Multiple media reports yesterday indicated Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill would not be available for the team’s Wildcard playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Tannehill is recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him for the final three games of the regular season, but was progressing enough that there was hope he would be able to practice, and potentially play in the game, this week. Those hopes proved to be premature, however, as the Dolphins’ fifth-year quarterback was unable to get back on the practice field this week.
Thursday afternoon, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase spoke about the decision to keep backup quarterback Matt Moore in the starting lineup with Tannehill on the sideline. “Yesterday, just watching him move around, it just felt like we were still – we still needed more time,” Gase explained about Tannehill’s movement. “It just felt it was the right thing to do just so we can move on in this week and not play this ‘What are we going to do?’ And just focus on what we’re doing right now with Matt (Moore) and the game plan to where guys can just focus on that and not worry about if there is a possibility of him coming back this week.”
Gase went on to discuss Tannehill’s week, including if there was any chance Tannehill could have practice this week. “I think we’re close,” he said. “I think we’re close but we’re still kind of in that gray area where we’ve got to keep talking to him and he needs to keep letting us know where he’s at and how he feels and keep talking to the doctors. We’re still in a lot of conversation and every day he starts moving around. We try to do different drills with him and just to try to figure out what he can articulate to us.”
The media asked Gase how important it was to have a decision and for everyone on the team to know which way the team is headed as they go into their first playoff game since 2008. “I mean it’s just little tiny things,” Gase explained. “There is just no gray area for anybody. I think this week is very important for us to focus on the task at hand and not have anything that could possibly distract our guys from the game.”
Gase went on to explain how he let Moore know he would be the starter, stating, “I told him nothing’s changing. I’m just going to say Ryan’s not going to play this week.”
This will mark the first playoff game for Moore, a nine-year veteran of the league. Since taking over the starting role for the Dolphins during the team’s Week 14 game against the Arizona Cardinals, Moore is 55-for-87, a 63.2 percent completion rate, throwing for 721 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions, giving him a 105.6 passer rating. The team has gone 2-1 in the three games he started.
Tannehill finished the season 261-for-389 for a 67.1 completion percentage, throwing for 2,995 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, giving him a 93.5 passer rating.
Miami remains hopeful that, should they beat the Steelers on Sunday, Tannehill could be available for the Divisional round game the following weekend against the New England Patriots. Miami beat the Steelers 30-15 in Week 6 of the regular season, behind a 204 yard rushing performance from Jay Ajayi.
Kickoff for the Wildcard game will be Sunday at 1:05pm ET from Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.