For the first time in a long time, Ryan Tannehill was part of the problem Sunday.
He had his worst statistical game of the Adam Gase era.
Tannehill completed just 11 of 20 passes for 100 yards, threw an interception and lost a fumbled snap in Miami’s face-plant in New England.
“I need to be better,” Tannehill said Wednesday. “I need to be better. As the leader of this offense, we go as I go, so I’ve got to be better.”
The boxscore agrees.
Tannehill’s passer rating against the Patriots Sunday was 47.9 — his lowest rating since Dec. 12, 2013 (a 20-7 loss to the Jets).
And three other key stats were as bad as they have been since an ugly outing against Baltimore in December 2015; he posted three-year lows in completion percentage (55.0), passing yards (100, his fourth-lowest output ever) and yards-per-attempt (5.0).
“We didn’t have a great game,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said, when asked specifically to evaluate Tannehill’s performance. “There were some things I wish I would have done different. He felt the same way. We didn’t play good as an offense. Frank [Gore] probably played good. Besides that, a lot of guys struggled. We didn’t do anything we talked about.”
For Gase, that’s as close to criticism as you’ll usually hear about his quarterback. And it came two days after he said that Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant “were open the whole game.”
The subtext: Tannehill simply didn’t, or couldn’t, see them.
Granted, the pass protection was bad, and he rarely had time to survey the entire field. Still, there were plays in which he simply missed a big play.
“Sometimes it’s just a play-call of where my read starts on a certain play; but when you have guys open, you have to find a way to find them,” Tannehill said.
Dolphins fans would love to hear that Tannehill always bounces back and has a great game after a bad one.
But that has not been the case.
Tannehill’s passer rating Sunday was the sixth-lowest of his career. In the five games that followed each of those previous stinkers, he has a combined passer rating of 67.1 — and has completed just 56.4 percent of his attempts.
How relevant that stat will be Sunday against the Bengals? Hard to say, considering each of those five games came in 2012 and 2013 — three offensive coordinators and two head coaches ago.
Tannehill regrouped this week the only way he knows how: By sticking to his routine. That includes working a full day Tuesday, when players technically are off.
He was encouraged by his teammates’ attitude and approach when they reconvened Wednesday — beginning with the very first meeting of the workweek.
There was no moping. Tannehill was one of many players who wished not even to think about Sunday’s meltdown, let alone discuss it with reporters.
“Obviously, you’d rather learn those lessons after a win, but when you lose a game like that, there is an intensity I think that comes along with it and a deeper reflection on everybody within the organization — so coaching staff, players, everybody that’s involved — taking a little bit deeper self-reflective look on what we did wrong and how we can improve,” he said.
Tannehill, for one, can improve. But so can his offensive line. He took a beating Sunday, and while he said the soreness had abated by Wednesday, the Dolphins know that they’re playing with fire if the pass protection does not improve.
It will have to without two starters on the interior; center Daniel Kilgore (arm) joined guard Josh Sitton (shoulder) on injured reserve this week. So the two offseason upgrades to Miami’s offensive line are both lost for the season.
Travis Swanson will start for Kilgore against the Bengals, and Tannehill said he had confidence in the line tasked with keeping him upright.
Staying out of third-and-long is key. The Dolphins have not shown any ability to convert those.
“We were bad on third, we were bad on second and we were bad on first,” Tannehill said. “It’s all tied together. When you’re in a third-and-long situations, which we were, you’re not going to be in good situations. It really comes down to first and second down, being efficient and keeping it third-and-manageable and we feel confident we’ll convert from there.”