Armando Salguero

Jarvis Landry’s New England sweep prediction not a big problem, but it is off message

Expect Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry to get a bit of a talking to when he returns to the team after predicting in England his team would sweep the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots next season.
Expect Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry to get a bit of a talking to when he returns to the team after predicting in England his team would sweep the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots next season. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Folks within the Miami Dolphins building know what Jarvis Landry said and they’re not freaking out that an extremely competitive person let his simmering passion boil over into a public prediction that his team will sweep the defending Super Bowl champions in 2017.

Not the end of the world.

But ... make no mistake, the wide receiver’s prediction this week while on an NFL promotional tour in England and in front of Sports Illustrated was off message. And it will be corrected the next time Landry is around the Dolphins building.

Why?

Let’s start with the message part first.

There is not one person within the Dolphins organization who isn’t tired of losing to the Patriots. I dare say that is true of the New York Jets organization, the Buffalo Bills organization, and dozens of other organizations that have watched the Patriots’ dynasty dominate the NFL since 2001.

There are not many persons within the Dolphins organization who don’t say privately what Landry said publicly. But that kind of talk is for team consumption. It is not meant to feed headlines or blog space or radio show time.

It also is not meant to feed New England coach Bill Belichick’s motivational toolbox.

The Dolphins feel what Landry feels. But they don’t want their people saying what Landry said. And so when players return to the team en masse for the offseason conditioning program, everyone will get this message.

Everyone will get their marching orders.

What do the Dolphins want their people to say when asked about the evil empire in Foxboro, Mass.?

This is the message:

“We have to worry about what we’re doing and focus on getting better ourselves,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said recently. “If we’re going to start worrying about what other teams are doing, it’s mental clutter. It’s not going to help us at all. We have to figure out a way to get better ourselves and when it’s time to play those guys on whatever week they decide to put us against them those two times, we have to compete better than what we did last year. I mean, we can’t spot them 20 and 24 points and wonder why we lost. So we have to play better against those guys and that’s going to have to be that week. We have to get up to that point. We have to keep getting better each week and when we have an opportunity to go against them, play well against them.”

In other words, handle your own business and don’t think about the Patriots until it is time to think about the Patriots.

That message could be heard from the top of the organization on down when the Dolphins braintrust was in Arizona a few weeks ago for the NFL annual meeting. The Patriots had just added accomplished deep threat receiver Brandin Cooks and owner Robert Kraft was talking about quarterback Tom Brady playing six or seven more seasons at a high level (cough, no way, cough).

And the Dolphins were riddled with questions about continually playing for second place -- at best -- within the AFC East.

And the answer was never, “Oh yeah, well, we’re going to sweep that so-and-so team.”

Never.

”All you can do is control your own team,” executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said, echoing Gase.

Amazing how that works, right?

“We’ve got 31 other teams that are competitors and obviously New England has done a tremendous job for a very long time,” Tannenbaum added. “They’re in our division. But we’re trying to build the best program for us. And that’s all we can control and that’s enough on our plate. We have to worry about what we can do to put the best team out there for this year and the foreseeable future and play them twice in the fall and go from there.

“But we can’t sit there and say, ‘Hey, they made move A so we have to make move B.’ We’re going to build what we’re going to build for what’s in our best interest.”

That’s the Dolphins message: We have to get better. We have to focus on the Miami Dolphins.

None of this means the Dolphins don’t feel a competitive itch to beat the Patriots.

“I think that our organization, we can’t be an organization to run and hide,” Gase said. “We should want to go against the best team every year and the fact that they’re in our division, we should look at that as a great challenge. That’s what we’re trying to do. We know that our goal has to be win the division because if we do that, we’re probably pretty good.”

But maybe getting to Tom Brady a couple of times in the pocket might help. The Dolphins hardly touched him last year. Maybe starting faster might help as the Dolphins were down a combined 44-0 to the Patriots in two games last year before they scored. Maybe Landry, who has one touchdown in six career games against the Patriots, scoring more often could help, too.

Predicting a win doesn’t help a lot.

And it’s off message for the Dolphins.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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