Transcripts

Adam Gase and Matt Burke – January 12, 2017 Download PDF version

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase and Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke

Head Coach Adam Gase:

(Opening Statement) – “Obviously we’ve promoted Matt Burke from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. The decision behind this  was Matt knows this defense inside and out. Him being with ‘V.J.’ (Vance Joseph) for the amount of time that they were together in Cincinnati and then him coming along with the Dolphins last season was really big for us in the aspect that I really felt like we had two defensive coordinators on that side of the ball. We were very fortunate to be able get him. He had plenty of opportunities to go other places and decided to coach linebackers for us when it was critical for our success this past season and for myself, so it was an easy decision for our organization and me to elevate him to this position. The players respect him and mentally they love the attitude and energy he brings every day. They respect his knowledge of the game. These guys know that they’ll be able to come in every game prepared and ready to roll to face whoever we’re playing that week. This is one of those moves where we’re able to keep the continuity of our system and our coaching staff together and we’ll be able to add a piece here and there, but for the most part, our players won’t be walking into a brand new system. They’ll have an idea of what we’re looking to do and we’ll really be growing from this point on.”

Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke:

(Your reaction being the new defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins?) – “It’s obviously an exciting moment personally and hopefully for our organization to move forward. It has been a hectic few weeks, or a few days, from Sunday forward. Everything has kind of happened pretty quickly. It’s taking a little time to sink in, but I’m really excited to get going and help this team move forward.”

(How would you describe your general defense philosophy?) – “Probably parts from everybody. We want to be an attacking defense, sort of what we started to try to build here this past season. (We want to) be aggressive. I know it’s been said before, we want to tailor our schemes to fit our players. Every year you have new players, new strengths, new weaknesses, so we’re going to evaluate that and move forward. It’s always better when you can play on the front foot instead of the back foot, so that’s going to be our general philosophy.”

(How would you assess the way the defense performed this past season?) – “Again, we really judge ourselves by wins and losses. We felt we made some strides there. I think whether there was a new coordinator change or not, you always take the offseason to try to evaluate what you did good and what you did bad, and we haven’t hardly started that process yet. I think there are going to be some things that we really like and some things we didn’t, and that’s going to be part of growing. I think we did a good job of instituting our structure and having a nice foundation to build from, moving forward. I was kind of happy with that. I think the guys bought into the things we were trying to do and I’m excited to have that foundation to build upon moving forward.”

(What happens with the linebackers now? Will you also coach them or will you have a linebackers coach?) – “I don’t think that I’ll be coaching the linebackers. It’s kind of early. Obviously, this happened pretty quickly, like I said. (We’ll probably need to) add a spot on the defensive staff. That’s something I’m going to have to get together with (Head Coach) Adam (Gase about) in the next few days here and really hammer out how we’re going to move forward with that. I don’t see myself filling both roles, so I would assume we’re going to find someone to put in that room, but we haven’t even started those discussions yet.”

(You touched on this briefly, but can you elaborate a little more on the advantages of having a defense going into a second year in terms of scheme and terminology?) – “Obviously, (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) mentioned to continuity and that’s something everyone strives for. Even the language and being able to talk the same way and understanding the way we approach things this year, the players coming back will have a lot of familiarity with that. Like I said, there is obviously going to be new players and a little bit of a new face or two on the coaching staff, so there are going to be some new pieces there, but it always helps not having to re-learn. Defense is defense, and that’s fine; but again, just being able to speak the same language and understanding how we install and all of that, the players will be walking back with a pretty good base of knowledge and way to communicate with us and each other and stuff like that. It’s always an advantage, I think.”

(You kind of have an interesting background. You’re a psychology major from Dartmouth, is that right?) – “I did graduate from Dartmouth, yes.”

(You’re kind of an adventurous sports guy too, right? An outdoorsman?) – “I guess you could say that, yes.”

(Tell us a little bit about yourself personally.) – “My adventure stuff, I’ve really taken to traveling a lot in the offseason when we have our downtime. You guys know as well as anybody, it’s a high-performance, high-stress business and it’s kind of my way to get away from things. I tend to take a pretty big trip outside the country every year and go hiking mountains or backpacking around the world somewhere. That’s kind of my reset before the season gets going to center me back and ready myself for the long haul. I haven’t planned anything yet this year, but I’ll let you guys know when I do.”

(What was your trip last year?) – “Actually the last two years I’ve been to Africa. Last year I did some more safari-type stuff up in Botswana and Zambia (and) South Africa. The year before that, I had actually gone to Uganda for a little bit and did some charity work with (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Jeremiah Washburn, and then I went and climbed (Mount) Kilimanjaro. I’ve been to Africa for two years in a row, so I’m not sure. Maybe a third time or I’ll figure out another part of the world.”

