Three times in two games now, the Dolphins have called third-down runs in critical moments of games.
And all three times, the Dolphins failed to gain the yards needed.
Part of the reason: None of those three carries was a read-option keeper by Ryan Tannehill, which historically has been one of the team’s most effective run plays.
What’s more, the read option has been noticeably missing from the Dolphins’ game plan since Tannehill returned from the shoulder injury that kept him out of five games.
His efficiency — not to mention the team’s success — has suffered because of it.
In the past two games, Tannehill — who has the speed to be an effective running quarterback — has just 9 yards on six carries.
And on the season, he’s averaging a career-low 4 yards per rush.
Tannehill said this week that he wants to run more. The situation just needs to be right.
“I’m game for that,” Tannehill said. “I think that’s something we have in the game plan almost every week, if not every week. Some games it comes up more than others. You think back to the Jets game early on. It came up a lot. It depends kind of on how teams are playing us, how we’re going to call it whether it’s a hand off or a keep. It really all just depends on the look that you’re getting from the defense. It’s not something that you call it more and you’re going to have more quarterback runs. You might call it more and end up handing the ball off every single time. It’s just something that we have to evaluate as the game goes on and how it fits in our plan.”
Tannehill set season highs in carries (eight) and rushing yards (44) against the Jets in Week 2.
But that was before he injured the capsule of his throwing shoulder. Another ugly hit to the same arm could knock him out for the rest of the season.
And yet, Tannehill insists that he’s “not concerned at all with the shoulder.”
“It’s been up,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “It’s been up every week. Sometimes it doesn’t unfold that way, because of how they play it. But it’s something we’ll always carry and we trust Ryan to be smart with it. You have to be smart if you’re going to put your quarterback at risk like that. You can’t have injuries and getting your guys banged up. So, he’s going to be smart, take what the defense gives him and get down.”
When asked how explosive a play it can be, when executed properly, Loggains replied:
“It can be an extremely explosive play and it has shown up for us on tape at times. It’s just something else the defense has to prepare for. If you’re fortunate enough to have a quarterback that has mobility and has some speed, it’s a good tool to have.”