The Dolphins cut a pair of offensive linemen who started on Sunday, and if the goal was to send a message to the rest of the team, it worked.
According, at least, to the one guy who already has received an assurance that he won’t be benched this year.
“I think it sends a pretty clear message,” quarterback Ryan Tanehill told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously, it’s a tough part of the business. [They are] guys that you spend a lot of time with — good people — but it sends a message to everyone on this team that, ‘You’ve got to get your job done, or we’re going to find somebody who can.'”
For Tannehill, that message won’t be delivered until after the season at the earliest, based on comments from coach Adam Gase after Sunday’s loss to the Titans. By March, however, Tannehill could indeed go the way of Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas, given that Tannehill has another $14.475 million in 2017 base salary that becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the next league year.
The good news for Tannehill is that he already has $3.5 million in fully-guaranteed salary for 2017. So if he gets cut and in the unlikely event no one gives him a chance next year (given the offset language on the guarantee), he’ll make at least $3.5 million to do nothing next year.
The bad news for Tannehill is that the offensive line isn’t giving him enough time to set up and throw. The worse news is that he arguably called out his blockers when responding to a question regarding the difficulty of throwing the ball to second options and beyond when he doesn’t have the time to do it.
“It’s tough whenever you don’t have a chance to even really start your progression, or if you do, to get to [the] number two [progression],” Tannehill said. “There’s no chance of that. It makes it tough. It makes it tough on everyone. The receivers have to be able to get open quickly. I think several of those were on third down situations, so it’s tough to get to the open guy if you don’t have time.”
But Tannehill didn’t completely blame the situation on what Peyton Manning once called “problems in protection.”
“Part of that is on me being able to move in the pocket and find an open guy,” Tannehill said. “You have to be able to move.”
Then again, he said this, too: “You have to have time to move. If your eyes are downfield and you’re looking at one [and] you get hit from behind, it’s tough to move at that point. As a quarterback — as a guy who has the ability to move — I feel like I need to be able to escape the pocket some and get out of harm’s way.”
Tannehill, who started down the path in response to specific questions about Gase calling out the blocking put the blame on everyone.
“I have to find a way to get the ball out,” Tannehill said. “Receivers have to be able to get open quickly. I have to see them get open quickly and use my feet, if necessary. Hopefully we don’t have that continued issue. It’s tough in any situation when you’re getting quick pressures. I think the offensive line is working hard to correct that and skill positions are working hard to be able to get open and get the ball out quickly.”
He’s right on, on every count. Whether the way he expressed himself in a way that will keep his offensive linemen from being upset with him is a different issue, entirely.
It’s one thing for the coach to call out the blocking. It’s quite another for the quarterback to do it, especially when he’s not nearly as accomplished as someone like Manning, who was widely criticized for saying what he said following a 2005 playoff loss to the Steelers.