Gase looks for Tannehill to revive offense vs. Colts
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 the starting 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 fifth-worst thirddown 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 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.”
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill throws during practice Wednesday in Davie.