Miami Dolphins

Will Ryan Tannehill start? Miami Dolphins coaches discussing it

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

In the wake of Ryan Tannehill’s early season struggles, Dolphins coaches were scheduled to meet Monday to discuss whether to stick with Tannehill as the team’s starting quarterback or instead play backup Matt Moore, sources told the Miami Herald.

Publicly, coaches delivered mixed messages on Monday. Minutes after coach coach Joe Philbin refused to commit to Tannehill as the starter, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said he expected Tannehill to start Sunday against Oakland in London.

If the coach and his coordinator aren’t exactly on the page, that would be very much in line with the rest of the Dolphins’ sputtering offense, which is scoring fewer points per game than the one considered such a failure last season that it resulted in the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

A team that ranked 26th in scoring last season at 19.8 per game is scoring even less than that now (19.2).

Entering Monday night’s Jets-Bears game, only seven teams had scored fewer points than the Dolphins.

And a team that was eviscerated for 58 sacks in 2013 is now on a 48-sack pace this season.

Tannehill has dropped to 29th in the league in passer rating, at 74.1, ahead of only Tennessee’s Jake Locker, Tampa’s Josh McCown and Minnesota’s Matt Cassel.

Different answers

Asked Monday if Tannehill will start Sunday, Philbin declined to answer.

But when Lazor was asked if there is any doubt Tannehill will start Sunday, he said: “No. Is there any doubt I will be the coordinator this weekend? We all rent these seats. It’s a production business. That’s what we’re here to produce.”

Asked if Tannehill might not be as well-equipped for his offense as Lazor hoped, Lazor said: “I cringe when [people] say ‘your system.’ It’s built on what the players can do. Our offense is what Ryan can run. What you’re seeing is the things he’s very capable of doing and will do.”

Lazor was measured in assessing Tannehill’s play.

Of his 21-for-43, 195-yard performance in Sunday’s 34-15 loss to Kansas City, Lazor said: “There were some examples in the first half he played just like you want an NFL quarterback to play. … He threw the ball more accurately than he did last week. I think he will watch the video and see some plays he would like back.”

How would Lazor describe Tannehill’s decision making?

“On the way,” he said. “We’re getting there.”

Asked if Tannehill has regressed, as the numbers would suggest from last season (when he had an 81.7 passer rating), Lazor said: “If that’s what the numbers say, then that’s accurate.”

But …

“We don’t grade based off statistics,” Lazor said. “We grade off what he’s supposed to do.

“Sometimes he does it exactly right, and it doesn’t show up in the statistics. We’re working hard to correct the ones he’s wrong on.”

Not panicking

Lazor told reporters that he feels like he’s fielding “questions based on panic,” but then added: “There is no panic. We’ve coached young quarterbacks in the past, done studies on a whole bunch of quarterbacks, what their numbers were their first year, second year, third.

“I’ve seen those who have gotten it real quick and those who have gotten it slower.”

Lazor said the Dolphins aren’t playing at the fast pace he wants them to play at. (Philbin blamed that on not sustaining drives.) He said receivers are getting open, though Philbin said there is still an issue with the depth of routes.

Of not using tight end Charles Clay as a deep threat as the Dolphins have done in the past, Lazor said: “It’s hard for me to answer what they have done here in the past. We had one series [with Clay] in the preseason.

“I have to do a great job evaluating myself and if I am calling the right things and putting him in the right position or not.”

Lazor also was questioned for calling passing plays on second-and-1 and third-and-1 with the Dolphins trailing by six and 10 minutes left.

“That was a critical part of the game when we failed offensively,” Lazor said. “To be an NFL offense, you have to pick your spots of when you want to take a shot. Those were two plays where we had a chance to move the ball forward.”

Instead, the second-down pass was incomplete, and Tannehill was sacked on the third.

Under pressure

The Dolphins allowed four sacks each of the past two weeks, and Tannehill was pressured at least 10 other times Sunday. He barely got off two throws that could easily have been sacks.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dallas Thomas allowed four quarterback hurries Sunday, and Brandon Albert, Samson Satele and JaWuan James each relinquished sacks.

The pass blocking “should have been better,” Philbin said.

Philbin summarized the offensive issues this way: “We had a 19-yard touchdown drive. It’s hard to win games in this league when that’s the only touchdown drive you put together.”

▪ Receiver Marcus Thigpen, the Dolphins’ returner the past two seasons, is rejoining the Dolphins as a member of the practice squad, agent Rob Sheets said.

Thigpen spent the first two weeks of the season on the Patriots’ practice squad after being released by the Dolphins in late August.

Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.

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