The coach who was dubbed the “quarterback whisperer” multiple times on NFL Network on Thursday night still has 12 games this season to fix Ryan Tannehill and this sputtering Dolphins offense.
And for Adam Gase, there’s still so, so much work to be done, so many breakdowns to be corrected in his dual role as head coach and play-caller.
Through one quarter of his first season as an NFL head coach, albeit against a difficult schedule, Gase’s Dolphins offense has fared similarly, or worse, in most key statistical categories as last year’s 6-10 team.
So has making this an above-average offense been more difficult than Gase envisioned?
“No,” he said. “I think you always put your expectations really, really high and sometimes, like right now, we haven’t met what we were expecting to happen. We’ve got a lot of time to fix things, make adjustments, make sure we are using guys right, putting guys in good position to make plays. One good thing about playing a Thursday night game is you have an opportunity to see where you can improve in a lot of areas.”
The numbers are distressing. The Dolphins rank 27th in scoring at 17.8 points per game, less than its 19.4 scoring average last season that resulted in multiple coaching changes and also ranked 27th among 32 teams.
They’re 23rd in yards per game at 329.8, slightly below last season’s 331.7, which ranked 26th.
“We’ll have three good plays and two bad plays,” Gase said. “We’ve got to keep eliminating the mistakes, make the corrections on film. Everybody wants to just [say] the sky is falling. You’ve got to keep working. Good teams keep working.”
Pass protection and inability to sustain drives remain perennial impediments.
The Dolphins are on pace to allow 44 sacks, comparable to last year’s 45.
And they’re last in third-down conversions at 26.7 percent, after finishing 30th at 30.7 last season. As a result, they’re on pace for 260 third downs compared to 291 a year ago.
Positives? Miami ranks in the upper half of the league in per carry rushing average (11th at 4.2) and passing yards per game (14th at 252).
Tannehill said Miami’s offensive performance through a quarter of the season is “nowhere close“ to what he expected and called Thursday’s 22-7 loss to Cincinnati “one of the worst performances I’ve seen from our offense in a long time. Couldn’t get anything going in the passing game. No consistency. Too many mistakes. It was bad. We have to get it fixed soon, and by soon I mean Monday. No more excuses.”
Tannehill is on pace to throw the same number of touchdowns as a year ago (24) but substantially more interceptions (20 to 12).
Gase said Friday that pocket presence is something a quarterback can learn and that it’s an area where Tannehill can improve. But he added: “We need to do a better job of actually blocking guys too. Everybody wants him to step up. Where?”
Gase has tinkered with his lineup, starting Damien Williams on Thursday in Arian Foster’s absence after starting Kenyan Drake the week before. He made multiple offensive line changes necessitated by injuries to left tackle Branden Albert and centers Mike Pouncey and Anthony Steen.
Are any more offensive lineup changes in the offing?
“Right now, it would be hard for me to say yes or no. I don’t really foresee anything but obviously things could change in the next three days.”
Asked if his team is off course at 1-3, Gase said: “I don’t think we’re off course. There’s a lot of things we would like to clean up.... We didn’t give our defense a chance [Thursday]. They did about as good a job as you could ask them to do with the amount of time they were on the field.
“Seattle game, we were right there at the end. New England game, we figured out a way to get back in it to throw in the end zone to tie the game. We found a way to win Cleveland. This last game was the one game we really didn’t do well and it was really on one side of the ball.”
• Pouncey, who missed the first four games with a hip injury, is expected to return to practice on Monday. Gase said he had no updates on the other injured players, but Albert said he will play in Miami’s next game, Oct. 9 against Tennessee.
• Gase said Tony Lippett, who replaced the benched Byron Maxwell at cornerback, “looked comfortable to me. Obviously, he would like that missed tackle back [on AJ Green’s touchdown].”
So is Lippett now the starter? “He is right now,” Gase said. “We will keep evaluating.”
Gase said Maxwell received no snaps Thursday because “a lot of times you keep those guys out there and let them role.”
▪ The Dolphins waived guard Jamil Douglas.
▪ The NFL fined both Jelani Jenkins ($18,231, roughing the passer) and Jarvis Landry ($12,154, unsportsmanlike conduct) for violations in Week 3.