Bacarri Rambo – October 26, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Safety Bacarri Rambo

(You played with S Reshad Jones at Georgia for one year, correct?) – “I played with him in 2009.”

(What did you learn from that one year playing with him?) – “He gave me my concussion. (laughter) Reshad is a great guy. I love him to death. He’s like a big brother to me on and off the field. During this whole process of not playing football, I always shot him a text or gave him a phone call, (and) he always answered and gave me good advice to stay in shape, keep my head up, keep my faith and everything would work out.”

(Have you talked to him since signing with the Dolphins?) – “Yes. I got here Monday, and I went by and saw him after he got out of surgery and kind of returned the favor about coaching him up on surgery and talking to him and giving him advice. He gave me advice (about) – if I came here – what to expect, how I’m going to like the scheme. Anything I need to ask him about, he’s always just a phone call away.”

(How did the concussion take place?) – “I was in coverage, and my man ran down the field, and I broke on the ball. I was saying, ‘Here comes my interception,’ and I had the ball in my hands. Next thing you know, I see another red helmet coming dead in my chest, knocked me out.”

(Kind of ironic a bit that you’re joining the Dolphins to take S Reshad Jones’ place?) – “He also said that God works in mysterious ways. He was just sitting there talking to me about it, and then next thing you know … I don’t wish an injury upon no one. I know he’s going to come back better than ever. In my opinion, Reshad is the best safety in the NFL. I’m not here to replace Reshad. I’m here to just be me. I’m not trying to be Reshad; I’m not trying to be anybody. I’m just trying to be Bacarri Rambo.”

(What do you bring to the Dolphins secondary?) – “Turnovers. (I am) a guy that’s going to study this film, know what’s going on, know what he has to do and do it to the best of my ability.”

(Since entering the NFL, what are one or two things that you feel you’ve made improvement in, in your game?) – “Becoming a student of the game and watching film. Basically, I took that for granted coming into the league my first couple years. When I got to the Bills, they really sat me down and really taught me how to study film and break down the team.”

(With the bye week, you’re going to have plenty of time to do that.) – “Yes.”

(You’ll probably get it under your belt, or what?) – “I don’t need a bye week. I had eight bye weeks. (laughter) It has been tough, but I’m going to stay here and get in my film and learn the playbook, so I can go out and play full speed.”

Jarvis Landry – October 26, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry

(Does the bye week come at a good time or a bad time, considering you guys are on a little bit of a roll?) – “It’s a good time. I think it’s a good time and I think it gives the guys an opportunity to get their body back, get their legs under them again, and go into a stretch before we go to L.A. Of course, we face the (New York) Jets before them, but it’s a good time to get that rest.”

(Do you do anything different, as far as take a little bit of time off, get away or…?) – “Just try to get off my feet a little bit, but also catch up on the family time and get an opportunity to go back home and see my grandmother, and just kind of get away, like you said, get away a little bit.”

(Is there a renewed sense of confidence considering two big wins against two good teams?) – “Yes. It’s definitely a motivating thing for us to win those games like we did, being behind in one and pretty much having to hold the lead in the other. So for us, it’s something that has built our confidence up to a point where, going into the second half of the season, or third half, that we look forward to it.”

(How did you find out that RB Arian Foster was retiring?) – “He texted a group of us individually, just kind of stating that he was hanging up and stating his piece.”

(What do you think about the decision?) – “Obviously, he’s had a long career. He’s done things in this league that ranks him up there with a lot of guys and he felt that it was time. If he can walk away from the game healthy, then that’s what I want for any guy.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase has talked a lot about RB Arian Foster’s leadership and how important it has been. Do you miss something, not having him around?)   – “I think this whole locker room is filled with leaders and to lose one, I think of course we hate to see it happen; but it’s under his own terms and I think he leaves behind a steady group of leaders that’s going to continue to lead this team in the right direction.”

(I understand you weren’t aware of the the rule on spinning the ball and taunting. I was just wondering what your thoughts are about where the league is drawing the line on celebrations, the ‘no fun league’ criticism, what are your thoughts about that?) – “It was something that I honestly was not aware of and I feel it takes away from the game. I think at the same time, the passion, if nothing is too excessive or extremely taunting, I would say that those things are okay; but the league is trying to regulate those things, so for us it’s something that we have to stand by.”

(Do you think fans like to see that kind of stuff?) – “I think it’s just part of the game. I think it’s just part of the game. I think you see a lot of guys’ personalities when they make big plays or when they make first downs or when they do things like that. Spinning the ball has always been a traditional thing, especially for a receiver, when you make a first down. You’ve just got to know not to do it on an opponent’s sideline.”

(Have you heard from the league regarding your hit on [Buffalo Bills S Aaron Williams]?) – “I have not. I have not.”

(Buffalo Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan had some harsh words on you the other day, I’m sure you probably heard about them? He called it a dirty play, said he was disappointed in you for making that hit. What’s your response?) – “I truly don’t have a response back to him. Honestly, for me I play the game with my whole heart and for these guys in this (locker) room. The protection and safety, of course that matters to me. I would never deliberately try to injure anybody or hurt anybody regardless of whoever says whatever. For me, I’ll leave it at that. It was a football play and I’m playing football, and that’s it.”

(Have you had any further contact with Buffalo Bills S Aaron Williams?) – “I have not.”

(Any plans for when you go back home? Got anything special?) – “Yes. Going to do some stuff with my mom, with (NBC), get a chance to check out my brother’s high school game and surprise my cousin for his wedding on Saturday night.”

(How different is it now when you go home?) – “It’s always fun. It’s always fun to catch up and see old friends. Even when I left and went to college, it was 30 minutes down the road so to come back home, it was kind of like a (reunion). Just to have that support system that I know have back at home, to be around those guys is definitely something that I need in my life right now.”

(What are you doing with [NBC]?) – “Just a little segment with me and my mom about me and my mom, my childhood, my college career and my high school career leading to the NFL.”

(Is that going to air on Sunday?) – “Yes. It’s a national thing.”

(Did you just ruin the surprise on the wedding?) – “No, no. Not that wedding. (laughter) (My cousin) actually came to town today. We’re going over the details. We’ll be alright.”

(In general, how important to you is blocking as a part of what you do? I mean, you seem to be a very determined blocker.) – “It’s everything. It makes me who I am. I think that if you put on any tape from high school to now, you will see that in all my games, that I play physical, that I embrace contact. For being here, you see guys running the ball like we’re running the ball right now, that’s on the back of 10 other guys. It’s amazing to see. It’s something that we all do.”

(What aspect of the passing game would you like to see improvement in, if any? – “I mean, I think we’re doing a great job. I think we’re real balanced right now. With Jay (Ajayi) doing things that he’s doing. We’re moving Ryan (Tannehill) around. Ryan is making plays by himself, being mobile, running the ball if he had to. For us, I think our offense is in a great spot moving forward.”

(You said the offense is in a great spot right now, what about with RB Jay Ajayi, what he has done the last two games? It seems like now you guys are not one-dimensional, they got to look for not only the passing game, but for this guy who’s run for over 200 yards in two straight games?) – “That’s what I mean. It means everything. There’s going to come a time where teams are going to start putting more people in the box than in the passing game. Then they back them up and then we run it. So you pick your poison. For us, having that balance and to be able to have Jay running and get to the second level like he is, it means everything for us right now.”

