Vance Joseph – January 28, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph

(On if he plans on keeping the 4-3 defense that the Dolphins ran last season)  — “Yes. This defensive structure is 4-3. When you come into a new job you don’t want to so call change the structure of the defense, so 4-3 is what they’ve been. That’s what we’ll go forward with.”

(On what he sees as the building blocks for this defense and where the defense is right now and what are the immediate needs)  — “My philosophy is it’s built with rushers and corners. If you can rush the passer and cover outside it helps the schematics during game weeks. Rushing and covering is the bottom line of playing great defense in the NFL. If you can rush and cover, that’s the key.”

(On how far he is in evaluating the players)  — “It’s early. We’ve watched probably half the season from last year and most of the pieces are in house. Obviously acquiring more pieces, it’s always important for your schematics. But in-house right now, we’ve got some pieces to work with. Obviously DE Cameron Wake and (DT Ndamukong) Suh and S Reshad Jones, that’s front line NFL starters.”

(On what this job means to him personally)  —  “Well it’s been a long time coming, obviously. I had the chance to interview two years ago for coordinator jobs and it didn’t happen. And in my mind that was probably a good thing. I was ready two years ago but leaving Houston, going to (Cincinnati), being a part of a new system, that’s always a good thing for a coach – going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 in Cincy, that’s important in your coaching background.”

(On what this job means to him personally and how certain he is that this is the place and time for him)  — “It’s obviously a great opportunity and I’m ready for it. Again, it’s my first time being the sole coordinator in the NFL but my mentors, Wade Phillips, Gary Kubiak, those guys years ago had kind of informed me I was ready for the job. So that gives you confidence when your mentors kind of give you that assurance.”

(On his thoughts about Denver being interested in hiring him and now they are in the Super Bowl)  — “At first, disappointing. But you know (I’m) obviously happy for Wade (Phillips) and happy for Gary (Kubiak). I mean they’re friends. They’re friends of mine. So (I’m)  happy for those guys but it was a tough year last year, being blocked from that job, knowing that Gary (Kubiak) was going to be the head coach and that team having great players on defense. As a first time coordinator you want an experienced head coach, obviously, and have good players on defense. So that was a hard one to swallow last year.”

(On the opportunity to work with DT Ndamukong Suh and what does a player like that mean to a defense and what should his role be)  — “He’s obviously a dominate player in this league. He’s an inside player so that’s always tough because offensively they can kind of double team him every play. So it’s tough for him watching the film. He’s requiring two or three blockers every play so sometimes it’s hard for him to kind of have an impact on the game. But obviously he’s a dominant guy. We can use his reputation to kind of help us on defense. But you know watching a guy, he’s big, he’s fast, he’s explosive but he’s requiring double teams every play. So for him to get off, it’s tough.”

(On if he sees ways in which he can get more out of Ndamukong Suh than in 2015) — “Sure. We’ve got some ways but I can’t share those obviously. We can help him to get some more single blocks, more one-on-one opportunities because if not, he’s going to get doubled every play. So we have some ways to do those things but I won’t share those right now.”

(On what he’s seen so far on film and what things that need to improve)  — “You watch the group and they play hard. They play really hard. Being in the bottom of the run defenses, that’s troubling because if a team runs the ball on you constantly, you’re constantly in third and shorts, third and mediums. So stopping the run is always going to be our first priority and it starts from there. If you can stop the run and make them one-dimensional, now you are winning on defense.”

(On if there are any numbers that he pride more than others)  — “You know stats can be misleading but I think there are three or four stats that are obviously important. Obviously points allowed are very important. Third down defense, red zone defense, turnovers, (those are) definitely important. Overall yardage, that can be misleading but those four or five areas we have to be good at to play top 10 defense.”

(On why he kept Defensive Backs Coach Lou Anarumo on the staff after he was the interim defensive coordinator last season) “Well, he’s a good football coach. I didn’t want to come in and just assume that everyone here was a bad football coach. So I interviewed Lou, I’ve known Lou for four or five years now through Kevin (Coyle) and those guys in Cincy. He’s a good football coach and it helps to have a guy who has been on staff to kind of be a bridge between the old and new. I’m excited to have Lou, the players really enjoyed playing for Lou and that’s important to me. It’s a players game. It wasn’t about me coming in with Lou, it was more about what’s best for our players and best for our team.”

(On if he has spoken with DT Ndamukong Suh and how important it is to establish a relationship with him) – “We’ve talked the last couple of weeks here and he’s a bright guy and he wants to be involved in our overall scheme. My opinion with that is this, every player is going to have a voice, from the top to the bottom, every player is going to have a voice. If the player puts the work in, if he’s studying daily to help us win, then I’ll listen. If it’s Suh or if it’s (S Reshad) Jones or if it’s (CB Brent) Grimes, whoever puts the work in and brings me ideas then I’ll listen. It’s the NFL and you want players to have ownership of it. If it’s a closed door all of the time as a coordinator, then that could be a problem for a defensive coordinator. It’s going to be an open door policy, but open to ideas that have been thought through.”

(On if he sees CB Brent Grimes coming back next season) “I hope. That’s obviously in the future, but I hope because he’s been a really good player in the past. Again, having corners who can cover outside is vital to playing great defense. He’s still a corner in this league that can compete with the best receivers and that’s important for us to have.”

(On if he felt responsible for how Cincinnati Bengals CB Adam Jones reacted in their playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers or if it’s on the player) “I think it’s both, but with that being said Adam Jones played a hell of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His guy didn’t catch the ball all night. Obviously towards the end of the game we had two penalties that cost us the football game and that’s both on coaches and on players, its grown men. Adam is an emotional player and he’s made some mistakes obviously, but I feel responsible and I feel bad for (Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach) Marvin (Lewis) and I feel bad for ownership that it happened because that was going to be a historical win for the Bengals. But obviously as a coach you feel responsible for that, that’s my guy and that shouldn’t have happened. That’s wrong.”

(On what he did as a defensive backs coach to help the Bengals secondary have an outstanding season) “With Adam Jones, he’s always been a guy with great talent. We kind of just harnessed that a little bit and played more technique. (Cincinnati Bengals S) Reggie Nelson is also a first-round pick that we did some small things with him and he made the Pro Bowl for the first time. But that’s great players and that’s more of the player than the coach.”

(On if he is a more aggressive or more conservative as a play-caller) “I think every game is going to be different. I grew up with (Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips and he is aggressive all of the time. That’s Wade’s deal. Every game is going to be different and I’m going to call the game to win the game that day. It can be conservative, it can be aggressive, but it’s more about team and how the team can win the game that day.”

(On how important the middle linebacker is in his 4-3 scheme) – “The middle linebacker has got to be a guy with great leadership. He’s the signal-caller; he’s the quarterback on defense. He’s got to be a physical, great tackler and a tone setter. In the 4-3 you’ve got three backers and the Mike backer is more of the tough, signal-caller leadership guy and the Sam and Will are more of the athletic guys who play in space.”

Clyde Christensen – January 28, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

(On what he sees from QB Ryan Tannehill) “I really enjoyed watching him. I haven’t seen him a bunch. I visited with him and his wife when I came in for the interview and I had a great breakfast with them and as much you can do in an hour there, but I’ve been extremely impressed with him. He’s been extremely productive and he’s played some awfully long stretches of good football. He seems like a guy that has all of the things that you’re looking for. A guy who wants to be good, who has it in perspective and (I’m) really looking forward to seeing him on the field a little bit.”

(On if his role as an offensive coordinator is to be an ally to the quarterback) – “I think so. I’ve always thought that. From every level of coaching that I’ve ever been at and especially this level, I think that’s a lonely position. That’s a lonely position in this league. It’s lonely in the locker room, it’s lonely on the street, it’s hard to find friends and it’s just a unique position. I’ve always felt like the number one job that I have is to be an ally, to be a safe place where a guy can talk and communicate and have a relationship where you can bounce things off and generate ideas. I’ve always thought the quarterback position is unique that way and I’ve always approached it that way.”

