The Dolphins wanted Jake Long back. General Manager Jeff Ireland wanted him back. Coach Joe Philbin wanted him back. And teammates wanted him back.
“I was texting him, I was all on Twitter, and I was calling him," center Mike Pouncey said Monday during his visit with the NFL Network. "We definitely wanted him to stay down here in Miami. He is a Pro Bowl football player. He is going to be missed greatly."
“Me and Richie Incognito were going to pick him up at the airport if he was going to sign back. We tried to get him back. We are going to miss him a lot. I wish him nothing but the best up there in St. Louis."
Long indeed decided to sign with the Rams and so he's gone. And now all the love the players had for Long shifts to Jonathan Martin, Miami's new left tackle.
"I think Jonathan Martin will do a great job," Pouncey said. "Left tackle is his position. He played it all throughout college. I think he is more comfortable on that side of the football and he has a year underneath his belt in the NFL. I think this year he is going to go out – he has put on 20 more pounds – and do a great job for us."
Pouncey along with Incognito are the new defacto leaders of the offensive line. But Pouncey realizes that the man who is called to lead the entire team plays quarterback. And he is apparently hoping Ryan Tannehill takes on that role a bit more than he did as a rookie.
“He has to be a more of a vocal leader," Pouncey said of Tannehill. "He has to keep us on the field on third downs which he has done a great job of. I think it is going to be a collective thing on offense this year. We have to run the ball to help him out. But I think he is ready to take next step for us."
So what's that next step for the Dolphins? Is it winning more games than they lose for the first time in four years? Is it making the playoffs?
“I can’t really say that right now," Pouncey said. "[Making the playoffs] is going to take a lot of dedication, it is going to take a lot chemistry. Obviously we have a lot of great players that we added to our football team and our quarterback has to play exceptional this year.”