With snow melting at Dove Valley, DeMarcus Ware led the breakdown as the Broncos continued preparation for Sunday's matchup against the Dolphins.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** As the Broncos look to rebound from their loss on the road in St. Louis, the Dolphins face a tough task ahead trying hand Denver their first loss at home. With the upcoming game in Denver on Sunday, Dolphins' Head Coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill spoke to Denver media Wednesday.
Dolphins looking to correct red zone woes
There's only one thing on Tannehill's mind when he and the offense get into the red zone: "Score."
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, that's not the often the result. They're 30th in red zone percentage at about 45 percent. Though Miami's won four of their last five games, they've had worse rates of red zone success in recent weeks, converting just a third of red zone chances for touchdowns in the last four weeks.
"The other night, I looked at 45 possessions that we've had inside the red zone and it's never been just one isolated thing," Philbin said. "It hasn't been one specific player, one specific scheme. At times, it's been a variety of different things. Sometimes it's been a penalty here or there, sometimes it's been a giveaway, sometimes it's been a sack, sometimes it's been a negative run, sometimes it's been a dropped pass, sometimes it's been a throw. You can go down the list."
Tannehill proceeded to add to the list, too: "Sometimes it is a penalty. Sometimes it is a missed throw. Sometimes it is a missed block. It's not one consistent thing throughout the game. We just have to put it together as an offense and finish those drives."
Those difficulties somehow pile up as Miami gets closer to the goal line, and when they get into goal-to-go situations, they're last in the league in converting those into touchdowns.
Against the Broncos' defense, they might have their work cut out for them facing the ninth-best team in stopping teams from reaching the end zone when they have goal to go.
Tannehill working to continue development
A big key to the Dolphins' improvement has been the improvement of Tannehill. He's hitting career high marks in completion percentage, touchdown percentage and career lows in interception percentage. He's on pace to improve his season-end number of passing touchdowns by three and to decrease interceptions by about six. And in the past five games, Tannehill has thrown nine touchdowns to two interceptions.
When asked about what's been so important in his development, Tannehill said that a lot of different things have come together both mentally and physically for his play to improve.
"I think that the biggest thing is putting our team in a position to win, taking advantage of the matchups we get, throwing with good accuracy and ball location, getting the ball out on time, keep the chains moving," he said.
Philbin said they're encouraged by Tannehill taking steps forward, which has definitely showed as the Dolphins have become a dangerous team.
"His completion percentage is up. I think it's roughly around 65 percent. That's the highest it's been. We're pleased about that," Philbin said. "He has seven interceptions right now. I think his interception ratio is a little bit lower than it's been at any point in his career. So those are positive things and he's making good decisions. His decision making has been good. I see development, I see progress and certainly there is still more room for growth, but we like the trend that we see right now."
Dolphins see difficult challenge in Broncos defense
Ryan Tannehill should already be a bit familiar with Denver's defense after his years at Texas A&M. Not only did he play with Von Miller as teammates, but in 2010 he faced Chris Harris Jr. when the Aggies played Kansas.
Tannehill had a good game that day, throwing three touchdowns and running for a score on the ground in a 45-10 win over the Jayhawks, who finished the season at 3-9.
And so Harris is pretty familiar with Tannehill, too.
"He's pretty good. He's more athletic than people think. He's a guy where we need to definitely get some pressure on him, but he's a guy that can run too. A lot of people don't really know that he's pretty athletic," Harris said, noting Tannehill's switch from wide receiver to quarterback in college.
Tannehill was just as complimentary when reflecting on Harris' skills.
"He has quickness. His reaction time is pretty fast. He plays the ball well when it is in the air," Tannehill said. "I think you look at it, it's his all-around game. He's a good player, and he's making plays right now. He's getting better as the season goes on. If you look back early on the year to where he is now, I definitely see him getting better as the year goes on."
He was just as focused on the all-around talent of the entire Broncos defense, too, which has forced a lot of teams into tough situations while they stymie the run and let the pass rushers "pin their ears back," as they say.
"You look at the talent they have on defense as a whole. I think it all starts with your edge rushers, Von and DeMarcus Ware," Tannehill said. "You look at the inside guys, they are great players as well and the corners on the outside Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib. You look at the defense as a whole, they are all playmakers and they are all playing well right now. They don't give up many yards per play. I think they lead the league in least amount of explosive [plays] and it all fits together. They are doing a great job right now."