(Who has been the biggest influence in your coaching career?) – “Honestly, it’s always hard … You reach these milestones, and it’s always hard to thank (everybody) because you don’t want to forget anybody and miss people, but I’d be remised if I didn’t mention Jim Schwartz. He gave me my first job in the league down in Tennessee as a quality control (coach) when he was the coordinator. And then when he got the head job in Detroit, he gave my first position coaching job. I spent 10 years with Jim and I think the world of him and, really, I owe him a debt of gratitude. I wouldn’t be here on this phone call with you guys if he didn’t give me my first break and first probably about 10 breaks to be honest with you. I learned a lot from Jim and he has been a guy I’ve leaned on for a long time and learned a lot of defense from. He’s probably first and foremost in my mind, but it’s really hard. Vance (Joseph) and I spent a lot of time together the last few years, but it’s hard to start naming a lot of names. I don’t want to leave anybody out. If I get a list together sometime, I’ll figure it out. But obviously those two guys – Jim giving me my start and Vance really helped me develop the last few years.”

(If I can follow-up, Jim Schwartz is a guy known for his fiery personality on the sideline. Does that describe you?) – “Probably. I’d like to think that I bring a certain level of energy and fire to the team. We say a lot of what we want and obviously I have somewhat of an academic background. I take an analytical approach to things, but this game is about emotions as much as anything. I don’t know if I’m going to do any patented fist pumps, but I’ll probably curse a little bit more than ‘V.J.’ (Vance Joseph) did on the sideline. I hope the guys are ready for that.”

(I know it’s early, but what is your inclination as far as the best use for LB Kiko Alonso? Inside, outside?) – “Honestly, not to deflect a lot of things, but it’s kind of early in that process, like I said. There are going to be a lot of changes obviously on the roster; it happens every year. What (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) said in bringing us here was and has always been is, ‘Look, when we get our roster set, we’re going to put our players in the best position to be successful for them.’ Obviously, (Alonso) had a successful season. We’re excited that he’s a part of the organization now. That’s a part of … Really these next few months are a two-fold evaluation of our roster, and trying to make that better, and then our scheme fit, and trying to make that better. It kind of goes hand and hand. We’ll see what other type of players we bring in through free agency and the draft and where Kiko fits in. Obviously we see him as an important piece of the future. I had a great time working with him and helping him get to that point; but, we really haven’t even started to evaluate position moves, fits, schemes, all of that stuff. That’s going to be an ongoing process.”

(Other than wins and losses, what do you consider the best barometer for a defense? Is it points allowed, yards per game, the bend but don’t break philosophy? How do you size up when a defense is being as successful as you’d like?) – “Obviously points. That’s what matters, if you keep points down. For us, I’ve always been taught this: the way you keep points off the board is by getting stops. So turnovers, third down stops, red zone stops, that’s how you keep points off the board. Yards have been a measuring stick obviously for a while in the league; but I think that can kind of be misleading. You need to keep points off the board, and obviously (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) on offense, he wants to score as many points as he can. That’s really what matters, and for us, it’s keeping scoring down. I think there are corollary statistics like third down stops and turnovers and red zone stops that obviously contribute more directly to keeping points down. Those are the things that we are going to try to hang our hat on. Like you said, low points equals big wins, so that’s where our focus is going to be.”

Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase – January 11, 2017 Download PDF version

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Adam Gase

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Opening Statement) – “I want to thank everybody for coming. I want to start off by saying I appreciate everyone’s efforts in the organization.  Everyone worked incredibly hard this year. In an industry where people work hard, I felt like this coaching staff, led by (Head Coach) Adam (Gase), really went above and beyond. I really appreciate that. For us, the process now starts (with) evaluating our own players. I think an underrated aspect of building a team, something that (General Manager) Chris (Grier), Adam and I talk about all the time is to try to correctly evaluate your own. For us, we haven’t really even begun that process. We’re going to take the next couple of weeks to thoroughly evaluate our roster and that’ll help set our game plan moving forward. With that, I’m happy to open up for any questions.”

(Only one team is truly happy at the end of the season but obviously a lot of good things happened here in 2016. How do you assess it overall?) – “Yes, obviously there were some really good things that got done this year in terms of establishing a culture led by (Head Coach) Adam (Gase), the coaching staff and the players. But with that said, in 2017 we’re going to start 0-0. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around long enough to know that nothing is guaranteed – nothing is promised – and we have a lot of work to do to get better and the three of us, we’re committed to doing that. We’re going to go into this with a very honest, sober evaluation of where we are with our players. I think that’s really a critical aspect to building a team for the long term. So while there were reasons to be encouraged – and we are – there’s still a lot more work to be done.”

Chris Grier:

(You’ve been around here for a while. A lot of people speak of culture change. Can you give me two or three examples or one or two examples of where you see the culture change?) – “From the beginning, we told you that when we hired (Head Coach) Adam (Gase), we said you just had to be around him and he kind of had … Everyone talks about that ‘it’ factor. You just couldn’t describe it. I think that transpired on the field. You saw, even last week, we didn’t play our best game; but guys are still fighting. Our guys have that edge. They’re competitive. So right from the get go when he got here, I think the competitiveness, the way this team fought all year, coming back in games, I just think all of that is an attribute to Adam and his staff.”

Adam Gase:

(What are the two or three things you’re most proud of this year, things that succeeded to you in your mind?) – “The biggest thing that, when we look back at what happened during the season, was just our guys sticking together. Things weren’t always perfect, especially at the beginning of the year. We started off in a rough spot. That first month of the season wasn’t easy. We played some good teams and had some tough trips on the road and guys fought and competed and stuck with it for four quarters. Just being able to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter and then finding multiple ways to win games in the fourth quarter, which that’s what you try to do every week. You just try to make sure that those last five minutes of the game, you’re in it and giving yourself a chance to win, and guys did a good job. Some phase stepped up every week. For us to find five different ways to have a game-winning touchdown – which I think only had happened one other time in the last 20 some years – that was impressive to see the fight our guys had. We saw it early. We saw it early in that New England game – that first one. We were on the road, down the way we were down, and guys kept competing and fighting and trying to find a way to win the game.”

(You obviously went on that great 10-game run and then the last two games of the season you lost pretty decisively. What do you think is more reflective of what this team was in 2016?) – “Well even in those two games, we were in good position in certain situations of the game that we didn’t quite do what we needed to do to extend our competitiveness and the score being what we needed it to be heading into that fourth quarter. If we cleaned up a couple of mistakes that we made, whether play call or execution, we’re right where we want to be. Earlier in the season, in the run of games that we were winning, we made those plays to stay where we needed to stay to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter.”

(What is the plan for QB Ryan Tannehill? Does he need surgery? Does he not need surgery? And how much better can he get?) – “We’re still going through that process right now with the trainers with what our next step is, where his health is, how strong is his knee. We’re still going through that. We’re still collecting information. Doctors are still giving us what possibly could be down the road. So it’s hard for us to really pinpoint anything as of this moment right now. It’s hard to say how much better he can get. Every year is so different. Things happen within a season and sometimes confidence can go up and down and when we start next year, it’s going to be a different animal for him. He’s going to have a different perspective. I’m sure we’re going to have different guys on our roster. You’re starting over. You’re not starting as far back as what we did this year, where we started from scratch. We’re at least going to have a good starting point. We’ll see how quickly we can kind of gel as a group, starting in the spring.”

(If I could follow up on that, obviously you guys didn’t put him on IR because you thought he might be able to play at some point if you made it far enough. So is it now possible that the trainers might come back and say maybe he does need surgery after all?) – “We still don’t have all the exacts. We’re working through that right now. Until we’re told by our doctors and our medical staff, ‘This is where we’re at,’ specifically, he’s still going through a rehab stage right now and doing what he can do with the trainers. Our doctors are evaluating it. I’ve said it before. I don’t have the information to tell you guys what’s going on with where we exactly are at and what happens moving forward, so right now it’s on our medical staff to give us the information we need going forward.”

(One more follow up on that. Is it possible he still needs major reconstructive or there’s different kind of…) – “I don’t even know. I can’t answer that because that hasn’t been a question that really we’ve dove into quite yet.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Is it a priority for you guys to extend WR Jarvis Landry and S Reshad Jones and either way, what’s your thought process on those two’s future with the organization?) – “Like we’ve already mentioned, we have to go through the evaluation process, what’s really important to us, (Chairman of the Board/General Managing Partner) Steve Ross our owner, (General Manager) Chris (Grier), (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) and myself, we talk about constantly … To have sustainability, we want to take care our own. We want to care of our locker room. We ask a lot of our guys. There was a lot of improvement this year. So be it Reshad, Jarvis, there are a lot of other guys that are going to be UFAs (unrestricted free agents) starting the league year in March of 2017, that we want to look at to try to keep some of our own. In addition, we want to extend players. But one of the things that we also have to look at, one of the factors is: it’s not a one year view. So who is up in 2018? 2019? Adam always likes to roll his eyes, but I always say, ‘Our plan is firmly etched in pencil.’ Because things are going to change. We’re going to acquire players. There are going to be unexpected opportunities. I always feel like when we’re looking at this, we have to bring all of the information to the table. What does the draft look like? What does free agency look like? But with that said, we’re going to try to lean heavily towards keeping our own and building our program here, drafting and developing our own and getting coached by our guys. We are lock-step in terms of philosophically, that’s going to be our approach.”