Adam Gase – October 26, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(Did RB Arian Foster indicate to you that he was contemplating retiring? Were you caught off guard and when did you find out?) – “I don’t think I was caught off guard. Sometimes you can tell there are a lot of things going on in somebody’s head. I think the relationship me and him have was really good. We had a lot of conversations over the time that we were together. He definitely was guy I connected with very early. But I did get a text (at) about 5:30-ish on Monday. It was like one of those things in my gut. I felt like that’s what it was going to be. I was hoping I was wrong, but he did a lot of good things in a short period of time for us. I know the injuries really were frustrating for him because when he got hurt in that New England game, we had a couple of times (where) he was trying to rehab, strengthen up and would have these little setbacks. I know that was frustrating for him, because his body wasn’t responding the way he wanted it to. I know our guys really tried to do every they could to strengthen him up as fast as possible, and he kept itching to get out there. I know in that Pittsburgh game he was trying to be available as much as possible for us, because he knew we needed as much leadership as we possibly could get. We knew that was going to be a tough game. We were in a very tough spot for our team where we needed some good things to happen for us. He did everything he could to try to get as healthy as he could as fast as he could. It was a tough conversation to have with him as far as him explaining to me things and just kind of on the way I was thinking at the moment knowing how much he has helped our football team and our organization.”

(Are you upset at the fact that he retired in the middle of the season?) – “I’m not upset, because I want what’s best for him. If there was anything that was pulling him to where he couldn’t really be all in – and his body wasn’t all in – I’m not going to be upset about that, because I had a great relationship with him. He’s a guy that I really enjoyed being around and enjoyed him around our players and the way that he communicated. The way that he helped that running back room is one of those things you just can’t measure. We are very young in that room, but he did such a good job early on as far as when we had some bumps in the road, he kept those guys together and educated them. He did a lot of things here that I don’t know if he has done other places as far as when you’re as smart as he his – and picked things up as fast as he did – some of the little things that he tried to do to show those guys the right way to do it, he didn’t have to do that. He did it to try to help us, and I will always be appreciative towards him, because he tried to do everything he could to be all in with us.”

(You pointed to the running back room as an example of how you would like the team to be going forward. Has that changed a little bit now that RB Arian Foster is gone?) – “I think the one thing that I’ve noticed from that room is (Running Backs Coach) Danny (Barrett) has done a good job of trying to help those guys grew up as fast as possible. I think Jay’s (Ajayi) emergence – especially the last three weeks – has helped him grow up really quickly, and I think the rest of those guys are following suit. They’re seeing his success and realizing, ‘Wow, he’s doing everything right – all the little tiny details right – and now he’s benefitting from that not only as far as us having more success on Sundays as far as wins, but also personal success, winning awards – thing like that – and it’s all, because he kept going to work trying to get better, understand the ins and outs of everything that we were doing for that week, and he made it happen on Sunday.’ I think those guys are seeing that, and they’re following suite.”

(Will RB Arian Foster be around here in any capacity? Do league rules allow that, or is he just goes and takes care of his state of mind?) – “Basically his kind of conversation with me was, ‘I’ll never be far away.’ Obviously, he has great relationship with those guys. I’m sure if he see something during a game – or on TV – he’ll be very quick to place a phone call.”

(How might the absence of RB Arian Foster impact the roles of RB Damien Williams and RB Kenyan Drake?) – “It’s something that we’re trying to really figure out right now and go through the process. The fact that we have a bye week this week we have to figure out, ‘What’s our next step? What’s the right move to make? Do you bring in another guy? Do you promote somebody from practice squad?’ We have to figure out all these things, because Damien, for one, has a huge role in our special teams. The more plays he plays on offense, it makes it tougher for him on special teams. And then Drake has not as big of role on special teams, but he does play quite a bit. I think I’ve said it before as far as it has been rare in my career to have two running backs that are as involved in special teams as those guys are. So, whether we move things around on special teams, or we decide that we’re just going to play one guy more than the other … I know my trust level in Damien, obviously, he has done a lot of good things for us in the limited role that he has had so far. It seems like every time he gets in, (he has) one or two huge plays a game, usually game-changing plays. Drake hasn’t had as many opportunities, but he’s going to be, obviously, given the opportunity to really step up and do things right and be consistent. You can see that Arian leaving puts pressure on those two guys to be right and do things right, and we have to grow up quickly.”

(Are you okay with three running backs?) – “I’ve done it quite a bit in my career. I think we have to … Really, we’re going to take a look at it. Between (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) and (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and myself, we’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of days reevaluating everything, and we got the rest of this week (to) try to make a decision by Tuesday as far as what our roster is going to look like going forward. We have decisions to make, especially with the PUP guys. That’s going to come quick, and we’re going to have to make a decision in that area as well (about) roster spots. Who moves in? Who moves out? Do we get through next week completely healthy? I mean there are a lot of things that can happen here over the next 13, 12 days. We’re going to have to make some moves to try to make sure that we feel like our roster is good going forward.”

(Since you were at five running backs, you’re now down to three. I know you said you’re contemplating. Does three feel uncomfortable?) – “Not really. The only thing that is in the back of my mind is just the fact that Damien (Williams) is such an impactful player on special teams. Like I’ve, said it’s rare, especially at that position to have a guy that impactful. But he’s a good running back, and he does a good job for us. He’s a game-changing guy.”

(On a different topic, how easy of a decision was it to have LS John Denney replace S Reshad Jones as a captain? What are the leadership qualities you like about him?)  – “It’s never easy to replace a guy like Reshad, especially with what he has done since I’ve been here. When you get to a place, you always do as much research on everybody as possible, and everybody told me, ‘(Jones) doesn’t kind of say a whole bunch. He’s a really good player, but he’s quiet, and he does what he needs to do and leads by example.’ We asked a little more of him, and he did it. He did a great job as far as being a vocal leader and coming out every day and showing young guys how to do it and speaking up when he felt like something wasn’t right. Trying to find that next guy wasn’t … It’s not that easy sometimes, because I’m not in the locker room every day. John Denney was able to speak on Saturday night before we played Pittsburgh. I think he really made a strong statement to our team. It hit everybody. When he talks – because he doesn’t say a whole bunch – when he talked, I think a lot of guys really listened to what he was saying. That was a clear cut to me the fact that he has been here longer than anybody else. He has been through a lot, and he has leadership qualities that I think a lot of us didn’t’ really realize and guys respect him. We felt like that was the best move for us as far as giving our guys another veteran guy to be able to turn to and somebody that I appreciate and will listen to if he ever brought something to me.”

(Why S Bacarri Rambo and what will you see and envision him playing?) – “We’ll still be going through our process of what’s our next step with that. Obviously, we’re very … I don’t even know if we’re 24 hours off of doing that. We’ll go through the rest of this week and go through practice next week. That makes it easier to figure out what everybody’s role is going to be, who’s going to be active – all those type of things – how fast can he pick everything up. We keep trying to figure out a way of what’s best for us, work guys out. I know (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) constantly are having these Tuesday workouts to see if there’s anybody that fits what we’re looking for. That’s going to be a wait-and-see process for us. I don’t have anything for you to say, ‘It’s going to be this.’”

(Does it trouble you that S Bacarri Rambo has been out of football since January?) – “I think we have a couple of guys on our team that have been in that situation a little bit. Our guys felt good about him. Our defensive staff obviously felt good. We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t feel good about the situation that we were about ready to get into.”

(What did you like about S Bacarri Rambo?) – “There are some of us that have either competed against him and been around him before. (With) his skill set, his knowledge of the game, his play making ability – we feel like we got a guy that possibly can come in here and contribute. Obviously, we’re going to have to take some steps here as far as getting caught up, seeing how everything fits in. It’s going to … This is not going to be like Tuesday when we start practicing, ‘Here’s what it is.’ It’s going to take us a second to figure some things out.”

