Miami Dolphins

Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill has ‘big opportunity’ to make Bills pay

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sacked by Buffalo Bills strong safety Da'Norris Searcy at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is sacked by Buffalo Bills strong safety Da'Norris Searcy at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

If Ryan Tannehill’s passer rating was the stock market, anyone remotely connected to Wall Street would be crying uncle.

Tannehill’s statistical output, since Week 4: Up, down, up, down, up. And then in Detroit, down again. Three times, his rating has been over 100. Three times, it has been under 85.

He’s great. He’s not nearly good enough. So which is it? It all depends on the week.

“Just not consistent enough,” Tannehill said. “I think you look at the way we started those bad games, we didn’t start well. You get off to a slow start and that makes you’re first half a little slower.”

Tannehill continued: “I think before we got a first down [at Detroit], it was 10-0. As an offense that’s unacceptable. We have to be able to move the ball and score points. Our defense is playing well right now, not giving up many points, but we have to score and we have to score consistently throughout the game.”

Should the see-saw continue, Tannehill is due for another big game Thursday.

But there’s a catch: The next team up – the Buffalo Bills – is the one that has given Tannehill the most trouble, at least on the scoreboard. He has a 1-4 career record against Buffalo, and his stats explain why.

Tannehill’s completion percentage (52.4), passer rating (67) and passing output (157.6 yards per game) in those games are all well below his career averages. In Miami’s Week 2 loss in Buffalo, Tannehill couldn’t stretch the field, averaging a meager 4.92 yards per attempt.

Tannehill, now 20-21 as an NFL starting quarterback, told reporters Tuesday that he takes his struggles against the Bills personally.

“I hate losing,” Tannehill said. “I don’t play to come out and play close games and lose. You play to win. We haven’t played good football, I haven’t played my best football against them. It’s a big game for us to step up and do that, a night game on national TV. It’s a big opportunity for us.”

And it’s an opportunity to silence Leodis McKelvin, the Bills’ chatty cornerback who said Sunday the Bills were “going to go out and beat [their butt]” – referring to the Dolphins.

Bills coach Doug Marrone attempted some damage control Tuesday, telling reporters that McKelvin’s remarks are “not something that we condone, obviously.”

Too late. The genie is out of the bottle. Tannehill said that though McKelvin’s prediction isn’t exactly bulletin-board material, the team is aware of what he said.

Added receiver Mike Wallace: “We don’t have no time for that. We’ll be there on Thursday night. We’re not worried about that. That’s lightweight.”

Asked about Buffalo’s defensive backfield, Wallace said they were “all right.” That secondary has largely kept him in check since he joined the Dolphins in 2013; he has caught just 14 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown in three meetings – all Miami losses.

But that has been more of a reflection of the Bills’ pass rush affecting Tannehill’s accuracy than of any coverage scheme. And Wallace scoffed at the suggestion that the Bills might be in the Dolphins’ head.

“As long as you work on your craft and execute your game plan, it really doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Wallace said. “They have a good team. We know that. They have a good defensive line. They’re playing well. But none of that’s going to matter on Thursday night.”

What will matter, more than anything, is how Tannehill plays. The Dolphins are 15-1 in games in which Tannehill’s passer rating is above 90. They have lost 20 of 25 when it’s under that mark.

Then there’s a question of his health. Tannehill acknowledged that he’s “a little sore” after being held out of some of Tuesday’s practice due to injuries to his right shoulder and ankle. He’s expected to play Thursday against the Bills. And if recent history is a guide, he’s due to play well.

“It’s a big game; I think we’re going to have to execute,” Tannehill said. “We’re going to have to complete a lot of balls, take advantage of the shots downfield when we get them.”

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