“We’re inept right now.”
That is how Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase described the team’s offense after a 30-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Dolphins made mistakes, allowed free rushers, threw bad passes, and could not convert on third down. The favorite player on a team is always the backup quarterback, especially in Miami where chants for Matt Moore could be heard during the telecast, but Ryan Tannehill is not the problem with this offense.
This offense is the problem with this offense.
Tannehill is absolutely a part of that. He holds the ball too long at times and he does not feel the pressure when he does have time to throw it. Then again, it is hard to throw the ball when you are getting hit as you complete a three- or five-step drop. The offensive line has to block better - and the excuse of a completely redone left side of the line on Sunday does not hold up when pressures are coming just as easily from the right side. Then, Tannehill gets a clean pocket, actually steps up, and has no where to go with the ball because the receivers cannot create separation and get themselves open.
So, once again, this offense is the problem with this offense.
“We’ve just got to figure something out,” Gase explained further. “We tried to slow it down [Sunday], and huddle, and we only had 41 plays and eat up 23 minutes. We’re not getting enough first downs. We had a chance there on the third-and-1, and the ball gets batted down. We think we’re in the end zone to be down by three and we get a holding call. It just seems that we can’t get out of our own way right now.”
“Every man has to be better, starting with me,” Tannehill said after the game. “We have to feel better. We have to block better. We have to move better. It’s just (about) going back to work, there’s nothing drastic. All we have to do is come to work and get better each and every day. Every man controls the things he can control, work at the things he needs to work at, and we’ll be in good shape.”
The one good sign for the Dolphins on Sunday was running back Jay Ayai, who was running hard throughout the game. The Dolphins stuck to their plan to use one running back as the main option throughout the game, and that was Ajayi. He only picked up 3.2 yards per carry on 13 attempts (42 yards total) with a touchdown - but he should have had a second touchdown which, as Gase pointed out, was called back because of a holding penalty. His stats were not great, but the fact that Ajayi has responded after the benching earlier in the season is at least a good sign.
“I know that Jay ran hard,” Gase continued. “There were times where there were free runners in the backfield and I thought that there were going to be two or three runs that were negative plays and he found a way to get to the line of scrimmage and get positive yards. That was encouraging for me as far as having a guy who you can lean on to try to get positive yards.”
And, the players on the field have not been the only issue for the Dolphins. “There were some bad play calls in there that put our offense in a bad position,” Gase added, speaking of his role as the offensive play called. “We’ve got to go back to work. We’ve got to figure out a way to do a better job of consistently executing play in and play out.”
The Dolphins have struggled to find their offensive rhythm all season as they work to become fully familiar with Gase’s system. That said, and despite fans wanting to see a change, the Dolphins are not going to bench Tannehill this year. “No,” Gase simply said when asked if he ever considered pulling Tannehill on Sunday. “He’s not coming out. You can ask me a hundred times. He’s going to be in there the rest of this season.”
Gase will, instead, look to solve the problems the team is having, explaining, “I know there’s some fixes we can have there as far as we hold onto the ball, we get first downs, the time of possession changes, and it helps the defense. That’s why it’s irritating for me, as far as if we could figure out a way to be more consistent on offense, it’s going to take a lot of pressure off the defense (and) keep those guys fresh. We built this defense to play with a lead. We just haven’t come through on offense yet. We had some changes. We’re trying to figure out some ways to get guys the ball, get the ball out quick, not put Ryan (Tannehill) in a bad position as far as holding onto the ball. It just didn’t work out the way that we wanted it to.”
The Dolphins had ten days to get ready to face a 1-3 Titans team, and were unable to find that rhythm. Now, they have seven days to prepare for a 4-1 Pittsburgh Steelers team that is ninth in the league in points allowed per game, averaging just 18.6 points scored against them so far this year.
The Dolphins are inept right now. The question is, are they going to stay inept the rest of the year, or will Gase find a way to fix the offense?