The real reason for Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry’s ejection vs. Bills

NFL referee Jeff Triplette ejects Jarvis Landry in the Dolphins’ season finale. (AP)

DAVIE—There was widespread confusion in the Dolphins’ season finale against the Bills when a hullabaloo broke out following Jarvis Landry’s touchdown catch with 6:16 remaining.

It got so convoluted that referee Jeff Triplette at one point announced ejections of Buffalo’s Richie Incognito and Miami’s Jake Brendel despite neither of them even being on the field at that time.

In the end, Landry and running back Kenyan Drake were the only players thrown out. Drake’s was obvious after he threw a Bills helmet 20 yards, but Landry’s was murkier.

Triplette announced an unnecessary roughness penalty for Landry headbutting and hitting Buffalo safety Jordan Poyer, then added something about disrespecting the official. Triplette was not available after the game to clarify which penalty merited the ejection, or whether Landry committed two offenses that warranted an ejection.

It turns out it was verbal abuse of a referee that actually got Landry thrown out of the game, a source said. While it is possible to be tossed for an unnecessary roughness violation if it’s egregious, in this case Landry would’ve remained in the game if he had restrained himself after going at Poyer.

Afterward, he maintained he’d done nothing wrong and believed he’d been ejected because of the incident with Poyer.

“He said I was ejected, and I just walked to the locker room,” Landry said.

At likely the exact time Landry was giving that version of what took place, Miami coach Adam Gase was asked about it in the post-game press conference room and said, “I know what he did, but it’s not something that I want to say right now.”

The good news for Landry—and Drake, though this was far less of a question for him—is that he’s unlikely to be suspended, which would have kept him out of the 2018 season opener. If an offense merits a suspension, the NFL typically announces that the next day. As of late this afternoon, nothing had come up on that front.

Landry’s actions did carry a cost, however, regardless of whether the league fines him later this week. He came up 13 yards shy of his third straight 1,000-yard season, and the Dolphins had two more possessions after his ejection.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

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[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

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Dolphins DT Jordan Phillips believes he’s tracking toward ‘elite’ level

Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips made progress this year. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—The idea of Dolphins defensive tackle Jordan Phillips aspiring toward the distinction of being one of the elites at his position would’ve sounded absurd a year ago. Even he admits that wouldn’t have been believable.

But Phillips set out to change the book on him this season and made some headway. Starting late in the preseason, he showed Miami coaches he was serious about growing into a mainstay and fought off impressive rookie Davon Godchaux for the starting job. He fought through injuries and put together a satisfying year that showed promise heading toward next season.

“I felt like I accomplished what I was trying to do,” Phillips said. “I had a better year, still wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but showed improvement and that’s all you can ask for.”

Adam Gase and defensive coordinator both gave him good reviews late in the season, his third since Miami took him in the second round of the 2015 draft.

The first two years were marked by underachievement, which has been the story on Phillips dating back to his time at Oklahoma. He was determined to maintain his effort this season and grow into a true pro.

“It’s just disappointing the way that I came into the league,” he said. “I’m just trying to change the views from you guys’ perspective to everybody around. I want to be a great player. I want to be an elite player. I’m gonna keep doing what I’ve gotta do to get there.”

Phillips had 16 tackles, two sacks and five quarterback hits this year. He missed three games, but played at least 48 percent of the defensive snaps eight times.

The upcoming season will be the last on his rookie deal, setting him up to reach an extension with the Dolphins this offseason or hit unrestricted free agency in March 2019. Phillips didn’t say whether he intends to pursue an extension.

He carries a modest $1.4 million salary cap hit for next season, which is good for Miami considering Ndamukong Suh is currently set to count for $26.1 million.

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

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Kenny Stills says Jay Cutler bucked reputation in year with Dolphins

Jay Cutler and the Dolphins warmed up to each other this season. (AP)

DAVIE—There’s been a lot said about Jay Cutler’s personality and who he is as a teammate during his 12-year NFL career. Most of it’s been bad.

In his season with the Dolphins, though, Cutler left a different impression. Wide receiver Kenny Stills enjoyed playing with him and said he wasn’t what his reputation suggested.

“I love the guy,” Stills said. “He’s a good man. People in other places have kind of given him a hard time. I got to know him as a man and as a player and I appreciate him. I like him. I’m thankful for the experience of playing with him, catching some balls from him.”

Stills put up a good season of 58 catches, 847 yards and six touchdowns with Cutler starting 14 games and Matt Moore starting the other two. Stills caught three touchdowns from each.

Cutler and Moore targeted him on 18.9 percent of their combined pass attempts, second only to Jarvis Landry’s 29 percent.

On the field, it was a tough year for Cutler. He completed 62 percent of his passes, averaged 190.4 yards per game and had 19 touchdowns against 14 interceptions for an 80.8 passer rating. He also suffered a concussion and two broken ribs.

The Dolphins’ trouble at quarterback was one of the biggest reasons they went 6-10 this year, and owner Stephen Ross cited the difficulty in replacing Ryan Tannehill as their problem.

Several of Cutler’s teammates spoke positively about him throughout his season with Miami, echoing what Stills said. Jermon Bushrod, who played with Cutler in Chicago, said before his arrival that he was “very misunderstood by people” because of how he’s been portrayed in the media.

“As a quarterback, he leads by example,” Stills said. “He’s got that veteran presence in the room, and just really understanding the receiver position to the point where we’re watching film and we see things one way and he sees it that way, and we’re able to kind of make that connection real quick and get on the same page.”

Cutler, 35, did not speak to the media after the season-ending loss to Buffalo or on locker cleanout day. He declined multiple times during the year to address his future, but he was at peace with retirement before Adam Gase called him when Ryan Tannehill got hurt.

Stills described Cutler as funny to be around, but wouldn’t give up any hilarious anecdotes. One of his favorite things, though, was watching him “talk a little bit of trash” to the officials during games.

“Have you guys seen that?” Stills asked, grinning. “That’s some good stuff. It’s interesting to see the relationship between a super veteran quarterback and all the referees around the league. That’s all I’d say.”

[Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return from knee injury at forefront of Dolphins’ minds]

[Miami Dolphins find a hidden giant in offensive lineman Jesse Davis]

[Longtime tight end Anthony Fasano weighs his NFL future]

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Dolphins WR Kenny Stills played 2017 season with torn tendon in finger

Kenny Stills played hurt this season. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

DAVIE—This is typically how injury discussions go in the NFL: the player brushes off whatever they’re playing through during the season, but afterward they’re willing to be a little more open.

That’s exactly how Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills handled the right hand injury that affected him for most of the season. After coyly saying he wasn’t even hurt at the time, he admitted today he played through a torn tendon in one of his fingers.

“It’s just part of the thing where you just start playing through the pain a little bit,” he said. “You guys saw it in practice, where I didn’t catch balls one of those weeks and it was just trying to get through the week and make it to the game. Regardless of what’s going on, I’m always going to try to be out there for Sundays. It’s fine.”

The good news for the Dolphins is Stills will not need surgery on his hand this offseason. The rest will be enough for it to fully heal.

The week leading up to Miami’s Week 4 game against the Saints, he was unable to catch passes in practice. The quarterbacks would either pretend to throw him a ball or toss him a tennis ball when he ran routes.

Credit Stills for putting up an impressive season in spite of the issue. He was second on the team in catches (58), yards receiving (847) and six touchdowns. His 14.6 yards per catch ranked 22nd in the NFL.

“We’re dying for guys who you can say ‘Hey, do it like him. Work like him. Act like him,’” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said late in the season. “That’s what we’re dying for leadership-wise offensively… Just some guy where you say, ‘Hey, do you want to get better? Watch Kenny Stills. Watch how he works. Watch how he takes care of his body. Watch what he does on off days. Watch what he does after practice. Watch him during practice.’

