DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Too often this season, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey has turned around at the end of a play only to find Ryan Tannehill sprawled on the turf.
"If he keeps getting hit like that, he won't last too long," Pouncey said. "That's something we have to correct. We've got to keep him on his feet."
While better pass protection might keep the quarterback healthy, it would also likely make the offense more robust. Tannehill has been sacked 18 times this season, more than any other player in the NFL, and hits have contributed to at least half of his eight turnovers.
He's liable to feel plenty of pressure Sunday when Miami (3-1) plays defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore (2-2). The Ravens have 13 sacks for 100 yards, ranking fourth in the league in the latter category.
At Tannehill's current pace, he'll break Bob Griese's 1968 team record of 43 sacks in the season's 10th game. He's on pace for 72 sacks, which would approach David Carr's 2002 NFL record of 76 sacks.
"If we give up 72 sacks, everybody should be fired — the whole offensive line," guard Richie Incognito said Wednesday. "That's atrocious. If you get sacked 72 times there's obviously a major problem, and I don't think anybody could handle that many sacks. There comes a point in time as a competitor where you just have to say, 'This is enough.' And we're getting to that breaking point. We're sick of hearing about it; we're sick of talking about it every week."
Players and coaches agree the situation is a team effort.
"The most discouraging thing is it's one guy here, one guy there," Incognito said. "At times it's a breakdown with the offensive line. At times it's a breakdown with the running backs. At times it's a breakdown with the tight ends. And to protect the quarterback, you've got to have all guys in sync at all times."
Tackles Jonathan Martin and Tyson Clabo, both new at their positions for Miami this season, have been the blockers beaten most frequently. But coach Joe Philbin said every player on offense has contributed to the problem. He said sometimes the tight end has missed a blitz pickup, or a wideout has been slow to get open, or Tannehill has held on to the ball too long.