(What did you see from the defense with the way it played down the stretch and how much needs to be done there?) – “Again, as (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) said earlier, there were a lot of good things that came out of the season. We had opportunities in every game, be it the New England game and the Pittsburgh game. We’re going to look at not just the defense, but all three phases. There were a lot of good things that were encouraging. Young players played a lot of snaps this year. I thought they were coached well. Sometimes they were put in tough situations, be it on the road, and we want to look at that and say what do we have and what do we need to do to improve.”

(Where do things stand for DE Dion Jordan?) – “He’s still under contract with us. He finished the season on NFI (non-football injury list) and that’s where he is, as of now.”

(Does DE Dion Jordan have a future with the Dolphins?) – “Again, we’re going to go through the whole process with all of our players, and he’s one guy that we’ll look at as well.”

Adam Gase:

(As far as the left tackle position. What are you guys thinking there? Are you thinking of moving G/T Laremy Tunsil there next season or is that T Branden Albert’s position?) – We’re still going through … We haven’t even started our evaluation process of what we went through this year. I’m still in the process of meeting with our position coaches (and) coordinators. I’ll see how things shake out for the next few days. Our guys are going to take some time off and then when we come back, we’re going to evaluate really what happened through the entire year. We want to make sure that we give all of our guys that fair shake of not just focusing on the last couple of games but the entire season and what they accomplished – whether it be started off strong, didn’t finish as well, had a good middle of the season, had a strong end of the season – whatever that may be, to where we really do a good job of evaluating our own roster. That’s really our No. 1 priority right now, when we come back from taking some time off and recharging. I haven’t even … I haven’t even come close to talking about or discussing with (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) about anything to do with who’s playing what right now.”

(In regards to Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph, there were reports out there that he had been offered the Denver job. He’s got two other interviews lined up. How do you move forward with this defense? Are you prepared to find a new defensive coordinator?) – “We’ll go through our process when … If something like that happens then we’ll handle it when it happens. I can’t speculate on things and wonder what could happen. We always will have plans for if things like this happen and being able to take steps forward, but right now, I’m not going to jump the gun and start working on something that hasn’t happened yet.”

(What makes Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph, in your opinion, ready to become a head coach right now?) – “He’s done a great job with our players. I can speak for that first hand. He took so much off my plate where I never had to worry about anything with the defense. He really did a great job with all those guys in that room. He did a great job at directing those guys and he made my life a lot easier then probably what it could have been. There was a big trust factor there with me. Once he was hired, I knew that side of the ball was good to go and I was able to focus on what I needed to do with some of those things that we wanted to change between (General Manager) Chris (Grier), (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) and myself and being able to focus with the offense. That was really the one thing that I loved about being able to at least get him in the building was I knew he was going to be able to handle that side of the ball and he brings a leadership quality that you really love about him. He has such a great personality and such a strong personality. He has that alpha – I know we talked about it before – that alpha-type personality where he demands a lot from players and they give him everything they have. Just to have a guy like that on the other side of the ball really worked out for us well.”

(How committed are you to running a 4-3 or would you be open to a 3-4 defense change?) – “I’m not really looking to put our players in a situation where every spring that we’re looking to change a whole bunch of things. We’ll always look to improve as far as what we’re doing. We’ll always go back, evaluate and figure out what’s best for us for that next season. But one of the things that we had discussed when I first got this job was let’s make sure this is our defense, as far as the Miami Dolphins. (It’s) the same thing with the offense and special teams. We wanted to lay a foundation and build off that foundation, so our players aren’t coming in every spring going ‘Alright, what’s the new terminology? What are we doing here?’ Our players, we want to make sure that they come in and understand already that they have a section of the playbook already down because they’ve been here before. That’s our starting point right there. We’ll see what’s going to happen over the next week or so.”

(Aside from Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph, how many changes do you expect on the coaching staff, if any?) – “None.”

(We heard from the NFL about looking into QB Matt Moore and the hit he took. What can you tell us from your perspective? His agent said he’s asymptomatic ever since the hit so he doesn’t have symptoms of a concussion. Is that your understanding as well?) – “Yes. It’s really in the league’s hands right now. I know the NFL and NFLPA are doing exactly what they should do, and that’s make sure that everything was followed properly. There are protocols in place. As a coach, there’s one thing that you always know. Any time a trainer walks out on the field, we’re taken out of it. We’re able to basically, whether it be our people or anybody that is involved in that process on the sideline with the league, or anybody that’s independent. We lean on them. That’s why they’re there. It’s to make sure that our players are protected and when Matt came back over and they told me that he was ready to go, I trust that the protocols were followed properly and everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do and followed their job to exactly the way they that they were supposed to do it. That’s why, as a coach, these rules have been put in place to make sure this isn’t on our coaching staff to make a decision like this. This is why these protocols were built.”

