or more. Turnovers were a factor in the two losses to the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, but were a non-factor in wins over the Raiders and New England Patriots.

According to data from ESPN Stats and Information, 36.2 percent of teams that start 2-2 make the playoffs. The Dolphins must reduce turnovers in order to increase that probability of getting into the postseason.

LONDON -- Quarterback Ryan Tannehill stood on the sideline without his helmet while the Miami Dolphins' offense was on the field with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

With backup Matt Moore leading Miami's offense, Tannehill was screaming words of encouragement toward his teammates. But the late quarterback change wasn't what many expected.

After a rocky week, Tannehill was pulled from Sunday's game about halfway through the fourth quarter -- but it was because he had turned in one of the strongest performances of his career. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns in Miami's 38-14 blowout victory over the Oakland Raiders in London.

Perhaps motivated by recent questions about his status as Miami's starter, Tannehill was essentially lights-out for one of the few times in his career. At one point, he completed a career-high 14 straight passes to help the Dolphins (2-2) take a 17-point lead at intermission that they never relinquished.

The irony of Tannehill sitting on the bench in the fourth quarter because of a blowout -- not a benching -- wasn't lost on Miami's backup quarterback.

"It was kind of funny, you know," Moore said. "I'm so proud of Ryan with the way he played. I'm proud of the whole team. But Ryan, being my guy in the quarterback room, I thought he came out and played well.

"There shouldn't have been any questions. But if there was, he answered them. He played great."

Even Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who created last week's controversy with his non-endorsement of Tannehill, was able to joke about pulling Tannehill about midway through the fourth quarter.

"You guys predicted it," Philbin deadpanned with a sly grin to the media.

Intentionally or not, Philbin motivated and challenged Tannehill this week in ways the quarterback never experienced. Miami's starter admitted this was the toughest week of his two-plus seasons in the NFL.

The perception Philbin created -- at least publicly -- was that the kid gloves were off; Tannehill could lose his job at any second with another poor performance. He was 1-4 in his previous five starts dating to last season, and that created a sense of urgency and focus. Tannehill was locked in from the beginning on Sunday and completed 17 of his first 19 passes. That sparked Miami's offense to score a season-high 38 points.

"As the week went on and everything, all the distractions, to finally leave the country, have a long flight and come over here and get ready for the game, I think I was more excited for this game than I've been for a game in a long time," Tannehill said.

Perhaps Tannehill's biggest asset is his physical toughness -- he's proved it on a weekly basis. Tannehill has been the NFL's most-sacked quarterback since 2012, and he has never complained or missed a start.

But Tannehill showed a different side of himself to coaches and teammates Sunday with his mental toughness. The pressure on Tannehill had never been higher, and Tannehill answered the call. Overcoming adversity is a major plus for any starting quarterback.

There will be no debating Tannehill's status as the Dolphins enter their bye week.

"I'm excited about the step that I took and that the offense took this week," Tannehill said. "But we have to build off of it. It's just a step."

Moore said the two quarterbacks understood the situation the entire week and they did their best to block the outside distractions. The results showed Sunday.

"I think the sky is the limit," Moore said when asked how good the Dolphins can be this season if Tannehill plays up to his potential. "It is Week 4. We've had some mishaps early in the season. But I think this proves when we're clicking, we can do some big things. I think this game gives guys some positive vibes."

And no one needed more positive vibes than Tannehill.