(Regarding RB Jay Ajayi, 54 carries the last two weeks. I know he’s young – I know it’s a bye week – but do you monitor his carries? He does have an injury history the last year and a half for whatever reason. Is it too early for that? Do you look at that in December? What’s your approach?) – “You’re trying to jinx me here. This I like saying ‘You have your starting five (offensive lineman) next,’ and then we’re having shower incidents. (laughter) I think you’re always going to be smart. Obviously, I do need to be aware of where we’re at carries-wise. I think last game didn’t feel like that. It is kind of a … He needs to be a good sounding board to me as far as – as we go through this with the nine games left – of, ‘How is your body feeling? How are you recovering each week? How many reps is he getting in practice?’ We’re going to have to be smart about it if we’re going to be giving him that many carries. I think he has done a good job as far as getting back in here quickly after a game, getting his body back. That is … When you run the style that he’s running right now where it’s physical, he’s taking on a lot of hits, but he’s breaking a lot of tackles. Over time, that’s going to take a little bit of a toll, so we just have to make sure we monitor throughout the game. But at the same time, we don’t want to be overly cautious, because he is a guy that has had a lot of carries in college, and he knows how to take a hit, he knows how to run through contact. If we can just continually go through our season and be smart about how we practice him and let him get to Sundays and make sure he’s feeling good, that’s going to be the biggest key.”

Darren Rizzi – October 24, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(What is the challenge when you have got so many core special teamers having to come off your unit because they are now starters or regular contributors? How do you re-generate that unit again?) – “It’s a great question, because it’s every special teams coach’s – I don’t want to call it a struggle, but challenge during the year – is when you have guys through injuries. And everybody’s got them, we’re not alone there. If you look throughout the league, everybody’s got them. That’s why OTAs and training camp is so important for a special teams coach to prepare everybody that’s got to play. It’s got to be next man up. It’s easy to make an excuse and say this is the reason, but if a guy’s out there playing, we expect him to do well. It is a challenge, but then you have to find that delicate balance with a guy like Mike Thomas for example, who played a lot of defense yesterday. We didn’t take him off of everything, but he came off of some teams. The next guy up has got to play and we had some guys play that haven’t played a lot yesterday in the game. Again, like I said, that’s kind of the special teams coach’s challenge. It’s my job to get those guys ready. We didn’t perform as well as we’d like to. It certainly wasn’t good enough yesterday in my opinion. But, again, throughout the (game), we had a lot of young guys out there – you saw some young guys out there making some mistakes, I’m sure, as you guys probably noticed. But that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to keep getting ready. We’ve got a lot of football left to go and those guys who are out there, if they’re part of the 46, they’ve got to play and they’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to get them ready.”

(How do you reinforce that to them? That this is your chance, your opportunity, your job now.) – “That’s very clear, I can promise you that. That’s very clear. We’ve enforced that from Day 1, that at some point, this is going to be an opportunity that you’re going to have. If you’re one of the 11 guys out there, we expect you to do well. We expect the leaders of our special teams unit guys that have been here– like Mike Thomas, like a Spencer Paysinger, the guys that have been around a little bit – to kind of take that leadership role in trying to get those guys ready.  We knew going into the game that it was going to be a … and these last couple of weeks with some injuries. And it’s a trickle down effect, and it always comes down to special teams. It’s always going to be that way, and when you have injuries – it happens. I’m a little more disappointed, quite frankly, in some of the guys that had played before and made some errors yesterday too. But again, they’re getting more chances on offense and defense. So we’ve got to find the right formula, we’ve got to find it quick and then we’ve got to play better than we did yesterday. That’s for sure.”

(There was an exchange I believe, on the RB Kenyan Drake hold, and then the ensuing punt was deflected. A) was the hold legit when you looked at it on film?) – “Yes, in this league, when you take guys to the ground – the chances of them throwing a holding call is pretty high. And Kenyan ends up on top of the guy on the ground. We had two penalties on that play. Someone said to me ‘Oh gosh, you had two rookies have penalties on that play.’ At this point in the season, we can’t … I’m not looking at guys as rookies anymore. Like I said before, if they’re out there on the field and they’re playing plays for us, it doesn’t matter if it’s a rookie or a 10th year guy, they’ve got to get it done. Yes, that next play shouldn’t have ever happened. Let’s be honest, Matt Darr hits a beautiful punt, we’ve got them pinned down inside the 20, and then all of a sudden the field position completely flips for the entire game on that, because we are playing a play that shouldn’t have occurred if it’s not for a penalty. Again, he didn’t need to hold on the play. If I was officiating, I probably would’ve called it myself. I can see why they called it, and again, those are the frustrating things. We’re going back now … we’re going back to play another play, those guys just protected, they just covered for 50 yards and now they’ve got to come back and replay a play. That’s just not something easy to do and we have a mistake on the next play, the ball gets tipped and fortunately it wasn’t a bigger play. Any time you get a guy with a hand in the kick zone like that, the ball could’ve went the other way. We’re fortunate that it went over the line, it could’ve been a bigger one.”

(You’ve dealt with WR Jarvis Landry on special teams, he’s an emotional player. He had that block yesterday on the crack back. I think he had a punt last year where there was a sideline violation. Have you ever talked to him about his emotion and is it at a point to where it might be working to his detriment?) – “That’s a good question. Yes, Jarvis is a guy that plays right up to the edge. He plays right up to the line. He’s an emotional player. I think he’s probably gotten to this point in his career because of that. I think it’s probably, I don’t know if you want to call it a blessing and a curse maybe at times. But Jarvis is an emotional guy. I certainly wouldn’t want to change his personality. The official came over and explained that penalty after the play. It’s one of those fine line things. He spins the ball. The way the official came over and explained it to us – if he had turned around and spun it the other direction, there’s no flag. Because he spun it towards their bench, it was a flag. I’m not going to get into all the dotting-the-I and crossing-every-T on the exact rule book and all of that stuff right now. It’s not going to get me anywhere. Again, getting back to Jarvis, I love the way Jarvis plays the game quite frankly. I wouldn’t mind having 46 Jarvis Landrys out there with the way … his intensity, his preparation, his enthusiasm and all of those things. Can we afford those 15 yard penalties? No. We can’t and that’s not just a Jarvis, that’s a team-wide thing. We cannot have … we can’t have those penalties. I’m sure (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase has already addressed that as well, and that’s something that we are going to continue to address with the team. We want the guys playing up to the edge. We want the guys playing up to the line. It’s a fine line in crossing over it and costing your team. I’m sure, like I said, I’m sure Gase has already addressed that.”

Vance Joseph – October 24, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph

(How much of a difference has DE Cameron Wake made out there, both against the run and against the pass, where it seems like he’s getting closer and closer to the Cam of a few years ago?) – “He makes a lot of difference (with) the energy he brings in the run and pass game alike. He puts so much pressure on the tackles – again, in both phases of the game – where it condenses the run game and (in) the pass game, he’s obviously pressuring the quarterback. Even with (Andre) Branch on the right side, those guys make a difference, because of the energy they bring to the game.”

(With DE Mario Williams, what went behind the decision to move him inside at parts of the game?) – “Just bodies. We want to get our best four rushers on the field at one time. Sometimes we have to play Mario inside to keep Branch at the right end. It’s having your four best guys on the field at one time.”

(So it’s just in obvious passing situations getting your four best pass rushers?) – “Absolutely.”

