This week I heard Dolphins running back Reggie Bush say, We look forward to having a dominant backfield. And heard linebacker Karlos Dansby say Miami is prepared to play some great, stellar defense.
Bless their hearts.
What else are they going to say? Self-confidence or at least the public expression of it is in the DNA of just about every professional athlete. Being seen as optimistic about your teams chances on the eve of a season is all but required by law.
Players might have private doubts or concerns expressed only among themselves, but what they share with the media (and by extension, fans) has a natural rose-colored glow. This is necessary and good no fan wants to hear his team leader admit, Yeah, we seem pretty lousy but it also is why players are historically unreliable analysts of their own prospects.
Anecdotally, I recall the quarterback Trent Green deploying all of his veterans perspective and enthusing about how good the Dolphins were entering the 2007 season. That was the year that ended with a 1-15 record and opened a trap door on Cam Camerons head coaching career.
Five years later, this team wont be as bad as that team.
But five years later begins a season with less realistically expected of the Dolphins than at any time perhaps since the expansion 1960s.
Players can talk by rote all they want about surprising people and thinking playoffs, but the clubs actions speak louder than any words, and those actions indicate a franchise in full-blown rebuilding mode.
And thats a good thing, actually.
When your relevance in the league begins to be measured not in years but in decades, starting over is not a bad idea.
What left this club trending downward and wallowing in mediocrity for so long, progress stalled, was the mistaken or at least rose-colored impression it was competitive enough to just tinker and tweak, and to subsist on temps and stop-gaps at quarterback.
There is no longer even that pretense.
Eleven rookies on the roster screams rebuilding, especially when one of them is the quarterback, Ryan Tannehill.
When you trade proven veterans such as Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis to stockpile draft picks, it becomes pointless to still claim you are in win-now mode.
When you have a rookie head coach in Joe Philbin and two new coordinators along with that rookie quarterback, you are certifiably starting over.
When you release your journeyman veteran quarterback David Garrad, as the Dolphins did Tuesday, thats another indication of the team building for tomorrow.
When you complete your roster from the waiver wire, literally groveling for other teams discards, you are broadcasting your lack of talent to any who doubted it.
Listen carefully to Dolphins coaches and you get what sounds more like truth than you get from players.
Philbin spoke Monday about being dissatisfied with that days practice (the team was off Tuesday), and needing to have a better practice Wednesday, no doubt about it. Philbin also admitted, somewhat ominously, Were still kind of forming our identity and chemistry as a football team.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was lamenting his units lack of forcing turnovers.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was saying something OK to hear in July but not in September with your Sunday season opener at Houston crashing in, calling his wide receivers a work-in-progress that I wouldnt say [has been] solved.