A few Dolphins thoughts from London

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
LONDON -- The Miami Dolphins (1-2) have arrived in England to face the winless Oakland Raiders (0-3) on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.'s Dolphins blog also is overseas in London with the team. Here are some thoughts on Miami just one day away from an important game.
  • In being around Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill throughout the week, it's clear that he realizes this is a huge game for him. Tannehill seemed genuinely bothered by Miami head coach Joe Philbin's noncommittal comments to Tannehill this week. That had never been an issue in Tannehill in his two-plus seasons. But after five straight mediocre games dating to last season, Tannehill is officially on the hot seat. It will be interesting to see if he responds to the adversity or goes in the tank and has another bad game.
  • It appears Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey will not reach his goal of returning to the field in Week 4 to play in London. Sunday was the target date Pouncey set for himself this summer following major hip surgery. He made the trip but is listed as doubtful on the injury report. Pouncey could benefit from the next two weeks of rest and preparation. The Dolphins will have a bye in Week 5 before returning to the field in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers.
  • Do you want proof that the Dolphins need a bye week? Consider Miami had a whopping 22 players listed on their injury report Friday. About half of those injuries are minor nicks and bruises, but the other 10-12 players could definitely use the extra time to heal. Many teams and players often do not like early byes; the Dolphins will now play 12 straight games to finish the season. But Miami is in position to take advantage.
  • I thought the team, overall, was a pretty relaxed and loose bunch. A lot of players were smiling and joking during Friday's open portion of practice. Tannehill also mentioned players performed various pranks during the long team flight. Being loose can help as long as the Dolphins had a good week of preparation.

Dolphins vs. Raiders preview

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26

Two struggling teams, the Miami Dolphins (1-2) and Oakland Raiders (0-3), traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium in London. This is the first of three NFL games in London this season.

Both the Dolphins and Raiders are searching for answers and an identity. But only one can get on track in this Week 4 matchup.

Who will prevail? ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and ESPN Raiders reporter Bill Williamson discuss.

Walker: Bill, Oakland has played its best football on the road so far this season. How do you explain that coming from a rebuilding team?

Williamson: Really, James, the Raiders have been competitive only once this season and it was Sunday at New England. The 19-14 loss at the New York Jets in Week 1 was not nearly as close as the score indicated. At New England, the Raiders were more competitive on defense than on offense. Still, the team did have a chance to win this game late and there is a sense of confidence with Oakland. We will see if that translates into being competitive against Miami.

James, do you think the Dolphins, who have been struggling as well, have confidence going into this game?

Walker: The Dolphins have a lot of issues, Bill. It would be much easier if the team could say, "Let's fix this one problem and turn it around." But I can name at least a half-dozen issues that hurt the Dolphins the past two weeks. I wouldn't say their confidence is shot. That's probably going too far. But for the first time this season doubt is starting to creep in -- and it's only Week 4. It's questionable whether Miami is good enough to fix all its issues quickly to win enough games. The Dolphins need a win to erase some doubt internally.

I'm intrigued by Oakland rookie quarterback Derek Carr. What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Williamson: His strengths are his leadership and poise. He is very comfortable in his role at the age of 23. Carr has not been great, but the Raiders are not 0-3 because of him and the job does not look to be too big for him. He has been solid on third down and has handled pressure well at times. But the issues are typical of a rookie. His accuracy hasn't been great, defenses stifle him sometimes and execution at times stalls. But I think Carr will get better as he gets more experience and more talent around him.

What have been Ryan Tannehill's biggest problems?

Walker: Similar to the team, leaks in Tannehill's game are springing up in several areas. That's why there are major questions if he can get everything fixed in time to save his job long term. If I had to pick two issues, I would say his lack of accuracy and the fact he doesn't make quick enough decisions in Bill Lazor's offense. Tannehill's footwork has been off and his ball placement isn't consistent.

Miami has a long trip to London, but Oakland has an even longer journey. What are the Raiders doing to make it work?

Williamson: I don't think this long trip will be an issue for Oakland, as the Raiders have been in England all week. They flew directly to London on Sunday night after the New England game. They have time to rest and adjust their body clocks Monday and Tuesday. They practiced (using their same time routine) during the week. I think the Raiders will be rested come game time.

What are the Dolphins' travel plans and how will it affect them?

