The Miami Dolphins are currently in flux after a brutal start to what should have been their coming-out season as a contender. Head coach Joe Philbin is fired, the defense has looked terrible and star free agent acquisition Ndamukong Suh can't fix it alone, and now quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been called out for crossing the line while antagonizing practice squad players.
Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, a very credible writer, broke the following:
"On Saturday during practice, Tannehill, after a couple of practice squad players forced turnovers, Tannehill made negative comments toward them, including saying: 'Enjoy your practice squad paycheck, enjoy your practice squad trophy.'"
These comments have been disputed by NFL Network's Jeff Darlington, a former Dolphins insider. Fairly or not, Tannehill's reported comments have been highlighted as evidence for Miami's dysfunction.
As we've learned in the past, a lot of what happens between friends, coworkers, and Dorito Dinks needs context before being introduced to the public sphere. Former NFL player Donte Stallworth points to the Dolphins coaches as more of a problem than Tannehill.
"To be fair [to Tannehill], no one goes full speed on walkthroughs," Stallworth wrote on Twitter. "That's why they're called *drumroll* -- 'walkthroughs.'
"No defensive players should be interrupting the offense in any way, shape or form the day before a game -- and vice versa. That's on the coaches, to be honest. The head coach and both coordinators to be exact."
And this is an important distinction. While some were calling out Tannehill and the coaches for telling the practice squad players "to take it easy on Tannhill", according to the report, it's extremely possible that these practice squad players were going beyond their practice roles.
If a Patriots scout team player freelanced and didn't prepare the opposing starting unit as well as they should have for the upcoming game, Bill Belichick would absolutely give that unit an earful and tell them to do their job.
According to Stallworth, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady actually paid the practice squad and scout team players if "they picked him off in practice." There's a key difference between a player doing their job and intercepting Brady while on the scout team, and a player breaking character at half speed just to mess with the opposing unit. More information is definitely required before passing judgement on the Dolphins and this story.
That said, if Tannehill actually said what is reported, that's crossing lines as a team leader. It's hard to think of Brady saying anything similar to defenders in practice, even if he loves his smack talk.
But comparing Tannehill to Brady is like comparing a rowboat to a battleship.— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) October 6, 2015