(Would you say yesterday was DE Mario Williams’ best performance of the year?) – “I would say the effort … He played with great intensity yesterday. He had two TFLs (tackles for loss). He had two quarterback hits, four QB pressures. He played well. Obviously, that was his old team, so I think inside he wanted to play well. He didn’t say it all week, but he wanted to play well against Buffalo.”

(How would you assess the safety play yesterday?) – “Okay. Obviously losing ‘20’ (Reshad Jones) was going to be … That’s a huge deal for us. But I thought Isa (Abdul-Quddus) played well. Isa is a smart player. He’s always in good spots to make plays. He tackled well. I thought Mike Thomas, for the most part, played solid. He had one issue with the long pass. It was Cover 2 defense, and he was too far off the hash. Outside of that, those two kids played solid. They won’t ever be what ‘20’ would be in a football game. That’s not fair, but they can play solid for us and those guys help us win.”

(How much did you know about DE Andre Branch before you got here and what do you really like about him?) – “We watched Andre on tape in the spring. You can watch an entire game on Andre and say, ‘He’s just okay,’ but you can pick 15 plays and say, ‘Boy, he’s special.’ We weren’t sure what he was going to be. But obviously, he’s talented enough to be a special guy. Right now, he’s focused. It’s a chance to be a starter; that’s huge. He’s in a contract year; that’s huge for him. So, I’m not surprised by what he’s doing as far as the talent perspective. He’s a gifted guy. He’s tall. He can run. He’s aggressive. It has been good for us.”

(The last two weeks have seen the defense play at a very high level. Can you point to one reason why the first four, five weeks it wasn’t that?) – “I think having Cam (Wake) out there full time, Andre (Branch) playing more snaps – that has helped. That has been different for us as far as the ends having more energy out there. The back end guys have been really solid. (Byron) Maxwell has played better and better each week, the last two weeks. That has helped also. But I think the energy that Cam brought and Andre brought, that has been the biggest difference in my opinion.”

(Have you done anything schematically?) – “Every game is different. The game plan changes each week going through who you’re playing, so that’s no difference. It’s different every week.”

(You’ve haven’t gone to like a 3-4 team?) – “No.”

(Are you noticing a big difference physically now in DE Cameron Wake from the start of the regular season?) – “Absolutely. Cam, he has come a long way. The first three weeks, he wasn’t Cam. Now he’s back to being Cam. If he’s one on one with most tackles, he’s going to win a majority of the snaps. So, he’s back to being what Cam was in the past.”

(I know that when players aren’t playing to your standards, you tell them. Do you think it affects them more when you let everybody know? Like here?) – “We don’t hide much on defense. If they’re not playing well, we’re all going to know it. Every player is going to know it, every coach is going to know it. If you ask me the question, I’ll tell you. If you don’t ask me, I won’t tell you. But our players trust us enough to know that if I’m saying it publicly, it has already been said in private. They trust us. It’s just an honest way of doing business here. ”

(Is it gratifying that players that have been – I don’t want to say called out – but that you’ve told are not playing up to snuff, that they’ve brought their level of play up a little?) – “Absolutely. With Mario (Williams), he has definitely come back the last two weeks and played harder. Once he played harder, he was going to play better. We all knew that. (Byron) Maxwell has played better also. So, I guess it’s gratifying to know that they’re hearing you. If you ask them to play better, you hope they’ll play better, and that has happened in those two cases.”

(You all did a pretty solid job of bottling up QB Tyrod Taylor as well, not allowing him to break free and escape. How were you able to contain him?) – “The front four. We had a hell of a rush plan this week. They pushed the pocket inside and crushed the can on the outside. When he escaped, he escaped out the back door, which that’s what you want. You don’t want him to step through and escape vertically. That’s huge gains. We knew he was going to escape some, but for the most part, the front four did a great job.”

(What the defense has done the last couple of weeks – the pass rushers getting after the quarterback, producing turnovers and sacks – is this sustainable or are these outlier performances do you think?) – “No, that’s who we can be. In my opinion, every game we’ve played, we’ve shown that kind of ability to play that way. From Seattle to even Tennessee, we’ve had some moments where we can be a special group. It’s just about being consistent, everybody doing their job and playing hard all the time. I’m not surprised that we’re playing well the last two weeks. That’s what we’re expecting. Our front four should be a good unit. That’s why they’re here. I’m not surprised that Cam (Wake) and Andre (Branch) and Mario (Williams) are playing good. And obviously (Ndamukong) Suh has played well all year. So, that’s expected.

(How can you get better defensive tackle play?) – “Hopefully, (Leon) Orr … He has been here for only two weeks. That’s tough. Chris Jones is a guy that does things right. The bottom line is Jordan (Phillips) has got to play better overall. Out of 35 plays, Jordan is playing a solid 25 plays very solidly. He’s having four or five plays where it’s not very good. I think Suh is playing well. I think Suh gets doubled a lot, but I think Jordan could play better. Obviously, getting Earl (Mitchell) back in a couple weeks, that’s going to help us there. Losing Earl was a big deal for us inside, because now you’ve got probably three inside starters. Getting Earl back in two weeks, that’s going to help us a lot.”

(How disruptive was DT Ndamukong Suh yesterday?) – “Very. He’s a three technique, so he’s doubled by a lineman every play, but he is disruptive in there, especially on pass downs. He can push the pocket. His sack, he was a decoy on that sack. He clubbed his guy and made a play. He can be special. But obviously, every play he has got two guys on him most of the time. It’s tough to be special every play being doubled.”

(With CB Byron Maxwell, what particularly has contributed to his improved play or the level of cleanliness of is play?) – “I think just doing it right. Byron came from a system in Seattle that did play Cover 3 every down. For a corner, that’s simple. That’s more physical than it is mental. Here, it’s a multiple-coverage scheme, so he has got to play a certain way every down. Early on, he wasn’t doing that. Now he’s doing that better. It looks better for Byron. He’s jamming receivers. He’s on top of vertical routes. It looks better when you’re doing it right in this system, but it’s also … It can be cornerback friendly if you do it right. He’s figuring it out. If you do it right – play your proper leverage – you can play in this system and play well.”

(With the linebacker play, everything seems to have improved in terms of gap integrity. Was that players getting comfortable in the scheme? Was it the addition of LB Donald Butler? Is it a rotation between LB Neville Hewitt and Butler?) – “I think it’s overall. I think the front guys are fitting their gaps better, staying square on blocks and playing blocks better. I think the linebackers are playing better fitting their gaps. Kiko (Alonso) has been solid all year. I think Butler has been here now for, what, four games I think? So, he’s getting better in his assignments. I think Neville is playing better and better each week. Neville is a young player, but he has played better and better each week. And Jelani (Jenkins) is playing more dime than he is base down. So, it’s just overall, everyone fitting their gaps better. Everyone is staying in their gaps. That has been a big difference in the run game the last two weeks.”

(You’re encouraged that S Isa Abdul-Quddus will be available in two weeks?) – “Absolutely.”

