Ryan Tannehill's nagging shoulder injury has left the Miami Dolphins' postseason aspirations in a precarious state, but that hasn't jeopardized his standing with head coach Adam Gase.
Gase took exception to Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero prefacing a question Thursday by saying Tannehill has played better in previous seasons than he has in 2018.
"The first three games he played pretty good," Gase said. "You're asking me that question and you don't even know what you're talking about. It's hard for me to defend anything when you don't know what you're talking about. You don't. I've watched the film. I sit there. We evaluate the scheme we're asking him to do and he does a good job on it."
Tannehill played a prominent role in fueling the Dolphins' three-game winning streak to open the season, even if he didn't post the most amazing individual numbers. However, the view from Week 9 brings a little more perspective on the Dolphins' early-season wins over the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders -- the three teams have a combined 7-15 record.
Against better teams in Week 4 and 5 -- the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals -- Tannehill struggled mightily, posting passer ratings of 47.9 and 57.4, respectively. The Dolphins ranked 30th in total offense, 28th in passing and 28th in scoring through the first five games of the season (rankings that have slightly improved since Brock Osweiler took over at QB). The performances added fuel to the longstanding notions that the 30-year-old signal-caller isn't capable of being a franchise quarterback for the Dolphins.
With Tannehill missing 24 starts over the Dolphins' last 29 games because of injury, it only makes sense to question whether the QB can help turn around the team once he returns. Gase doesn't believe Tannehill's career is mired in a bog of mid-level play -- he believes the QB's career has room to grow.
"Where's our ceiling at?" Gase said. "I don't think we're close to it. I think we just keep getting better, keep finding ways to maximize his skill set because it becomes a problem for the defense. It's hard to defend him when you don't know what he's going to do. ... Is he going to run a zone read? Is he going to sprint out? Is he going to run a naked? Is he going to go play action? Is he dropping back? Are we running the ball? There's a lot of things you have to defend."
"That's how you look at things. Everything is results to you," Gase said. "We're going through a process because that's what it is. That's what the season is. It's about trying to get guys to trend upward. We were headed in the right direction."
It remains to be seen if Tannehill will be back on the field in Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers.