CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) The Miami Dolphins have won four straight games, are above .500 for the first time under rookie coach Adam Gase, and feature a hot quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
That's quite a flip from a 1-4 start when Tannehill was the target of countless barbs.
''Everyone criticizes Tannehill,'' said Hall of Famer quarterback Bob Griese, a Dolphins radio analyst. ''But as soon as the offensive line got better, the quarterback got better. And as soon as the running game improved, the quarterback got better. When those things happen, you can throw when you want to and not when you have to.''
Tannehill leads the Dolphins (5-4) against the Rams (4-5) on Sunday in Los Angeles. Miami remained in southern California to practice this week after beating the Chargers last weekend.
The play of Tannehill is a big reason Miami is rolling. During the winning run, Tannehill hasn't turned over the ball.
''I think that's the biggest thing for us right now is taking care of the football (and) not giving the other team opportunities with good field position, and keeping ourselves in the right spot,'' said Tannehill, who's thrown for 2,117 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. ''If we can continue doing that, I think we'll continue to win games.''
The Dolphins struggled at the season's onset. But they rebounded and that speaks volumes to Tannehill.
''I'm proud of the way that guys have battled and the way we faced adversity throughout our season, the way we stuck together and kept battling, kept staying on track, working to get better week in and week out,'' Tannehill said. ''That hunger to succeed - that hunger to win - has been huge for us on our team. I'm excited about where we're at right now.''
Tannehill is in the right spot more often thanks to his work with Gase. The two consistently worked on various aspects of Tannehill's game.
''We're constantly trying to improve,'' Tannehill said. ''There's always something, whether it's feet, moving in the pocket - whatever it is. We're constantly trying to improve and get better.''
Tannehill was nearly at his best Sunday when beating the Chargers 31-24. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns, posting a 130.6 quarterback rating. It was the second-highest quarterback rating of Tannehill's career behind only his perfect mark of 158.3 vs. Houston on Oct. 25, 2015.
''I think he's done a good job of decision making,'' Gase said. ''Receivers and him are on the same page, along with the tight ends. I think the protection, you know the line has done a really good job as far as keeping him fairly protected. I know he takes some shots, but there are a couple of times where he knows he's going to get hit because he's holding onto it. He's trying to take a shot down the field.''
Tannehill has been sacked just three times in four games as the unit absorbs Gase's offensive system.
''It's not just me,'' Tannehill said. ''It's the O-line giving me time to make good throws, and receivers being in the right spot and making plays on the football. It takes everyone.''
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