BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Mike Pouncey annually gets put in a tough spot as the leader of the Miami Dolphins' offensive line. The two-time Pro Bowler is one of the top centers in the NFL, but every year his group has drastically underperformed.
After another 45 quarterback sacks allowed last season, Pouncey once again had to field questions about his much-maligned group. Pouncey and fellow Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert played well in 2015. But injuries to right tackle Ja'Wuan James and awful guard play greatly superseded two good individual performances.
Ryan Tannehill is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL since entering the league in 2012, which must change if Miami wants to turn around its 25th-ranked offense.
"It's kind of always on the offensive line it looks like," Pouncey said this week at the NFL owners meetings. "You got to go out there and you got to do your job for [Tannehill], because we know once that kid stay on his feet, he can be a special football player. So we're going to do a good job keeping him on his feet."
Pouncey said keeping Tannehill clean is a "big focus" of the offensive line this offseason. Miami averaged just 19.4 points per game last year, and a big reason was due to negative plays in the running and passing game that stalled drives.
Tannehill has been battered and beaten. To the quarterback's credit, he's never complained and still posted back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons. Tannehill said he took several weeks off to rest and recuperate his body and feels 100 percent again.
"I know we have to play better," Tannehill said. "I know that being healthy at the tackle position will definitely help improve our offensive line play and just being consistent. It was like 12 games [last year] with a backup offensive lineman in, and it's tough to be consistent and it's tough to play at a high level with that many games with backup linemen."