(What players do you know have had, or will require postseason surgeries?) – “Well, right now we’re just going through things with our medical staff so we can figure out what’s the right thing to do with some of our guys that were injured at the end of the season. We’ll know more as the weeks go on. Right now I’m kind of locked into dealing with our coaching staff. I usually get updated a little later than the two guys sitting next to me (Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier).  Right now, I’m dealing with the coaching staff.”

(Culture change was mentioned this afternoon and the players after the game Sunday mentioned that also, and Monday as they were cleaning out their lockers. What do you think you did this season to change the culture?) – “I think, really what happened was between our front office, the people in the building, our players, our coaching staff, I think everybody just bought into the same philosophy and that was taking everything one week at a time. I know it kind of became a running joke, ‘We are 0-0 this week and we want to be 1-0 at the end of the week.’ I really feel like our players really … They really took to that. They enjoyed that part of it because they knew that they didn’t have to focus on anything except for what was going on that week. They did everything they could to prepare themselves and then on Sundays, they knew that if they went out there and did everything they could to give everything they had and execute everything as well as they could, we had a good shot at winning that game. Really, that’s what we wanted to establish here, was making sure that we’re the team in the fourth quarter that we’re right in that thing; and then find ways to execute under pressure, which our guys did the majority of the time. Really, that’s what we were looking to do as far as developing what we wanted to develop as a front office, coaching staff and as players.”

(I’d like to follow up, I also heard the players say this during in the season … What happened in Week 1 with RB Jay Ajayi, and some of the players you cut, and these are the words of your players, that you were a ‘no nonsense’ type of coach, and this is the way it’s going to be done.) – “I think those situations were more about what was best for the team at the time. Sometimes you reflect back and wonder if that’s the right decision that you should make. We still have … Really in the next couple of weeks I’ll probably go back and wonder if some of those decisions were right, wrong or indifferent. That’s part of the offseason evaluation. I know there are a few things I wish I would’ve done different. That’s the good part about going into the offseason is you try to … You learn everything you can from the previous season and try not to make, whether it be mistakes or even things that you did well, just evaluating those and figuring out if there was a different avenue you could’ve taken.”

(A follow up to that, when you do self-assess … Is there something that you think as a second-year coach that you will learn from, as a rookie coach that you did, that you don’t want to do again?) – “Absolutely. We talk to our players about this, where if you’re not … You’re not doing your job correctly if you’re not going after every game, saying, ‘What can I do better? What did I learn from this game?’ I told them all the time, there are always 10 or 20 things a game where you question whether or not that was the right thing to do or the right call to make. Was there something in the week that we should’ve done different? That’s what this whole league’s about is how do you get better from week-in to week-out? And then, when you get to the playoffs, that’s when you want to really have things tightened up. That’s what we found out this last game was we made some of the same mistakes we made earlier in the year that didn’t get corrected, and it burned us. We had opportunities to take advantage in that game and we didn’t do it. We made the same mistakes we made in previous weeks. That’s where you have to learn. You have to understand that when you make mistakes in the regular season, you have to fix them, because when you get in the playoffs, there’s no turning back. Once you make that mistake, it’s over and all of a sudden your season is over.”

Mike Tannenbaum:    

(How would you describe the organizational progress relative to closing the divisional gap with New England?) – “Yes, like we said earlier, I feel like we’re heading in the right direction; but in 2017, all four of those teams in the AFC East are 0-0. All the three of us (Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase) can control is how hard we work and how we can learn from last year and give ourselves the best chance to win. Look, I’m really happy we made the playoffs and won 10 games. That’s a great accomplishment and again, Adam and the players deserve the credit for that. With that said, we’re going to be 0-0, and all we can control is us – not the Patriots, the Jets or the Bills. I’m really excited about the future, but we have a lot of work to do. We’re excited about getting going on that and like I said, it really starts with evaluating our own and getting ready for free agency, knowing which guys are going to be free agents and going from there.”

Chris Grier:

(How would you assess your first year as general manager and what is one place where the roster exceeded expectations and one place it fell short?) – “It’s been an enjoyable year working with (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) and (Chairman of the Board/Managing General Partner) Mr. (Stephen) Ross. For me, like we’ve all said, we won 10 games but we lost at the end of the year. Really one team is happy at the end of the year and that’s always been my motto. I think the roster … It is what it is. We are what we are. Right now we are in the early phases of the evaluation process. We’re happy with a lot of things but we also know that there is a lot of improvement that can be done.”