Walker: The Dolphins took a different approach. Head coach Joe Philbin wants this game to feel as close to their normal routine as possible. They are considered the "road team," so that offered more flexibility and fewer media obligations in London. The Dolphins didn't leave South Florida until Thursday night. Therefore, they had practices at their own training facility Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Miami will have a light walk-through in London on Friday and meetings in the hotel Saturday, just like a normal game. The time change could be a factor traveling so late in the week. But we will find out on Sunday.

Joe Philbin fine with QB criticism

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is aware that many people -- including his own quarterback -- disagreed with his decision to not publicly endorse Ryan Tannehill this week. The Dolphins are starting Tannehill in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Yet, Philbin is dodging the topic publicly, which caused an unnecessary distraction for an already struggling team.

Plenty of people in South Florida, including former Dolphins greats Jason Taylor and Bob Griese, have voiced their displeasure with the way Philbin is handling his quarterbacks. In fact, it gets more and more difficult to find support for Philbin on this issue with each passing day.

Still, Philbin isn't concerned with critics and remains steadfast that he did the right thing.

"I think that's totally fair. I think everybody is entitled to their opinion," Philbin said of the backlash. "They certainly can feel free to express it, and just like you said, at the end of the day, I have to go to sleep and put my head on the pillow and do what I think is the right thing. I have no issues with any of that."

In other words, Philbin is not budging. He has turned down multiple opportunities to publicly support Tannehill. There is a good chance Philbin will continue to handle Tannehill this way, especially if the third-year quarterback continues to struggle in games.

Tannehill said he received clarity on the situation from Philbin behind the scenes. But it is curious that Philbin couldn't back Tannehill in front of the media.

How Philbin handles Tannehill going forward -- including Sunday's game in London against Oakland -- certainly is worth monitoring.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins (1-2) continue their preparation for the Oakland Raiders (0-3).

Here are some notes and observations from Wednesday's practice:
  • Miami’s defense received some good news. Starting middle linebacker Koa Misi returned to practice from an ankle injury. Misi was injured in Week 1 against the New England Patriots and missed the past two games. Backup linebacker Jason Trusnik has filled in.
  • Dolphins starting defensive lineman Randy Starks was not practicing Wednesday in the portion open to the media. He also left practice early on Tuesday. Miami will release the nature of Starks’ absence later this afternoon. Also, guard Shelley Smith didn’t practice for the second day in a row. Smith missed last week’s game with a knee injury.
  • Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is on the hot seat, is making an emphasis on improving his footwork this week. Tannehill went through individual and position drills Wednesday concentrating on footwork to improve his accuracy. Tannehill currently has a career-low 56.5 completion percentage.

The Film Don't Lie: Dolphins

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
A weekly look at what the Miami Dolphins must fix:

The Miami Dolphins have a lot of issues. But one silent killer has been dropped passes by wide receivers and tight ends, and it needs to stop immediately when Miami (1-2) travels to London to play the winless Oakland Raiders (0-3).

According to Pro Football Focus research, the Dolphins are second in the NFL with 11 drops after three games. Only the Baltimore Ravens (12) have more dropped passes. Miami had three drops in Sunday's 34-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs all the help he can get. He's on the hot seat and struggling with his accuracy (56.5 completion percentage) early in the season. On Sunday, Tannehill threw the ball well in the first half, but tight end Charles Clay and receivers Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry all failed to bring in receptions that could have moved the chains early and potentially put points on the board.

Miami’s sloppiness on offense early led to a 14-3 halftime deficit against Kansas City, and the Dolphins weren’t able to overcome in the second half. The best solution is for receivers and tight ends to continue to do extra work during and after practice catching the football. It’s a group-wide issue -- not just one or two players -- so lineup changes wouldn't work.
DAVIE, Fla. -- It could be nothing now. But it could mean something later.

That was my general takeaway from Monday’s cryptic news conference by Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Miami’s coach -- on four separate occasions -- declined to answer whether quarterback Ryan Tannehill will remain the starter.

