Transcripts

Stephen Ross, Tom Garfinkel and Mike Tannenbaum – March 27, 2017 (Annual Meeting) Download PDF version

Monday, March 27, 2017

Chairman of the Board/Managing General Partner Stephen Ross, President Tom Garfinkel and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum

Stephen Ross:

(The Dolphins were the only team to vote against a Raiders move to Las Vegas. Can you tell us why?) – “I think – as I told you before – I think when you own a team, you’re a steward of that team and you have obligations to the community. I think you don’t move a team if you’ve really exhausted all of the possibilities, and I don’t believe they did.”

(Did you meet with the Miami Open officials to discuss an alternative to keeping the tournament in Miami and if so, what were your thoughts about that?) – “When I read that the Miami Open might leave and I spoke with them, if it’s an alternative between staying on Key Biscayne or leaving, I wanted to present them a position that I thought it could work at our stadium.”

(How long do you think it would take you to build a tennis facility?) – “No time.”

(No time meaning?) – “A year.”

(So it’s not much of a challenge for you?) – “Small.”

(Not quite on the scale of the Hard Rock Stadium renovations, right?) – “Hardly. And we would take advantage of the stadium renovations. We spent a lot of money there. It has really become an entertainment capital between what we’re doing with the soccer and other entertainment acts and the football. What we’re doing there, you guys haven’t seen the completed product. That’s in process now and it’s going to be incredible. It’s going to be a real showcase.”

(Do you think that a tennis facility would have multiple uses outside of just the tournament?) – “Yes, I think we would be building a grandstand court. We’re just exploring it. It’s not like it’s there. If they can stay in Key Biscayne, they’d probably prefer to stay in Key Biscayne. I think it’s a great alternative, but it’s also, I think, important to the people in Miami that they don’t lose the tournament somewhere else. I think that’s what’s key, just like they lost the golf tournament somewhere else. We’re looking to do what’s going to be good for South Florida. I think you can see by the stadium what we’ve done and the activity we’re doing and having El Clasico. The beneficiary is really South Florida.”

(Do you have any sort of timetable as to when that might come to a head with the tennis tournament?) – “No, not really.”

(I believe you guys are not voting on any future Super Bowls this week. Is that right?) – “No.”

(Do you start any kind of grassroots, ground-level campaigning with the other owners?) – “We’re always campaigning for South Florida. They should all want to be in South Florida. It’s never ending. When you can sell South Florida, sell it. It’s not a hard sell.”

Tom Garfinkel:

(The Dolphins are one of the nominees for Sports Team of the Year and also Hard Rock Stadium for Facility of the Year for the SportsBusiness Journal. I wanted to ask you what that means for you and the organization.) – “It’s a great honor. We still feel like we have a long way to go, but I think to be mentioned in the same company as some of those other teams is certainly an honor. I think it’s a testament to Steve (Ross)’ vision and his commitment to what he has done with the stadium and with the organization and obviously Mike (Tannenbaum), (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) and everybody else in the organization to be considered in that company. I think it’s a nice thing for us, but we still feel like we have a long way to go.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Where do things stand with LB Zach Brown? Is there still a possibility that he could become a Dolphin, or have you moved on from that?) – “Philosophically, we talk about this all the time,  from a big picture, strategic standpoint – Tom, Steve, Adam and Chris – we’re going to be opportunistic. We want to take care of our own and then be opportunistic. The lion’s share of our focus right now is on the draft. If and when the right opportunity came along, we would certainly evaluate it appropriately, but we’re focused, really, on the draft. If something came along, we would certainly look at it.”

(What do you feel like you’ve done locking up LB Kiko Alonso and signing LB Lawrence Timmons? Do you feel like you’ve overhauled that linebacker unit successfully?) – ”I feel like we’re heading in the right direction, but again, if there is the right player at the right price – be it the draft, free agency – that’s a position that even though I think we’ve done some things well, I’d say we’re encouraged. It’s something we’ll continue to take a look at, again, if the right opportunity came along.”

(Do you have a strong feeling one way or the other on the proposal to eliminate the roster cut to 75?) – “We’re going to look at that over the next couple of days. We have a couple of more days until that vote takes place. Washington proposed that a year ago. I don’t think it went very far from a vote standpoint; but we’ll look at it. I know the idea of it is … I understand the reasoning behind it is to have more players available for the fourth (preseason) game. We haven’t formalized our position quite yet.”