(How do you get this defense better? You guys allowed 140 rushing yards per game, 30th in the NFL. How do you improve that aspect of the team?) – “Self-evaluation – as (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) said – in terms of the coaching. For us in the personnel side, it’s our evaluations, as well, of what we’re seeing with the players. We’ll get together and discuss it here in the next month or so and then going forward through free agency and the draft. There are avenues where we can fix things, but we’re not going to rush through it. We’re going to take our time and make sure we do it correctly.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Head Coach Adam Gase talked about how for the players, there is a certain comfort in you guys having a system down, you’ve done it for a year and they know what’s going on when they come into the building. How about on your side of it, working together as a team for the first year? How much more comfortable do you feel heading into this offseason?) – “Absolutely. It has been a great year. As Adam just said a couple of minutes ago, when you have the privilege of one of these jobs, it really starts with yourself and (asking), ‘How can I get better?’ I’m constantly asking myself that question. In terms of where we were a year ago, (General Manager) Chris (Grier) getting promoted to the GM position and then working with (Chairman of the Board/General Managing Partner) Steve (Ross) and the coaching search, I do feel like we’re, obviously, a lot further ahead, because now the foundation has been laid. Everything is in place and now we’ve got to get better. From that standpoint, for our fans, we should be encouraged. There should be excitement. From a year ago, with Adam back, most of the staff back it looks like, that’s definitely progress. Now it’s up to us to take advantage of that and give ourselves the best chance to win in 2017.”

Adam Gase:

(To what do you attribute QB Ryan Tannehill’s growth this year?) – “We got on the same page a little later than we really wanted to. I really felt like we were going to hit the season running. I think it took us some games to get it really rolling. It took me a little longer than I thought to get used to our whole group as far as a play caller. Once we really got in a better groove as far as what everybody was good at and what we could lean on, that’s where I felt like we took off a little bit. He did a great job of sticking with what we had talked about, especially from the spring on. You look at him, but it’s really the whole group – offensive line, the tight ends, the running backs and the wide receivers – of those guys getting on the same page at the right time. When you play quarterback, you’re at the mercy of a lot of guys. It’s really about, ‘How many guys can we get doing their job right on the same play?’ There are times where he has had to make plays, which he has done. There have been some times where he has been put in some bad situations where it’s the perfect coverage versus what we had called, and he made something happen in some critical parts of the game, and then other guys have stepped up to make a play to help him on that play. Really, that’s where I feel like he has grown the most is he has made those plays where he has had to escape from the pocket and make those throws down the field or just run with the ball. The more we can get him to really do those things that the off-scheduled plays, I guess – the off-scheduled plays that he makes that were huge plays within our season – the more comfortable he feels doing those type of things, the better we’ll be on offense.”

(It feels like a lifetime ago that S Reshad Jones got hurt. How is he physically? Do you expect him for the start of OTAs and all of that?) – “Once again, I’m really … I don’t know the timetable right now. I do know this: every time I would see him, he’d tell me how he could play that game, which always kind of hurt me a little bit, because I’m thinking, ‘You’re pretty good. Don’t tell me that.’ (laughter) I was so impressed with how he helped lead our guys even though he wasn’t playing. He stood next to me before every game and he was such a lightning rod for energy for our guys. He tried to help our young players as much as he possibly could. It was great for me to see a guy that it hurt him so bad to not be out there with everybody. But those guys, they felt his positive energy every week on the sideline. He was always out at practice and making sure guys were competing and giving it everything they had. Guys respect him so much. He’s such a good player. Seeing him develop as a leader, that was something that was very impressive to see a guy from … It could have been rocky for him and myself and neither one of us let that happen. We put that spring aside and we developed a great relationship. He has been a guy that I’ve really enjoyed being around this season.”

(After making the playoffs, how much do you think that’ll inspire the team next year going forward?) – “The one thing I told those guys after the game is, ‘Enjoy being together, because some guys aren’t going to be here next year.’ That’s just the fact of the NFL. When we start up next year in the spring, nobody is going to care what we did last year. That’s just the brutal fact of the NFL. The guys that are going to be here that were here the previous year, don’t forget what that felt like after that game. We saw a lot of guys that were emotional after the game. I know I felt sick to my stomach knowing how hard it is to get there. I was lucky to go four straight years and then just one year not being there, I just remember how terrible I felt the entire month of December knowing that we were going to go home. Just getting there and knowing you never know when the next time is going to be, that’s what makes you work so hard from the time you get this thing kicked off until the last game you play. Just give yourself an opportunity to get in the tournament and then after that anything can happen.”

Mike Pouncey – January 9, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, January 9, 2017

Center Mike Pouncey

(Talk about the year from your perspective with your injuries and everything else.) – “It was a tough year but I’m just proud of the guys the way the season turned out. I felt like the way we started off was real slow and we got a chance to get going and prove a lot of people wrong and kind of change the culture around here. It was good to be around. It was our first playoff game in my career and it was just great to be out there. The atmosphere was crazy and it was just an unbelievable feeling.”

