The Miami Dolphins have been busy this offseason, and the changes are starting to lead to confidence. A team coming off of four straight losing seasons is not usually one to talk, but when your team is radically different than any of those teams, maybe it's okay to express the confidence you feel.
Dolphins center Mike Pouncey took advantage of an appearance on NFL Total Access to express his confidence. The opening question to Pouncey asked what he thinks of all the onfield changes for Miami this offseason.
"I think our football team is going to be great this year, "he answered. "We added a lot of key additions to our football team. We look good on paper right now, but it takes chemistry to get where we want to be, and that's in the playoffs."
Pouncey was then asked if "great" meant the Dolphins are a playoff team. "I really can't say that right now. That's going to take a lot of dedication. It's going to take a lot of chemistry. Obviously, we have a lot of great football players that we added to our football team, and our quarterback has to play exceptional this year."
Like wide receiver Brian Hartline said during an earlier appearance on NFL Network, Pouncey is really not overstepping any bounds or providing any "bulletin board" material with his comments. He's confident that the team is going to be great, but he caveats that with the point that they still have work to do, they have to build chemistry, and it all is going to come down to the play of second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Asked if the Dolphins are ready to knock the New England Patriots, who have won all but one of the last ten AFC East Championships, off the top rung of the division, Pouncey replied, "That's what it's all about. Everyone wants to be just like the Patriots. They've dominated our division for a long time now. If you can go up there and win in Foxborough and beat the Patriots, you're doing good."
Again, nothing that is not true, and nothing over-the-top. Everyone does want to be the Patriots, and if you can go into Foxboro and beat Tom Brady, your team is doing well. No predictions that the Dolphins are going to do that. No boisterous claims that Miami is the new top team in the division. No offseason Super Bowl claims.
Just straight forward, thoughtful analysis of the team from a player on the team.
Eventually, the conversation turned to what Tannehill needs to do to make the team a better football team. "He needs to be more of a vocal leader," Pouncey replied. "He has to keep us on the field on third down, which he's done a great job of. I think it's going to be a collective thing for us. We've got to run the ball to help him out, but I think he's ready to take the next step."
"He definitely [feels the same way]. In OTAs, he's leading the offense, he's the commander-in-chief. He's making all the right reads. We're just happy to have him as our quarterback and just can't wait to see what he can do this year."
Pouncey is echoing the common theme around the team this year. The pieces are in place now, so it's all up to Tannehill to take the next step. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, Hartline, Pouncey, and Tannehill himself have all said similar things this offseason. Now, it's just a matter of it all coming together.