On the surface, the following two sentences should be very good news for the Miami Dolphins:
Ryan Tannehill has resumed throwing a football with his injured right shoulder. And Adam Gase expects his quarterback to practice Wednesday.
But there’s more to the story, and not particularly encouraging, at least for those hoping Tannehill will return for Sunday’s game against the Jets.
“We’re slowly progressing,” Gase said. “He’s making steps where he’s in a position where he can throw a football. We’re gaining strength in that area. We’ll see more the next two days of how he feels the next day after when he does get a chance to throw, how sore he is the next day or how much power he feels like he has.
“It’s just kind of an unusual injury,” Gase added. “There’s a lot of gray. When we ask for information, we get a lot of gray back, so that makes it tough.”
So Tannehill is gaining strength. But he’s clearly not the whole way back.
If he were, Gase would have named him the starter for Week 9.
Instead, Gase left the door open for Brock Osweiler to make his fourth consecutive start.
“He can throw a football,” Gase said of Tannehill. “It’s just how much power he can put behind a ball? Even that week [after the injury], when he tried to throw, he’s throwing it, everything looks normal, but for him, he’s like, ‘I’m not getting that stroke that I want. I’m not able to get the velocity, that power.
“That’s really what it’s going to come down to — when he does throw the next day how does he feel? And can he repeat what he did the day before? We’ve got to be careful here. When you’re a starting quarterback, you go out there and throw 100-plus balls, the next day when you’re coming off an injury like that and haven’t thrown in awhile, you’ve got to be careful.”
If Tannehill cannot play, he will miss 24th game (out of 29) since partially tearing his ACL in late 2016. The Dolphins’ record in those previous 23 games?
His inability to stay healthy has seriously messed up Gase’s plans for this franchise.
That’s the truth, even if Gase was supportive of both Tannehill and Osweiler on Monday. (Gase said that Osweiler “has done a great job” in Tannehill’s place the past three weeks.)
Gase says he still thinks Tannehill can take the big leap forward this year that the Dolphins talked about all preseason.
“I don’t think it has [changed] for me,” Gase said “I think it was a very unusual situation. He took a very odd hit [in the Bengals game] and his body was in a weird position. I wish I could say he could have controlled that, but we found ourselves in a little bit of a hole, where we were trying to take a shot down the field and he held onto it and tried to get to give us the best chance possible.
“He took a violent hit and really put him in a position where a guy got a good stroke on him and affected him,” Gase added. “I think mentally, he’s in a great spot. His body was in a decent spot everywhere else until that happened. We were headed in a good direction. We just had a little bit of a setback.”
Tannehill historically has been a quick healer. And no one can credibly question his toughness.
But if he returns from the most recent injury too soon, he could suffer a potentially season-ending setback, which would not only likely end any realistic playoff hopes, but perhaps his time in Miami.
Tannehill has a $26.6 million cap figure in 2019, and the Dolphins could get out of that obligation for 50 cents on the dollar by cutting him.
“He understands that if he gives me wrong information, that can make it worse. I feel like he’s in a good place. It’s killing him because he wants to do anything he can to help us. But at the same time, we have to be smart. I don’t want this to turn into, we try one week and it gets a huge setback and its worse than what it was before.”