Where does a down-on-his-luck Floridian go to recharge, refresh and reset?
The Florida Keys, of course.
So during his bye weekend, Ryan Tannehill made like a local.
“I went down to the Keys for a few days and just relaxed, spent some time on the water with my wife and dogs, and just kind of cleared my head, got away, and evaluated the first four games for us — what we did well, what I did well, what we didn’t do well, and how we want to move forward,” Tannehill told the Miami Herald recently.
A little sunshine, some fishing and perhaps a cocktail or two can give a person perspective. For Tannehill, whose declining play this season matches that of the team he leads, it’s this:
The world is not ending. And things are never as bad as they seem.
Granted, they haven’t been good.
The Dolphins have lost three games in a row, canned their coach, fought each other more than their opponents and with Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, start a grueling stretch of four road games in 29 days.
But they also have a new attitude with new coach Dan Campbell, and are as healthy as they’ve been all season. So Tannehill, during his trip to the land of Jimmy Buffett, saw the margarita glass as half-full.
“I saw things that we did well, and some things that we need to improve upon,” Tannehill said. “I’m not going to get into specifically what we’re talking about, but there’s certain concepts that I think that, whether in the run game or the pass game, that are core things for us.
“We’ve had opportunities. We’re just not making those plays, whether it’s the throw, the catch, the protection. There’s a lot of plays that we left out there. It’s just a matter, as a unit, of just being able to execute and make those plays. I just have to go out and play football. At the end of the day, that’s what I love to do. That’s why I do this. I love the game, I love the preparation. And just going out and playing the game that I love is all I need to do.”
In the time since, he has met several times with his new coach. Campbell’s advice to his quarterback: Get back to just playing football. Be the leader that you are. And have fun.
Easier said than done, of course. The past month has been anything but a good time.
Slow starts have doomed the past three games, and the Dolphins have not been able to play like their identity — power-running on offense, quarterback-harassing on defense — all season.
Their average halftime deficit this season is 10 points, a major reason why they have the most skewed run-pass ratio in football, and why Tannehill is having one of the worst statistical seasons of his young career. His completion percentage and passer rating — 56.7 and 77.1, respectively — are garish.
“I don’t know what the numbers say, but we didn’t win many games and we were behind and in bad situations where we’re throwing the ball a lot,” Tannehill said. “The defensive line’s teeing off on our offensive line. It’s just a tough situation to be in, week-in and week-out. To be in that situation, really, three [games] in a row, it’s not going to look good for myself or the offense as a whole.”
Credit Tannehill for this: He’s not moping. When asked whether this has been his most bedeviling stretch as a pro, he didn’t wallow in self-pity.
“I think, obviously, the expectations we had coming in, that I had for this team coming in, it’s pretty frustrating to see where we’re at right now,” Tannehill said. “But I’m really optimistic about us going forward, about Dan’s mind-set, his approach to this team.
“We have good players. That hasn’t changed. I still feel confident that we can get this ship turned around. We have the talent on the defensive line to put pressure on quarterbacks every game.
“We have a receiving corps to get open. We have good running backs. We have everything we need. We just have to go out and execute. That’s what it comes down to, being able to execute from the beginning of the game. Offense, move the ball. Defense, get off the field. If we do that, score points, and get to play a full game, as opposed to getting down and playing catch-up, two-minute [drill] for three-fourths of the game, we’re going to be in a good spot.”