Shakespeare tells us brevity is the soul of wit.
Tannehill tells us brevity is the soul of truth.
The latest example? Ryan Tannehill’s assessment of his dud of a game last Sunday in Baltimore:
“It wasn’t good enough,” Tannehill said. “Across the board we weren’t good enough. And that includes me.”
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And that was it. He didn’t need to say more.
Tannehill threw three interceptions against Baltimore after having just one in the previous six games. The performance wasn’t just bad; Pro Football Focus says he was the league’s worst quarterback in Week 13.
Was it a one-week blip, or a warning sign of things to come?
Tannehill is now 8-12 in December (he’s .500 lifetime in all other months).
His passer rating is more than three points lower and he throws for 13 fewer yards per game in December than in September, October, November and January.
Tannehill averages a half-yard less per attempt in the year’s final month than in all other months of the season.
And his touchdown percentage drops from 4.1 percent to 3.4 percent in December.
So if you’re looking for the No. 1 reason that the Dolphins are home underdogs to a sub-.500 Cardinals team in a game both sides urgently need, that’s as good as any.
Tannehill added fuel to his late-season narrative last week in Baltimore, where he directed three first-half drives inside the Ravens’ 40 but emerged with zero points to show for it.
Yes, the Dolphins ultimately were crushed by 32 last Sunday, so it’s unlikely that those empty possessions were the primary reason for the drubbing. But Dolphins players believe they were a reason.
“We should have put some points up on the board to help our defense out,” Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said. “If we score some points and be able to capitalize on the field position, the game gets a little bit more interesting, takes a little more pressure off our defense.”
Instead, the game was a laugher by intermission, and it forced Tannehill to throw 26 times in the second half (rarely a recipe for success for Miami).
There’s no debating that first-year coach Adam Gase has gotten more from Tannehill than those who came before him. Now can he work that same magic when the games matter the most?
Even after Sunday’s setback, the Dolphins (7-5) have a 31.9 percent chance of ending their seven-year playoff drought, according to Football Outsiders.
But a loss to the Cardinals (5-6-1), who have the league’s No. 3 pass defense and have allowed a league-low 10 passing touchdowns, would almost certainly mean that Miami would need to run the table to get in.
“We just laid an egg,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “I don’t have an explanation for it. If it was one or two guys, it would be easier to explain.”
Said Gase: “I don’t think we really had anybody that was really where we wanted them to be. I know [Tannehill] wanted a better performance out of himself. We just have to get to a point where, when things are not going as planned, we have to find a way to make plays.”
Gase, as he usually does, accepted an oversized portion of the blame. His focus this week will be on getting his playmakers the ball; Jay Ajayi, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills had a combined 24 touches against the Ravens. Gase also acknowledged forcing the ball on some of his play calls and putting Miami’s offensive line in a bad position.
“I need to really stick with Jay, because he’s kind of the guy that can open a lot more things up,” Gase said.
If he does, Ajayi might do something Sunday that only nine Dolphins running backs have done before: rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Ajayi is just 92 yards shy of that benchmark.
Will it happen this week?
“We’ll see. … It’d be a great thing to have,” he said.
Tannehill would agree. The more Ajayi can do, the less of a burden falls on the quarterback’s shoulders.
“I think it helps us with the rhythm of the game,” Tannehill said. “It helps with the pass rush, it helps with the offensive line settling into the rhythm of the game. You get those guys moving up front and it really juices those guys up. You break off a long run and you can feel the energy up front with our offensive line feeling the energy and the momentum builds.
“It’s definitely a big part of what we want to do.”