(On Head Coach Adam Gase being a former offensive coordinator and how he expects that to affect their relationship) “He was one of the main reasons I took this job and was interested in this job because I thought it was really kind of a support position to him. It’s an offense we ran for a long time in Indianapolis and then he took to Denver and I’m sure they tweaked and improved it a little bit. So it was interesting to me because of his youth and how sharp he is. He’s young and energetic and it gives me a chance to just kind of come in in a support position and kind of help in any way that I can, as he’s got a lot of new responsibilities. He will call the games. It was probably a position that I was interested in because of that and the things that maybe; I probably wasn’t interested in just coming in and ‘Hey, it’s all yours and just go take it and run with it.’ It was much more attractive to me to come in in a support position and I’ve really been impressed with him. I’ve dealt with Coach Gase pretty extensively when (Denver Broncos QB) Peyton (Manning) made his move to Denver and just talking about the offense, talking about handling Peyton and talking about all of the different things like that. That’s kind of where the relationship started and we’ve had a lot fun talking football and sharing Manning stories, etc., Manning experiences. So when this thing happened and when he invited me to come down and visit with him about it, I kind of felt like it was a role that I enjoyed, that I liked, and that I felt like I could help and be a contributor in. I had an awfully good job where I was and I wasn’t interested in just coordinating somewhere for the title. It was more of ‘What is the role? What are the responsibilities? What am I going to contribute?’ And this one was attractive that way.”

(On his thoughts about Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning getting back to the Super Bowl) “I’m thrilled. I really couldn’t be more excited, at the risk of being corny. Like I told him, the last playoff game against New England and one thing I do share with this city is a lack of affection for New England through the years, but (I) just had a knot in my stomach. It wasn’t like the offseason, I just wanted him to win that game, so just was thrilled. And, just to have been upfront on his journey, to have seen the journey and to know what he’s fought through physically and to know what he’s fought through mentally, know what he’s fought through with the moves and then even this year just going through some of the adversity and battling. So I think it makes it even more special, you see him run out of that tunnel at the Super Bowl just knowing what he did to get there and for a decade-and-a-half, watching how the guy approaches the game is pretty darn special to see him. Now we just have to see him finish this thing.”

(On what he thinks about how it may be Manning’s ‘last rodeo’) “Knowing him pretty darn well, I wouldn’t count on that. I wouldn’t count on that. I don’t know many people who enjoy their job as much as him. There have probably been several chances and who knows? But I sure wouldn’t count on that. The guy has kind of amazing that way so I’m not buying it quite yet. I’m not buying it. I know how much he loves doing what he does. He sometimes forgets and still gives me projects and forgets that he has a coach there. I still get a glimpse of how much this guy enjoys football like he does, enjoys the quarterback position like he does and I wouldn’t count on him bowing out too early.”

(On what he thinks of the offensive line) “The number one thing I see us doing approaching this thing is evaluating our own. That’s the number one thing; we can’t miss on our own. We spent a good day today just talking about our own guys, and we’re learning more and more. It’s hard to have a complete evaluation because you haven’t met them; you haven’t looked in their eyes yet and seen them work. You haven’t seen them rehab. You haven’t seen them do all of those things, but as best we can to get a preliminary evaluation of those guys is the number one thing before we move on to other people’s players and college players and stuff. Just trying to get a good feel for what our players are, the offensive line certainly is the beginning of the evaluation process and we have to find some way to find some consistency and some continuity. I think that is a position that the more they play together and the more games together, the better they are going to be. That’s always a fine line with injuries and all those different things. So we’ll go and evaluate it. We do have some good players up there. It’s not an empty cupboard. And then we’ll just kind of look and see how it fits into what we’re trying to do and with what Coach Gase wants to do with this offense. That will be an ongoing evaluation, but we’ve got the process started and again, there are a couple of good young guys.”

