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Tannehill And Pouncey Forming A Bond; Other Notes

Posted Dec 28, 2012

Young quarterback and center provide bright future for Dolphins.



History has shown that the teams with the strongest quarterback and center combinations tend to have the most success in the National Football League, and that was certainly true during two different eras for the Miami Dolphins.

Hall of Fame center Jim Langer and quarterback Bob Griese helped lead the Dolphins to three straight Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s before another pair of Canton residents in center Dwight Stephenson and quarterback Dan Marno re=wrote the NFL record book in the 1980s. Current Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and second-year center Mike Pouncey have their sights set on being that next great battery.

Tannehill became the first rookie quarterback in franchise history to surpass 3,000 passing yards last week and with 3,059 yards heading into Sunday’s finale at New England he is just the fifth quarterback in team history to reach that milestone. The fact that he entered the league with just 19 starts under center in college only adds to how impressive his transition has been.

Meanwhile, Pouncey has something in common with his quarterback in that he only played one season at the University of Florida snapping the ball from the center position. His twin brother, Maurkice, held that position for three years before going to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft and Mike followed him a year later when Miami took him with the 15th overall pick.

For the second straight season, Pouncey has been picked as an alternate for the Pro Bowl behind his brother and he improved significantly this season. His role in Tannehill’s development cannot be overstated.

“He does a great job for us being a leader up front for the offensive line. He’s a smart guy,” Tannehill said. “He really understands our offense, understands protections and what we’re trying to do. It makes my job easier when I’m not having to always correct a mistake or just make sure I can just trust that he’s going to be on the right guy and if I want to take it somewhere else I can do that. Ninety-nine percent of the time he’s on point and does a great job for us.”

Having someone with Pouncey’s athletic ability and smarts in front of him has allowed Tannehill to maintain his poise and focus going all the way back to the preseason and that confidence has rubbed off on him.

“He’s come a long way,” said veteran left guard Richie Incognito, who also is a Pro Bowl alternate. “He’s stepped in and he’s been poised and composed and he just has a lot of confidence. I really think him coming in as a rookie and taking command of this offense like he did, it really impressed me. I’m excited that he’s on our team and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Backup quarterback Matt Moore had Pouncey as his center last season and knew right away he was going to be a force reckoned with, mores because of his football smarts. Pouncey’s athleticism and physical talents are unquestioned and Moore saw that up close in 2011.

“There’s no better center in the league I don’t think than Mike Pouncey,” said Moore, who was the team MVP last season. “Communicating with him and just getting on the same page, more often than not he’s going to be right. So we’re just kind of echoing what he says and does most of the time because he’s just on point all the time. They’re smart guys and intelligent guys who understand the game and the concepts. Hopefully they’re together for a long time and continue just to have success.”

During his senior season at Florida, Pouncey was the center for Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and got some valuable experience blocking for a mobile quarterback that liked to run. He began his rookie campaign blocking for Chad Henne and then adjusted quickly to Moore after Henne suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, but now he’s back to working with a quarterback with very quick feet.

They have one game left to close the final chapter on their first season together, and as much praise as Tannehill had for Pouncey, he was easily able to reciprocate in kind.

“He’s great and I’m glad he’s on our football team,” Pouncey said. “Me and him are friends, his wife and my girlfriend are friends and we’ll have this relationship for a long time. We’re always going to have that center/quarterback bond and it’ll be for a long time.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin has paid close attention to how the chemistry between his quarterback and center developed throughout the season. This is his first season as a head coach so he enters Week 17 pleasantly surprised with the Tannehill/Pouncey dynamic.

“The biggest thing I think when you have those two positions is you need guys that practice on a regular basis,” Philbin said. “I know that’s a simple starting point but having gone through some years where that was an issue sometimes I think its important that both the center and the quarterback are together and getting a lot of reps working together. The communication system and the re-identifications and all those things that take place are imperative in the NFL today and I think they’re off to a good start.”

DOLPHINS TIDBITS

##Kicker Nate Keading had enough cross-country travel to deal with last week when he was brought in to replace the injured Dan Carpenter at the last minute, so he passed up a chance to go back home and spend Christmas with his wife and three kids. Instead, thanks to modern technology he got to watch his kids open their gifts via Skype.

##Philbin managed to get his input one last time for the music played during pregame stretching and warm-ups today and he went old school again. The first time around he went with Bob Dylan and this time he chose Bob Seger’s “The Famous Final Scene.” There were some confused looks on the players’ faces, prompting Philbin to admit, “I don’t think they liked it as much as I did.” The second and last song was another classic rock song, “Baba O’Riley” by The Who.

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