(Do you feel like the year was a success?) – “I do. I do feel like this season was definitely a success. Obviously we didn’t win a championship like our goals were set to; but this … We’ve been dying for a long time to get in the playoffs and it was just a good feeling to be there.”

(Compared to past offseasons, how much do you feel like the arrow is pointed upward? Talk about the future of this team and what it’s like compared to previous ones?) – “I think it was great. We started over. We got new coaches in and they did a great job with us this year. We played together as a football team throughout the whole year, no matter whether we were at our lowest or at our highest. We stayed together, stick the course. We had a lot of guys step up and play that were unexpected and played great. It was good to see.”

(How about the confidence going forward? Do you feel that…) – “It will be good. We’ll be in this program for two years now. We’ll get to work on different things that we couldn’t work on last year. We were trying to basically just learn the offense. It would be good to know it now and then kind of work the ins and outs of it.”

(What is this day like today as opposed to in seasons past, leaving here?) – “It’s always tough ending the season, because we’re going to be sitting at home on the weekend and watching other teams play for championships. It’s going to be real tough, but the camaraderie that we built on this football team – the togetherness that we have on this football team – it sucks seeing everybody having to separate and go their different ways. Even though the season didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, there is a lot of stuff to be proud of this season.”

(What’s your level of confidence that you can get out there in July, be healthy and stay healthy?) – “Injuries happen. It’s a part of this game. But I feel great right now. I know I’m healthy. I’ll be healthy in a minute or so. It was tough the way the season played out for me. I didn’t expect it to go that way and no one ever does, but I got to see this thing from a different perspective and watch these guys work and it was just amazing to see. I’m proud of this team for sticking with me. I’ll try to stay as healthy as I can next year. I’m ready for this season, ready for this offseason. I’m going to attack it just like I do any other offseason to be the best player I can be possibly and I just can’t wait to get started back.”

(How frustrating was it for you yesterday knowing that you couldn’t be out there?) – “I got over it. I wasn’t really worried about it yesterday. Yesterday I was just trying to be there for the guys when they were going out on the football field and just being out there, seeing the way they were inside of the locker room before the game, the way they played. It was exciting to see. It was something different – nothing I had ever experienced before in the National Football League. I was just happy to be a part of it.”

(But you’re optimistic you still have a lot of good football left?)  – “I’m not retiring until 10 years. Trust me. (laughter)”

Andre Branch – January 9, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, January 9, 2017

Defensive End Andre Branch

(On how he would sum up the season) – “At the end of the season, our goal was to win the week but we didn’t have that, so that’s disappointing. We knew we could have won that game, but we didn’t make enough plays to make that happen.”

(Would you like to be back here? I know you’re a free agent at the end of the season. Would you like to be back here or have you gotten that far?) – “Yes. I love this place. They believed in me when not too many people did. I appreciate them for that. So we’ll see how it goes. I don’t know what the future holds, but I had an amazing time this year.”

(What’s the frame of mind today? There’s got to be a lot of processing.  You guys had such a good season in so many ways by turning things around here. Yesterday was obviously a very tough day. Where’s your head at?) – “Yesterday was disappointing. But everybody’s mindset today was positive and we know what we have to do to fix it going into the offseason. It just makes you work harder.”

(What’s your most vivid memory of the season?) – “That’s a tough one. I can’t just pinpoint one. I had a great time all season, whether it be we stayed in Seattle for an extended amount of time to going to the West Coast for 11 days, and that’s where I think we really … where people really saw how much of a brotherhood we had. To the end, where we had a lot of injuries and players just stepped up, and we didn’t blink. We didn’t let that get us down. We just kept fighting. We’ve just got to keep that going into the offseason.”

(Do you think that bond played a role in the success?) – “No doubt about it. When you feel like you’re letting your brothers down, that’s when you start seeing successful play on offense, defense and special teams. For us, that’s what the culture is now. (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase brought the culture and all of the players bought into it and (they were) great things to happen.”

(How would you assess your season from an individual standpoint?) – “I’m always, ‘Yes, I can work on my game.’ So for me, it’s constantly watching film on myself and other players at my position, adding things to my toolbox and going into the off season full steam, full speed ahead. I’m getting better and coming back even better than I was this year.”

(How much do you enjoy so many players in this locker room saying that you brought energy the time you were on the field?) – “Amazing. I feel that from them. I can’t bring energy if they didn’t trust me to bring energy to them. I appreciate them for that. From Day 1 they welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to be myself.”

