The intrigue about who stays or goes after this Miami Dolphins season will be a topic discussed and debated for the next week without substantial information as a foundation because owner Stephen Ross will make that decision and he’s not publicly sharing his intentions.
The club’s owner left Hard Rock Stadium late Sunday afternoon after witnessing a disappointing 17-7 loss to Jacksonville without speaking to reporters.
Ross spent the game in his suite, seated next to Dan Marino and executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum, but he didn’t tell them his intentions, either.
So anything you hear of what is coming from Ross the next seven days is an guess -- an informed guess, in some cases, but a guess nonetheless.
And yet there are decisions that will be made after this season is over that are just about set in concrete now. And those are obvious to anyone with eyes.
They are a virtual certainty.
The fate of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one example. His days as the Dolphins quarterback will not extend through to next season.
He’s had his chance. He’s had seven seasons worth of chances.
And it just didn’t get done, folks.
So regardless of what happens in the personnel department, or the coaching staff, that call is coming. The Dolphins are going to be quarterback shopping this offseason in a major way.
It’s going to happen. And it must happen.
Because the Dolphins have invested years in the belief a very good man is also a very good quarterback. But he’s only one of those. And, unfortunately, NFL wins and losses are not determined by citizenship awards.
So when this season ends, the Dolphins will either cut Tannehill outright or try to trade him -- I would suggest the latter -- and a new chapter in club history will begin as the Tannehill era concludes.
And I know what some of you are thinking: Why Tannehill?
Why not Adam Gase? Or general manager Chris Grier? Or executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum?
Or a total top to bottom overhaul of the entire organization?
Well, I don’t know whether that will definitely happen or not. But the Tannehill thing will happen because Ross has previously told people as much.
Before this season began, you see, Ross told multiple people he believed in Tannehill to the point he thought him borderline elite
But Ross, while believing in Tannehill at that point, did something smart football men always do: He gave himself an out in case new information required a change of opinion.
And what if new information made it obvious to Ross that Tannehill was not what the Dolphins believed him to be?
“We’ll move on,” Ross said.
Well, the new information is in folks. Tannehill is not elite.
He’s not worth the $26.6 million he’d cost the Dolphins to be on their roster next season. So ... movin’ on.
The evidence, you might argue, is not conclusive. Tannehill has 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season. He’s done this behind a turnstile offensive line that has allowed 48 sacks.
His quarterback rating is a respectable 99.0.
Fine. But the counter to that defense is Sunday’s game. And other games we’ve seen this season and throughout Tannehill’s career in Miami.
Tannehill was bad against the Jaguars. We’re talking 146-passing yards and a game-deciding pick six bad.
It was the sixth time in the 10 games Tannehill has started this season in which he fails to throw for even 200 yards. And I remind you the year is 2018, when defenses cannot hit the quarterback high ... or low. We’re talking a time defensive backs are severely limited in ways they can be physical with receivers.
This isn’t the 1970s NFL when defensive backs were nicknamed The Assassin and The Hammer and lived up to the labels.
And yet in the league’s passing era, Tannehill is averaging 183.2 passing yards per game. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, in his second NFL season, came to Sunday’s action averaging 324.5 passing yards per game.
How do the Dolphins compete with that?
How do they score more than one touchdown per game on offense, which is what they got against Jacksonville and the previous week against Minnesota?
Is this winning quarterback play the Dolphins are getting from Tannehill?
“I think sometimes we are,” coach Adam Gase said after Sunday’s loss. “I think today was a rough day for him. I wish he would have played a little better. I wish he would have made a few more decisions that were different. I think there’s been games that he has – that he’s played really well – and there’s been some games where we haven’t played well.
“And it’s as much on me as it is on him. I have to do a better job of making sure that he’s doing the right things at the right time.”
That’s true. The quarterback guru needs to guru better.
But if you’re thinking both Gase and Tannehill need to go I would ask you consider this:
I know Adam Gase can be in charge of a really good offense. He did it in Denver for a couple of years. He did it well enough in Miami in 2016 when he found a way to put the offense on the running game’s back.
I don’t know Tannehill can be the focus of a really good offense. Because he didn’t do it it under Mike Sherman.
Or Bill Lazor.
Or Gase, who during Miami’s playoff run in 2016 made the quarterback something of a game-manager.
None of this excuses the fact the Dolphins offensive line hasn’t helped Tannehill this year. This does not excuse the Dolphins getting very little production in the passing game from tight ends.
The Dolphins have had significant issues on offense this year. But the truth is none of the players causing the issues are scheduled to cost $26,661,666 million on the cap next year. Tannehill would cost exactly that.
“I think they’ve been all over the place,” Tannehill said of the issues plaguing Miami. “I think every position has its faults. Start with me and just go right down the line. I think when you have that, it all stacks up and you’re not moving the ball.
“We have to be cleaner, every position, starting with me and that will give us our best chance, obviously, to put the ball in the end zone.”
Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler combined to get the Jaguars in the end zone once this game. Tannehill did the same for Miami.
But unlike Tannehill, neither Jacksonville QB was responsible for giving up an interception return touchdown.
So Tannehill was outplayed by Bortles and Kessler.
Yes, time to move on from the Ryan Tannehill era.