Kenny Stills’ text inbox is a lot like Dolphins Twitter.
Like his fans, Stills’ friends and family cannot begin to understand why the Dolphins’ most reliable deep threat never gets the ball.
“They’re a little bit more frustrated than I am,” Stills said Thursday. “I just try to explain to them, all I can control is the things that I can control. Try and help my teammates and figure out ways to win and focusing on all this other stuff isn’t going to help me or my team.”
But be sure: Stills is frustrated.
And he should be.
He has 20 catches for 332 yards and four touchdowns this season.
And most of that production came months ago.
Since Week 5, he has been targeted just six times.
That’s a modest game for a lot of receivers.
“I can’t throw the ball to myself,” Stills said.
And on the surface, they seemingly pointed the finger at the Dolphins quarterbacks in general, and Brock Osweiler in particular.
But that was not his intent, he later clarified to reporters.
“There isn’t much that can pull this team apart,” Stills said. “... There’s no single person that you can point the finger at.”
Still, the numbers are damning with Osweiler.
In the five games he started for the Dolphins, Stills caught just five passes for 85 yards.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly why I’m not getting more targets,” Stills said. “I can tell you that I’m getting open and I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”
The Dolphins’ inability to find Stills is even more confounding, considering he’s one of very few opening day wide receivers still avalable to the team. With Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant out for the season and Danny Amendola iffy, at best, for this week’s game, Stills should be getting all kinds of opportunities.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase seems to agree.
“I’m going, how are we not hooking up with him more?” Gase said. “That stretch when Ryan [Tannehill] left, we had a few opportunities down the field, but it was just something else always happened where we got too much pressure and we couldn’t get him the ball.
“When he’s had his opportunities, he’s made the most of them for the most part,” Gase continued. “We just have to be careful about not forcing it. Like last week we forced it to him. It was more on me than anything. It was subtle reminders of, ‘Hey, he’s running this route.’ Like that puts a bad seed in a quarterback’s head. We just have to make sure we do a good job of when it’s there, we take it and when it’s not, we progress and move to something else. He’s been so effective for us down the field with big plays and teams are doing a good job of taking him away.”
An easy answer is that Stills, who is earning $8 million this season and set to earn $15 million over the next two, is not healthy.
He missed a game with a groin injury.
But that simply is not true. Both Stills and Gase insist that he has healed.
Having Tannehill back in the huddle should help. The two built a rapport during the past four seasons, and have combined for 13 touchdowns in that time, despite Tannehill missing 25 games during that stretch due to injury.
“It’s a part of the game plan,” Stills said. “When the ball comes my way, I have to make plays with it. And we all have to understand it’s a team game. We all get frustrated. But I’m a team guy, always have been. … I just want to win.”