In all likelihood, Ryan Tannehill will be the starting quarterback this weekend when the Dolphins take the field in London against the Oakland Raiders. Miami is 1-2 and has a chance to get back to .500, which would put it back in the mix entering its bye week. Making a quarterback change to Matt Moore in Week 4 would be drastic and knee-jerk. It also should be noted that Philbin rarely answers questions about his starting lineups.

"We’re going to get our 46 best players in the game, and we’re going to utilize them the best way possible," Philbin said.

But what if this is a prelude to something? What if Tannehill, who is 16-19 as a starter, is rapidly running out of time? In many ways he has regressed in his first three games this season. Tannehill’s statistics are on pace for career lows in completion percentage (56.5) and passer rating (74.1).

The Dolphins might not pull the plug on Tannehill this week. But if he struggles for the fourth straight game and the Dolphins cannot beat the winless Oakland Raiders (0-3) in London, anything and everything should be on the table, especially entering the bye week.

Philbin is entering a must-win Year 3 in Miami. Tannehill has been pretty much untouchable in his first two seasons as a former first-round draft pick. But Philbin cannot afford to stick to that approach this season if Tannehill can’t turn things around.

The kid gloves are off. It's now or never for Tannehill.

Offensive malaise continues for Miami

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- There was a lot of hype and hoopla surrounding the Miami Dolphins' new-look offense this offseason.

First-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, who came from the Chip Kelly school of offense, was expected to bring an innovative style to Miami that was up-tempo and able to quickly put points on the board. Even Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said in training camp that he viewed 25 points per game -- or 400 points in a season -- as a successful bar for his team.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeProtecting quarterback Ryan Tannehill was again an issue for Miami in Sunday's loss to the Chiefs.
But after three games, the Dolphins’ new offense is mostly firing blanks. As a result, Miami (1-2) suffered a 34-15 blowout loss at home to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs (1-2).

The Dolphins have averaged just 12.5 points per game in the past two weeks. The "new look" is showing some of the same old mistakes that were made previously under former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

Many people in Miami have their jobs on the line this season, and the Dolphins can't win many games with the offense unable to consistently move the football.

Why is the offense struggling? There are myriad reasons. Here are a few worth noting:

  • Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is not making the proper strides in Year 3. Lazor is asking a lot of Tannehill, and so far he’s proving to be unable to carry the team. Tannehill currently has a career-low completion percentage of 56.5 percent in three games. His passer rating of 74.1 also is a career low. The Dolphins can only go as far as Tannehill can lead them, and so far it’s not looking promising. "It's still early in the season, so I have confidence that we can get this thing turned around," Tannehill said. "But it has to happen now. I said that last week and we didn't get it done."
  • There have been questionable play calling by Lazor and poor clock management by Philbin. On Sunday, the Dolphins called passes on second-and-1 and third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter, which resulted in an incomplete deep pass to Mike Wallace and a quarterback sack. Miami had the running game going -- Lamar Miller rushed for 108 yards -- and went away from it at a curious time. The game went downhill from there.
  • The offense has been unable to sustain scoring drives. The Dolphins' longest touchdown drive was for 19 yards, which followed a Chiefs turnover. In fact, 12 of Miami's 15 points were set up by the defense and special teams. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick forced a fumble on Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith to set up a short touchdown. Miami's defense also got a safety and rookie Jarvis Landry returned a kick 75 yards to set up a field goal.
  • The Dolphins had three drops in the first quarter, which killed any momentum in the first half.
  • Pass protection, which was the offense's biggest issue last season, remains a problem. The Dolphins allowed four quarterback sacks for the second week in a row. Tannehill has been sacked nine times in three games.

There are no easy fixes. Leaks are springing up in various areas and Philbin said "everything" is on the table in terms of making improvements.

The good news is Miami will play another winless team, the Oakland Raiders. The game will be played in London, where the Dolphins hope to find their identity.

"We have to determine what we're going to do," Philbin said. "We have to go back to work. We gotta go across the Atlantic Ocean and we have to play better."



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