Teams make headlines every offseason, whether it’s through free agency, trades or the draft.
Some moves work out. Some don’t. And some are absolute game changers.
The addition of Mike Pouncey is proving to be the latter.
As soon as the Miami Dolphins surprisingly released the center at the start of free agency, the Chargers made it a priority to sign the former Pro Bowler. General Manager Tom Telesco explained at the time how his staff often tries to identify which veterans may end up on the market as a salary cap causality. Yet not in their wildest dreams did they imagine Pouncey to be available.
Six weeks into the season it’s clear why as it’s impossible to overstate his value on and off the field.
Just ask respected NFL Network analyst and 12-year vet Brian Baldinger.
Pouncey has brought a lot to the table, but it’s his athleticism that really stands out.
Not many centers are able to pull and get out in space like the 6-5, 298-pounder. He also is a physical mauler, blowing players up both at the line of scrimmage as well as downfield.
“What he does, he does very well,” Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt explained. “What we ask him to do, (he produces). There were a couple plays in the game last week against Cleveland where he got downfield and made a big block that helped the success of the run, so he does a tremendous job with that. He does a really good job.”
Pouncey arrived as the newest piece in what was a formidable offense a year ago. However, he wasn’t content to just join it; he wanted to put his mark and bring it to new heights.
“When he first came here, he said he wanted to be involved with the identification of how we call things,” Whiz said. “With communication with the quarterback. He’s done a really good job with that. We’ve been tremendously pleased with how Mike has handled himself on the field and in his leadership off of it.”
As Whisenhunt notes, the 29-year-old’s leadership skills have been off the charts. Along with Russell Okung, Pouncey’s been a savvy vet playing a key role in establishing a nasty attitude in the trenches. As a result, the Chargers’ ground attack has been one of the best in the league, and the offensive line deserves a ton of credit.
Add it all together and it’s clear Pouncey’s addition has more than lived up to its billing as a key offseason acquisition for the Bolts.
“There was a lot said about him before he came to us, and I didn’t know really what to expect,” said Whisenhunt. “I knew he was a good football player, but a lot of times when you talk about an offensive line, the chemistry of that group is so important. When he came in here, everything seemed good, but you just never know until you get into the battle. But I’ll tell you this, he’s been fantastic. He’s been a tremendous leader. He’s been unselfish. He’s worked with the guys, it’s really been a good addition. I think he’s a big part of that. Russell has done a nice job, he’s done that since he’s been here, and the chemistry with those guys has really been good. I think (Pouncey’s) been a big, important piece of it.”