The protection didn’t get much better with time, however. Carr led the league in sacks taken in 2004 (49) and 2005 (68).
It was widely believed that the constant duress ruined any chance he had to succeed. Carr’s career completion percentage was below 60 percent, and he threw more interceptions (71) than touchdowns (65). He’s now out of the league and a cautionary tale.
The Dolphins don’t want the same to happen to Tannehill.
Jonathan Martin, their starting left tackle, spent every day of his bye week at the team’s training facility, trying to decipher what has gone wrong.
Tyson Clabo, Miami’s other bookend who has allowed six sacks, knows he’s better than that. He has film from last season proving it.
“At times, I am playing at a high level,” Clabo said. “The consistency’s not there, which is unusual. You just can’t have, out of 70 plays, two or three letdowns. To be a professional athlete, you have to do it the right way every time.”
Dolphins coaches and players argue that sacks alone don’t tell the story. Whereas sacks are way up, quarterback hits (13 in five games, according to Pro Football Focus) are actually down.
But factored together, that means Tannehill still has been planted roughly seven times a game — an alarming amount. If there is an upside, it’s this: he’s still hanging in there to make the throw instead of hitting the eject button.
Said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin: “It’s better to have a guy willing to sit in there and function while some stuff is compressing around him as opposed to, ‘I thought I felt something. I’ve got to get out of here.’ ”
But even the toughest minds can handle so much abuse before it has an effect — one that could potentially change the trajectory of Tannehill’s promising young career.
“You could imagine that scenario that it could happen,” Kaufman said. “Ideally, if someone is going through this, it takes a lot of focus to tune this out.
“[A therapist] would teach him to let go of your fear. Let go of your concern with your pass rush or the risk of being sacked. Just focus on your job as a quarterback.”
In other words: Put the phone down and drive.
• The Dolphins elevated defensive tackle Isaako Aaitui to their active roster from the practice squad Saturday, filling the roster spot created when they cut Marvin Austin earlier in the week.
If Aaitui plays Sunday against the Bills, it would complete a compelling comeback story. Aaitui was in camp with the Dolphins last season, then got cut and was claimed by the Jets. Before the season even began, Aaitui tore multiple ligaments in his knee, and was lost for the season.