“He’s becoming that kind of guy, so that’s been great. It’s been fun to watch, and he’s turning into a really, really fine receiver.”

[Five instant takeaways from Dolphins-Bills]

[Mike Pouncey is ready to see Ryan Tannehill back at QB]

[Grading the Dolphins on their season-ending loss to Buffalo]

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QB Ryan Tannehill’s 2018 return foremost on Miami Dolphins’ minds

Ryan Tannehill will be celebrated as a hero when he returns. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

DAVIE—There’s no way to say this without it being a shot at Jay Cutler, but the Dolphins have really, really missed Ryan Tannehill.

Tannehill’s 2018 return from a season-ending knee injury has been on players’ minds throughout the year, especially considering how much he remained involved. He’s been on the sideline, traveled with the team, sat in meetings and done a lot of his rehabilitation work on the field in full view.

That’s heightened the expectations, and Miami’s hoping Tannehill will pick up right where he left off in a promising 2016 season the last time anyone’s seen him on the field.

“We were making a lot of improvement this offseason, OTAs and training camp, and we were pretty excited at the improvements that Ryan was making and the timing and us getting on the same page and knowing this offense,” wide receiver Kenny Stills said. “That’s where we’re back to, knowing that he’s going to be back, he’s going to be healthy and just continue to work on the chemistry that we’ve built these past couple of years.”

There’s no question the Dolphins are moving forward now with Tannehill as their quarterback. Owner Stephen Ross identified his injury as the No. 1 problem for his team this year, and Cutler and Matt Moore both seem unlikely to be back next season.

In his first year playing for Adam Gase, Tannehill posted career bests in passer rating (93.5), interceptions (12), completion percentage (67.1) and yards per attempt (7.7). For comparison, Cutler was at 80.8, 14, 62.0 and 6.2.

Miami was 8-5 with Tannehill at quarterback, including the Dec. 11, 2016 game against Arizona when Calais Campbell knocked him out for the rest of that season with an injury to his left knee. Tannehill rehabbed that in time to be fully cleared for OTAs, but shortly into training camp the knee buckled on a non-contact injury.

“I think Ryan is a great piece,” safety Reshad Jones said. “He was coming along, he was having a good spring. I think he’s a valuable piece to this team.”

There’s no guarantee Tannehill will be a star after he’s been something less than that throughout his career, but he’s decisively better than Cutler. He’s more accurate and far more of a running threat, which is something this team needs at quarterback. If he’s healthy for next season, there’s one position Miami has already upgraded.

[Five instant takeaways from Dolphins-Bills]

[Mike Pouncey is ready to see Ryan Tannehill back at QB]

[Grading the Dolphins on their season-ending loss to Buffalo]

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Dolphins S Reshad Jones says ‘something needs to change’ after 6-10 season

Dolphins S Reshad Jones is getting tired of his best years not meaning anything. (Getty Images)

DAVIE—The Dolphins haven’t been a legitimate contender in the AFC during any of their current players’ time with the team, and veterans are feeling the frustration of good individual seasons being wasted.

For Reshad Jones, a Pro Bowl safety, this is the seventh time in his eight years here watching the team go through locker cleanout day while a dozen other NFL teams are getting ready for the playoffs.

“Yeah, I would like to make the playoffs and do bigger things, but you’ve got to deal with the cards that have been dealt,” he said. “Just continue to do what I’ve been doing, taking care of my body, and come out and lead this team and try to help this team win football games.”

Jones added that “something has to change” for the organization to get where it wants to be, but said Miami has the right players already on the roster. He didn’t give any specifics on what he wants the team to address.

“I can’t put one finger on it right now,” he said. “I’ve gotta take a moment to evaluate the whole season and look at a couple of things, but I think we’ve got resilient guys in this locker room. We’ve got the right pieces in this locker room; it’s just a tough league to win in.