(Your plan this offseason was to take care of your own guys. WR Jarvis Landry is still out there. How successful would you say your plan has been so far?) – “Again, philosophically – organizationally – that’s something we feel really convicted about. You go back a little over a year between Mike Pouncey and obviously the quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and then Cam Wake, Reshad Jones, Kiko Alonso – that was really important to us. We want to do that, and again, be opportunistic. With Jarvis, (we are) really excited he’s a Dolphin. He was drafted, coached here, (had) 288 catches in his first three years. We’re really glad he’s here. From a policy standpoint, we wouldn’t comment on any negotiations, but we’re glad that Jarvis is a Dolphin.”

(I know it’s a challenge not to comment, but you feel like you’ve made efforts to make sure that your hometown guys are taken care of?) – “No question. I think going back to last year, (Head Coach) Adam (Gase) has talked quite a bit about (how) we’ve asked a lot of our guys and we had some success last year. Again, we’re going to start 0-0. We have a long, long way to go; but there were a lot of guys that played well that were drafted here, coached here, got better here, and we want to reward those guys and take care of them first.”

(Beyond rewarding them, do you believe that core is enough to continue to compete for a playoff spot and maybe more?) – “Again, we’re going to 0-0. Last year, obviously, we were encouraged by winning 10 games, but that doesn’t have much bearing on this year, and I’ve been on both ends of that in my career. But those are really good players and people in our locker room. Reshad Jones got hurt last year, but he was a meaningful contributor to our team. Mike Pouncey got hurt last year; (but) he was a meaningful contributor. We’re trying to build a program that’s sustainable, and it’s meaningful to be a Dolphin. We were trying to send that message, but these were players at the end of the day we thought could help us win – Kiko Alonso and the rest of those guys. We still feel like we have a long way to go, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”

(What would be your comfort level at the guard position if you go into the season with G Ted Larsen who you signed and G/T Jermon Burshod, who you brought back?) – “You guys have heard me say this quite a bit: the offseason is a continuum. You want to go into the draft with as much flexibility as possible. I don’t think if we sat here a year ago any of us would’ve thought we would have Laremy Tunsil as our first-round pick. I certainly didn’t. So, who knows where we’re going to be in a month, and that’s what is so much fun about what we do. If we have the opportunity to upgrade a position – add depth and competition – we’re certainly open to doing that.”

(You have made a number of trades this offseason. Following up on trades you made last year and the year before that, how viable is that to helping you improve your roster?) – “I think it’s an underrated aspect, but I also think it’s really important that you have 31 trade partners and you really want to come up with solutions that work well for both teams. You go back to the trade last year with Philadelphia, for example. I don’t want to speak for them, but I think they’re pretty happy with Carson Wentz. For us to get (Laremy) Tunsil, (Byron) Maxwell and Kiko (Alonso), we feel good about that. I think it’s really important to be a good listener and to understand what the other side wants to do. Be it Julius Thomas or Branden Albert, hopefully those are trades that in Jacksonville they feel good about those trades as well, and we can work again with them in the future. In a cap system, you have finite resources to get better, so I think trades (are) an area that you have to look at as a viable way to help yourself.”

(We are three weeks removed from the start of the offseason program and DE Dion Jordan is still on the roster. Are we at a point where it’s safe to assume he will be there for the start of the program?) – “Our roster is always up for discussion.”

(How would you describe the way DE Dion Jordan has or has not met the organization’s expectations in recent times?) – “Look, obviously from when he was selected to today, it’s not a move that has worked out. That’s pretty obvious. We’ll keep evaluating our roster and make moves when we feel it is appropriate.”

(Do you think that DE Dion Jordan can help you as a linebacker or a defensive end?)  – “Like I said, we’re going to keep evaluating our options there. When we have an update, we’ll let you guys know.”

Stephen Ross:

(Separate from the Raiders leaving Oakland as far as Las Vegas is concerned, do you have any opinions or concerns about the league doing business there?) – “I think there will be some challenges. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet those challenges. Just like playing in Miami – the challenges with the players – I think you’ll have to have a lot of discipline in making sure that things don’t get out of hand.”

