DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The home crowd still loves Ryan Tannehill, even if lately he hasn’t given Miami Dolphins fans much to cheer about.
Tannehill’s wife recently gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Stella. They also have a 2-year-old son, Steel.
“We’re settling in nicely to a family of four,” Tannehill said after practice Wednesday. “I put a lot of time and energy and effort into what I do here. But whether it’s good or bad, I go home and my little guy runs up to me — ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ — and it definitely warms your heart and puts a smile on your face.”
That’s in contrast to the frowns Tannehill’s play has elicited lately, and he knows it. He performed poorly in ugly losses the past two weeks, inspiring hopeful talk among his many detractors that 2018 will be the final season for the Dolphins’ Tannehill era.
To quiet the critics, he’ll need a dramatic turnaround Sunday for Miami (3-2) against the Chicago Bears (3-1) and their No. 2-ranked defense. And he might not have a lot of help up front, with two linemen out for the season and left tackle Laremy Tunsil limited in practice after suffering a concussion in Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati.
Tannehill’s offense has scored only one touchdown in each of the past two games. To go with the sputtering attack, he had three turnovers in the second half against the Bengals , with two of them returned for scores.
“I have to play better,” Tannehill said. “I have to take care of the football. That’s what it comes down to, eliminating the turnovers. You eliminate those and we’ll be in good shape.”
Doing so with the offensive line so banged up will be a challenge, because a longstanding knock on Tannehill is that he’s prone to poor decisions when facing pass-rush pressure.
This year it has been a problem for Tannehill only recently, coach Adam Gase said.
“I thought we were good the first three weeks,” Gase said. “He had some touchdown passes when he had pressure. We just had a couple of bad choices, this last game especially.”
Gase has been Tannehill’s staunchest defender since becoming coach in 2016, and there’s no sign of his loyalty wavering. The backup quarterbacks are journeyman Brock Osweiler and the unproven David Fales, so there has been no speculation Tannehill might be benched.
But his salary cap hit in 2019 is $26.6 million, which is sure to influence the Dolphins’ decision about whether to bring him back next year.
There’s still lots of time to salvage this strange season, which has the Dolphins tied for the AFC East lead even though they have been outgained by 472 yards. Tannehill said he can lead a turnaround by tempering his tendency to be too aggressive at times in his decisions.
“That’s what got me in some trouble last week,” he said. “It’s hard, right? You want to stay on the attack. You want to be the aggressor. It’s kind of anti-intuitive to come off the gas and have a big-picture mentality. That’s something I have to work at and will get better at.”
After 82 career starts, Tannehill’s still pledging to improve.