DAVIE, Fla. — Sometimes vocal player leadership is better than receiving instruction from a coach.
We saw a surprise glimpse of that from Ryan Tannehill midway through a Dolphins practice Sunday when the QB yelled at rookie Kalen Ballage and kicked him out of the huddle after the running back missed a blocking assignment that resulted in a clean sack by Charles Harris.
The typically reserved Tannehill temporarily stopped practice to show his displeasure with Ballage. He continued to get his point across to the rookie out of Arizona State a little later in practice too. Ballage seemed receptive to Tannehill’s ribbing.
It was unusual to see that from Tannehill, but the Dolphins may need that fiery leadership if they are to exceed expectations and push toward a playoff spot. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was happy with the leadership Tannehill showed and said it was appropriate for him to react that way.
“I would have been upset if I was him because he knows what the result in a game would have been. It would have been painful for him, for sure,” Gase said. “He was in the right, kind of making an example there. When he does things like that for our offense, it’s a good thing.”
Tannehill was not available to speak after practice. Ballage didn’t take the chewing out personally and he said he understands he still has things to learn about the Dolphins’ scheme.
Remember, Tannehill missed the entire 2017 NFL preseason and regular season because of a torn ACL. Three days ago, he took his first live snaps since 2016 in a brief yet solid performance with the Dolphins’ first-team offense against the Buccaneers.
It was an otherwise strong practice for the Dolphins, but the biggest takeaway may have been the latest example of Tannehill taking grasp of the team as his own and not waiting for a coach to hold other players accountable.
“You can’t kick a guy out of the huddle all the time. You can’t shut it down all the time and have big discussions,” Gase said. “It’s a feel, timing, when is the right time to say, ‘You know what? We’re not right here. We need somebody else in here.’ He was right today with what he did.”