(The offseason is obviously about improving the team. I recognize that it’s not over, but where we are at this point, have the Dolphins made up the gap, or some of the gap, on the New England Patriots?) – “We have our program and we’ve decided how to go about it with both free agency and the draft. I think that we feel comfortable where we are. We have a young team and we’ve added some players that have a little more experience in positions. With the draft coming up, we’re probably going to stay a very young team still.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

(Could you address that as well?) – “I like (Owner) Steve (Ross)’s answer. Look, all you can do is control your own team. We have 31 other teams that are competitors obviously. New England has done a tremendous job for a long time. They’re in our division, but we’re trying to build the best program for us and that’s all that we can control and that’s enough on our plate: to worry about what we can do and put the best team out there for this year and the foreseeable future. We’ll play them twice in the fall and we’ll go from there but we can’t sit there and say ‘Hey, they made move A, so we are going to make move B.’ We’ve got to build and do what we feel is in our best interest.”

Stephen Ross:

(You’ve spent most of you tenure here getting the big fish or pursuing the big fish. What was it like this offseason where it was about focusing on your own guys and continuing to invest in them?) – “You can see how the team has developed. The chemistry of the team is totally different. The chemistry of the organization is totally different. I think that you look and see where you are. I think people really feel that we are making a lot of progress. I think we’ve had conversations on how do we continue that progress and this is the path we’ve picked.”

(I know that we are joking about it but Michigan does have a lot of talent. Do you find that it is going to be okay for you to suggest maybe a Michigan guy?) – “Sure, I’d love to see a Michigan guy wearing the Dolphins colors. We were up there for their Pro Day last Friday and its great being up there, but I’ve told (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) that he doesn’t have to listen to me when I tell him who to pick (laughter), so therefore it’s really a decision that they make. I think (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Mike (Tannenbaum) do a great job and we have a great department in scouting and they are very thorough. I think if you look at our draft picks last year, I think that really showed you an awful lot of the direction in which they wanted to go. Really, it was a good draft and I think we’ll continue to have a good draft.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

“And you’re underestimating the fact that our head coach is from Michigan State and it’s great for us to watch Adam (Gase) and Steve (Ross) have robust discussions about that (laughter).”

Stephen Ross

(So if Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is sitting there at 22, you’re not going to say anything?) – “Well, of course (laughter). You’re right I’m going to say something, but I’m not going to be the one that makes that decision.”

(What about if Michigan State’s Malik McDowell’s there?) – “No, I mean these guys do a good job. I think you want to look when you talk about the Dolphins, what you’ve seen is you’ve seen our front office and the coaches working together like you haven’t seen in a long period of time – certainly not like since I’ve owned the team. But when you talk to people that have been around there, they haven’t seen that type of chemistry in decades. So I think this is really the difference and I think when you talk to people, when I talk to people, the one thing that makes a winning organization is when everybody’s on the same page. I think that’s what’s really interesting. They like working with each other. I know all you guys make your phone calls and you talk to them, so I think you’re hearing it from me but you know it yourself. I think that’s the big difference in the Miami Dolphins today.”

Tom Garfinkel

(Can you follow up on that? Your observations about the organizational structure, why it’s working relative to Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase?) – “I think it’s a matter of values. I think people share the same values so when we’re all in the room and I listen to the conversations that are taking place, there’s a lot of healthy debate but there’s a lot of respect and there are similar philosophies and values on what they want to do. From my standpoint just observing – I’m not a part of those discussions but when I’m in the room listening to them sometimes – I think there’s a lot of mutual respect and healthy debate and personalities that work well together and I think it’s because they have similar values.”

(Could you update us on ticket sales, where more or less things are there?) – “Right now we’re ahead of pace from where we were last year. I think everything is positive. Renewals have been very positive, well ahead of last year at this time. New season ticket deposits we just started taking have been positive so we expect to be up at the start of the season from where we were last year in season tickets. And we expect to sell out every game. Things have been real positive.”

Stephen Ross:

“Tom (Garfinkel) has done a great job. I mean the organization there, I think when you look at totality of our organization and how it’s viewed as a sports organization and the things we’re doing, I think it’s great for Miami and I think it’s becoming the envy of most cities.”

(What are your thoughts on the proposal to give teams the option to not use the color rush uniforms?) – “Well, that’s something we’ll discuss. (laughter) I’m not a big fan of it but other people are. I think really the coach weighs in an awful lot on that.”

