Toughness runs in the Tannehill family.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league-high 184 sacks since 2012 but has never missed a start. He even played in a game last year after finding blood in his urine the week before.
But he has nothing on his wife Lauren, who last week gave birth to the couple’s first child — a nine-pound, eight-ounce boy named Steel.
“She’s just a champ,” Tannehill said Tuesday evening. “Kudos to her for doing that. I couldn’t believe it. She’s a champ. She’s a real strong girl.”
Dad later admitted, rather sheepishly, that he left mom in the lurch by reporting to training camp. She’s had the sleepless nights; he’s been catching Zs in a quiet hotel room. She changes the diapers; he’s only been changing plays at the line of scrimmage.
So Tannehill was anxious to get home Tuesday night after five days away. But not before he watched film from practice — a highlight reel that will presumably include his first interception in camp.
Safety Isa Abqul-Quddus snapped the streak, but it wasn’t Tannehill’s fault. The pass deflected off a receiver’s hands. In a way, it typified a first week of practice — some good, some bad.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Tannehill said. “I think that we’re learning, we’re getting better. ... We’re headed in the right direction.”
Then Tannehill added: “I think we’re excited about the potential we have and the things that we’ve done that show that we’re going to be a great offense.”
Not a good offense — a great one. That’s the standard for Adam Gase’s first year. Which is why — after Tannehill’s interception on the final play of practice Tuesday — the entire offensive line dropped to the ground for pushups.
“It’s just something Jack Del Rio started in Denver,” Gase said. “It’s good competition. Guys take pride in it. It’s fun for whatever team wins to be able to kind of rub it in the other team’s face.”
Gase surely wants the offense to do more of the rubbing. He’s been brought in to fix it — and calls the plays.
And what has he seen through the first five days?
“We’re learning,” Gase said. “When you try the pads on and all of a sudden you’ve got to be physical, plus the mental side of being a team that plays on the ball for the most part, it’s challenging, especially with the defensive line we’re going against every day. ... [They’re] being challenged probably by one of the better ones in the league.”
Fair or not, it’s on Tannehill to make things right. If he sees his offensive line is overmatched on a certain play, he has the responsibility to check out of the play and into a better one.
That’s a freedom he didn’t have with Joe Philbin and Bill Lazor. But it’s one that he’s taking full advantage of now.
Tannehill makes an adjustment at the line “probably a few times every period.” But it’s rare when he scratches a play altogether. More often, he adjusts a route or a protection.
“He’s done a good job,” Gase said. “I’ve thrown a couple of things at him that have been tough and he’s really gotten us out of a few bad plays and some of these blitz situations. We’ve put the offense in a few rough spots as far as it’s a third-and-long period, it’s tough, especially with that pass rush that we have.
“And Vance [Joseph, the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator] is mixing in a lot of pressures that veteran quarterbacks sometimes will even struggle with, some of the stuff that he’s been showing. It’s been a good start for us; we’ve just got to keep building on it.”
Tannehill added: “I’m excited. It feels good. It’s exciting for us as an offense. It’s going to help us throughout the year, put ourselves in a good position to make plays.”
He’ll try to make more of them when the team returns to practice Thursday.
But first, diaper duty. Even the strongest mom could use some occasional help.