Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill seems to be walking just fine.
He’s around the team constantly. He’s on the road, even these long sojourns to Los Angeles and London.
It’s almost as if Adam Gase, in the middle of the night, might text Tannehill, as he asked Jay Cutler before this season, something like: “You ready to go?”
It’s easy to wonder what’s going through Tannehill’s mind (he hasn’t spoken with the media since completely tearing his ACL in a Dolphins practice, exactly two months ago).
He keeps a positive spirit. He tries to cheap jerseys China encourage teammates. He points out what he’s seeing during games.
Here’s what he should be thinking:
How ya miss me now?!?!
Damn right, the Dolphins miss Tannehill, the 12th-rated passer in the NFL in 2016.
This is a mess! A disaster!
It’s garbage, as Gase put it.
It’s chaos, as Cutler put it.
This is not what Tannehill and Gase’s second season together was supposed to be.
Here are Miami’s NFL rankings through three games: 32nd in offense, 32nd in yards per play, 30th in rush offense, 28th in pass offense, 32nd in points per game.
The Dolphins are paying Cutler $10 million for this. And so, no, Gase isn’t about to bench Cutler for Matt Moore, who, in all likelyhood, would be performing a bit better than Cutler is at the moment.
And there are reasons for this. As in, Moore played football down the stretch last season (oh, yeah, leading Miami into the playoffs). As in, Moore was actually training as a professional athlete in the spring and in the early part of the summer.
Understandably, Gase wants to take pressure off of Cutler.
The offensive line is struggling!
But there is too much offensive talent for this production. And too much is the same from last season, when Miami won 10 games, steered into the playoffs by the much-maligned (completely unfairly) Tannehill and Moore.
And so what’s different?
Yeah, what’s most different is this: Cutler in; Tannehill out.
And so to those who wondered if Cutler, at 34, in the twilight of a career in which he’s won 69 games and lost 73, would do so well this season he’d force the Dolphins to trade Tannehill?
This should have always been viewed as a one-year stint. A lease of convenience.
It made sense for Gase to reach out to Cutler. It made sense for Cutler to take the money, and with it, one last shot at a chance to redefine his legacy.
Yeah, probably not.
But it made sense. And it also stands to reason that Cutler will improve as some rust fell in the road between South Florida and California and New York and London.
Such a long road, and yet, we’ve only just begun.
And now some wonder if all this proves the Dolphins need to draft a quarterback.
No, no, Dolphins fans should not hope Miami is actually in position to draft a signal-caller from California or Wyoming.
They have a quarterback in Tannehill who is GOOD ENOUGH.
They have a quarterback in Tannehill who is ASCENDING.
They have a quarterback in Tannehill who will turn 30 next summer.
That’s prime. That’s I-have-figured-out-the-NFL territory.
Why can’t Tannehill emerge in the same way Matt Ryan did for the Falcons?
Why can’t Tannehill be the good Alex Smith?
The all-I-do-is-win Alex Smith?
Some folks scoff at the notion that Smith is in some ways like Tannehill.
Supporters of each club scoff at comparisons to the other.
But have you seen the 2017 version of Alex Smith, the quarterback with 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a passer rating of 124.2?
Yes, Smith, who is allegedly too vanilla, leads the NFL in passing.
Why can’t Tannehill do more of what Smith is doing now, supported by Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry (probably), DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills next season?
Cutler certainly isn’t doing it now.
And so even Gase couldn’t help but, in unsolicited fashion, bring up Tannehill both after the shutout loss on Sunday and then again on Monday.
“Everybody wants to point at the quarterback all the time,” Gase said in London.
I heard that last time I got here, and Ryan (Tannehill) is not here to blame this time.”
“I heard when I got here Ryan (Tannehill) couldn’t play,” Gase said. “That was wrong. The evaluation skills that everybody (has) about quarterbacks is really bad. I’m not going to listen to anybody else outside myself.”
Gase is a quarterback whisperer. And he should be trusted with these decisions. And yes, we should all trust Gase more than me or any evaluator who hasn’t played or coached in the NFL.
But to be fair, Cutler is currently 31st in the NFL in passer rating and hasn’t inspired any reason for confidence in the last two weeks.
Cutler is very, very likely to deliver some exciting moments over the course of this season. Cutler can have a flair for the dramatic and has a strong arm and moxie many wish Tannehill would flaunt more often.
But Tannehill was moving in the right direction. This was, in all likelyhood, had he stayed healthy (and that’s another column for another day) going to be a giant leap forward for Tannehill.
Instead, with Cutler, the Dolphins move backwards. Way too much — backwards, backward, backwards.
No, as Gase rightly notes, it’s not all Cutler’s fault.
But it really should make you miss having Tannehill under center.