Clyde Christensen – October 24, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

(Head Coach Adam Gase mentioned that you guys need some new running plays because you’ve used them all. Is that what the next two weeks are going to be about?) – “Yes. He gets that rash from calling too many run plays, so we’ve got that under control. (laughter) Calling the same run over and over gives him a little bit of a rash, but other than that, it’s been pretty darn good for turning this thing around and certainly helping Yes, it’s been good stuff. It’s been good to see it rewarded. We’ve worked hard on it. We had a commitment to that outside zone. It really is, from a coaching stand point, you like seeing that, that you keep preaching it. It’s easier to face you guys after saying the same thing over and over. ‘This thing is coming, this thing is coming.’ It’s the same with the team. ‘Hey, this is going to happen.’ So to get some success on it helps make your job easier, helps sell the message (and) get the message sold to them. So it’s important. It is funny, but it is important too. As a coach, you’re selling, ‘Hey, if we do these things, this is going to happen. This is going to be the result.’ So it’s easier press conferences, but it’s also easier meetings with the players. So that’s the truth of it.”

(You said that you guys are committed to being an outside zone team. But I saw some trap plays mixed in there is that kind of what…) – “Yes. That’s been what we’ve been and that’s what we started out to be – that we were going to be an outside zone team and we were going to mix in a couple of the gap-schemes that are important. And we do a little bit of everything. The quarterback read was big. We had a chance to pop that one down there in the red zone. I think the point being, we just continue to try and get better at what we’re doing rather than (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase could have panicked when things weren’t going quite the way we wanted in those early games. We really have admired how he just stayed with it and we kept getting better at it. That’s not easy to do in this league, right? It’s not easy to do between just the feeling that, ‘Hey, we have to change something to get better,’ or ‘It’s not working and we have to go in a different direction.’ That’s hard to do. He has been, both on a game level and on a season level, he just kind of stayed with it and believed in knowing … just had a deep confidence that it was going to be good and it was going to work. So it has been good to see some rewards from it, some pay off from it.”

(Can you explain how a running game can work even when they out-number you in the box? And it seemed, based on what [Head Coach] Adam [Gase] said, they seemed to know what’s coming.)– “I don’t know if I’d give them quite that much credit but any time you’re a three-wide team and any time … every single defensive coordinator says the same thing in the Monday meeting: ‘Hey, we’ve got to stop the run. We’re going to get an extra half a man or a man in the box to stop the run.’ So how you run on that extra man in the box will determine how good a run team you are. The days of, ‘They’re scared of the pass,’ and you get Cover 2 on first and second (down), we don’t see them (anymore). So how you handle that extra man in the box is really important. I think the question was, how do you run successfully? Knowing just who that guy is and where you’re going to leave him, is really part of scheming the thing. The back being able to make that guy miss, makes you an NFL back. I’ve said to you, we’ve said it in here before, if you can’t make the extra guy miss, whether it’s the free safety or the strong safety showing up off the edge, that’s the deal. To be an NFL running back, you have to be able to make that guy miss. You’re not blocking all 11 and its open running lanes to the end zone. So that’s all part of it – the place where you get your movement and trying to push someone in, where at least that extra guy has an obstructed path to the running back. So all of that goes into it, but that’s our weekly job. ‘Hey, how do we handle that extra guy in the box?’ The play action has to help handle the man in the box. It’s kind of a multi-faceted answer, but it’s really important – all of them. The naked (bootlegs), right? We’ve been really efficient with our quarterback movements. That helps handle the extra man in the box. We’d love to get … we had a couple of shots yesterday that we didn’t … we hit one but we didn’t hit (one) … but there’s some play-action shots to be had that, that extra man, all of a sudden, it cost them. You have to be able to make them pay. You see a lot of people … little posts in behind that extra guy. All of those things. The little bubble (screens) you see us run, that helps handle that man in the box. So there’s a bunch of ways to help, but you have to handle that guy. When you’re handling him, it’s hard-sledding because they’re 1-, 2-yard runs. You’re not always going to get them, but overall, the good running teams in this league, have a plan for that guy and effectively handle him, not all the time, but regularly.”

(What makes you confident that this can be a consistent approach that leads to success for this team as opposed to a two-game aberration?) – “Good question. You don’t. Other than just, I believe in what we’re doing with all my heart. I’ve seen it work for a long, long time and it’s based on the right things –being hard-nosed, coming off the ball, starting with the run, being a good play-action and movement team. It helps your quarterback. It takes a lot of pressure off your quarterback and those were two really hot defenses, as we kind of talked about in the press conferences the last two weeks. Those are hot defenses. Those are hard-nosed, Mike Tomlin, and the Buffalo Bills. They’re known for being hard-nosed teams.  That’s encouraging to go have some success running on those guys. They’re hard teams to run it on. They built their whole reputation on being hard-nosed, tough, stop-the-run guys. If we keep doing what we do well, if we keep just improving and if we keep doing those things, I just believe it’ll be more than a two-game thing. It’s not going to be 200 yards a game. It’s not that easy. And some of those are an aberration, an exception, an outlier, if you will; but the fundamentals of blocking, running, play action-ing, getting third downs shorter, possessing the ball, your defense – those are tried and true principles that I think we’re trying to build this thing on a solid rock that will hold, and it will hold up in December in Buffalo and New (York). It’ll hold up for year, after year, after year. And you can get your right kind of guys in here and you can get people sold on this thing. I don’t think it’s any secret formula. It is football, but it’s, as we say, ‘It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It’s simple, but it’s not easy to do.’ They’re not novel concepts of being hard-nosed, running the ball, getting movement on double-teams, making the extra guy miss, all those things. But we’ve seen it. You’ve got to convert some third downs. It’s all tied together, and it is hard. This league is dad-gum hard to get 100 yards rushing. It’s hard to run the football in this league. It’s extremely hard.”

(Do you think you guys didn’t know what you had in RB Jay Ajayi? RB Arian Foster was signed. There was an attempt to sign Broncos RB C.J. Anderson, Cardinals RB Chris Johnson and re-sign Texans RB Lamar Miller. Did you maybe not realize what you had in RB Jay Ajayi?) – “No, that would not be the case. We really felt like … He didn’t have a lot of data out there. He was a young guy. But we felt very, very good on him. I think the veteran presence that we were looking for in Arian – and looking for as we looked around – was more for the (running backs) room than an indictment that we didn’t think we had running backs. We loved Damien (Williams) from the get go, from the first film we watched on him. He’s a playmaking, tough sucker just like he has shown to be. And we felt like Ajayi could really be a big physical guy and do those things. There wasn’t enough data to say, ‘He’s an established guy.’ (It) wasn’t that. It was a bit of an insurance policy, but it was a bit of having a veteran presence. That’s a young room in there. Who would have seen Ajayi having the two weeks that he has had or any running back having the two weeks he has had. Jay is a tough guy. This thing means a lot to him. I’m really glad that he has seen some results from all his hard work. He has worked his tail off and gosh, he’s protecting the football. He has bought into what we’re selling and how we want to do things. It has really been fun to see him enjoy the success. You love seeing a guy like him who just works hard and for it to go right for him.”

(What were your thoughts on the WR Jarvis Landry hit after you watched it on tape?) – “Just that we got to target lower. It was a good call. It was a penalty. We can’t go high, and the league is emphasizing that. The effort, I don’t think it was malicious in any way. You can tell by even right after the hit that he has a concern for the wellbeing of the opponent. I just think that this thing is a high-aggression thing. You get the adrenaline going. Gosh, you love the effort. We got to lower that target a foot and get under his ribcage without putting any damper on the energy. That’s one of the great challenges of football is getting wide receivers to block. That’s not easy in this league. You just love what he has done for us tempo-wise, but we don’t want to hit anyone in the head. We don’t want to get 15-yard penalties, and we just got to lower the target. We can fix that. We can correct that. That’s an easy correction. The hard correction is to get someone who doesn’t want to block to block. We can lower the target and get down in there lower. That was my impression of the thing, but I thought it was a good call. It ends up being helmet to helmet, and we got to lower our target.”

(You talked about the running backs and also the extra man in the box and sometimes he’s not blocked up and the running back has to account for that. Do your running backs in that running back room, do they feel comfortable, or do they actually look forward to defeating that guy? Because often times, that’s what running backs look forward to, because they can break a long run because of that extra guy.) – “It is one of the top criteria for being an NFL running back. When we inserted the first run the first day we got here with the players, the thing (was), ‘You have to make that guy miss. If you can’t, then there’s probably not a position for you as a running back in this league here or anywhere else.’ Yes, I think they do look forward to it. I think there’s something fun about it. Sometimes you house them and run over them and sometimes you run around them, and everyone has got their own way of handling that guy. Jay (Ajayi) last week kind of jukes the corner and goes for a big one, and we’ve seen him lower his shoulder and run over them. When you have both pitches, then you got something, which he has going right now. If I’m a DB (defensive back), and I go sticking my nose up in there, I’m not sure he’s not going to try and launch me out of the stadium, or he’s going to side-step me and go. Now when you have the two-pitch working, and you’re not just a single-pitch guy, then you really got something. He’s unique that way. You better not tiptoe up in there, because if you do catch his one-pitch and he lowers that shoulder, that’s a load. He’s a load. But yes, the answer to your question is absolutely. I think they know that, and it’s kind of fun. That’s kind of fun to turn on the film and handle that guy. (It is) equally frustrating when you don’t handle him, and that guy takes you down. It’s hard. It’s really hard, because there’s no answer. There’s no answer for that extra guy. You only have so many blockers, and they got an extra guy in there. That’s why it has to be the running back.”

(Can you give us an update on your rookies – G/T Laremy Tunsil, RB Kenyan Drake, WR Leonte Carroo and WR Jakeem Grant – where they are in terms of understanding the offense and their performance?) – “Yes, I can. Tunsil, I think, is just improving in big strides. Big strides. I was teasing today, his first pull … if you watch his first pull in the game, I think he could have played for Vince Lombardi and run the Green Bay sweep. We talked about him struggling pulling because he just hadn’t done it a bunch early and he goes tip-toeing through there and he’s agile and he locks him up. It was really impressive. He’s improving. He’s a professional guy. I’ve said it all along, I love the way he’s approached this thing from Day 1. It means a lot to him. He’s really improving. He played his best game (on Sunday) and his last two weeks have been really good. Jakeem, we’re trying to get more and more plays for him. He’s a dynamic guy. He won’t show up in the box score but as soon as we stuck him in there on Damien (Williams)’ run, you saw everybody on the (Buffalo) sideline pointing at him and (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) called a little fake reverse – a fake reverse to him. It influenced a couple of guys, which helped Damien get the (touchdown). That’s another way to handle the extra guy in the box – having a Landry or having (Grant go in motion). He’s improving. We’re trying to get him more and more involved in the offense. We’d love to have a package for him each week. He’s a dynamic guy. He’s a playmaker, so he’s picking it up. He’s improving. Carroo has improved a tremendous amount. We’re really pleased with him. I think a lot of it is just understanding the heat. He’s got himself in great shape. He was in good shape but it’s a little different playing down here. We’re really pleased with him. He continues to improve. I think you’re going to see him more and more and more. Percentages say – hopefully not – but percentages say there’s going to be a point in this year where he’s going to have to play some key snaps. So we’re stressing that and we’ve got to work him into some games early so we’ve got some deposits in the bank when that time, if it does come, comes – whether it’s this year or next year, it’s coming – and he’s going to have to come in there and make some big plays for us. So we have to slip him into some of these games a little bit earlier and it’ll also help us rest some of the guys who are in there. A lot of it is hard to do just because of the no-huddle and when we’re tempo-ing and all of those things. The last one was Drake and I think you’ll see more and more of him. He continues to improve. He’s growing up into this professional football thing and I think the big thing with him is that we throw a lot at him because he has the special teams plays. All of a sudden you’re having to learn the special teams and you’re having to learn this and the protections. He’s one of those guys that can do so many things that it’s a blessing and a curse. It helps you get on the field but it also … he has magnified study from the average guy because he’s learning a bunch of different positions. We split him out a little bit and then also the special teams. I think all four of those guys, the arrow is pointing up. We’re really, really pleased. I think they’re really going to be good, fun football players for the Dolphins fans and for us. I think you’re really going to see them affect some games, even more so – those three skill guys – before this year is over, you’ll see them affect a couple games in a big way, which they already have. Tunsil has, just by his play; Jakeem with his punt return. But I think all four of them, you’re going to keep seeing them show up on that box score and say, ‘Man, they had an impact.’”

(You mentioned RB Arian Foster’s presence in the running back room. For veteran presence, now that he’s kind of more of a secondary type of guy, does that now need monitoring to make sure he stays engaged and doesn’t get down on the situation?) – “He’s like everyone – he’s got a role. I don’t know if he’s been secondary as much as he’s been recovering from an injury. He hasn’t been healthy. He’s been nursing that thing. He’s been fighting to get back on the field. I’d probably stop short of saying a secondary role, his role is still really, really important for us. Maybe it’s not in carries, which would be the out-front thing you measure, but as far as presence and some of the things we ask him to do, yes. He’s no different from anybody; he’s got to keep fulfilling his role. We won a couple of games. There’s a long way to go in this thing. We’ve got to keep improving and everyone’s got to keep doing what they’re supposed to be doing and he would fall in that category too. It is bigger than carries, if you will, in a lot of cases.”

Adam Gase – October 24, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(When you’ve won two in a row, is it a good time for a bye? Do you like the momentum continuing six days from now?) – “I think where we’re at right now, this is probably a good time for us to have this week. I think if guys keep doing what they’ve been doing the last three or four weeks as far as their preparation, that has really been the biggest thing for us, and it’s translating to Sunday. They’ve stuck with everything that we’ve been talking about since the beginning. They’ve amped it up as far as how they’ve gone about their business and not listening to outside noise and staying together as a group, and they kept fighting. So, that was … That has really been our main reason for improving on Sundays.”

(Aside from the victory, what did you like most about your team’s performance?)  — “I think just two weeks in a row now we’ve had the type of energy, attitude, speed that we’re looking for on Sundays. You didn’t see anybody waver when we were down. You saw a bunch of guys just kept fighting. You saw both sides of the ball trying to encourage each other. They were playing off each other. They were doing the best they could to do that. We let up a long touchdown, then we have a good drive on offense. We had some response instead of everybody, where earlier in the season (we) probably had a couple situations where heads went down. But you didn’t see that, especially the last two weeks. You just saw guys kept plugging along, understanding it’s a 60-minute game. It’s a new series every time we go out on the field and what happened the last series is irrelevant.”

(The sixth offensive linemen, what was the thinking behind that? Did you wind up doing it more than…) – “No. That was kind of our game plan. We wanted to go in. We were down on tight ends, and obviously ‘Q’ (MarQueis Gray) is one of our better special teams players. So, we just felt like that was a good way for us to give him a little bit of a break. Plus, you know having Sam (Young) there, I know he’s going to do the right thing, and he’s going to max out and give everything he has. He did a good job with what we asked him to do. We felt like that would maybe help us even in the run game a little bit. Dion (Sims) had been very effective for us for most of the season as far as a run blocker, and I didn’t want to put ‘Q’ and ‘D.J.’ (Dominique Jones) in a position to where they were doing a lot of things that they haven’t really had a chance to do. It was a way for us to get some snaps off those guys and, at the same time, see if Sam could help us in the run game.”

(Can T Sam Young run a seam route?) – “No.”

(Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan said after the game that they tried everything to stop the running game. How good is it as a play caller, how good does it feel to know that everybody knows what to expect, but they still can’t stop you?) – “It is a good feeling, because you have a lot of room for error. I think when you have the five guys we have up front, I have a lot of trust in those guys, and I have a lot of trust in our offensive line coach as far as putting together a great run game plan every week. We’ve stuck to our process. I think the attitude (of) the offensive line has been unbelievable the last two games, because they basically said, ‘Put the entire team on our back, and we’re going to flip this thing.’ They’ve done that, because it has made a difference on defense. Now the defense has had two games in a row of 53 plays. That’s what we’re looking to do, and I think the credit really goes to the offensive line. Jay (Ajayi) has done a good job of doing exactly what he had been doing since the spring – getting better, figuring out a way to where does he fit in this scheme. Now, he has a great understanding of how he needs to run behind this line, and it has paid off, especially the last two weeks. His production has been through the roof. He has been so decisive that even when we are wrong upfront, he makes them right.”

(What is the most special thing about RB Jay Ajayi? What is the thing that really separates him?) – “To start off – like you guys would say – I anointed him before there was really a competition. The reason why I felt so comfortable with him early was he understood the why, and he made the least amount of mistakes. He was doing a good job. He had a couple of setbacks here and there. Then like I keep saying, we had a rough 10 days. But he stuck with this process. He got back and centered himself and then started over and did the same thing. He knew what to do. He knew how to do it. He kept making improvements. When we hit that Tennessee game – and he had more carries and we were trying to make him … Really, the carries were centered around him. We just didn’t have a ton of plays, so it didn’t feel like that to anybody. Everybody was like … We had 44 plays. I think he had … I can’t even remember. It was like nine carries, 13 carries, right? That was kind of our starting point and if you guys remember when I came by, I was like, ‘He played well, and he was one of the few people that did play well.’ You kind of build off that and then when we got to the Pittsburgh game, we had more plays. We were able to give him more carries, and then you could see how effective he was, because that’s a big man running hard, not slowing down, sticking his foot in the ground, getting north and guys are trying to tackle him, and he’s running through arm tackles. Now all of a sudden we started getting all these explosive plays, and it carried over to this week. We went with the same mindset of, ‘If we get him going, let’s let him keep going.’ He makes it hard to go away from the run, because it’s just positive plays so many times. You just know if we’re in third down, it’s going to be third-and-manageable.”

(With the offensive line, I’ve heard them make that pitch to, ‘If we run the ball, we can be good,’ for years. What made you actually buy into what they were selling?) – “When you get into situations to where … It really comes down to third down. If you’re in third-and-10 all day and you’re running the ball on first and second down, the chances of you converting – the percentages – are very low. But when you’re first down, second down, first down – or anytime you do get to a third down – and it’s third-and-5 or less, that makes you want to keep staying with it, and that’s them basically saying to me, ‘We can run the ball. Keep it going.’ Really, it’s all about positive plays. If you have tackles for loss, or you’re having no gains, that’s when it makes it tough, because now you’re in long situations on third down. They’re hard to convert in this league. These guys have done a great of making sure that we’re having a lot of positive plays in the amount of rushes we’re having.”

(So, it’s their success that makes you say, ‘Okay, let me stick with it?’) – “I think when you’re a play caller, you’re thinking ahead all the time. When we’re on second down – and it’s second-and-6 – my mind is going right away to, ‘What’s my third-and-6 call? What’s my third-and-2 call? What’s my short-yardage call? What if it’s first down? What personnel?” There are a lot of things going through your head, and these guys make it easier, because it’s second-and-6 and then we’re first-and-10. I’m not having to worry about a lot of these things, because these guys are doing such a great job of executing everything that we’re calling in the run game, and you’re seeing the movement off the line of scrimmage. I mean Jay (Ajayi) is getting 2 yards before he gets anybody near him. These guys have taken our scheme and (are) executing at a high level, which is a lot of reason we’re having the success.”

(From a physical standpoint, it’s physically taking a toll on their bodies. How can you manage that to make sure that it stays at a high level?) – “I think they’re doing a good job as far as I see – that group especially – but you’re seeing a lot with the defensive line as well, and a lot of the guys that have to do a lot of the hitting on defense, to where they’re doing things on Mondays and Tuesdays to try to re-generate their bodies. That’s the key in this league is availability. If they keep doing the right things as far as when we’re not playing and not practicing, that’s going to give us our best chance to keep these guys healthy. But it’s the entire week. They’re not going to make it to Sunday in the weather down here, as far as conditions go, if they’re not good Monday through Saturday. That’s hydration, eating, the way they do their activation, the way they practice. Everything they do is going to add up on Sundays. If we’re not taking care of ourselves during the week and expect Sunday we’re going to be alright, that’s when we’re going to have issues. But guys have done, especially the last two weeks, they’ve done everything right leading up to the game. That’s why we’re having different results.”

(A couple of questions about WR Jarvis Landry from yesterday. Have you talked to him about his actions, and also, when you went back and watched the clip, what did you think of that hit?) – “I think as far as the hit goes, obviously hitting him high, that’s what’s going to get the flag. I think it was such a fast play. His job is to come back on that play. His job is to take care of the safety, and that guy showed up really fast. He was coming downhill hard, and he was in a low position. I think, for him to make that hit, he has got to lower his target zone. It’s just like on defense. The rules are set up for players’ safety, and we have to do a better job as far as adjusting. When we put ourselves in that kind of position, you have to understand the situation that we’re going through. I know the way that Jarvis plays, it’s going to be aggressive, it’s going to be intense. And for anybody to start thinking (it was a) dirty play and things like that … I’ve been around the guy for less than a year; I haven’t seen that from him. I’ve seen a guy that tries to go … When we coach him up on things, he’s trying to do it the right way. I know things happen really fast in the NFL, but those rules are put in place for a reason. We have to do a better job as far as coaching it and explain to him how he has to go about that play and then we need him to do it right, so we don’t get that kind of situation (and) then you’re avoiding guys getting hurt as well. So, that’s going to be something – moving forward – we have to just do a better job of it.”

(Have you sat him down though and talked about these things?) – “I’m not going to change the way he plays. I call plays for him early in the game for him to set the tempo. When he goes down in the Pittsburgh game, and we’re first-and-20, and he gets 22 yards and puts his head down and runs three guys over and our entire sideline explodes and it sets the tempo for the game, that’s why he is who he is. The taunting penalty, that’s not what I want. But I need him to play the way he needs to play. We need to be smarter on those things. Between taunting and the post-play activities, we need to be smarter there, because we’re losing yards; but I want him to keep bringing his intensity every week.”

(With RB Jay Ajayi and the offensive line, do you feel like you guys have established an identity on offense?) – “I think we have a good idea of what we can do. I mean, we’re going to have to … every week, you’re going to have to prove yourself over again. I know when we do get to the (New York) Jets, we’re going to have to prove it all over again because they’re not going to care what we did last week. They’re going to come in and they’re going to be like, ‘Okay, run it, because we’re going to stop you.’ So, we’re going to have to go back to work when we get out for practice for that week and re-establish everything all over again. This league has not changed for I don’t know how many years. It’s all about what you do the next Sunday.”

(You touched on WR Jarvis Landry and you’re not going to change him for nothing, when his first down celebrations are starting to become legendary, I know that one caused him a penalty, but you kind of…) – “I guess I don’t really notice them because I am on to the next play. All I know is, if we get a first down, I don’t care what he does if it’s within the rules.”