(On his thoughts about head coaches calling plays in the NFL) – “I think it’s how (Gase) got the head coaching job. I think a lot of those guys rise to the top because they have a knack for it. (Arizona Cardinals Head Coach) Bruce Arians, who I’ve worked for a couple of times, just has a knack for calling games. I think some of the head coaches make a mistake not doing it. The reason that they kind of go up the ladder if you will, is because they have a knack for doing it and then all of a sudden they become an administrator, or a guy from the sideline. So I’m for it. Some guys just have a knack for it and I think Coach Gase is that, the (Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach) Andy Reid’s. Some guys just have a great knack for calling games and I’ve always thought Coach Gase does. So I’m kind of for it.”

(On how he would feel about calling plays in the future) – “I hadn’t thought about it. That’s down the road. Again, I think that he has a great knack for doing it. So I see him doing it and I see our staff kind of supporting it. He’ll have to have some help, just because of the other responsibilities. But I also think just the process of getting it onto the call sheet; those are the things that we can help with. And then how it comes off the call sheet through the game, through the play-caller, probably gets overrated a little bit, but there is this knack that a play-caller has. When to take a shot? When not take a shot? When to get the ball into (WR Jarvis) Landry’s hands? When to run the clock? All of those things. I don’t see that coming and I’m not worried about that quite yet, we’ve got a thousand things to worry about before I start worrying about that.”

(On his preference of the style of offense that he wants to bring to the Miami Dolphins) – “I would probably say, again the attraction to this job was that I really enjoyed those years in Indy when we were aggressive. We were no huddle and the players had fun. That’s a big thing, that the players enjoy the system. It’s hard to keep players interested and it keeps getting harder and harder to keep players interested. I think the no-huddle and this style of play where you’re mixing it up and you have the ability to – I think Chicago last year led the league in time of possession – but you’re also taking shots and there’s kind of new stuff and you’re keeping them stimulated. I would say this is the way I like to play. We did it for an awful lot of years in Indy and it’s kind of fun. There is always something new. There are always new codes, there are always new concepts and it’s a wide open, you spread them out, and you still can pop some runs in there, etc. But I do, I like this style of play.”

Darren Rizzi – January 28, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(Opening Statement) “I just want to say I’m obviously thrilled to be back for my eighth season with the Dolphins. It’s a pleasure to work for this organization and it’s really an honor to be back and to be asked to be back by Coach (Adam) Gase. Again, (I’m) just thrilled to be back. I’m always excited to work with these players here in Miami. It’s been a thrill to be here for as long as I’ve been here and I’m as excited to be here right now as I have ever been. With that said, you guys can fire away.”

(On if there was any serious consideration to moving on) – “I was under contract for another year. In this profession, when you get to that time of year at the end of the season, you get into a situation where, when the head coach gets fired after the fourth game, you never really know as an assistant coach what the end of the season is going to bring for you. You’re always keeping your options open and you’re always looking but again, I was under contract and all of that stuff has been resolved now and (I’m) just glad to be back, very happy to be back.”

(On if something will change on the way the coaching staff will operate with the players) – “It is early. It’s very early in the process right now. Obviously, I can just speak from Adam (Gase)’s standpoint but obviously a fresh face in front of the room, with fresh ideas and a new way to do things is certainly going to change. We’ve obviously changed the coaching staff dramatically. I know there has been some talk about a lot of people coming back but from where I sit, there are 17 coaches that were here last year that aren’t going to be back. There’s going to be a lot of new faces in front of the players, a lot of new coaches in front of the players, different ways to do things. So from that standpoint, when the players come back here in April and they see that, naturally there is going to be change. There’s a new offensive play-caller, a new defensive play-caller, a lot of new position coaches so there’s going to be a lot of change that way. So the players are going to see that from the start, for sure.”