“It’s kind of tough not making the playoffs, knowing the potential we have in this locker room. It’s just another season I feel like we’ve wasted. I think we have the right guy in Adam Gase. I know he’ll get this thing turned around.”

Jones, who will be 30 next season, led the team with 122 tackles to go with two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, two touchdowns and 1.5 sacks. This will be his second Pro Bowl trip.

He went through a grueling rehabilitation process after last season ended six games in with a rotator cuff injury and made the Dolphins look smart for signing him to a five-year $60 million extension in the recent offseason.

“I put a lot into it,” he said of his comeback season. “It was a long offseason, a lot of hard work and dedication. I had to sacrifice a lot. It means a lot knowing my shoulder held up a full season. I played well. I made a lot of plays for this team.”

[Five instant takeaways from Dolphins-Bills]

[Mike Pouncey is ready to see Ryan Tannehill back at QB]

[Grading the Dolphins on their season-ending loss to Buffalo]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

2018 NFL free agents: Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry willing to look elsewhere

The Dolphins can’t let this leave. (Getty Images)

MIAMI GARDENS—Jarvis Landry has been discussing his contract status with the Dolphins for the last year or so, and every syllable of it has been positive. When they didn’t extend him last offseason, he never complained. When he went into this year without a deal and played for about $1 million, he said he was at peace.

It’s going to get a lot more serious very quickly. The two sides are absolutely on the clock following today’s season finale, a 22-16 loss to the Bills, and Landry is realistic enough to know that things don’t always work out perfectly.

“I want to be a Dolphin,” he said. “I want to be here. If not, I’ll find a way to be successful elsewhere.”

That’s the first time Landry has even hinted that he might end up on a new team after this season, his fourth with Miami, and that’s a message to management that he’s willing to use the leverage he earned.

After playing out his entire rookie contract, he’s an unrestricted free agent and there’s little doubt he’s eying Antonio Brown’s recent four-year, $68 million contract with Pittsburgh as a reference point.

Landry might not haul in quite that much, but market value is sure to be high after another impressive season. He led the NFL in catches and broke his own franchise single-season mark with 112. He also had a career-high nine touchdown catches and was just shy of his third straight 1,000-yard season at 987. He did that, of course, with Jay Cutler, Matt Moore and David Fales as his quarterbacks.

Landry might have gotten to the millennium mark, incidentally, had he not been ejected with 6:21 left in today’s game.

Regardless, that output is going to get the attention of any team that needs firepower in the passing game, and that will drive up his price.

The Dolphins love Landry, and if they want to keep him they’ll have to pay what the market demands on a long-term deal or franchise tag him for one year at the average salary of the top five at his position. Considering how much they need him and Gase’s belief that he’s their best offensive talent, it would be shocking if one of the two happens.

There’s a minimal chance that Miami will actually let Landry go, but when asked today about the possibility of leaving, he said, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

What he does know is this gives him time to relax, reflect and listen until free agency opens in March.

If winning is what matters most, does he believe this is the place he can compete for a title? The Dolphins haven’t truly been at that level since Dan Marino played.

And speaking of quarterbacks, does he think Ryan Tannehill is the best fit for him to put together a Hall of Fame career? He’s coming off two knee issues, he’ll be 30 next season and he has yet to prove he’s above-average.

Nothing’s bigger than the money, of course. Will he lower his demands at all to help the team put quality pieces at other positions? That’s certainly not his responsibility.

But that’s not where his head was tonight.

“What happens now?” he asked. “I get a lot of time to spend with my daughter, with my family. I’ve enjoyed this whole process. I thank God for giving me an opportunity, to put me in this position. I’m just excited about the next step of my life.”

[Five instant takeaways from Dolphins-Bills]

[Mike Pouncey is ready to see Ryan Tannehill back at QB]

[Grading the Dolphins on their season-ending loss to Buffalo]

[Dolphins-Bills photo gallery]

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