(There are always a lot of reasons why plays, free agents especially, want to come and play in South Florida. But with this particular offseason, did you sense that Head Coach Adam Gase was a big draw for them? That it was a big factor?) – “I think the things we’re doing as an organization. I think the word is getting out there. Gase, it’s amazing how around the country the respect – everybody talks about Gase as being a great head coach – and what our organization is doing today in a lot of different areas. I think it’s also showing how we really go out of our way to really care about the players. I think our business combine we had there up in New York was an incredible success. The players loved it. We had 16 players (and) we’ll probably have 40 next year. They were raving. The notes I got about it from the players and the things that we’re doing and really trying to enhance the whole environment and their careers, both on and off the field, I think it’s unique. It’s great for the brand, it’s great for the players and it’s great for the team.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

“Just to add to that, I think we’re all really encouraged by (the business combine). It has really exceeded expectations. Just from where Chris (Grier) and I sit in the world, it really resonated with the agents and agents seeing how much we care about our players, not just now but into the future. I can’t tell you how many calls we got from other players that we just didn’t have interest in, but it really took off more quickly than we thought. I think heading into the future, if and when we approach certain free agents, that will be a big part of our narrative.”

(Was it easier to sell free agents this offseason, considering you guys are a playoff team) – “Did I mention that we don’t have any state tax in Florida? (Laughter) It’s one of those things we can’t go more than 20 words when we talk to free agents. (Laughter) But yes, I think where we sit in the world, we have such a great story to tell. We practice and play on grass, a great young head coach, the business summit, no state income tax. I’d put our story up against anybody’s.”

Tom Garfinkel:

“I was just going to add that when you consider it’s a voluntary program and they’re paying their own way to go participate and then you look at the level of participation and the feedback received afterwards, it kind of speaks to itself. When the players are paying for their own way to get there and they are volunteering to spend that much time in their offseason and their money to be there, it must be valuable. So I think growing it in the future would be a great thing. I think it’s kind of a special thing for those guys. That they really enjoyed it.”

Mike Tannenbaum:

“Ryan Tannehill was there. Cam Wake (was there). It wasn’t just guys that were at the bottom of the roster. So it was meaningful participation throughout the whole roster, which was great to see.”

(Is it fair to say the organization is likely to pick up the fifth-year option for T Ja’Wuan James?) – “That’s a decision we don’t have to make until after the draft. We’ll get through the draft and that’ll be soon thereafter. Ja’Wuan is another guy (that was) drafted here. (Offensive Line) Coach (Chris) Foerster has worked with him for a year and (he is) another homegrown talent. So we’ll get through the draft and then get that finalized.”

(What did the organization view as LB Lawrence Timmons’ strengths and why you added him?) – “We were excited to get somebody that has played that long at his level. Our trainer (Ryan Grove) knew him from his days at Pittsburgh. After you sign the player, usually other things come out. You talk to coaches from that division and they couldn’t have been happier with us to get him out of Pittsburgh, so I think he’s one of those players that I think true great players have attributes you can’t see. I think two or three years from now, we’ll look back and be really happy that he’s with us.”

(Is the WR Jarvis Landry extension an after the draft to-do thing or are you currently involved…) – “Again, we just wouldn’t comment publicly on the status of any negotiation.”

Kiko Alonso – March 21, 2017 Download PDF version

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Linebacker Kiko Alonso

(How you put much thought into how far you’ve come over the past year considering the trade from Philly and then just having one of your better years with the Dolphins and now a contract extension?) – “Not really. At the end of the day, I just play football and try to do my job to the best of my ability.”

(During the year, you told me that you felt like Miami was home and Miami was the place you wanted to be. Now that you know the organization has made a long-term commitment, what does that mean to you?) – “It means everything. This is where I want to be and I’m just excited that it’s official that I’m staying there.”

(What is it about the Dolphins organization and the team that made you want to be here?) – “I love the coaches. I love the coaches, I love my team mates and I know we’re building something special here and I want to be a part of it.”

(Have you had a chance to talk with LB Lawrence Timmons yet and if so, what was that conversation like?) – “I have not talked to him yet but I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him. He’s definitely one of the guys that I admire the way he plays. The guy is a great player. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with him.”

(How do you think the addition of LB Lawrence Timmons might affect your game and whether you’re on the inside, outside, that sort of thing? Do you have preference to where you play?) – “No I don’t. Like I said, I’m very excited to play with him.”