Kenny Stills – January 9, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wide Receiver Kenny Stills

(On if there was a mentality change that just making it to the playoffs isn’t good enough.) – “I tell guys how I really feel. A majority of the time when I talk to you guys, we talk about the talent that we know that we have on this team and the potential that we all could see in each other. So us not being able to get a victory yesterday is something that we feel like we had a good opportunity of doing and we didn’t. We truly believe in this room that we could make a run – a serious run – and we still truly believe that. We feel like we didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

(Considering you were 6-10 last year and 1-4 to start the season, do you think – whether it’s days or weeks – you’ll be able to appreciate just how far this team did come, even though you didn’t reach your ultimate goal, to appreciate what was accomplished?) – “It doesn’t take days or weeks to appreciate that. I’m sick about the game yesterday, but I still understand where we’ve come (from). I told the guys before the game, ‘Look how far we’ve come.’ It’s something that you can be proud of, but it’s not something to hang your hat on. We know what we expect out of each other, and we know the potential of this group. We’ve got to come back stronger next year and do it again.”

(Do you think weather played a factor yesterday?) – “It didn’t play a factor for me. I can’t comment on everybody else’s ability to play the game, but I don’t feel like it affected me at all.”

(Many of the guys talked about not feeling this feeling again. What needs to be done going into the offseason to try to correct some things and make sure that you guys can go a little bit further next year?) – “A lot of people say that we’re young and that we need to mature, but it’s knowing when you get in the playoffs, you can’t start slow, you can’t turn the ball over, you can’t have penalties. The way that we played yesterday wasn’t good enough. Sometimes things like this have to happen if you’re going to learn that lesson that needs to be learned. I definitely think that happened. Guys understand the way this feels and we don’t want it to happen again.”

(How much do you want to come back here with the way this organization is going?) – “I don’t know how to say how much I want to come back here. I want to be back here, yes. I love this team; I love these guys. We did something special after starting 1-4. We did something really special. We’re going to do whatever we can to try and make that happen.”

Jermon Bushrod – January 8, 2017 (Postgame) Download PDF version

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Postgame – at Pittsburgh

Miami Dolphins G Jermon Bushrod (transcribed by the Pittsburgh Steelers)

Was this a successful season?

No. Our goal was to be the last team standing, and we were not the last team standing. Where we came from earlier this season you have to be proud. I’m proud of everybody in this organization from the coaches down to the players. Things were not looking great for us. We were banged up. We were losing games but we found a way to look inside of ourselves and come out of a tough situation. This could have been a really tough season but like I said I’m proud. No, this is not where we wanted to be. We wanted to get into this dance and you never know what could happen. It is just unfortunate.

What was it like to play in that cold?

I still cannot feel my fingers. Like I said earlier in the week when it comes to the cold you either do it or have someone else do it. I do not care if it feels like negative five or zero. You have to do whatever you have to do to keep yourself warm. At the end of the day you have to do what you have to do.

 

Jay Ajayi – January 8, 2017 (Postgame) Download PDF version

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Postgame – at Pittsburgh

Miami Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi (transcribed by the Pittsburgh Steelers)

Re: Feeling in this locker room right now:

It’s tough. We put in all that work. It’s really the fact that this team won’t be together and it won’t be the same. We won’t be able to reach that goal that we wanted to achieve. That’s tough. I do not know anyone that is just content with being in the playoffs. We wanted to win the whole thing. I know I did. It hurts.

Why was the running game not able to get going today?

The run game was tough. They stacked the box and we did not execute how we should have. It’s as simple as that.

What was the weather like?

It was cold. They had to play in the same weather as well. It does not matter.

After the time passes will you be able to consider this season a success?

From a team standpoint, it is not a success. Individually, maybe later on. As a team we did not achieve what we wanted to do.

Does this team understand what it takes to get here?

Yeah, we will be able to understand what this feeling is one of not moving on to the next round. A matter of taking this feeling and use it as motivation to never have this feeling again

 

Mike Pouncey – January 8, 2017 (Postgame) Download PDF version

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Postgame – at Pittsburgh

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (transcribed by the Pittsburgh Steelers)

Re: Stephen Ross says he likes direction of the team despite the loss:

No question. He sees the difference. He’s around all the time. He sees the direction this team is headed in and it’s headed in the right direction.

How tough was it to watch today instead of play?

I said before it was going to be tough to watch. I was excited to be out there. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I just wish these guys could have pulled it out. It was a tough loss for our football team.

Do you expect to be back here next year?

We will see. I don’t want to make any expectations at this time. Obviously we feel good about our football team.

What would make this team continue to be a playoff team?

We just need to keep doing what we did this year. We stuck together. We had a lot of team chemistry and we had guys play well that we did not expect to play well. That’s what happens when you are a team that turns the corner, guys step up and make plays.

 

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