All around the country, the outlook for the 2012 version of the Miami Dolphins has not been favorable. The team is expected to tank this year because they are undecided at quarterback, because the receivers are not big name guys, because the safety position is a question mark, because "experts" have made bashing the team their standard report about the Dolphins.
But, according to All Pro left tackle Jake Long, things are not that bad in South Florida.
"The sky is the limit for this team," Long said while appearing on the Miami Dolphins' media show The Finsiders. "We've got a lot of young guys; we've got hungry guys. We just got to put it together. We ended the year last year winning some games, kind of got on a roll, and we've just got keep that going this year. We definitely got the guys to do it."
The Dolphins could surprise teams this season. Miami lost five games last year by just three points or less. With the new system being emplaced by first-year head coach Joe Philbin, the Dolphins could find themselves on the right side of those three points. And, according to Long, Philbin has been doing a lot to change the attitude - and the fitness level - of the Dolphins.
"Just the short time we've beenplaying for him, practicing under him, we've been learning a lot, learning his philosophy," Long said. "He's all about discipline, earning your respect and family."
Last season, the Dolphins came into the season out of shape and ill-prepared for the Miami heat, with several players cramping throughout the first game against the New England Patriots.
Long also addressed the offensive line, which was one of the major weakness of the team last year. The team has turned to rookie right tackle Jonathan Marting from Stanford to fill in the biggest hole the Dolphins had last year, while Long is healthy for the first time since 2010 and second-year center Mike Pouncey is completing his first full offseason program and is developing following last year's game experiences.
"With this new offense we're running, I think we have the athletic line that can open up some holes and run with guys and create a lot of opportunities," Long explained.
"You have to have the same five guys in there and really get it adhesive and just play off one another," said Long. "When you're rotating guys, you don't mesh as well as when you have those main five guys. We're going to find those five guys, and we're going to be a good group."
Under this new offense, the line is expected to transition into a zone blocking scheme. Long, who is 6', 8", 317 lbs., has been described as too much of a "mauler" and not athletic enough to flourish in this scheme. When asked about how he was transitioning to the zone-blocking, Long responded, "I like this style. I ran this all through college. It's fun because you get on a guy, you run him and the back can cut anywhere. Me personnally, I like this offense."
To see the full video, you can watch Jake Long on The Finsiders here.