(On having so many assistants returning to the staff) – “I think it’s a little bit misleading, to be honest with you. Obviously, one of the three coordinators, myself, stayed. And I think two position coaches stayed on – Terrell Williams and Lou Anarumo. I think the rest of the guys that stayed on, two of the coaches that were here last year were moved off the field into off-the-field roles. I think one of our strength coaches stayed on and then three guys that are really more of quality control type coaches. they do a phenomenal job in their area and really deserve to say. I think the mix that Adam (Gase) has put together is quality. I got a chance, obviously, to meet all of the new guys that have come in. I know all of the guys that were retained and I think they all deserved to be retained in certain ways, so I think it’s a good mix. I think that maybe the general public doesn’t realize how many people are actually involved and the way I look at it, again, I look at it like 17 guys aren’t here from last year. More than the nine guys that stayed. But the nine guys that are here, I think, deservedly so. They’ve all done a great job. I think any turnaround like this, you have a fresh start, I think there will always be guys in the building that can really lend a hand to the new head coach and really help him. So I always think it’s a good blend. I think it’s a good mix to have some guys that were previously here and again, obviously bringing in a bunch of new, fresh faces. So from where I’m sitting, I think Adam’s done a great job of putting the staff together.”

(On what being an assistant head coach entails and whether he will be involved in game management) – “It’s a really fluid situation. I think obviously we are going to get to all of that. Adam (Gase) knows my skill-set as a coach. Obviously, I’m going to coach the special teams, we all know that. I think the assistant head coach title is more of a thing on a daily basis, being able to help out within the building on a day-to-day basis. Obviously right now, we are dealing more with the personnel and free agency and the draft and those types of things. We really haven’t explored the game day thing to the n-th degree. We’ve talked about it on the surface. I’m sure that, again, Adam knows what I have done here in the past and will lean on me for certain things but as far as specifics go, we really haven’t gotten to that quite yet.”

(On his thoughts on the roster and how he foresees the young guys playing a major role in the 2016 season) – “I’ll speak from a special teams point of view. I think we certainly didn’t have a perfect season but we were productive in a lot of ways. I know special teams wise, we were in the top 10 in five categories, so that was obviously a good thing. There were some other categories that we have to get a lot better in. Again, I deal with obviously the whole team, with the exception of maybe the quarterbacks, so I get a pretty good view of it like you said. From where I sit, to be honest with you, I think we got a lot of production out of the reserves. Obviously the guys I’m dealing with on a daily basis are a lot of the guys that are not starters. A guy like S Ced Thompson, you bring up that he didn’t get on the field. But you look at the guys in front of him, guys like S Mike Thomas (and) S Walt Aikens. Those guys had tremendous seasons as special teams players. So it is hard for a guy, like S Ced Thompson, to maybe break in. LB Chris McCain I know had a little bit of the injury bug going on. He was a little bit up and down. It’s tough to sometimes get certain guys to the 46-man (roster). So my job is to make sure to get everyone ready so when they do show up to the 46-man (roster), we can get some plays out of them. Overall, I think that certainly we are never going to bat a thousand on personnel. Everyone knows that, that’s every team in the league. But to be honest with you, from my seat, the special teams guys that have come here, I think RB Damien Williams, S Mike Thomas, S Walt Aikens, this year LB Spencer Paysinger, I thought LB Neville Hewitt had a real good season. We got a lot of production out of a lot of guys and really we got a lot of production this year from undrafted free agents. You look at LB Neville Hewitt, you look at LB Zach Vigil, you look at K Andrew Franks, P Matt Darr. I mean there were times out there we had five or six undrafted free agent rookies on the field on special teams and I think that’s something to be said for our personnel. Although some people may focus on the guys that didn’t do well, I’m really going to keep the focus on the guys that did do well and I thought that we got a lot of positive plays out of our reserves.”

(On what P Matt Darr added to the team) – “It’s no secret that a lot of people criticized that move because we got rid of a Pro Bowl punter in Brandon Fields and understandably so but we saw something from Matt right from the beginning. He was just very consistent, had a very cool head about him. It was one of those deals where through OTAs and training camp I kept asking myself ‘What am I missing here?’ This guy, we obviously got him as an undrafted free agent. I went in and worked him out and liked what I saw, but he really exceeded our expectations. (He) did extremely well to finish third in the NFL in gross punting, I think he had 30 punts inside the 20 and probably could have had a few more. The crazy thing is that he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet so he can still get better. Really can’t say enough good things about him. He had a phenomenal year.”

