The word “disappointing” was the first thing out of Brandon Marshall’s mouth when I asked him about his first year in Miami. But the fifth-year receiver sees a bright future for him and the Dolphins and he’s not settling for just a playoff appearance in 2011: He’s thinking bigger.
Armed with a new website, Twitter page and a great outlook about his future in Miami, Marshall is hitting the ground running this offseason. The lockout hasn’t stopped him from improving as a player and reaching out to fans that he says have supported him through ups and downs. He even recently called a group of them just to talk and thank them for their ongoing support.
Brandon was also kind enough to talk with us recently about how he’s dealing with the lockout, what it’s like to go through an offseason where he’s actually healthy and what his experience was like in Miami last year. He also named a couple of teammates that are ready for breakout or Pro Bowl seasons and he dropped a big hint about what free agent he’d love to have line opposite him in the Dolphins’ offense next season. (It’s not hard to figure out if you followed Brandon’s career at Central Florida.)
The Scores Report: Hey, how are you, Brandon?
Brandon Marshall: I’m good! How are you doing, Anthony?
TSR: I’m great! I just saw that you had a birthday recently.
BM: Yeah, I did.
TSR: I’m a little late but Happy Birthday!
BM: I appreciate that. We had a good time yesterday.
TSR: So what, cake, balloons, pony ride? Do you have a party?
BM: No, my wife had a surprise dinner for me at Maggiano’s at the Hard Rock.
TSR: Very cool. Well I’m a fellow March man – my birthday is next week.
BM: Aries baby!
TSR: That’s right! We’re hardheaded and don’t like to be told what to do.
BM: That’s right.
TSR: (Laughs) Congratulations on the new web site – I like the beat going on in the background.
BM: Yeah, that’s Lindsey. Lindsey picked that beat out. (Editor’s Note: Lindsey is one of Brandon’s managers at EAG Entertainers and Athletes Group, who was also kind enough to set up the interview.)
TSR: Really? I’ll have to tell her she did a nice job the next time I talk to her. So tell me about the site and what it’s designed for. You noted recently that you wanted to reach out more to fans.
BM: It’s nothing too crazy. First though, I wanted to thank you for allowing me to do this interview with you guys. I know you guys are pretty popular.
TSR: It’s my pleasure Brandon, we really appreciate your joining us today.
BM: The website is simple. I’ve been in the NFL for five years and I haven’t been too happy with my interaction with the fans over the last five years. I’m trying to get my foot in the door and try to establish myself as an elite athlete and a great receiver. It’s now where I feel like I’m entering my prime and I’m comfortable with where I’m at in my career, so I have some room to interact more with the people who put me in this position. You know, just in terms of the support they give me – especially through my ups and downs – and sticking with me. I just want to be able to give back to them. Last night I actually did a UStream where I had them text me their numbers on the computer and I called a bunch of fans just to chat with them.
TSR: Wow, that had to be great for fans. How’d that go?
BM: It was awesome, bro. Just to hear a guy say, “Man, I don’t even want to talk to you. I just want you to leave a message so I can keep it forever.” When people say things like that it makes you think, ‘Wow, am I really that special where somebody could say that? People really appreciate what I do that much?’ That 20-second voicemail is nothing for me to do and if someone says that it’ll make their day, their month, their year, how can I pass up doing it for them?
TSR: And you’re on Twitter now, right?
BM: Oh yes, and I’m addicted already!
BM: Hopefully I don’t get worn out. But yeah, I’m on Twitter responding to everyone’s questions and Tweeting back, and putting in about five hours a day right now. (Laughs)
TSR: (Laughs) Well before you came on with me, Lindsey told me you were finishing up a workout so at least you weren’t skipping the weights to go on Twitter.
BM: Oh, no – not skipping that. In fact, we’ve had people posting pictures of us working out – I’m mad focused.
TSR: Speaking of working out and going through your routine this offseason, I obviously need to get your take on the lockout. Do you think players and fans will be waiting a while for there to be a resolution or do you see this lockout ending sooner rather than later?
BM: It’s a loss for everyone – the owners, players and fans. You know, we’re all losing something, some more than others. But at the end of the day it’s a business and it’s a historical moment for the NFL – especially for us players. We want a good deal in place so that the guys who came before us can be proud, and the guys that come in after us are stepping into a good situation that they can be excited and happy about.
TSR: Are you treating this offseason differently or are you carrying on business as usual because you don’t know when the lockout will end?
BM: I’m going to be honest because that’s the only way I know how. When you’re away from your teammates and your coaches, you miss that bond with them. But our captains Jake Long and Karlos Dansby are doing a great job trying to keep guys together. We’re going to work out together and we’re going to be a team until we can move forward with the new CBA. With that said, I’m truly, truly, truly excited and happy that I finished the season healthy and I can attack an offseason with my main focus on getting better and not getting healthy. You know, the past three offseasons I’ve had three surgeries. The first year I had arm surgery, the next year was my left hip and the year after that my right hip. So when it was time to first report to camp, I was just getting healthy instead of getting better, you know? In the offseason I’ve just been rehabbing and getting into football shape. But now, I’ve been able to work on things like my speed, my agility, my strength, my endurance and getting off the line. I can focus more on catching the ball – had way too many drops this year. So all of those little things that you can’t focus on because you’re trying to get the hip right or trying to get the arm right, now you can get better instead of getting healthy and I’m really excited. I’m just going to keep doing those little things until the CBA gets signed so I can take my game to the next level.
