Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions in practice on Monday and followed that with three more interceptions on Tuesday.
"It's a combination of a bunch of stuff," the Dolphins starting quarterback said in explaning the issues. "Some throws we're trying to make in practice to see if we want to move on with them during the season. We have other answers on the plays, but the coaching staff wants to look at some throws against different coverages and see if we can complete them. I think we've come to the conclusion we're going to move on to another route."
An alarmist would have you fretting about these practice miscues, but I'm not too worried about it at this point. I am more interested with the rate at which Tannehill is making this offense his own.
Great quarterback play, you see, is as much art as science. It's not just knowing the play and carrying it out with proper execution. It is also about doing it with a certain instinct and pace and fluidity. Great QB play is almost rhythmic.
And the only way to have that rhythm is to have a great familiarity with what one is doing.
Now, Tannehill had familiarity with Mike Sherman's offense because he was in it five seasons. It didn't work for other reasons having nothing to do with it being part of Tannehill's DNA.
"It takes a couple of years to not even have a second of hesitation," Tannehill said. "I'm starting to get with it on a lot of our plays on this offense but we just finished our install today. It's going to be a few weeks at least before those plays are second [nature]. Obviously we're spending more time than in college studying and watching tape so it should happen a lot faster. But like I said, we just finished our install today and it should be a couple of weeks before it's second nature."
Tannehill is optimistic based on the fact, he says, that plays on which he hesitated early in camp require no hesitation on his part now.
"Definitely, definitely," he said. "I had a couple of plays today where I reacted just a half-second late. And as soon as it's over, I knew. You don't have to get coached up. You just know. And I can think back the first couple of practices where I had those plays and that happened, when those situations came up again, it didn't happen. These new plays we're going over, same thing, it won't happen again."
I'm frankly dubious about Tannehill's timetable. It simply would be superhuman for him to become one with this new offensive system to the point it's second nature. That could take a couple of years, I think.
The thing is the Dolphins don't have a couple of years. They need Tannehill to be good now, this year.
And the assignment gets more difficult: The team is not only asking Tannehill to learn and master this new offense, it is asking him to improve his decision making. And the Dolphins are defining decision making as better judgment on where he throws the ball and quicker reaction time as to when he throws it.
Neither of those is easy when the offense is not yet part of the quarterback's DNA. Hesitiation is almost to be expected in a new system and yet the Dolphins are demanding no hesitation.