Ten notes and thoughts as the Dolphins conclude their offseason program on Thursday:
▪ Memo to Jarvis Landry: You really should resist any inclination to talk about Ryan Tannehill. We know you don’t think he’s as good as the quarterbacks you have now in Cleveland (Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield). We know you wish he — and the coaches — would have thrown you more deep balls.
But Landry’s mild belittling of Tannehill isn’t merely unnecessary, it’s unbecoming. Landry assuredly would flip if Tannehill made similar comments about him.
Landry’s latest remark, to NFL Network on Wednesday: “I have not heard from Tannehill. I’m not surprised. We didn’t really have a good relationship.”
So should we draw any grand conclusions from this, that Tannehill is disliked or isn’t a good leader?
Both publicly and privately, teammates in recent weeks have gone out of their way to rave about Tannehill — some solicited but some unsolicited, too.
I know of at least one offensive player on the team that Tannehill has made a point to text this offseason, to offer encouragement and make sure he’s working on his game.
Multiple teammates have said Tannehill called players to organize informal throwing sessions before the offseason program — contradicting Landry’s claim that Tannehill didn't do that.
Tannehill had made a point to evolve as a teammate and leader. One example: He moves around the lunchroom, sitting with different teammates to establish a relationship.
T.J. McDonald made this unprompted comment about Tannehill last month, which was telling considering he plays on defense: “His leadership is what I think we missed the most."
And guard Jesse Davis said this: “He’s a helluva worker. I didn’t think I’ve ever not seen him in the building somewhere when I’ve been in here. He’s always doing something — rehabbing, getting extra, coming up to us with something like, ‘Hey, we’re going to try this today,' or ‘We might try that.’ It’s awesome what he does. He’s been a great leader, gets us all together, get us on the same page.”
Adam Gase noted that Tannehill has “got good rapport with those skill guys.”
Look, I like Landry and admire his passion and appreciate his talent. But there’s nothing to gain by taking shots at Tannehill, who threw well over half of the 400 passes caught by Landry, the most by an NFL player in his first four seasons.
And there’s no red flag that should suddenly make us all concerned about Tannehill beyond the obvious unanswered question: Is he merely a decent NFL starting quarterback or something substantially better than that? (Dolphins officials are pretty confident he’s the latter.)
▪ When Robert Quinn lined up against left tackle Laremy Tunsil and quickly beat him for a sack on the first play of full team drills on Tuesday, it was hardly the first time that happened in this offseason program. And when Cam Wake spun past right tackle Ja’Wuan James for another sack, that wasn’t anything new, either.
Meanwhile, Andre Branch and William Hayes often have made life miserable for Sam Young and the backup tackles.
We’ve been cautioned internally not to come down hard on the tackles for any of this because offensive linemen are at a distinct disadvantage in these unpadded practices and are unable to be as physical as they would during games.
And, as Gase said when asked about his tackles: “We’re throwing the ball a lot. This is really a passing camp type emphasis, so there’s not much run game threat. It’s tough. It’s good for them though because you really have to be good with the cadence. You have to be good at getting out there and being ready for their counters. Those guys have to be on it.”
That said, we need to see more consistency from Tunsil and James than we saw last year. And beyond the sacks allowed this month, Tunsil has had a few penalties during practices (including false starts) after finishing tied for fifth in the league with 12 penalties last year.
▪ How, exactly, do you throw a pick-six on a bubble screen? Brock Osweiler’s interception to Tony Lippett, which was returned for a touchdown on Tuesday, was the latest discouraging sign from a quarterback looking to salvage his career.
Unless he’s great in preseason, it’s difficult to envision Osweiler winning the backup job.
▪ When I asked Gase on Tuesday if he was happy with his backup quarterbacks, here’s how he answered: “Oh, yes. I’ve been around two of them for a while now and Bryce (Petty) has come in and done a good job. We’re just going to keep, really, just pushing those guys and keep opening up the offense to do as many things as possible. They’re trying to get used to the guys that they’re practicing with. I know even for David (Fales) it’s a different group than he was last year. He was working with the threes and this year, it’s more twos. He’s had some of those — Albert (Wilson) and Jakeem (Grant) — for most of the time. Those guys are really good receivers and they challenge those DBs. It’s been good for both David and Brock (Osweiler) and Bryce to get to work with a lot of the guys they’re working with right now.”
▪ We won’t get a read on third-round linebacker Jerome Baker until preseason games, but when I asked Baker if he has made any particularly notable play in 3½ weeks of practice, he couldn’t think of any.
He said the feedback he has received from coaches has been “pretty good [but I’ve] got to focus on the details.”
He bristles at suggestions he might be a specialist in pass coverage, noting “I have a whole arsenal.”
As NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said, the question remains whether he’s good enough to be a quality starter. “Baker lacks instincts teams look for from the position, but it's hard to ignore his rare speed,” Zierlein said. “He could find early snaps in sub-packages, but may never be more than an average backup to below average starter.”
▪ Though Darren Rizzi said last week that seventh-rounder pick Jason Sanders and undrafted rookie Greg Joseph have been about even in field-goal percentage, Sanders has clearly been the better kicker in practices open to reporters.
Sanders has made 15 of his last 16 in open sessions, with the only miss coming from 57 yards. Joseph has missed four of his past nine field goals in open practices.
▪ Really liked how Lippett looked in Tuesday’s session. Besides the pick-six on Osweiler, he made a second impressive play in coverage. He appears fully recovered from last year’s Achilles’ injury.
Incidentally, receiver Isaiah Ford said he sustained his season-ending meniscus injury last August when he collided with Lippett during a drill.
“I joke with him a bunch because he got hurt a week or so after I did,” Ford said Wednesday.
And in yet another testament to Tannehill, Ford said: "To have Ryan there as a leader to help us push [himself and Raekwon McMillan] through [rehabilitation from knee surgery] was really huge for both of us.”
▪ Gabe Wright had two sacks on Tuesday, and I wouldn’t discount him in the battle with Vincent Taylor and others for the fourth defensive tackle job.
▪ Seventh-round linebacker Quentin Poling told us he had an interception in Wednesday’s practice, which was closed to reporters. The battle will be intense for linebacker jobs at the bottom of the roster — among Poling, Chase Allen, Mike Hull, Cayson Collins, Mike McCray and Terence Garvin.
▪ Sixth-rounder cornerback Cornell Armstrong said the defensive backs working in the slot are Bobby McCain, Minkah Fitzpatrick (also playing both safety spots), Utah State undrafted rookie Jalen Davis and Jordan Lucas (sidelined with a foot injury).
Armstrong, who said he has had a few deflections in practices, is working solely on the boundary.
Please check out my piece with some interesting comments from Cam Wake on Wednesday.