Gase looks for Tan­nehill to re­vive of­fense vs. Colts

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Safid Deen South Florida Sun Sen­tinel

Mi­ami Dol­phins coach Adam Gase em­braced the ques­tion with lev­ity and can­dor, know­ing the chal­lenge his team faces Sun­day.

Colts quar­ter­back An­drew Luck has re­turned to form, lead­ing In­di­anapo­lis (5-5) to four con­sec­u­tive wins. Luck has not been sacked in his past five games, and has thrown at least three touch­downs in each of his past seven games. The Colts are the NFL’s fifth-high­est scor­ing team, av­er­ag­ing 29.8 points per game.

The Dol­phins, on the other hand, have failed to score a touch­down in two straight games. Their quar­ter­back has failed to throw a touch­down in three straight games. They have the sixth-worst scor­ing av­er­age in the league at 19.9 points per game. Yet Mi­ami (5-5) is still in the thick of the AFC play­off pic­ture.

So when Gase was asked whether his team could af­ford to get into an of­fen­sive shootout in Sun­day’s matchup at Lu­cas Oil Sta­dium, he an­swered the only way he could.

“If we get in a shootout, that means we scored a touch­down — which I’m all for,” Gase said in­cit­ing a laugh from me­dia mem­bers this past week.

“It’s been a while.” Gase hopes Ryan Tan­nehill’s re­turn as the Dol­phins’ start­ing quar­ter­back af­ter miss­ing the past five games due to a cap­sule in­jury to his right shoul­der will jump-start the of­fense.

Tan­nehill is not 100 per­cent healthy, and may not re­turn to full health un­til the off­sea­son.

But Gase and Tan­nehill both said he is able to make all the throws he needs to make in or­der to lead the Dol­phins of­fense the fi­nal six weeks of the reg­u­lar sea­son and pos­si­bly the play­offs.

“It’s been a long road to get back to where I’m at now,” said Tan­nehill, who suf­fered the in­jury against Cincin­nati in Week 5. “It was a tough five, six weeks of grind­ing, of frus­tra­tion, of pain, of work­ing through things to fi­nally be healthy enough to play again. I’m re­ally ex­cited about where I’m at.”

With Tan­nehill out, the Dol­phins went 2-3 with backup Brock Osweiler serv­ing as quar­ter­back.

But the Dol­phins of­fense sig­nif­i­cantly re­gressed be­hind Osweiler, and the losses of sev­eral play­ers, mainly re­ceiver Al­bert Wil­son, due to in­juries.

The Dol­phins have the fewest touch­downs in the red zone this sea­son with eight, while the Colts are fourth in the NFL with 28 red-zone scores, trail­ing just New Orleans, Kansas City and the Los An­ge­les Rams.

Mi­ami also has the fifth­worst third-down con­ver­sion rate (33.3 per­cent), while In­di­anapo­lis leads the NFL with 52.2 per­cent of third-down plays con­verted.

The Dol­phins are not sure how ef­fec­tive Tan­nehill will be play­ing de­spite the shoul­der ail­ment, but they the start­ing hope he can lift them out of a five-way tie in the AFC at 5-5.

The Dol­phins are eighth in the AFC head­ing into Sun­day’s game, two spots shy of a wild-card berth in the play­offs.

“I’m glad he’s back,” start­ing left tackle Laremy Tun­sil said of Tan­nehill. “Brock was do­ing a good job, but I’m glad Ryan’s back too.”

“We’re ex­cited to have Ryan back,” re­ceiver Kenny Stills added.

“It’s about win­ning games. Who­ever we have to have in there to win games, we’re happy about. We want to go out there and make plays and score touch­downs and put points on the board.”

On the op­po­site side, Luck is mak­ing a case for Most Valu­able Player hon­ors af­ter miss­ing all of last sea­son with a shoul­der in­jury.

Luck is sec­ond in the NFL with 29 touch­downs — tied with New Orleans quar­ter­back Drew Brees af­ter Thurs­day night’s game, and trail­ing only Kansas City’s Patrick Ma­homes (37).

Luck is fu­el­ing one of the NFL’s best of­fenses which turned the corner af­ter a 1-5 start to also be in the AFC play­off pic­ture.

Tan­nehiil and the Dol­phins have a 1-2 record against the Colts since 2012, and are 1-1 when Luck plays in those games.

“They’re play­ing good foot­ball right now,” Tan­nehill said of the Colts. “We just have to sus­tain drives and make the plays that are there.”

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