Dolphins’ Tannehill doesn’t care what the national media thinks about his team, he cares about the players in the building.
Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke seems to relish checking reporters when they ask a foolish question — or one whose premise he believes is flawed.
So he got a softball a few weeks back when, as Burke prepared to face Marcus Mariota, we asked him about preparing for mobile quarterbacks, since the Dolphins don’t often see them.
“We see one every week in practice,” Burke shot back.
And of course, he’s right.
Ryan Tannehill is a mobile quarterback, even if he never gets discussed as one nationally.
Usually, the list begins and ends with Mariota, Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor. Deshaun Watson should be part of the club, too, and even Alex Smith gets mentioned before Tannehill.
That’s a mistake. Just ask the Jets, who lost in part Sunday because they could not keep Tannehill in the pocket.
Tannehill rushed for 44 yards on eight carries, none bigger than his 8-yard dash on third-and-6 with 2:39 left in regulation.
It gave the Dolphins just their seventh nonpenalty first down of the second half and sealed the win for Miami.
“I don’t really care if people want to talk about me [that way], but it’s something I like to use when the defense presents itself, whenever we feel like we can use it as a weapon, whether it’s through the zone-read game or getting outside the pocket and running,” Tannehill said. “It’s definitely something that I think can add an element to our offense, where teams have to defend it.”
We have now reached the part of the story where we remind you that Tannehill was a college wide receiver, and so that athleticism has always been there.
That was before he sustained the first of two major knee injuries and missed the entire 2017 season because of them.
So you could forgive Adam Gase if he pulled back on plays that put Tannehill at risk of getting hit this year.
But that has not — and most likely will not — happen.
Part of Gase’s confidence in using Tannehill’s legs? The seventh-year quarterback is good about getting out of harm’s way.
“He knows when to get down,” Gase said. “He did a good job of it last week. He stays true to what his job is as far as who he’s reading, when he’s supposed to pull it, when he’s supposed to hand it off. He doesn’t force it, which is good.”
Still, the violence of the NFL inevitably takes a toll. Tannehill bent awkwardly when Jets defensive lineman Henry Anderson tackled him low on Sunday, and he showed up on the Dolphins’ injury report Wednesday with knee and ankle issues. Tannehill did not miss a rep of practice because of the injuries, however.
That’s good, because he is an important, if underrated, part of the NFL’s sixth-ranked rushing offense. The Dolphins are averaging 127.5 yards per game on the ground, a clip of 4.3 per carry. And they have done that against two imposing fronts in Tennessee and New York.
The Oakland Raiders do not have that reputation, and a quick glance at the NFL defensive rankings explains why.
They are last in yards allowed per carry (5.7) and 31st in rush defense (154 yards per game).
The Raiders have allowed 100-yard rushers in each of their first two games (both losses); the Rams’ Todd Gurley had 108 on 20 and Denver’s Phillip Lindsay went for 107 on 14.
The Raiders were concerned enough about their defensive front that they signed free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins last Wednesday and played him Sunday against the Broncos.
Expect the Dolphins to test that defense Sunday with Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore and yes, Tannehill — even if Gase does not have a set number of carries he wants from the quarterback position each game.
“It’s just kind of the flow of the game,” Gase said. “Situationally, like when is the right time to call them? When do we know we have a good number count? Some teams, it’s harder to run against than others. Just everybody plays everything a little different.”