Let’s check in on the Dolphins after last night’s walk through a field of banana peels, shall we?
“We couldn’t get out of our own way,” head coach Adam Gase said.
At 1-3, the Dolphins are right where they were when they shitcanned Joe Philbin last season. Sure, they’re dealing with a bunch of injuries—they were without six starters last night—and sure, the losses have come on the road against the Seahawks, Patriots, and Bengals, but the only reason they aren’t winless is because the Browns are the Browns, and the Dolphins sure tried their damnedest to lose that one. And while the organization is committed to quarterback Ryan Tannehill—both in word and in deed—it’s fair to start wondering whether Tannehill is going to get things together, or if he just sucks.
Tannehill has played in three offensive systems in his five seasons in South Florida. He worked with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman his first two years; Bill Lazor after that, until Lazor was fired and replaced by quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor with five games remaining last season; and now Gase and his OC, Clyde Christensen. Gase was brought in because he has a track record of coaxing something approaching competency out of Jay Cutler, an aging Peyton Manning, and that one year Tim Tebow really did win a playoff game, I swear. This season still has three quarters to go, but the early returns on Gase’s Tannehill-whispering aren’t pretty.
Some rankings for the Dolphins’ offense as of right now:
- Interception percentage: 3.62 (26th)
- Sacks per attempt: 7.97 percent (27th)
- First downs/game: 16.3 (29th)
- Third-down conversions: 26.7 percent (dead fucking last)
That sack rate and the third-down ineptitude are the most alarming. In the previous three seasons, Tannehill was sacked 149 times, or 18 times more than any other NFL quarterback during the same span. And last year the Dolphins ranked 30th in the league on third down. Even with Gase in charge, they’ve pretty much picked up right where Dan Campbell and his in-season Oklahoma drills left off.
Tannehill defenders will point out that the Dolphins were without left tackle Branden Albert and center Mike Pouncey last night due to injury, that left guard Laremy Tunsil had to be moved to left tackle, and that this happened:
It’s also true, per Pro Football Focus, that Tannehill was pressured on 15 of his 30 dropbacks even though the Bengals almost exclusively used a four-man rush. But Tannehill’s pocket awareness was awful; here he is taking a strip sack with absolutely no idea that the pocket is collapsing around him:
Here’s Tannehill’s fourth-quarter interception, which ended just the third trip the Dolphins made into Bengals territory, even counting Tannehill’s 74-yard touchdown to Kenny Stills on Miami’s second play from scrimmage:
Look where the Bengals dropped their coverage! That pass had no chance!
All told, Tannehill was sacked five times and killed one drive with that fumble, and another with that pick. Per PFF, his rating when he was pressured last night was a big fat zero. In contrast, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had a rating of 104.2 when pressured.
It wasn’t all on Tannehill, though. In the third quarter, with the Bengals leading 19-7, the Dolphins were all set to get the ball near midfield when Terrence Fede did this*:
Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, your thoughts?
The Dolphins have squandered what skill-position talent they’ve had since drafting Tannehill No. 8 overall in 2012. They often misused running back Lamar Miller before letting him walk to the Texans in free agency, after which Miller got in one last dig at his former employers. They now seem to be wasting true receiving talents like DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry. And while Gase has stressed that he wants to get his tight ends involved, Jordan Cameron—who was among the injured last night—has just eight catches for 60 yards and one touchdown this season.
For good measure, there’s already some subtle finger-pointing going on, too:
“One of our worst performances from our offense in a long time,” Tannehill said.
Tannehill is adept in player-speak, even cliché, but reading between a few of his more candid post-game comments could prove prophetic.
“It’s gone on too long,” Tannehill said. “It’s got to be important to everyone who steps on that field.”
Dysfunction is nothing new for the Dolphins, who haven’t had a winning season since 2008. They’re on their third general manager since Tannehill was drafted. They bullied one of their own offensive linemen. Two years ago, they transitioned from one power struggle to another by bringing ex-Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum on as a consultant during then-GM Dennis Hickey’s first season, only to promote Tannenbaum to an executive role above Hickey, before eventually firing Hickey and replacing him with Chris Grier. Yet Tannenbaum is still believed to have final say over personnel. He had a tendency to aim too hard at quick fixes toward the end of his run with the Jets, and decisions like giving $60 million to Ndamukong Suh, trading for Byron Maxwell, extending Cameron Wake’s contract even though he’s 34 and coming off an Achilles injury, and leaving a hole in the roster at running back all seem to bear Tannenbaum’s fingerprints. Even with A.J. Green catching everything last night, Maxwell was benched, Wake played just 15 snaps, and the running back-by-committee system necessitated by an injury to oft-injured Arian Foster produced only 62 yards on 13 carries. For Ryan Tannehill, and for the Dolphins, it’s gone on too long, indeed. And they still can’t get out of their own way.