September 22, 2014
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) If embattled quarterback Ryan Tannehill needed a public vote of confidence from his coach, he didn't get it.

Joe Philbin was asked four times by reporters whether Tannehill will remain the Miami Dolphins' starter this week, and each time the coach was noncommittal.

''We're going to start our game plan for Oakland when I leave here,'' Philbin said at his weekly Monday news conference, ''and we're going to decide what 46 players are going, and how best to utilize them.''

Tannehill has started all 35 games since being drafted in 2012, but has played poorly this year for the Dolphins (1-2), who face the Raiders in London on Sunday. His backup is Matt Moore, who has made 25 starts in seven NFL seasons.

When Philbin was asked if his noncommittal stance would create the perception Tannehill is in limbo, the coach said, ''I'm going to stick with the answer that I've given.''

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor didn't hesitate when asked if he had doubts whether Tannehill would start against Oakland.

''No. Is there any doubt that I'll be the coordinator next weekend?'' Lazor said. He added, ''We all rent these seats, right? It's a production business, and that's what we're here to do - produce.''

Tannehill ranks 32nd and last in the NFL at 5.0 yards per pass attempt, compared with the league average of 7.1. He has averaged less than 6 yards per attempt in each of his past five games dating to last season.

With a bye next week, it's likely Tannehill will get at least one more start before Philbin seriously considers a switch. Tannehill was hardly the lone culprit the past two weeks against Buffalo and Kansas City when Miami lost each game by 19 points.

''We have to become a more consistent team in all three phases of the game,'' Philbin said. ''I have to do a better job, there's no question about that. ... We have to play better, and we have to get better quick.''

Many of the issues carry over from last season. Tackling has been a problem on defense, while Tannehill has been hampered by shaky protection and dropped passes. Slow starts are a recurring factor, too, with the Dolphins trailing at halftime by nine, 10 and 11 points.

The back-to-back defeats have made a season-opening win over New England seem like a distant achievement, while stirring memories of 2013's late-season collapse. Oddly, in the Dolphins' past six games they've beaten the reigning AFC East champion Patriots twice, while losing the four other games by a combined score of 102-32.

The most pressing problems are on offense. The Dolphins have managed only a single touchdown each of the past two weeks, even though they're averaging 5.2 yards per rush, second-best in the league.

Lazor cited the poor yards-per-pass average as his biggest concern, reflecting of an inability to stretch the field even with receiver Mike Wallace, one of the NFL's fastest players. Tannehill is 7 for 21 on passes traveling more than 10 yards, and he has only one completion of at least 25 yards, worst among the league's starters.

In the past, Tannehill and his coaches have agreed he needs to improve his accuracy and decision-making. Philbin and Lazor said they saw signs improvement Sunday.

''There were some examples in the first half when he played just like you'd want an NFL quarterback to play, sliding the pocket, throwing some accurate throws,'' Lazor said. ''I thought he threw the ball more accurately than he did last week.

''I think he's going to watch the video and see some plays he'd like back. I have a pretty clear picture of the way that we coach him to help him get there.''

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