Miami Dolphins’ receiver Jarvis Landry sparked some controversy last week.
Landry, a two-time Pro Bowler, guaranteed a sweep of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in 2017. New England took both meetings against Miami last season and have won the AFC East in 13 of the last 14 years. The lone exception came in 2008 when the Dolphins won the division. Miami made the playoffs for the first time since last season.
“If you’re a competitor, that’s the way you should feel, and I don’t mind saying it,” Landry told Sports Illustrated while in London. “It’s time for a change. I have all the respect in the world for the Patriots, and I respect Tom Brady tremendously. But they’re not our big brother anymore.”
Landry’s prediction is certainly bold, given that the Dolphins have not swept New England since 2000 — the year before Tom Brady became the Patriots’ starter. What it does show is that the mentality around the franchise has changed under soon-to-be second-year head coach Adam Gase.
Prior to last season, the Dolphins had gone seven straight seasons without a winning campaign. Though Miami beat up almost exclusively on sub-.500 competition, the team found a way to win games in 2016 that in previous years it had found ways to lose. The Dolphins finished 10-6 and made their first playoff appearance since 2008 before falling in the Wild Card game to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-12.
Despite exceeding all expectations in a year unanimously lauded as a success, the team wasn’t happy just to be there.
“We’re not satisfied just making it to the playoffs,” safety Michael Thomas said after the loss. “No, we wanted to go there, we wanted to win. We wanted to go all the way to the Super Bowl. How we played yesterday wasn’t good enough and for everybody who returns here, the mind-set is going to be coming back not just to try to make the playoffs but to try to dominate.”
The Dolphins will try to repeat or build on their success in 2017. They’ve certainly had a great offseason to this point, but with a tougher schedule upcoming, getting back to the playoffs or advancing further won’t be easy.
The good news for Dolphins’ fans in South Florida and across the globe is that a franchise haunted by losing seasons, inconsistent quarterback play, poor drafts and locker room bullying scandals has a head coach that has instilled a newfound belief into a once-proud franchise. Landry’s comments show that the Dolphins are also not content with being a one-year wonder.
Mike Ferguson is a sports writer and reporter for several publications and the Pro Football Spot lead writer for the Miami Dolphins. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson