Cameron Wake – November 4, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, November 4, 2016

Defensive End Cameron Wake

(Where do you think you’re at [with your weight]?) – “Heavy. Heavy enough to get my job done.”

(Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph has told us basically that you are back to being like the Cam that we all know and love. Do you feel that way yourself?) – “I hope so. I haven’t felt any different from the day I started playing back out here in August or whatever day that was. So to me it’s the same old. It’s just another day.”

(Was there anything … when you have the Achilles and you have scar tissue, did you break through anything like that or is it pretty much all just clicking like it used to be?) – “I feel good.”

(I mean, earlier this season was there anything you had to deal with?) – “Last year, maybe; but physically, I feel good. It’s just again, situational football is more what I’m dealing with than a physical situation.”

(There are people, obviously, who watch you play, that were surprised that you still have the burst after the Achilles at your age. Were you at all surprised at the level you’re playing?) – “No.”

(Why so?) – “Because I’m me. It’s not … confidence has never been an issue for me. I’ve always known what I’m capable of and that hasn’t changed since the first time I put on a helmet.”

(There have been some that have been trying to send you to the rocking chair for a while. But with the way you’re playing right now, is another five years possible?) – “Anything is possible. ‘They,’ ‘some’… those people I don’t really concern myself with. I’m a guy who, I look in the mirror and that’s the guy who determines how I am, what I do and what my goals are. So the ‘they,’ the ‘those’ and the ‘some,’ and all those people, I couldn’t be less concerned honestly.”

(With the level you’re playing at this year, there’s no doubt going forward that you want to keep doing this, obviously?) – “As long as I can get my job done, as long as I can help the team win and I don’t feel like I am doing any kind of long-term damage or anything like that, I mean barring any crazy circumstances, I feel good. So as long as that continues, I would assume … and as long as they still want me around, then why not?”

(How much of significance was there for you to be put back in the starting lineup a couple of games ago?) – “It wasn’t a big deal to me. Winning football games has always been my goal. I have to go over my resume, I’ve had a lot of individual success. Starting or not starting, it’s about what helps the team win. What’s the most … the best thing to do for everybody. Situational football is kind of where we were in the beginning and making sure that I was trying to make the most the times I was in there, that was my goal. And it hasn’t changed – to make the most of the time I’m in there. Whether it’s the first snap of the football game or not, to me that’s kind of trivial. But getting in there and doing your job, that’s the most important.”

(Just to make sure, you’re saying you feel physically exactly the same now as you did early in the season? You don’t feel any better or…) – “I might feel worse now. If you feel the same now as you did in August, what have you been doing? I don’t know if you guys watch football, it’s a very violent sport. It wears and tears on your body, so I probably feel worse than I did in August, if anything.”

(How much working in concert with you and DE Andre Branch?) – “A lot.”

(So how does that work exactly? Do you guys sometimes try to push things to each other or…?) – “We work as a whole. It’s not only him and I, but you (have to) understand that for football terminology, we just have to work together. Not just us, but all of the front four or five or whatever the call may be. We (have to) fit together. He can’t be going left and I’m going right, it doesn’t make sense. So he’s going top, I’m going down. It all kind of comes together. Of course we have a lot of different communications and calls. You’re talking about him and I, we’re together but even more so, maybe the guy next to me – (Ndamukong) Suh, ‘J.J’ (Jason Jones), Jordan Phillip – whoever it may be, we’re always working together for sure.”

(Is it a far assumption that you’ve never played with anybody like DT Ndamukong Suh?) – “Is there anybody like Suh?”

(I don’t think there is… does that change things? Have you noticed that the job is different when you’re working next to somebody like DT Ndamukong Suh? For you?) – “Well, if you’re an offensive coordinator or guard and you have Suh in front of you, would your job be different?”

(Yes…) – “So that would make my job different too. ”

(Is it easier?) – “Success is a gift and a curse because, you have more success, but you also draw more attention. Maybe it evens out, I don’t know. If everybody is looking at where you are and where he is, and he is drawing all of the attention, maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. It just depends on the situation.”

(You’ve been in the situation a lot where you get into mid-season and things kind of fall apart down the stretch. What can you do different, what can the team do different to make sure that, that doesn’t happen?) – “We’ve just got to be consistent. We started off the season with some inconsistency and things that didn’t necessarily gel together – whether it’s defensively together or offense playing off the defense and the defense playing off the offense. Just continuing to keep that going, not being complacent, not … Realizing that listen, nobody cares about what happened the last two or three weeks. It’s only about what’s going to happen on Sunday. Whether you’ve been successful or not, we have to eliminate that past few games, or past few weeks from your mind, and focus on the task at hand. To me, I hope, and I think I speak for everybody here, that nobody is thinking about the last game. It’s over and done with. The great play you made or the bad play you had, it’s over and done with. Now you have to focus on the New York Jets and going out there and doing your best. If we do that this week and the next week after that, and the next week after that, I feel like it should be good for everybody involved.”

(Do you feel like right now you are playing as good as you ever have?) – “I’m an old man. That’s a long time. I don’t know. I’m not a stat watcher, I have no idea. I just go out there and do my best when I’m out there. You probably have more access to stats and numbers and percentages and all of that.”

(Yes, but there’s also pass rushing that’s not just stats. There’s also getting off the ball and disrupting things. It seems like you’re having an impact a lot. Does it feel like you’re playing at a consistently high level?) – “I would hope that hasn’t changed. I’d like to think that. As good as I ever have? I hope I play well and have always played well. That’s always been my goal. Compared to the other seasons, I don’t know. That’s for February when I can look back and sit in my rocking chair and look at all my stats.”

(We are not putting you in the chair yet.) – “I’m not in there, I’m good.”

(Does it mean something to you guys that the Jets are a traditional rival? Or is it just another divisional game to you?) – “It’s another football game on Sunday. That’s another thing for later on in the season when you look back and hopefully all the guys with the playoffs and all that stuff, that’s for later on. But for now, it’s a game where there’s a team coming down to your home stadium that’s going to try to come in and win a game. I’ve never been a guy where you’re going to give more effort now because it’s the Jets. If you’re giving more effort, that kind of means you weren’t giving as much effort the last game or the next game after that. If we’re playing a non-rival, then you’re going to give 50 percent effort? You should give 110 percent every play, every down, no matter if it’s a rival or not. You have to win the game.”

Adam Gase – November 4, 2016 Download PDF version

Friday, November 4, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(Have you made a decision on which players might be activated off PUP or NFI?) – “No. We’re just going to go through … we’ll figure it out here this afternoon. We’ll use the full allotted time.”

(With RB Arian Foster gone, has anybody emerged, from what you’ve seen, as maybe taking on a leadership role in that room?) – “I think Jay’s (Ajayi) trying to establish himself obviously. When you’re a younger guy and you start having success you just have to really … He’s trying to make sure he does everything right himself first, and then you’re able to establish yourself as a leader. I think Damien’s (Williams) a guy that’s been here for a minute and guys do look at him as a guy that does a lot of things right, especially here with football. He does both phases as far as offense and special teams. He’s one of our better players and he does do a good job in meetings and on the practice field.”

(I think we may have discussed this informally, but in the past this team has won a couple of back-to-back, looked really good and then backslid. What needs to happen for that not to?) – “I think it’s our preparation. It’s the way we practice. All of those things just need to stay the same. That at least gives you the best chance on Sunday. You have to bring the same energy that we brought the last two weeks. Obviously we’re playing a team that is very physical. They have a lot of talented players. They’re well coached. If we go out there and just flop around this team, they’ll wipe you out.”

(Are there any motivational metrics or mind games or anything for the players?) – “I think it’s just about just constantly talking the same language – both players and coaches – as far as making sure that you’re prepared, making sure that you are going out to practice with a purpose. As far as what I at least can see through the week, and what we do in meetings, I see a group of guys that are trying to stay focused on winning one game, one week at a time.”

(So you didn’t put Wide Receivers Coach Shawn Jefferson back in pads or anything?) – “No. Absolutely not.”

(Do you guys know if you’ll have TE Dion Sims?) – “He’ll be out. He’ll be out.”

(So TE Dion Sims will be not playing?) – “Nope.”

(So TE Dion Sims is not out of the concussion…) – “He’s not out of concussion protocol.”

(A lot of times you sign a guy like Benwikeré, for example, came in and needed a lot of time to acclimate and it sounds like Rambo maybe doesn’t?) – “I think sometimes when you’re dealing with a guy that’s been around for a minute and has played in and has good experience being in a few different systems, it happens a little quicker sometimes. When you start changing techniques and things, especially out in the position that (Benwikeré) plays, just as far as corner and nickel and things like that, some of the techniques that we do are a little different, and I think he’s trying to change really some of the things that he’s been taught in the past. When you’re playing safety, it’s more about alignment, assignment, things like that (and) less about technique.”

(Obviously losing S Reshad Jones is a tough challenge, but how do you get that secondary unit to basically close up the seams and play a little bit better as group?) – “I think the first step you always have to just realize is you have to be who you are and not try to replace what that guy’s skill set was. Reshad is a special player as far as his ability to do things a certain way and he has a lot of experience. He knows a little bit of the tricks of the trade to make sure that he doesn’t put himself in bad position. Sometimes when you’re a younger guy, you may try to do the same things that he does; but you don’t always understand all the little nuances of one: what the other team’s trying to do you, and two: what you’re doing within the defense. I think for us right now, it’s more about alignment, assignment – doing those little details right (and) making sure you’re in the right spots to give yourself the best chance to make plays instead of trying to do too much. That’s kind of the learning curve a little bit. That’s where we’re at right now as far as let’s just make sure that we’re doing our job right first and then you can evolve from there.”

(The unbalanced line, was that something that was already in your playbook or something you came across recently? Because we hadn’t seen it…) – “No. That’s something that’s like, we install it in the spring and you go through training camp and you throw it in there, for one: just so it’s not new to us. You just never know when you’re really going to break it out. It fit what we were trying to do last week and something that’s in there. You just never know when we’re going to put it in.”

(Why T Sam Young as opposed to another guy. Why does he work with that?) – “Well when you have a guy that’s playing tackle, and it’s just kind of fitting for him as far as coming in as like the big tight end. That was always kind of my thought process going into a situation like that where, like last year we used (G/T Jermon) Bushrod in Chicago, and the year before we had couple of guys that were tackles that were always up that we could use them in those situations.”

(Your three wins have come against 3-4 [scheme] teams. You’re playing a 3-4 team. Is there any correlation to that?) – “It’s interesting that that has actually been the case considering we go against a four-down front in practice and training camp. Usually it’s the other way around, that you have more success against teams that are four-down fronts, because you see it more. I don’t know if it has really had anything to do with the front. I think it has more to do with the fact that we actually executed a lot better, especially the last two games, compared to the games before.”

(Were you at all given a crash course on Dolphins-Jets rivalry?)– “Matt hasn’t really caught me up to speed. (laughter) I know it’s there though. I know it’s there, for sure.”

(I don’t even think your players know before it used to be a big, big, big deal – like Heat and Knicks now. Is it…) – “I guess the one thing I always think of is Dan’s (Marino) play – the fake spike. I know it’s there. I have a little bit of knowledge just (through) NFL football, but I haven’t really studied up on it as much as probably I need to.”

(Do you kind of have to start winning to get that back? Is that something … that rivalries are divisional opponents?) – “Yes. It’s not a rivalry if it’s one-sided deal. We need to keep pushing forward and keep building on what we’re trying to build right now as far as our process and try to take care of business on Sundays.”

(What do you guys get from the miles per hour gauge that you use on the players for practice?) – “I think it’s more to really push our guys to give them goals to hit as far as their play speed, because we want to try to get it as close to game speed as possible. The guys, really, they use it themselves more than any of us do. Our big emphasis is that’s how … We think that’s an injury prevention-type deal because if you don’t practice hard and then all of a sudden you ramp it up on game day, that’s usually when you have some soft-tissue injury. Your body is not used to going at those type of speeds. We really encourage our guys to push themselves in practice and try to max out, so their bodies are used to when you hit Sundays, you get as close to it as you possibly can, because even with a little bit of an adrenaline rush there on Sundays, now all of a sudden your body is even going harder than what it did in practice. We want our guys to really try to use that to their advantage. They do. We have so many young guys, and they used this in college. So, it’s like we’re getting these guys that are used to the GPS and gauging these types of things, and they use it to help themselves.”

(So, it measures their movement throughout the entire practice?) – “Correct.”

(It sounds like you’re saying if a guy was coming back and seeing that his number was too low, he didn’t go hard enough that day?) – “Maybe it might be he didn’t have a chance to really burst in that practice or be down the field. It just depends on what routes your running, if you’re a receiver or a DB, who you’re covering, how are you flying across the field if you’re a safety. It’s a good measuring tool for them to feel where their bodies were that day and if they were maxing out. They know. It’s not something that I’m sitting there checking all the time. It’s really more for them.”

(Does it ever factor into your decisions? Do you look and say a guy was only at this number this week, so we’re not…) – “I haven’t. When I say they use it for themselves, those guys are really adamant. They check it, and they’re always bugging those sports science guys and the strength staff, ‘Where was I today? How did I do?’”

(Have you ever had to tell a guy to take it down a notch after that?) – “We do get some red flags as far as if a guy did get overworked a little bit. It happens sometimes, especially with the lineman, when we move guys in and out, because we’re trying to get guys reps. Obviously, with a couple of older guys on the offensive line and between scout team and taking first team reps, and then you can get up there. We measure the volume just to make sure that we’re not overworking somebody.”

(We haven’t asked about CB Xavien Howard in a few weeks. Where is he right now in his rehab?)– “He’s doing good. It probably shouldn’t surprise anybody, because it’s the same thing as last time. He’s doing everything he can to try to stay ahead of schedule. We’re trying to be cautious with him. Obviously, we feel like he is a guy that’s going to be here for a long period of time, and we want to make sure we do him right and if he has that opportunity to come back, that he’s as close to 100 percent as we can possibly get him. Obviously, we’d love to have him out there. We feel like he’s a really good player, but we don’t want to make a mistake long term by bringing him back too early.”

(With T Branden Albert, I know you talked about the mentoring aspect of him earlier this week. Where is the play level for a guy who’s 32?) – “He has played really well. I feel like what I saw on tape last year, he’s really made even a bigger jump than where he was last year. He was a Pro Bowl player last year. Just seeing him, in the run game, he has really impressed me. I don’t think you see a lot of left tackles grind it out like he has been doing and being able to really move the line of scrimmage and then get into the second level. It really starts with his grit, will, that ‘want to,’ to be a successful offense. He has really been one of the guys (that) we’ve been running the ball behind him quite a bit, and he has done a great job. He brings that mentality, that work ethic day-in, day-out, and it’s transferring to games on Sunday.”

Darren Rizzi – November 3, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi

(Opening statement) – “One thing I just want to start with, obviously having had some time here – and the week off and the bye week – it’s just a great time to kind of reflect back (on) what we’ve done so far this season. Obviously, you evaluate all our different phases. The one thing I think that sometimes we get – and I’m the victim of this as well – sometimes we get kind of lost in using special teams, one broad stroke and you just kind of say, ‘Specials teams this, special teams that.’ I think the one thing we do in this bye week is kind of break … There are six major phases of special teams. Obviously, punt, punt return, kick, kick return, field goal, field goal block and then there’s obviously the situational stuff – your hands and onside and that kind of stuff. (You) really break it down – each phase – and then look at those throughout this last 10 days or so. It has been interesting what we’ve done so far this year. We played winning football in a lot phases. Our kickoff team has done real well. Our punt return game, we played winning football in those phases. Our punt team has had some peaks and valleys here and there. We’ve got to get better on our kick return phase. Our field goal block has been real good. We’re only one of four teams in the NFL right now to have blocked multiple kicks. I think when you look at it, our field goal team certainly has left a couple of plays on the field. Our kick return team has left a couple of plays on the field. But when you go back and you watch the midyear point – watch the season so far – I’m very pleased in a lot of things we’ve done. I wasn’t really pleased with the last game that we played, but overall – just from a broad sense, from the general sense – so far at this halfway point, I’m very pleased with a lot the efforts we’ve gotten out of a lot of the phases. (We are) obviously looking to improve on some of the stuff we haven’t done well, but certainly there are some positives. I think sometimes you get – and like I said, I’m the biggest offender of this – you get wrapped up into the last game and not look at the entire picture. We’ve got some great efforts from people, guys like Mike Thomas, Mike Hull, Neville Hewitt. Those three guys in particular have been really, really strong core players for us this year. We’ve obviously had some good specialists play from Jakeem Grant, Matt Darr (and) obviously John Denney – guys that go unnoticed. I know (Andrew) Franks, people talk about the couple of field goals that he missed, but so far on the year, he has done a great job of kicking the ball off situationally, directionally and things like that. So, I’m very, very pleased with the direction we’re going, and this was a good week to reflect back on that.”

(How much does getting LB Zach Vigil back help your core special teams unit?) – “The thing about Zach is he got a lot of experience last year. Obviously, he has only had a little bit of practice time so far. So what I’ve seen so far, he has kind of picked up from where he left off, hopefully. The one downside, unfortunately (with) guys in situations like Zach’s is they never got the preseason games and things like that. The guys that go on PUP and all that, they don’t get preseason games. So, this will be the first live action he has played in since last year. But getting a guy back like that certainly is a boost for the special teams, no question. He’s a guy that played a lot of plays last year for sure.”

(What have the numbers from kickoff returns told you about you guys through the first seven games – field position as opposed to bringing it out as opposed to taking the knee – and will you change anything for the last nine games?) – “Our kickoff return team has been the peak-and-valley unit as well. There have been a couple of times early in the season where we made some bad decisions. (We) had a couple of young guys back there, obviously with Jakeem (Grant) and Kenyan (Drake). There are a couple of times we probably shouldn’t have brought the ball out there (and) we did. So, I’m just speaking specifically about us. We have had some positive plays here. We were really, really close in this last game – when you really look (and) go back and break it down – we’re one guy away from having two huge plays in the last game against the Bills. We get out there, and we’re one block away from really springing a huge one. And we’ve been really, really close, and that has been the rallying cry for me to our team and our units is, ‘It takes every guy.’  We call it one-11th. It takes every guy doing their job and getting their blocks. Now overall, so far from what I’ve seen in the NFL, is a lot of teams are purposely kicking the ball short. One thing I might have mentioned in one of these press conferences before is a lot of teams are kicking the ball right to the goal line and making it hard and making those decisions hard on the return team. You’re seeing a lot of that. You’re seeing a lot of teams doing that. I think as we move forward here, you’re going to see that touchback percentage – as the weather starts to get cold in the north and things like that – then it’s going to start even going lower and lower and lower. Teams are going to start even playing with this rule (with) even more high and short kicks.”

(Is there anything else that WR Jakeem Grant can help you with other than returning on special teams?) – “When Jakeem first got here, we worked a lot of different things. Obviously, he can return. He can do punt. He can do kick. So, when he first got here, we worked him as a gunner – so to speak – around kickoff. When you’re going to have a guy active like that, he has got be able to play multiple spots. Now again, it’s one of those double-edged swords. Do you throw him out there as a gunner? Do you run him down on kickoff and risk injury or things like that? Then you lose a returner. But he’s ready to do those jobs, because as we know on game day, guys start getting hurt or things like that. You only have so many people that can do those things. So, he can do those jobs, and there’s stuff that he has been trained to do. He hasn’t done them in games yet, but on the coverage teams, we do have him mentally prepared to go out there and do those jobs if need be.”

(CB Chris Culliver, I don’t think that he plays special teams. If that’s the case there, you don’t try to get him ready for special … You don’t coach him up to get him on the 46 (active game day roster) do you? He’s a veteran. Is there anything you can do in this stage of his career?) – “The first thing I’ll say is I loved him coming out of college as a special teams player. I’ll start off by saying that. I remember watching his college tape and being really impressed with him. But he’s like everybody else. He’s in our meetings, and if he’s going to be on the 46 – if and when that happens, and that’s not up to me – but if he ends up being on the 53 (or) at the 46, he has got to be ready to play certain things. All those defensive backs are trained to be jammers and on the punt return team they’re all trained to be kickoff cover guys, whether it be a contained spotter, safety spot. Again, you only have so many guys at the game and you know everybody going to have some type of role. If and when Chris comes back, there’ll be something that he does. It might be just one or two things. (It) could be the field goal block unit, but all those guys are prepared to do certain jobs, for sure.”

(K Andrew Franks only has 12 field goals attempts this year. Is it tough for you to evaluate him since it’s not like a large sample or a large body of work there?) – “It is. It is and it isn’t. I think the one thing that has been different now the last couple of years is this new PAT rule. The way that I’m looking at it – and most special team’s coaches are looking at it – it’s opportunities now. It’s not just … So far, we look at the field goal stats (and) he only has 12 field goals, but overall, he has got – whatever it is – 25 kicks, because sometimes those field goals are going to be shorter than the PATs. Overall – I was actually just looking at the stats earlier this morning – there are only three guys in the league that have made every kick so far between PATs and field goal. There are only three guys, only three kickers. (Ravens K) Justin Tucker, (Colts K) Adam Vinatieri, and (Rams K) Greg Zuerlein are the only three kickers right now in the NFL that have made every field goal and every PAT. 20 teams have missed PATs. 20 out of 32 teams have missed PATs. So, my point is it’s not just the field goals to me anymore. You see all these PATs and all these kicks getting missed every week. It’s like three or four every week. To me at least – as his coach and a special teams coach – I’m clumping all those kicks together – all the field goals, all the PATs – and alright, we got 25 opportunities. If I’m not mistaken, he has made 22-of-25. That’s how I’m looking at it. Now, if it was the old rule, totally different. You know how they separate it. Obviously, you’re going to separate it statistically. So to answer your question, he’s getting evaluated on every kick. So really in my mind, he has had 25 opportunities not just 12, because some of those field goals have been shorter – like I said – then even PATs.”

(With RB Arian Foster now gone and you also have an injury to S Reshad Jones, that’s more reps, potentially, on RB Kenyan Drake on offense and then also S Michael Thomas on the defensive side of the ball. Have you taken the bye week to kind of reevaluate things and see what you want to do or develop a contingency plan? What do you want to do when these guys play counts get up there more than you’d like?) – “No question. Getting a guy back like Zach Vigil helps and a guy like Jordan Lucas has played more in the last couple of weeks. Players like that … Getting the new guy ready like Bacarri Rambo – all those things. If guys come off the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform list) and come back to the 53 (-man roster) (we are) really getting every single body ready so no matter what, whatever we end up having at the 46, whether it’s a running back – Drake or (Damien) Williams or any of those guys – really just getting the whole team ready, and that’s what I’m charged with. My job is to get every single guy ready to go and find the right formula week to week to make sure we’re playing winning football on specials teams, for sure.”

Clyde Christensen – November 3, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen

(This game, we know how well you’ve been running the ball. How much of this game comes down to your run game versus their run defense?) – “Probably the same as every week. I always laugh, because every staff meeting to start the week, the offensive guys go, ‘We got to run the ball this week.’ It doesn’t matter who you’re playing; you got to run the ball. And every defensive coordinator if you’re playing Brett Favre – or whoever you’re playing – starts off with, ‘We have to stop the run.’ It almost in a weird way … But that’s the case. It always starts with that. It always starts with the offensive line. Same thing. Third week in a row we’re playing a really, really good run defense. (Jets Head Coach) Todd Bowles is a defensive head coach. He’s a tough-minded guy, super guy. Here’s a little-known fact: I coached him at Temple. (I have a) long history with him. (He is) really a smart, bright guy. He’s going to be physical. He’s going to have them ready to go. I think the other thing, too, is if you want to play big games and you want to be relevant – as we head toward the second half of the year – you’re going to get people’s best shot. We’ve had a little bit of success running the ball. This league has a way of turning the tide on you when you think you’re doing something well. So, it’ll take a great effort for us to run the ball at all. It’ll be a battle of wills again just like every week. We’ll have to commit to it. We’ll have to keep pounding it up in there and have to be okay with a couple 0-, 1-yard runs and hopefully land some body blows as we go.”

(What makes that rush defense so stout? 74 yards a game.) – “In an oversimplification, they’re big, girthy guys. They’re big guys. They’re committed to stopping the run. That’s kind of the (Bill) Parcells, that whole fraternity … They’re big stout guys who are going to try and build a big ol’ wall across the line of scrimmage, and they’re good at it. They take pride in being a good leverage team. I think this fraternity of defensive guys, they play with great leverage. They get underneath you and stop you. They’re not as much in your backfield and flying up field, et cetera, et cetera; but they’re really good at stopping the run, because they get ahold of you, they stand you up and they play with leverage, and they get off blocks and they’re big, physical guys.”

(T Ja’Wuan James obviously played a lot better in the last few weeks. What spurred his turnaround in your mind?) – “I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, but he really has (played better). He’s improving. He hasn’t been earth shaking, but all we want is for him to keep improving, and he has really done that. I think, probably, he would … Being a part of the whole group that everyone’s buying in, you have a little more success – all those things are good. I think he’s part of it, a large part of it. I think that line being together, I think there’s some pride. I think they’re starting to have some fun blocking and playing together. I think he has probably jumped on board, got caught in that wave of momentum as far as, ‘We can be good. We can be a good offensive line before this year is out.’ We said from last offseason all the way through last week, ‘This can be a good offensive line. We’ve got to stay healthy. We’ve just got to keep going. We’ve got to keep doing the same things over and over and over again.’ All of a sudden, you do get a little bit of confidence – some success – and you breed a little confidence and then your practices get better and your meetings get better and everyone is buying in a little bit more, and you keep improving by inches. It’s still about us. It’s still about how we do things. It’s still about worrying about the Dolphins more than it is the opponent. That’s what we’ve tried to stress, and he has been improving. He has been making good, solid improvement the last two, three weeks, which has really been great. I think I’ve said it all along: we think he can be a top right tackle in this league. That’s what we believe he can be. Maybe he’s buying into that, too. But he is playing better. He’s playing better and improving and working. It’s all about those workdays during the week. The games are the games, but you get better in practice. You win games during the week in practice and how you do things there. Then the game is just a reflection of what you’ve been doing in practice (and) how you practiced. That’s improvement. We’ve stressed it, and that’s improving some.”

(How did the unbalanced line come about, because I don’t remember seeing that earlier in the season?) – “It was just a little bit of a changeup. It was a little way for us to get a little bit … You give them a little bit (of a) different formation. It’s just a way of getting bigger people at the point of attack. Sometimes it’s a way to set up a play-action pass. It’s a fourth or fifth pitch, if you will. It’s something they have to prepare for. It’s something that maybe you get an extra 40 pounds at the point of attack. We had the tight end situation where we were down a couple bodies, so that’s another way of getting a little bit of girth grouped together on one side of the line. It wasn’t any gigantic thing as much as it’s something, a little bit of an adjustment with the tight end situation the way it was. It’s always a good changeup to have people prepare for.”

(The Jets have been first against the run. They’re 32nd against the pass. I think they’ve given up 14 passes of 30 yards or more. How much do you balance when you’re doing a game plan of attacking a team that other teams have attacked, against the past two weeks you’ve run the ball?) – “Less than think, right? Really, it is more about us. It’s more about, ‘What can we do? What can we be good at? What is our personality? What is our deal?’ It’s much more that than it is, ‘They’re 32nd, so let’s go become something we’re not,’ and try and do this or that. You’re always looking at matchups. This league is a game of matchups. I think you get off track if all of a sudden you read those statistics and you go, ‘Look what so and so did to them. Let’s put that in.’ All of a sudden, next thing you know, you got a little designer offense going, and that’s not what we want to be. We want to be what we – what the Dolphins – are and do it well and do it better and better every week, do it faster and faster, do it harder, then it doesn’t matter what other people do. We try not to fall into the trap of that. It’s hard sometimes, but you really don’t want to do that.”

(I guess within your formula then, you’ll have shots, maybe?) – “Sure. We’ve been taking our shots. We’ve been really good on first and second down, on yards per first and second down. We want to continue on that. We want to … You do want to build it off of … We’ve had some success running the ball. You want your counters off of them. You want you nakeds (bootlegs), you want your play action, you want a couple shots as extra guys come into the box, sure. But that, again, is more by philosophy than it is we’re playing this team or that team. It’s more about us. It’s more about, ‘Here’s how we’re building this thing. We’re going to pound the ball. We’re going to play action off of that. We’re going to get a shot when they get their safeties too involved.’ It’s offense by the numbers, if you will. That’s when you have a system. That’s when you have a chance. That’s when you can be unpredictable. That’s when you got something going. We’re a long ways from that. We’re a long ways from being where we want to get to. I think everyone is encouraged that we’re improving and that we’re practicing better, and we’re doing some of those things better.”

(You have a lot of versatility on your offense, a lot of players that can do a lot of different things. Personnel-wise, are there things that you can do to keep defenses honest by putting different guys in the lineup?) – “I think keeping balance keeps them off balance. I was looking out there today, and you really do … All of a sudden, you’ve got three talented receivers. Jarvis (Landry), it has to start with Jarvis. He’s kind of the energizer, the battery of this thing. You do have three guys. Kenny Stills all of a sudden runs past you. Now you’ve got the running back running. Now we’ll get our healthy tight ends back, hopefully. It has happened from a lot of different positions, different places. It’s a quarterback run here, it’s a drop-back pass and then it’s a naked (bootleg). So, all those things should be to our advantage. We do feel like we have some skill guys who the ball can get spread around (to), and it’s not a, ‘Here’s our bell cow. If he doesn’t go …’ There are a lot of people that can make some plays. That’s important. That’s really good. That’s when you are a good unit instead of just ‘a guy’, featuring ‘a guy’ or this or that. That’s what we would like to be.”

(Where is WR DeVante Parker in his development? I know he’s been slowed by the hamstring injury. Do you feel like you’re getting the most out of him right now?) – “I don’t think he’s been healthy. I don’t think he’s been 100 percent. There’s something about just not feeling great. It’s hard to play that position when you don’t feel great. Your body just isn’t 100 percent, but I told you last week, I think he’s really improving. I think he’s practicing better. I really do think his number hasn’t come up quite as much but he’s made a couple big plays and I’m encouraged by him. I think he has a chance to be a great player and (he’s) very talented. I do think it’s one of those where you don’t feel good for a couple days early in the week and that’s no fun. You’re in the training room, you’re getting treatment, you have to watch you reps at practice. Some of it is just learning to play like that. Everyone feels that way. For the next eight weeks, the whole NFL feels that way. No one wakes up feeling very good or physically fresh or any of those things. I think he’ll grind through it and he’ll have some big games. We’re encouraged with him, we think he’s improving, we know what kind of talent he has and he’s been excellent. He’s really been excellent.”

(What does he have to do to get his number called more?) – “Yes. I don’t know that it happens quite like that. I think you guys … where does the ball end up going? Right now it’s been going to the running back. Who knows what this Sunday will be? They’re all different. They’re all different, but we are conscious of it. We took a shot last week and we lost it in the air. That has the chance to be another 50-yarder that was a good ball and he just never picked it up. Sometimes his number is called more than you think and it just doesn’t hit. I would say this: I think we’re comfortable with how he’s playing and his role and stuff and you’d love to … He’s going to have some breakout games. Last week it was Kenny (Stills). This week, who knows who it’ll be? Does that make sense? Does that answer your question? So I think we just (have to) keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t see any big changes there or any panic or we’re lacking ways to get the ball to him or he’s not … He’s fighting through this thing injury-wise and that’s no fun. But I think he’s going to be fine. I really do think he’s going to be fine and have some big, big days in this second half of the season.”

(Has it been his hamstring that’s still bothering him or does he have some inflammation?) – “I wouldn’t speak on injuries. But yes, he’s recovering from that and sometimes when you’re nursing that, then other things don’t feel quite right. So yes, I think it is all back from when he did have the hamstring; but just an overall feeling good and just feeling fresh and fast and those things, I don’t think he’s fully there quite yet, but he’s getting there.”

(Going back to you and Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles at Temple, was he like a coach on the field?)  – “Yes, he was. He was. Kevin Ross was in that secondary. That was really a good secondary back there. Bruce Arians was the head coach and that was really a fun … those were fun years and those were good guys. Kevin Ross and Todd Bowles were working for ‘B.A.’ (Bruce Arians) out there in Arizona, and then Todd got his head job. So that ended up being kind of a special group of guys. Some coaches came out of that and still kind of a tight bond. Arians is extremely loyal to those guys from those years. We were all just a bunch of young guys. I think Coach Arians was 27 or something and we’re working down in the inner city of Philadelphia and it was special stuff. We’ll still text when the Owls have a big … when they beat Penn State, that was something that will always … all those things are special things. So Todd … that was kind of a little special fraternity from back in the ‘80s there. We all had a special bunch of guys and great relationships from it, and (I) have an unbelievable respect and fondness for (Jets Head Coach) Todd Bowles as a man and as a coach.”

(Regarding your offensive line, we’ve seen what they can do, those five when they’re healthy the last couple of weeks. Are you at the stage where you’re believing that they’re going to be healthy every week or are you still kind of crossing your fingers and hoping that they’re going to be healthy?) – “I have believed in them from the very beginning. Now the health, I would say this: I never fully get comfortable that someone’s going to stay healthy, right? We talk all the time, there’s no guarantees, right? The percentages say that someone’s going to have to stay up, right? We talked a lot about ‘Q’ (MarQueis Gray) last week. MarQueis at tight end, right? That’s huge. That he comes in there as your third tight end, he has to go in and start a game. Who would’ve known that was going to happen? He comes in and plays extremely well. (He) played extremely well. So that’s part of our emphasis that the chance of those five staying healthy, I hope it happens. But probably the percentages would say, ‘Hey. sooner or later (Anthony) Steen’s going to have to come back in there and deliver.’ Some of those other guys are going to have to play some … come out of the bullpen and give us some relief help. That’s just more … it is more like those baseball games we’ve been watching. It’s the whole unit. It’s all 53 guys and they’re going to have to step up at their time and deliver, and you hope it goes as you script it, but very seldom does it – that everyone stays healthy, everyone’s 100 percent. But it just doesn’t work that way very often.”

(Do you see a different, maybe not different is the right word but a different view or shade of QB Ryan Tannehill when he’s not getting hit?) – “Yes. Yes, I do. Sure. I always laugh because … I’m just telling you when you stand in that pocket and you get hit – and he’s amazing because he’s a tough guy. I’ve always … coming here I was impressed with him that he kept standing in there. A lot guys don’t. A lot have fallen by the way-side along the way in this league. Then all of a sudden you get hit and you just can’t do it. Someone raises their hand and gosh, you cower and it’s hard to keep looking up the field and those things. The guys like Tannehill, who are tough guys – one thing that I don’t think anyone has ever questioned about him is his toughness and that he hangs in there and keeps looking up the field even knowing he’s going to get hit and been hit. There’s nobody, nobody, that isn’t affected by just getting hit early in games and that all of sudden, you’re not sure how long you have. You’re not sure … you know you’re going to get hit but you’re not sure when or where or by whom. And that’s a bad feeling for playing the position. So I do think that, and I do think that’s really a foundational thing to him becoming really a good player is that he’s really an extremely tough guy. That, his worth ethic, those things are things you can build on. Those are things you can build on that maybe you can’t teach. Some guys after they get hit a few times for a couple years, or their rookie year, never make it back. (They) never can come out of that thing or come back from an injury or something. So I think that really is one of the traits that’s something to build on with him.”

(Do you expect a full workload from TE Dion Sims this week? This game?) – “It wasn’t a full workload, but we’re still being careful with him. Even early in the week, we had to limit his snaps a little bit. So he hasn’t had the full week but we do feel like each day it’s gotten more and more. Sunday, hopefully he should be darn close to 100 percent, but he didn’t get the full work week as far as just a green light on everything. It was limited, build it up, a little more reps, four snaps per team period, five snaps per team period, (and) all of sudden … I do think by Sunday and then certainly past Sunday, he should be back to full speed. (We’re) hoping again, obviously, that we wouldn’t have a setback of any kind, and he hasn’t had one. So we have been able to increase his reps as the week has gone on. So he’s getting back into the flow, but he’s not been just 100 percent where he takes every rep, like he was doing before the injury.”

(I noticed in the Bills game, QB Ryan Tannehill ran for a first down.) – “Yes.”

(You’ve told QB Ryan Tannehill to do that, to run for first downs.) – “We’ve certainly told him that teams that convert third downs in this league are teams where the quarterback runs for one or two a game.  That’s a fact.”

(There was also a critical play late in the fourth quarter where QB Ryan Tannehill sensed DE Shaq Lawson behind him…) – “A huge play in the game.”

(QB Ryan Tannehill ran to his right, made an accurate off-balance throw. My question is about Tannehill’s enthusiasm about running, feeling pressure vacating the pocket more quickly. How have you seen that evolve?)  – “Yes. I think … it’s a hard teach. It’s a hard teach; but I think (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase has done a good job of just encouraging him. ‘Hey, you’re a good athlete. Don’t be afraid. One, two (seconds), pull that thing down and … you don’t understand how valuable your legs are in this whole thing.’ Stuff doesn’t go like it’s set up very often in this thing and off-schedule plays are critical. We have to make off-schedule plays. So he runs … those two plays were huge. We were trying to burn some time and ice that game and he slides out of there on a third-and-12 or something, third-and-long, and he hits Jarvis (Landry) on a huge play, so that’s really, really important. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable. It’s a fine line. It was always a fine line with (Colts QB Andrew) Luck. When do you protect yourself? When do you not protect yourself? When do you put yourself out there? When do you sit in there and hang and see if your third read comes open? When do you pull it down and go run for a first down? That’s the hardest teach, in my opinion, with quarterbacks, is how do you teach that? How do you teach that? I think I shared with you that first year, I went out to where we train our fighter pilots because I was looking to, ‘Hey, how do you teach when to engage?  When not to engage? When to sell out? When to put yourself at risk? When do you …’ Those things are hard questions and I think as he gets more and more comfortable with this offense, that’s again where I think continuity and being in the same offense, doing some of the same things over and over and over again, that’s where you develop. It’s not on a chalkboard and you just teach, because you can’t give them every scenario. I don’t know which guy is going to spin free or which twist is going to come clean or which edge is going to get tightened up and which guy is going to come open in the progressions. ‘And I got flushed to my left, but the guy on the right comes open.’ You can’t hit all of those so some of it is just a school. I think (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase is really doing a good job with him of just giving him some parameters, just continuing teaching and emphasizing it, and I think we saw some results from it. I think we saw some benefits, some profits from those deposits. I think that’ll be an ongoing thing. It’ll just keep getting better and better and better, and a feel for ‘Hey, when? When?’ Those are tough questions and you (have to) learn the hard way. Those aren’t taught on a chalk board.”

Vance Joseph – November 3, 2016 Download PDF version

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph

(You guys are ranked No. 1 in third-down efficiency. It kind of spiked the last three weeks. What has led to that level of success?) – “Well, I think that stopping the run game helps, because now the third downs are longer. With our pass rush, if we can get them into third-and-long downs, we can rush the passer and play coverage. So that helps, stopping the run on first and second down, forcing long third downs helps.”

(What have you guys done to improve the run stopping?) – “I think just gap integrity, guys staying in their gaps, tackling better has helped. The linebackers fitting the run game at the second level helps. The overall focus on the run game, that’s helped. Upfront playing blocks better, not rushing the passer every down, but rushing the passer when it’s pass and playing the run when its run. It’s as simple as that.”

(With LB Neville Hewitt, we’ve seen you now insert him into the base package, which basically makes him a starter. What kind of growth have you seen from that young player?) – “Well, he’s a guy that can run and hit. Obviously, he’s a young player. With Jelani (Jenkins) being out from time to time, he’s stepped up in the base package and played well for us. Jelani’s back now so he may not play as much, but he’s a guy that we can count on, on base downs to play at a high level for us. That’s been good to see.”

(Jets WR Brandon Marshall had some words to say about CB Byron Maxwell, I don’t know if you are aware of it or not. Do you talk to Byron? Do you talk to the team about that? Do you want Byron to pay attention to use it? What’s your approach in general on something like that?) – “No. We don’t talk about singular players at all. We have a game plan to defend the offensive philosophies or route concepts. But, we don’t talk about one guy that much. Obviously, he’s a great player. We can’t ignore him, but we are going to play team defense and that’s what it’s going to come down to. We don’t talk about stopping one guy, but obviously have calls to help us win the game. Again, he’s a great player. He’s an explosive, big receiver that we can’t ignore; but we can’t focus our entire week on one guy.”

(What do you remember most about your one year as a cornerback with the Jets?)– “(Laughter) What do I remember most? That I wasn’t ready to play. I probably should’ve been on the practice squad for a whole year, but I was pushed into a starting role early on, and my first start was against (former Raiders WR) Tim Brown. That was … I got baptized pretty good. It was the old TNT Sunday Night Football, so everyone saw it. So, that’s my memory about being an NFL corner with the Jets. Not good. (laughter) I’m a better coach than I was a player, I must admit that.”

(How will you utilize S Bacarri Rambo?) – “Well, he’s in the same boat as Donald Butler’s been for us. He’s a veteran player that’s played. He’s going to play some safety for us obviously in some sub packages. It allows us to play Michael (Thomas) at some nickel and dime this week. He’s a guy that’s played at a high level. He’s smart; he’s tough. He’s got some range in high zone, so losing Reshad (Jones), it kind of gives us a guy who has showed range in high thirds and high halves and quarters. It helps to have a guy like that.”

(You had mentioned earlier in the year that DE Camerom Wake was ‘your specialty pass rusher.’ In the past couple of weeks, that role had evolved a little bit as the defense has improved so much. What can we expect moving forward in regards to how you are going to use Cam?) – “Cam’s a starter now, but his play count won’t go beyond probably 40 snaps a game. I think Cam and Andre (Branch) has given us great energy as starters, and it’s allowed Mario (Williams) to play less snaps and to play harder. It’s allowed Jason Jones to play less snaps and to play harder. I think the flip of those two guys has given us more energy, but the play counts should not be out of whack. Even though Cam’s a starter, he shouldn’t play 60 snaps a game. He can still play his 35 snaps, but from a starting role. I don’t see it any different from him being a starter or a pass rush specialist. He’s still playing about 30 snaps a game, which we kind of targeted early on.”

(Has DE Cameron Wake proved something as far as his run stop ability?) – “He proves he’s back to being Cam. When he’s healthy, he’s a special player in the run and pass game alike. He’s proved to be healthy and he’s playing well for us.”

(If you keep DE Cameron Wake around that 40 snaps or whatever, do you try to shade it towards pass rush situations later in the game?) – “No, he’s just going to play. He’s going to play. He wants to be out there first, second and third down. He’s just going to play. It’s a new NFL. It’s always pass. it’s always pass. Cam’s playing well in the run and pass game alike, so he wants to be out there. It helps our defense when Cam’s out there more often.”

(What has CB Chris Culliver shown at practice thus far and where can he help if activated?) – “Chris had worked hard. He’s had a couple of leg injuries that were serious injuries, but he’s worked hard to get back to this point. In my opinion, he’s not totally ready to play an NFL game yet. Maybe it’s a week, maybe its two weeks away, but he’s not ready yet. When Chris is ready, I’ll definitely put him out there. But he’s not ready right now. He’s working hard, he’s in every meeting, he’s upbeat, he focused, he’s engaged. But he’s not physically ready to play an NFL game at NFL corner yet.”

(It can be very tough for an interior defensive lineman and with DE Mario Williams’ limited snaps on the inside, do you feel like that is something he can handle?) – “Yes. He’s a defensive end. That was a move (inside) we made in the fourth quarter to get our four best guys on the field. If he’s playing inside for 10 rushes, that’s fine for Mario. He can handle that. He’s a big enough man to handle that. That was not the plan going into the game, but if it happens, it happens. He can go inside and rush. It’s just rushing right? So, he can go rush inside.”

(Sometimes there’s a difference between a hot defense and a good defense. Are you guys a good defense right now, do you feel?) – “I think we can be a good defense. We’ve got to obviously play more consistent each week. The Buffalo Bills game was a nice win, but how we finished the, I wasn’t happy about that – the penalties, the big plays. I’m never satisfied. Obviously the win was fine, but we can always play better. If you’re not striving to play better every week, you get worse. I think we can be a good defense. Are we there yet? We’ve shown signs of being a good defense, but I’ve been a part of a lot of good defenses, and you don’t give up big plays toward the end of the game. You don’t leak yardage. You don’t give up a big play a week. The Pittsburgh game we played solid, right? The reverse went for 62 yards on four missed tackles. The Bills game we played solid. We gave up a 65-yard touchdown in a Cover 2. Until we rectify those things, I can’t say we are a good defense yet.”

(We’ve touched on CB Chris Culliver and S Bacarri Rambo. The third new guy would be Bene’ Benwikere. What’s your view on if he’s ready to go?” – “He’s working. He’s working to be a good player for us. He’s a nickel player. As a nickel player, it’s like being a linebacker sometimes but being a defensive back sometimes. It’s a lot more learning for him, so he’s not there yet. He’s working towards being ready. Hopefully in a couple of weeks he can get up and show us what he can do.”

Adam Gase – November 2, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Head Coach Adam Gase

(Could you say that the passing game has benefitted from the success of the run game the last two weeks? If so, does anything illustrate or define that statistically or certain plays that you’re seeing?) – “I think we’ve had a better feel. When you’re running the ball well and doing a lot of the things that we’ve been doing, the play-action game pops open a little easier (and) there are less guys underneath, because they are attacking the run. There have been a couple times where we’ve had some good movement plays and sometimes we haven’t – where it hadn’t been there – but one of those breather passing plays to where it takes a little bit off the line, takes a little bit off the quarterback and puts it really on the receivers. But it makes a big difference when you’re more (in) third-and-manageable instead of third-and-long.”

(You’ve said in the past you like going game by game with matchups and crafting an offense. When you run the ball like you are now, does that change at all? Do you feel like, maybe, you want to stick with your hot hand even though the Jets have such a good run defense?) – “I think you do what’s best for that game. Obviously, we feel pretty good about what we got going on with the chemistry of our offense right now. This is going to be a very challenging game for us as far as being able to run the ball. It’s going to be about physicality and execution kind of all wrapped up into one. (N.Y. Jets Head) Coach (Todd) Bowles has always had a very stingy run defense. That hasn’t changed, at least from the time that I’ve either competed against him or known him. It’s going to be tough for us. There will not be an easy yard to be had against these guys.”

(Two-part question on the penalties: 1) What have you done to address it since the bye week? And secondly, is it easier or more difficult to get through to players with that when you’re winning?) – “I don’t think it’s difficult, because when you show them examples of why you can’t do certain things and how it can cost you games … The fact that you’re receiving onside kicks and then when you do get them and it’s all said and done and then you start thinking, ‘Well, that could’ve been really bad.’ What happened the last game was something that we absolutely have to eliminate. We can’t have taunting penalties and personal fouls. I don’t care who’s right, wrong, indifferent. It doesn’t matter. We’re getting flags thrown on us for things like that, and it’ll burn you. I think all of us have seen enough games to where that Monday you’re talking (and) going, ‘What were they thinking?’ You don’t want to be in that conversation.”

(RB Jay Ajayi, he rushes for 200 yards in back-to-back games, it has got to be a head-expanding experience. He’s even a big deal back in England now. How’s Ajayi handling it you’d say?) – “I feel like he has come in every week and done exactly what he has done the week before. I keep watching the way he practices, I keep watching the way that he’s operating in meetings, (and) it hasn’t changed. He’s the same guy that when you walk into a meeting, he has got his notebook open, he has got his game book open, and he’s taking notes, he has asks questions. When we go out to practice, you don’t see a change in speed. You almost feel like it’s a little bit of a game. And it’s tough sometimes, because when you’re not in full pads and he’s running the ball in practice, he’s coming through there at a good clip. He’s really trying to work at what he’s going to do in a game. I don’t think he’s worried about what happened last game. I see a guy that’s resetting it every week. At least the last three games that we’ve played, the next week he’s come in and been the same guy, and he has gone to work.”

(How is T Branden Albert? His play looks good from our perspective.) – “He’s doing a really good job, besides being a guy that has been there before – been through a lot (of) ups and downs – an experienced guy that has played in meaningful games at this time of the year and passed this. He has really been one of those guys where unless you know him and you’re around him a lot, you don’t really see so many of the leadership qualities that he does have. The fact that (Laremy) Tunsil gravitated to him so quickly, and he really went out of his way to make sure that he has helped our younger players – not only Tunsil, but some of the other guys. I know that probably takes a lot off of Pouncey, too, because Mike is a vocal guy. Mike is very aggressive as far as his passion for this game and what he wants to do to try to put us in a position to win. Having ‘B.A.’ (Branden Albert) there, that’s very helpful to him. ‘B.A.’, he gets it done. He finds a way to show up every Sunday and gives everything he has.”

(If you were to have TE Dion Sims and TE MarQueis Gray available this week, how do their blocking compare to the average tight end?) – “I think with Dion, I think what he brings to the table is a little unique kind of for what the NFL is right now. You usually have a guy that either does one or the other. He does have the ability in the passing game, probably to do more than what we’ve really given him the opportunity to do. Anytime his number has been called, he’s made plays. I think ‘Q,’ (Marqueis Gray) he’s been … I don’t want to say surprising. He’d probably kill me if I said surprising, but I guess I didn’t know that he was as aggressive at blocking in the run game as he’s been. Obviously, he’s been such a good special teams player whenever he’s had his opportunities on other teams. We knew that coming in, and he’s really translated that physicality to offense. He’s done a lot to put himself in position to go in there and execute and be an effective player.”

(With TE MarQueis Gray background as a quarterback, do you think that helps him as a tight end?) – “Absolutely. Anytime that you’ve played that position and you’ve moved to another position, you have an idea of what the quarterback is thinking. It allows you to make subtle adjustments where, some players, they run what’s on the paper. He doesn’t think like that. He thinks of, ‘Hey, if this happens, I might have to make this adjustment.’ He’s kind of one step ahead as far as just route running of knowing how to get open, and then knowing where the quarterback probably wants him.”

(What stuck out to you in your one year of working with N.Y. Jets RB Matt Forte and how might that apply coming Sunday?) – “I don’t even know if elite-pro is the right word. It’s something I’ve very rarely experienced with a player. Just watching what he did from, when the first time I was around him to the last day I was with him, he … that guy’s a stud man. I can’t express how much I appreciated the way that guy prepared, the way he practiced. We’d try to hold him back, and he didn’t care what we thought. He was like ‘I’m getting my reps. You can yell at me all you want for being in there.’ He didn’t care. That guy … he was a work horse. He’s a guy that if you’re around him just one year, you benefitted from it.”

(You’ve coached WR Brandon Marshall, not for a long time, but is it easier to play a guy when you’ve been in meeting rooms with him?)” – “Not him. Not him. It doesn’t matter, we could’ve been together for 10 years, it doesn’t matter. He’s a big guy that makes explosive plays, whether it’s down the field, underneath. One year with him, I saw him do some things where the guy’s got an internal fire to figure out a way to get it done. I saw him take a hitch 60 yards and win a game for us. I don’t know how many tackles … multiple guys missed tackles, and I think he made a couple of guys miss twice. He is phenomenal. When he gets the ball in his hands, he is very hard to bring down. It’s almost like he has that mindset of, you’re not going to tackle me. He knows how to do it. The longer he’s played, I feel like the better he’s got.”

(With him, they move him around so much to try to create favorable mismatches. A lot of times he’s in the nickel, in the slot. Is that a challenge to your slot defensive back?) – “It’s a challenge for whoever lines up on him. It doesn’t matter if he’s inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to have your work cut out for you, because he knows how to run all the routes. He knows how to take advantage of coverage. He understands what the defense is trying to do. He understands leverage; he knows how to work off of that. There’s a reason why he’s had as much success as he’s had. He knows how to do it. He knows how to play the position.”

(K Andrew Franks, did he practice today?)– “Yes. We don’t usually have him kick on … today would be considered a Thursday for us. So we usually have him do his deal on Wednesday.”

(Your offensive line, has anything surprised you about them? I don’t know if you can say, did you expect them to do as well as they’ve done the last two weeks? Does anything surprise you?) – “Not really. I think I said this either last week or the week before. It was almost kind of like we were searching for an identity and they basically said, ‘Well this is going to be our identity, whether you like it or not – whether you want to throw the ball 100 times, it doesn’t matter. You better start calling runs because we’re going to get you yards.’”

(Is TE Dion Sims still in the concussion protocol?)  – “Today was the first day that we could actually get him out there and (fully) involved in practice and get him running around, so we’re … at least everything looks good. We’re still going to go through our normal process here as far as being cleared by all the right things. Now, it’s just basically us making the decision of, ‘Do we feel really good about this?’”

(How do you assess T Ja’Wuan James’ part of this overall improvement by the line?) – “He’s been really good the last two weeks. He’s been outstanding. He’s done a great job. Very rarely has he had any kind of missed assignments. He’s really doing a good job in the passing game. His pass protection has been very good and I think he’s been outstanding as far as his run-blocking, but (also) his pursuit down the field. He’s been one of the guys that you see every time that you watch the end of a run, he’s right there. His number flashes up on the screen, on those end zone shots, and that’s what you want. You want to try to get those guys around the ball as much as possible and if it’s down the field, that’s even better, because he’s looking for that extra block. One more block might free up Jay (Ajayi) for 10 or 20 more yards.”

(Has finishing runs and finishing blocks, has that been kind of a point of emphasis going up against a tough defensive front like the Jets?) – “That’s really kind of all we talk about no matter who we’re playing. (Offensive Line Coach) Chris (Foerster) does a good job, as far as, we have a couple meetings a week where he’s talking to the entire group as far as how our emphasis is in the run game and kind of how we want to play. He does a good job of keeping every position involved. The run game is not just about the o-line and the running back. It’s about the quarterback carrying out his fakes. It’s about the receivers blocking down the field. We talk about, let’s get it to the point that Jay (Ajayi) is dealing with the one guy that is free. So it’s important for every player on the offense to make sure they’re involved in the run game.”

(What do you attribute T Ja’Wuan James’ improvement to? Is it just technique or is it C Mike Pouncey’s return or is it something else?) – “I think it’s … it’s kind of the fact that we got those five back together helps. I think there was a little bit of a sense of chemistry there. It happened quickly, but you can tell those five are playing for each other and the rest of those guys on offense. I think one of the biggest things is some of the things that we were trying to do a little different with him that he was struggling with, I think it’s really sticking with him now. And he’s been able to apply those things. I think any time you change anything, no matter what position you are, sometimes you go through some growing pains. I think all of us try to do the best we can not to get frustrated. I’m sure any time he got beat before and he was trying something different, it was frustrating for him, but he stuck with it. I saw a guy that seemed to be around the building quite a bit, even when he didn’t need to be. He was working on things and doing things on his own to try to get himself better.”

(How did T Ja’Wuan James handle when he got yanked and then he came back?) – “He came back the next week. I mean, there was no conversation there. We went through the film; we made our corrections. The next week he came back, put the work in, (and) just kept trying to get better.”

(WR Jarvis Landry talked about Jerry Rice was somebody he aspired to be. When you look at him and his play and his run after the catch, the way he catches the football, do you see some parallels there when you watch him?) – “You’re making me reach back. I mean, I saw Jerry Rice play. I think he was … I don’t even remember, I might’ve caught the tail end of Oakland. I remember him in Seattle at some point. I mean that’s hard for me to compare. I wasn’t around when Jerry Rice was rolling. I mean, Jarvis (Landry), being able to kind of reach back to a guy like that, you can … We all heard the stories on how he worked so you see how Jarvis practices. You see how he prepares. I’d assume we all see how he plays on Sundays. I mean, he sells out.”

Jarvis Landry – November 2, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry

(The success of the run game, how has that helped you guys in the passing game?) – “A lot. It allows the play-action fakes to be that much more prominent and it also allows the safeties to be a little more aggressive. So it gives us the opportunity to run past guys a little bit.”

(Is it just producing big plays or does that success produce the typical 7- or 8-yard gain also?) – “Both. I think the key is just having the balance. When you have the balance, you pretty much can dictate the game (and) kind of do what you want. For us, that’s what kind of what we’re trying to establish.”

(Not to engage in hyperbole here at all, but when I look at your game, it’s hard to ignore some of the things with Jerry Rice — the movement skills, the run after the catch – how influential was Jerry Rice on that?) – “Very much. Pretty much … I don’t want to say all of my game, but obviously he was a lot taller than me, maybe a little faster. Maybe. (laughter) But the way he got out of his breaks, the way that he caught the football, the way that he finished, the way that he went about his business like a pro. I’ve heard numerous stories about him from coaches, from players, and I’ve had the opportunity to watch cut ups and really study him a little bit. I would say a lot of him is in my game.”

(Have you had the opportunity to meet with him and talk to him about how influential he was to you?) – “Yes. Fortunately for me, I made it to the Pro Bowl last year and I was a part of Team Rice, so I had the opportunity to talk with him and sit down, eat lunch, do dinner with him once, as well. Then I had the honor to see him again during the Super Bowl and just talk and hang out with him and Mike (Irvin). It was a fun time. Good time.”

(What’s the feeling coming back from the bye? Do you feel like guys are recharged?) – “I think guys are definitely happy to be back. Like I was telling … I told (Head) Coach (Adam Gase) today, it’s always good. It’s always good, especially when you have a streak going. You can feel the guys just love to be here, having fun at practice, joking around, clowning around; but at the same time, we want this taste to stay in our mouths. We want to continue to have success and build off of what we’ve done so far.”

(Talk about this opportunity that you guys have to get back to .500 against the Jets, a team that’s obviously a huge rival … just this opportunity in front of you.) – “It’s big. And (it’s) not only about that but it’s also a chance for us to win another division game. The more division games we can win, (it) puts us in a better position. So for us, having to play these guys another time after this, we definitely want to get this one.”

(Did you get a chance to take a peek at their defense? Any chance during the bye? Did you have a chance to look at them a little bit and what do you see from that defense?) – “They’re a good defense. They’re a good defense. They run to the ball. They have a good secondary. Their front seven, there’s definitely guys that can make plays. We’re going to have our hands full but also we’re going to come out there to compete.”

(What was your reaction to the fine?)– “I didn’t have a reaction.”

(Are you going to appeal?) – “Yes, sir. I will.”

(On what basis?) – “Just something that I’m getting with my agent about (and) talking about; but obviously (there is) not much I guess I can do, but it’s always good to appeal those things.”

(Since we last spoke to you, [Buffalo Bills] S Aaron Williams’ dad has said that his career is kind of up in the air and that he’ll decide after the season. I know you said earlier that you don’t go out to hurt anybody. Will this have any impact on the way you play? Can it have any impact on the way you play at all?) – “My physicality, no; but (as) far as my target area? Yes. But my physicality? No.”

(When you hear that someone might be retiring because of a hit, does that affect you as a person?) – “It does. It does, but obviously in this game, there are risks and it comes with injuries as well. Again, you never play the game to deliberately hurt somebody; but inside the game sometimes things happen.”

(Have you tried to reach out to Bills S Aaron Williams in any way since the game?)– “I have not.”

(Is that something you would do down the road?) – “Maybe so, but I have not so far.”

Jay Ajayi – November 2, 2016 Download PDF version

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Running Back Jay Ajayi

(The Dolphins are going to play the Saints in London next year. What’s your reaction to that?) – “It’s exciting knowing that next year we’ll get an opportunity to go over there. It’s pretty cool.”

(What was your reaction … it must have hurt last time when you weren’t able to play with the Dolphins playing at Wembley Stadium.) – “It was tough for me, just being on injury at the time. I wanted to play in front of friends and family. Hopefully next year, that’ll be the case.”

(How did you spend your time off?) – “Just (stayed) here for a little bit. I went to New York on Friday and hung out with some of my boys that play for the Giants, because they were on a bye too, and came back on Sunday.”

(Did you go through New York unrecognized? Or did people start to …) – “I think a couple of people at the hotel maybe, but I’m still just me, I guess.”

(The Jets are a team that likes to load the box. They play eight men every now and then. Are you a running back that gets excited when you see that eighth man in the box because you know that everyone is on one level and all you have to do is beat that guy?) – “There are definitely different ways of looking at it, as a respect thing if the defense packs the box, and stuff like that. However they line up, it’ll be interesting to see what they try to do. Like you said, when you do pack the box like that, it does leave the second level open if you’re able to break through the first initial wave of defenders and stuff. It’s all about, really, what we do – being physical at the line of scrimmage and just running hard and making plays.”

(Nobody has ever gotten 200 yards three times in a row. What would that mean for you?) – “To have that for ourselves, the o-line – myself included – I think it would be a great accomplishment. At the same time, that’s not our main priority and focus. We want to win the game. We know that as our running game goes, so does our offense. Our priority is just like it’s always been, set the tone at the line of scrimmage, be physical upfront and just run hard. At the end of the game, we’ll see what the stats are.”

(How about the effectiveness of the blocking, not only at the line at the point of attack but downfield by the receivers and how that has contributed to the last couple of games for you) – “That’s been huge. Just talking with the receivers and talking with Coach ‘Jeff’ (Shawn Jefferson), the receivers coach, we’ve been talking about it through practice – how we’re going to work on finishing runs, how they’re going to make it a big emphasis to finish their blocks and get me to the second level and the other running backs. We all know that we all work together as a team on offense. As our running game goes, we can also open up the passing game. As much as everyone is doing their job and working together, we can have a really good day on Sunday and that’s our goal.”

(How much are you getting recognized in South Florida?) – “It’s growing. It’s definitely growing. I just want to keep putting together good performances.”

(This is out in public, like the grocery store and such?) – “Yes, like I’ll start to get recognized a little bit more.”

(What’s your reaction to it? Are you surprised still or does it seem strange?) – “It’s cool because it kind of just tells you that you’re doing the right thing. People obviously are noticing you for good performance so just keep putting good performances together.”

(Do you have any funny stories like that, like you’re just trying to eat your meal or buy some apples and somebody comes up to you?) – “No, no funny stories.”

(How formidable is the challenge this week with the No. 1 rush defense facing you?) – “Yes, we’re playing a good team. The Jets, they have a really good front up there with their defensive line and those linebackers. We know we’re going to have a good challenge ahead of us. At the same time, we’re not worried about anybody else. We’re worried about ourselves. If we do our jobs and we go out there like we know we can play, I think we’re going to have a good day.”

(The last two weeks have obviously upped your stats. You’re over 500 yards rushing now. Is leading the league in rushing something within your grasp?) – “Down the line, maybe. Right now I’m just taking it game by game. I know I haven’t played as many games as the rest of everyone else, so I don’t even know how close I am to doing that. It would be something cool to strive for as the season’s getting close to ending and you see that; but right now I’m just focused on the Jets and playing a great game against them.”

(With the success of the run game, what are some of the things you guys can continue to do to keep defenses honest?) – “I think that just making sure that we have good balance on offense – everyone doing their jobs, at the same time executing and doing the little details. I think that’s what’s going to set us apart from what we’ve been doing so far, and just let us go to the next level. I think if we can add that to our game, cut out the stupid mistakes, the penalties, fix the little details and execute, I think we’ll be alright.”

(Can personnel groupings help?) – “Definitely. I think that we have a lot of variety on our team, versatility here and there, so we can do a lot of different personnel groups. I think that we can use that to our advantage as well.”

(If we had asked you six months ago – would you have thought it was possible for anybody to run for 200 yards three weeks in a row?) – “I know in the NFL, it’s hard to get 100 yards so for us to have done back-to-back 200 yard games is credit to the hard work that we’ve all put in – the o-line, the receivers, everyone including myself. If it does happen again, that’s going to be an amazing thing, an incredible thing, and we’ll just see what happens.”

(Is there anything about being a back-to-back 200 yard rusher that is not fun, that has become a pain in the neck?) – “No, because I think if we’re doing that, I think we’ll be hard to beat. I know it’s not logical to say you can rush for 200 yards every game, but if our run game is being as dominant as it has been these past couple of weeks, and if we can just keep playing like that, and adding that balance, and helping our defense out, I think we’ll be alright. I don’t see nothing wrong with having great performances like that over and over again.”

(Did you notice the difference physically with that amount of carries? Because you’ve never had close to that amount of carries.)  – “Yes, I mean you’re a little bit more sore; because you’re taking more hits. But that’s what doing the right things during the week, regeneration and things like that, to make sure you get back on the field as quick as possible.”

(With the bye, do you feel that much pressure?) – “I feel that the bye came at a good time for a lot of us – a lot of our injured guys are getting back healthy, so I think we’ll be good.”

(Do you have a hyperbaric chamber or anything like that?) – “I have an ice machine at home and I’m planning on getting the Game Ready stuff. One of my boys had that thing and he told me it works so maybe this offseason I’ll look into getting one of those.”

(Head Coach Adam Gase said that even when things weren’t going great for you, you went to him and said ‘If you let me run these plays, I’ll get you yards. I’ll get you guaranteed.’ What in your mind gave you the impetus to go ahead and tell the head coach that when you haven’t proven it?) – “I felt like he didn’t really understand what I was best at yet, because we were still getting to know how we will work in this offense during the preseason and everyone was kind of getting in the grove of things. I kind of felt like he still didn’t know what my favorite kind of runs in the scheme are and the things that I can be productive (at).  I felt like I wanted to let him know (that) given the opportunity, whenever you decide, if you decide to put me in there, these are the plays that I feel like I’ll be most successful at.”

(When you left that meeting, did you feel that at least you’ve gotten it across and off your chest?) – “Yes, he was very receptive and took notes down. That’s one thing about (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase, when it comes to our offense, he’s always receptive to advice (and) things that we’re saying, because we’re out there on the field and we know what’s going on. I just made an effort to reach out to him and let him know.”

(It’s working right?)  – “Yes, it’s been good.”

(The understanding between you two must be better than ever, right?) – “Yes, it’s improved definitely from the beginning of the year. I’m happy about it.”

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