DAVIE, Fla. (AP) – With three offensive linemen hurt, Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was feeling the heat Monday.
From his critics, that is.
Tannehill took a pounding in the Dolphins’ latest defeat Sunday at Cincinnati, and then caught plenty of blame for his team’s second ugly loss in a row. Coach Adam Gase, ever loyal to Tannehill, mounted a modest defense by noting problems with pass protection.
“I don’t think he was horrible,” Gase said. “When a (teammate) gets beat so fast he can’t defend himself unless he’s Houdini, not many guys are getting away.”
The Dolphins are 3-2 and tied with New England for the AFC East lead, but it hardly feels that way. In the past two weeks they’ve lost at the Patriots 38-7 and blown a 17-point lead at Cincinnati, leaving Gase forced to address the question of whether Tannehill remains his starting quarterback (the answer was yes).
Tannehill took responsibility for the Dolphins’ collapse Sunday, when they were outscored 27-0 by the Bengals in the final 21 minutes left and lost 27-17.
His ill-advised pass under pressure was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and a strip sack produced Cincinnati’s final score.
“It all started with the turnovers,” Tannehill said. “That’s on me.”
In Tannehill’s defense, he was hit 11 times in the second half. Protection by Miami’s injury-riddled line disappeared after left tackle Laremy Tunsil was sidelined with a concussion.
This season’s offensive line was expected to be the best Tannehill has played behind, but instead the perennial problem of poor pass protection persists. The Dolphins lost left guard Josh Sitton and center Daniel Kilgore to earlier season-ending injuries.
“Anytime starters go down, it’s hard,” Tannehill said.
When Miami was 3-0, Tannehill had a quarterback rating of 121.8. But in the past two games it’s 54.0, with one touchdown pass, four turnovers and five sacks. He has struggled mostly on third down and late in the game, a careerlong pattern.
No letup in pass pressure is likely this week, when the Dolphins face the Chicago Bears (3-1) and Pro Bowl end Khalil Mack, who has at least one sack and at least one forced fumble in every game.
How will the Dolphins slow Mack down?
“You’re not going to slow him down,” Gase said.
Sam Young flopped as Tunsil’s replacement in Cincinnati. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the Dolphins missed Tunsil, especially because they left Young in one-on-one situations.
“It makes a difference when you lose a tackle at this level of football,” Lewis said. “And they didn’t seem to want to help the guy when they left the guy out there. Our guys did a nice job. We had blood in the water, and we went after it.”
Gase said he’ll re-evaluate the line this week and make “a couple of decisions” regarding who plays where.
“We’ll figure it out,” Gase said. “That’s what we do. They’re not going to stop the season. We’re going to play next week no matter how many guys we’ve got.”