Bill Polian knows what championship teams look like. He built six that went to Super Bowl, including the 2006 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts. The six time executive of the year has now moved on to the media side of things where he works as an analyst on both ESPN and SiriusXM NFL Radio. During a show Thursday night on SiriusXM, Polian gave his “State of the Franchise” address for the Dolphins.
Miami has been one of the busiest places the past few months, and I’m not even including South Beach and “The LeBrons” run to a third straight NBA Finals. When free agency began the Dolphins brought in a number of high profile players including Mike Wallace and Dannelle Ellerbe. They put together a draft day trade that helped them land arguably one of the top defensive talents available in Dion Jordan. There was even that failed attempt to try and get a new stadium built in South Florida, but hey least the Marlins are getting about a 100 fans a night right?
Now as the season approaches what does Polian think of the Dolphins? They’re close. Polian stated “This team is poised to be a contender to the Patriots in the AFC East, but it will take some time for the offense to click with all the new additions.” This is a belief that I have echoed with all off-season. No matter how good the team looks in on paper and in OTA workouts it will all be tested once the Dolphins take the field week one in Cleveland. One of those new additions to the offense will be TE Dustin Keller who after five seasons with the Jets, Keller hopes to be a big contributor in the Dolphins up tempo west coast offense, and Polian thinks he can. “If Keller can stay healthy he’s going to have a big year and Miami will use him better then the Jets did.”
No matter how many new offensive weapons are in the fold it still all comes back to the right arm of Ryan Tannehill. I like more and more what I’m seeing from the second year quarterback out of Texas A&M. He’s taking control of this team and being the leader that a quarterback should be, and while RG3, Luck & Russell Wilson stole the spotlight last year it was Tannehill who may have been the most impressive. “People forget that he played just as good as the other three, and did so with much less talent,” Polian said. Still there will be a growing process with Tannehill and the new additions will take time to gel and remember the Dolphins have a tough 5 game stretch to start the year. Polian also stated that defenses will now be more prepared for Tannehill then they were during his rookie season, which will test him and his preparation.
Moving on to the defensive side of the ball it’s safe to say that the front seven has managed to get younger and faster. Adding Ellerbe, Jordan, & Phillip Wheeler make the Dolphins a more athletic defense and Polian agrees, “I think Dion Jordan really adds something to the defense & I’m high on Wheeler who seems to be just hitting his stride.” Remember it was Polian who drafted Wheeler back in 2008 while in Indianapolis, so if anyone knows his ceiling, it’s Polian. I think he’s sometimes a forgotten addition to this team, but there is nothing that you can ignore about a tackling machine that racked up 109 last year while playing for a bad defense in Oakland.
What seems to also be forgotten this off-season is how this coaching staff will try and turn all these new faces into a winning team. It takes a special group of coaches to take a bunch of stars and turn them into a winning team. Sure having a more top notch talent then your opponent can create an advantage, but managing that talent is a skill. “I think this is one of the best coaching staffs in the league, they are right up there with the Packers and Andy Reid’s staff,” Polian said. That’s high praise from a man who has worked with guys like Marv Levy and Tony Dungy. While Polian believes that the secondary is one of the weaker parts of this team he also believes that this coaching staff can hide a lot of those deficiencies. “This staff got the best out of that secondary last year and now they have better players,” Polian said.