TSR: How do you feel like your first season in Miami went?
BM: Disappointing. I was disappointed and I’m sure everyone was disappointed. But it’s a team game where all 11 guys have to be pulling in the same direction. Coaches, front office, you know, everyone has to be on the same page and speaking the same language. We just didn’t get the job done. But this year is a new year and I think we’ll learn from last year. I’m going to look at myself first because there’s a lot of things that I need to correct. But I think we’ll be better as a whole.
TSR: You guys are somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to the CBA mess because you have a new offensive coordinator. If or when this lockout is settled, do you think you and your teammates will have enough time to gel with Brian Daboll?
BM: Honestly man, with the leadership we have in our locker room, the character we have in our locker room, coach (Tony) Sparano and Jeff Ireland, there’s a group of guys in the building that can overcome anything. We will use this as something that will make us better. It’s going to be tough, but we can overcome it.
TSR: I like to ask veteran players this because it’s kind of a fun question: Give Dolphin fans one or two players that are ready for breakout campaigns in 2011 – assuming there is a 2011.
BM: Let me see…ooh, boy. We have so many guys ready to take it to the next level. Let me think…man…
TSR: I usually stump athletes with this question.
BM: Man…yeah boy, you got me on this one.
BM: Okay, on the defensive side I definitely have to say Sean Smith. Sean is a guy that had some ups and downs last year, but the passion he has for the game…he wants to be better. He wants to be great. I’m sure he’s working hard right now. How he finished the season last year was awesome and this is a guy that has all the tools, all the ability and the size to be one of the best corners in the NFL. With that experience he got last year, and his rookie year, he’ll put it together this offseason and he’s going to be a guy that will explode.
TSR: Do you have an offensive player, too?
BM: On the offensive side, I’ve got to say big Vernon (Carey) – our right tackle. He’s a veteran guy that has been in the league a long time but guys know him as you know, just someone who is going to do their job. But I honestly think he’s going to have a Pro Bowl year just by the way he’s approached the offseason. He’s my neighbor and I’m up at 7 or 8 in the morning, and I see him and he’s up, too. He’s just hungry. He’s been grinding, working out, he’s focused and I think he’s ready to take his game to the next level. I think Vernon will take his game to Pro Bowl status.
TSR: I lot of veteran guys like yourself don’t seem to follow the draft. But do you follow the draft and if so, what areas do you think the Dolphins need to address in order to make the playoffs next year?
BM: You know what? Everywhere. I mean, you can always upgrade at every position so any guy that can make us better. But that’s the front office’s job to make those decisions in terms of where we’re weak and where we need to adjust some things. I’m sure Jeff Ireland is doing his due diligence and he’ll make the right decisions.
TSR: I know this was a hot-button issue last season and I’m also aware that some things get blown out of proportion. But how do you and Chad Henne get on the same page so that you’re both moving in the same direction next season?
BM: You know, it was just one of those things where you had a new guy coming in to a new system. It was a totally new system and the personnel is different. It was a tough transition but Chad is a guy that is capable of making some things happen and he’s still a young guy. I’m sure he’s going to take what happened last year, learn from it and grow. I’m going to do the same and I’m going to try and not only get our offense, but our whole team on the same page and moving in the right direction. I’m excited about the opportunity to work together this offseason and get things corrected.
TSR: I think many people believe you guys are on the cusp of doing some big things in Miami given the mix of youth and veteran players you have down there. I think you’re knocking on the door of getting back to the playoffs.
BM: Oh, yeah. I look at it bigger than that. I honestly think if we can get a few things in place, we have a team, a coaching staff and a front office that can make some things happen for four, five, six, seven years. Make a run – a dynasty, you know?
TSR: Before I let you go Brandon, I always enjoy asking receivers about opposing cornerbacks. What defensive back has long impressed you in this league and which guy is always hard to shake when you’re running routes?
BM: The toughest cornerback I’ve gone against is Al Harris. He’s close to finishing up his career but hopefully he has a couple of years left. He’s a tough guy to face and I’ve learned a lot from him when I went up against him.
TSR: And what about a receiver from another team that you’ve always been impressed with or who you follow?
BM: Mike Sims-Walker – he complements me great. He’s a free agent, wink, wink.
TSR: (Laughs) He’ll look good in white and teal is what you’re saying?
BM: Hey listen, we just got done finishing a workout and reminiscing about how it used to be, you know, just having him on the other side to pull coverage. No way teams would be able to double-team me anymore. Last year I got double-teamed, especially when “White Lighting” Brian Hartline went down, almost every play. So if we add that piece to the puzzle, you know, with (Devone) Bess, Hartline, (Sims-Walker) and myself, we’d be the four horsemen. We’d be unstoppable.
TSR: Well I’ll try to get the word out: Miami Dolphins sign Mike Sims-Walker.
BM: Yeah, and I need more Twitter followers, too! I’m interacting with fans from everywhere. I love it. The goal is 500,000 before the start of the season. And again, we’ve got the website up, www.brandonmarshall19.com, which has a lot of nice things to check out.
TSR: The site looks great and I think it was really cool how you reached out to fans the other day by calling them. You don’t hear athletes doing stuff like that, which I bet fans really appreciate. Thanks for joining us today, Brandon – it was a pleasure to chat with you.
BM: Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it. And let’s talk again soon.
TSR: Definitely! Hopefully we can talk about there being a season next time. Take care!
BM: All right, you too.
Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.
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