(Are you surprised at all by how well the offensive line played the last two weeks because of the fact they weren’t together at all the first five weeks?) – “Not really. I mean they had the mindset from the get go, if that group got together, that there was going to be a big-time change in what happens. That starts with (Mike) Pouncey and I think ‘B.A.’ (Branden Albert) is right there with him. Ther ewas something different last week. When we played Pittsburgh, those guys let me know early. ‘You just keep calling runs and don’t worry about the quarterback, he won’t be touched,’

(How tempting is it to go play action when RB Jay Ajayi is running so well?) – “It … I mean it’s tough. It’s tough for me sometimes. What we did yesterday was best for what we needed to do to win the game. We called some play actions and there were a couple times where we either got to get open or … they actually, there were a few times where they called some really good coverages against what we had called on offense. Ryan (Tannehill) made the right decision. He bailed some of those play calls out, especially … the third-down play that he made to Jarvis (Landry) was … I mean he had nothing. We had leakage and he made a great play. It’s nice when you run those play-action passes, being two-man routes though, sometimes it’s tough. You don’t have a lot of options and you need the wide outs to win and if they play the right coverage, they can take everybody away.”

(S Michael Thomas played every snap plus 17 snaps on special teams. He took responsibility for the touchdown to Marquise Goodwin. How did you assess his performance and what does it say that he accepted responsibility for that bad play?)  – “Well, that’s why he’s one of our captains. That’s why he’s a leader. Obviously, with as far as the coverage goes, sometimes we overthink things – players and coaches. The thing at the end of the day we have to remember is: that’s why there are 11 guys on the field. Everybody’s trying to do a job and it takes all 11 to be able to cover that route and make sure that doesn’t happen. So we’ll learn from that. Him playing that many plays, he’s almost doing our team a solid. He’s selling out for our team because he knows if he comes off of special teams, that’s going to be a big void for us. That’s one of the reasons why it’s probably good this bye week happens because we do need to re-evaluate some of the situations we have as far as who’s our guys on special teams. Damien (Williams) played quite a few snaps on offense as well. Obviously, he’s very impactful for us and he’s one of our core special teams guys. (Kenyan) Drake, same thing. So we need to keep figuring out a way to balance between playing offense or defense and special teams. Obviously, Mike (Thomas) is in a different role now. We need somebody else to step up so when (Special Teams Coach Darren) Rizzi puts these things together there’s a trust factor there. Yesterday was a good example of when you lose one guy, sometimes it can start a whole chain reaction. And that’s kind of what happened to us yesterday, where we had a couple of poor things happen to us on special teams and now we have to go re-evaluate and figure out the right guys to put in those situations.”

(Can you disguise coverage first of all, and do you feel like that’s kind of what took place there?) – “I mean, absolutely. If you disguise … You have to get to your landmark. It’s really, what can you do to get to your landmark? And sometimes, once again, you overthink it. You try to make sure … The quarterback is late kind of identifying what’s going on, but if you can’t get to your spot, that’s what happens. The angle is not right for you and you can’t make a play. I mean it’s an experience thing for the most part. A lot of guys you see that are veteran safeties know how to do it. The more times you get to do it, the better feel that you have for it. The way we have to practice, especially if you get thrown in a week, you tried in practice but going in a game and playing against that guy and having scout team run are two different animals.”

(The bye week, do you guys do a lot of self-scouting as coaches? What are you going to be doing?)  – “We had that Thursday night game, so that kind of helped us a little bit as far as getting ahead of that. We’re going to go back and re-assess some things we have been doing. Obviously, the way we’re running the ball right now, we’re going to have to just make sure … like yesterday, it almost felt like we didn’t have enough in the running game. I kept trying to reach for formations and trying to make some stuff up there just trying to figure out a way to disguise some of the stuff we were doing. I feel like they pretty much knew what was coming a lot of the times. We’ll have to go back through and just kind of make sure we’re putting our guys in a good position and if we’ve got to formation some things different, but I’m pretty sure most defenses will be able to figure out what we’re doing in the run game.”

(Are you and your staff taking any time? Are you getting away from football?) – “Yes, I’m sure we’ll take some time here at the end of the week. We’ve got a process of how we want to do things. It’s really kind of on our coordinators how hard they want to work these guys this week.  So they might have a mutiny on hand.” (laughter)

(How do you re-create more runs?) – “Just formationally. You try to hide them. I mean teams know what’s coming. We’ve just got to do the best job we can to try to put our guys in position to where we’re leveraged right, just disguising the formation, the personnel groups, things like that. You just keep mixing things up and keep executing what your game plan is as far as what you do well.”

(How difficult is that? I mean, you’ve been on the other side where a team has a new identity during the season.) – “It can be tough on the defense if you start moving things around. And then offensively, it’s not as hard because it is just formationally, it’s the same scheme. The thing that you can do, you can put yourself in a bad position if you’re doing something that gives them better leverage than what you’re looking for. So you just have to be careful there. Sometimes there isn’t a whole bunch of things you can do. You just line up and you say ‘We’re doing this and go ahead and try to stop it.’”

Michael Thomas – October 24, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, October 24, 2016

Safety Michael Thomas

(There are guys who want to have a bye week or guys are winning and want to continue to play. Where do you stand on that?) – “It’s always good to have a bye week in the middle of the season. Guys (are) a little banged up, even if it’s not significant. So, (we will) get the bodies back healthy, keep that intensity up, get your mind away from football a little bit, but don’t forget about the Dolphins too much. Come back ready to go; ready to work.”

(Any big plans you’re doing?) – “(I will) probably do some hurricane relief out in The Bahamas. I know Terrence Fede is going to Haiti. Some guys are going to be doing community work, but for the most part, guys are spending time with their family.”

(I noticed you played 100 percent of [defensive] snaps and then also had 17 special teams snaps. How hard is it to do all that?) – “I had to do it in the later part of last year, so I was mentally prepared for it. The team was smart, trying to take me off a few special teams (units), even though I am a special teams captain. Congrats to John Denney for getting that ‘C’ (captain’s patch) on his chest now, too. (I) had to be prepared more mentally and go out there, go as hard as I can and be smart about it. When the team sees I’m fatiguing a little bit, (it’s the) next man up on special teams and next man up on defense.”

(Why was it important for you to go on Twitter and set the record straight about that deep pass?) – “Because 1) Vance Joseph wants to create a culture about truth. Every man has to be accountable for his actions, and he made the perfect call right there, and I let disguise jeopardize my responsibility right then. It was important to me, because as a leader on this team, I want to make sure every DB (defensive back) – every player on this team, especially all the DBs – know I got their back, and I’ll never let them hang out to dry. If it’s something that I have to get cleaned up as a man, I owe that to my teammates. That’s my job. That’s something that I have to do. And if I can’t do it, they’re going to put somebody else in who can.”

(Is there a point where disguising coverage for too long can …) – “Definitely. That’s why you’re never supposed to … that’s a rule that can never happen. You’re never supposed to let disguise jeopardize your responsibility and I did just that. I broke that rule and that can’t happen. On that one play, 10 other guys did their job and I was the guy who didn’t.”

(Bills WR Marquise Goodwin is one of the fastest men in the world. Is that basically … the question is what role did Marquise Goodwin’s speed play?) – “You saw exactly what role it played. (laughter) He hit the gas on me but that can’t happen. I have to understand what type of play that is and just make sure that I’m able to get my job done right there.”

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