(On how he sees WR Jarvis Landry’s role on special teams moving forward) – “It’s a fine line. It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword. Jarvis is one of the best returners in the league when he has the ball in his hands and you want to give guys like that opportunities. The one thing that Jarvis can’t complain about the last couple of years is opportunities with the ball in his hand. He’s gotten plenty of those. The thing I always compare it to is a guy like Antonio Brown with the Steelers. He’s also their punt returner and arguably, you hear people say he might be the best receiver in the NFL. It’s that fine line, where do you get those opportunities? I think Jarvis ended up having 36 punt returns and (13) kick returns so he had another (49) opportunities. So when a guy like that, you can get the ball in his hands and be a game-breaker, you like to do it. But obviously you like to keep the risk out of it of him getting hurt. I’ve said this for seven years so I will continue to say it, I’d love to get as many return options on the team as possible. We had a bunch going into camp and then some guys get cut, some guys move on, or whatever. With where we were this year, we just felt like we kind of attacked each week on a single-case basis and said ‘Alright, this week we are going to try to get (him) opportunities.’ Jarvis obviously handled most of the punt returns the whole year. We tried to give him a little break on the kick returns. So moving forward, again you have a Pro Bowl-caliber athlete like that so you’d love to get him involved but at the same time you’d like to have other options on the team so he’s not your only one.”

(On what he has learned about Adam Gase in the past few weeks and what makes him optimistic) – “I really love his personality. I really love his presence with our coaching staff. Obviously he is a very, very smart person and clever guy. He’s obviously done a very, very good job with offense no matter where he’s been. He’s very energetic and enthusiastic. We have a lot of the same personality traits, to be honest with you, so we get along great. Again, I’m just excited to be here now going into this season with him and this new coaching staff as I have ever been. I think we have a lot of great things in place. To me, he brings a lot of enthusiasm every day. In the time so far that I’ve been with him, he’s obviously a very good offensive coach. And like I said before, in my estimation so far, he’s put a great coaching staff together. So I’m very, very pleased with where we are.”

(On if he has seen enough out of K Andrew Franks despite only having 16 field goal attempts last season) – “That’s a good question. I think we would have loved to get more attempts out of him, that’s for sure. When you look at his three, he was 13 of 16 with three misses – one was 60-plus yards at the end of the half at New England; one, the grass slipped on him on our home turf, the last miss he had of the year; and then he missed the one in Jacksonville, which he should have made, it was a makeable kick. For an undrafted Division III guy that really was not on anybody’s radar, I’d have to say that I’m pretty pleased with what he did. I think he did an admirable job. Our touchback percentage went up tremendously this year and that was a big thing. I think we ended up being (11th) in the league in touchbacks or touchback percentage. I think he had (43) touchbacks out of (62) tries or something like that. So I was really, really pleased with where he was there. He has an NFL leg, I’ve always said that. We’d love to have gotten him more reps in games but I saw enough from him out at practice where we know that he can do it in this league. Listen, I’m a big believer that you have to bring in competition at every position. I think if we sat here last year and if anybody thought that Brandon Fields wasn’t going to be the punter in 2015, we all thought he was going to be. But we brought in a guy that beat him out. We’re always going to be looking to bringing in competition at every position and so I think it’ll be the same thing with Andrew. But with that said, I think Andrew did a great job. I think moving forward, the sky is the limit for him. He’s only just begun. I really believe this guy can play in the NFL for a long time with his skill set.”

(On why Bobby McCain never had a shot to return kicks last year) – “Again, it was a week-to-week basis. There were times we went into the game saying ‘Hey, Bobby may get a couple shots this week.’ But again, I think we had (eight) different guys return kicks this year. That’s not really the way I’d like to go moving forward, I’d like to kind of get one or two guys. So whether it was RB Damian (Williams) or WR Jarvis (Landry), we had RB LaMichael James, we had RB Raheem Mostert, we had a bunch of different guys, S Reshad Jones back there. So Bobby was definitely in the conversation and, just whatever it was, week-to-week just sometimes he ended up being the second or third guy and never really got those chances. But he was definitely in the mix.”

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