NFL

NFL AM: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill’s ACL Injury May Cost The Team

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Tannehill To Miss Season

The Miami Dolphins are having their best season since 2008 as they beat the Arizona Cardinals, 26-23 to move to 8-5 on the season.  The victory was bittersweet as they may have lost quarterback Ryan Tannehill with a knee injury.

“We don’t have anything official now, but it doesn’t look good,” Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said about Tannehill’s injury in the postgame press conference.  “To go out here, the shots he’s taken all season; he throws a good ball, it was a good play.  We felt like we were finding ways to move the ball against a good team and for him, to not see it coming, he couldn’t really defend himself.  It’s kind of a rough way to get knocked out of a game.

“Whatever it is, he’s tough.  He’ll find a way to be out there whenever that time comes.”

Tannehill was having one of his best seasons as a pro as he was completing a career-high 66.7 percent of his passes, with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while learning a new system.  The former first-round pick’s career was on the line this season with a new coaching staff, and prior to his injury, he cemented himself as the team’s quarterback of the present and likely the near future.

“My heart breaks, man.  I know how much that guy puts his heart and soul into this and hard work.  I just hope that it’s nothing crazy and I wish him the best and it’s hard to see,” backup quarterback Matt Moore said after the game.

Moore spoke to Tannehill on the sideline.

“I told him I loved him and, you know, regardless of what his situation is, this team needs you,” Moore said of his conversation. “He agreed and said, ‘I’m there. Let’s go win one game at a time.’ I know he was shaken up.”

Miami’s playoff hopes now rest on the veteran right arm of Matt Moore, who has been a very solid career backup.  He produced the game-winning drive when ended in a 21-yard field goal by kicker Andrew Franks.

Whereas the Dolphins were squarely in the Wildcard hunt, they weren’t expected to do very much in the postseason even with Tannehill.  With Moore under center, a playoff run is expected to be even more short-lived.

Chinks In The Armor For Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys 11-game winning streak is now history, and it came at the hands of the only team this season to defeat them earlier, the New York Giants.

The 10-7 victory by the G-Men makes one wonder whether this is just a bad matchup for Dallas or is it something greater than that?

Sure, the Giants have one of the fiercest pass rushes in the NFL with free agent additions Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Olivier Vernon.  Safety Landon Collins might be the most improved player in the NFL and Janoris Jenkins has made the New York secondary respectable, at the very least.

“The defense is really what held this together,” said Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. on the NBC broadcast, who caught New York’s only touchdown.

“Everybody was going to the ball,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said.  “We knew we had to come in and play as a defense and just play the scheme.

But seven points?  The Giants defense is good, but they entered the game ranked 17th overall and allowing nearly 20 points per game.  Hardly, a reproduction of the 1985 Bears, or even the 2011 Giants.

“We were just stepping up big when the offense was struggling,” Jenkins said.

The question that begs to be answered is if Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is beginning to hit a rookie wall?

Although Prescott led the team to a 17-15 victory last week at Minnesota, he was hardly impressive. The fourth-round draft pick did execute a game-winning drive, but he left several plays on the field.  That same thing happened Sunday night as Prescott was mostly inaccurate and turned the ball over twice.  The rookie completed just 17 of 37 throws for 165 yards with just one touchdown and those two interceptions.

“Obviously we weren’t effective enough in the passing game especially in situational football,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett explained after the game.  “I think we were like 1 for 15 on third downs and we’ve been one of the better teams on third down in the National Football League.  That’s why we’ve been able to drive the ball and stay on the field and give ourselves scoring opportunities.  We didn’t do that tonight.”

Dallas is still in the catbird seat as far as the NFC is concerned.  They are two games better than the Giants in the division race, and with Seattle’s 38-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Detroit has moved into the No. 2 seed and they’re still two games behind the Cowboys.

As for New York, they have won seven of their last eight games and they are peaking defensively, even without defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.  To be able to beat the best team in the NFL with your quarterback turning the ball over three times shows some great depth and resilience.

Costly Loss For The Defending Champs

Very few, if any expected the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos to be as good in 2016 as they were last year.

They’re starting the quarterback who was third-string last year instead of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, which hasn’t been nearly as much of a loss as most believed (Trevor Siemian’s stats are actually better).  They also lost an impact player in defensive lineman Malik Jackson as well as linebacker Danny Trevathan.

Still, the Denver defense has been very solid and on Sunday they played well enough to win.  Unfortunately, the offense could only muster 10 points.

“Yeah, I think [it was] just a poor start, really poor start,” starting quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “And then, shoot, at the end you have a chance to win it. You can’t ask to be in better position after the way the first half went. So, we had our chances down the stretch and we didn’t make the plays. But the start sure as heck didn’t help us.”

Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans puts the Broncos behind the proverbial 8-ball in terms of a playoff spot.  The loss dropped them two full games behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in the NFC West, and they’re now tied with Miami for the final Wildcard spot at 8-5.

That’s normally a good spot to be in, but Denver’s remaining schedule shows a matchup with the AFC’s No. 1 seed New England Patriots, followed by a trip to NFC West leader Kansas City and then they close the season with Oakland.  It’s possible that Denver loses all three games.

Siemian likes his team’s chances.

“I think we’ve got the right group to do it with,” he said. “It’s going to be an awesome challenge. I know I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, it starts one game at a time with New England coming in. But I think we’ve got the right guys in that locker room for it, so we’re going to give it our best shot and see how we stack up.”

Regardless of what their second-year quarterback believes, the team is more likely to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin in January.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.