(The team has done a lot to reward their own players like you and WR Kenny Stills and DE Andre Branch and S Reshad Jones. What are your thoughts on keeping this group together to try to make a run and proceed from what you guys did last year?) – “Those guys are great players so it’s definitely great to have them back. I’m excited. I’m excited to get going and excited to get things rolling.”

(During the year, Head Coach Adam Gase was very complimentary of you. At one point he said that you sell out on every play and that you almost play with a reckless approach to the game. How do you plan on continuing to do that while also maintaining your health?) – “That’s just the way I play. I’ve played like the since high school, since I played in the backyard with my friends. Health-wise … I’m not going to change the way I play. It is what it is.”

(How much do you think coming back into a defense where you guys have the same terminology, basically have similar players to what you had last year, is going to help the unit get to the next step?) – “It’s definitely going to help. I know for me, this is the first year being in the same system back-to-back years. It just helps because the more reps you take in that same defense, the same terminology, you don’t have to start from square one learning the terminology and all the new stuff. So we definitely have a head start.”

(How much of a difference is it between the inside spot compared to the weak-side spot, in your opinion?) – “It’s a little different. You play some different techniques. At the end of the day, linebacker is linebacker. You run and hit.”

(Were you a weak-side guy at Oregon?) – “At Oregon we played a 3-4 and I was an inside linebacker in the 3-4.”

(When I saw you about a week ago, I noticed that you still had a small wrap on your thumb. What can you tell us about the state of the thumb? How far along is the healing process?) – “It’s getting a lot better. I’m close to basically full activity and it’s feeling really good.”

Julius Thomas – March 13, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tight End Julius Thomas

(When you heard the possibility of this trade going down, what was your reaction to being reunited with Head Coach Adam Gase?) – “I was just really excited. Gase is a guy that I trust. He’s a guy that I’ve had a relationship with for a long time in this business. I really believe in his philosophy for offense and his approach to coaching, so it was definitely exciting, definitely something that I’m really looking forward to – having the opportunity to play with him again.”

(You mentioned Head Coach Adam Gase’s philosophy of offense. What is that?) – “I think if I had to describe his way about attacking defenses (it) is No. 1: Be creative. There are a lot of different things that the defense is doing – different things that are each individual offense’s strengths – and then going out there and trying to exploit that. It’s not going to be something that’s stubborn. It’s going to be something that you go with, what you worked on that day or if his number is hot, or (if) he’ll have a good matchup. Most importantly, I would say the detail and the precision that he demands offensively, and (it is) something that I’ve seen it work. I know what he can get that offense capable of doing, so I’ve always been a believer.”

(What are your thoughts about working with QB Ryan Tannehill?) – “I’m excited. I think that as quarterbacks continue to get older, they continue to get so much better. They have so much more calm and poise in that pocket. They’ve seen it over and over again. It’s an exciting point in his career, coming off of a good season last year, getting better and getting another year at it in the offense for him, which I know is going to be really big. That continuity and understanding the way to go about it in that second year really helps you settle in, as well as just where he’s at in his career, his potential, the things he’s done; so I’m excited to get going with him and helping him out the best I can.”

(A lot of weapons on the offense. What have you been told and what do you envision in terms of how you can complement the receivers – Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills) – “The production that those guys had last year and have had in their careers speaks for itself. I’m excited to be able to be out there and get going with those guys. I think what I’ll bring to the offense is a little experience in what (Head Coach Adam) Gase likes to do. I’m definitely a guy that I think is going to help other guys. When you’re playing receiver and you’ve got those safeties flying around and trying to make plays, if you have a tight end that is able to stretch the field and keep those guys occupied a little bit, it creates some bigger windows; but most of all, I’m just looking to be an explosive offense. It’s going to be something that we expect to do is go out there and score points, to do the right thing and make sure that throughout the drives, we’re all where we’re supposed to be (and) everybody is kind of in concert. That’s a little bit of what this offense is about is understanding the whole scheme – and what everybody has to do – and then going out there and trying to get it done all together. To be like an orchestra, everybody has their role and what they need to do at different points. I’m really looking forward to it.”

(The production that you had in Denver, is that what the Dolphins fans should expect? Is that what you are expecting from yourself here?) – “I definitely have high expectations for myself. As far as numbers, that fluctuates and I don’t really know how that’s going to go; but I definitely expect to go out there and help make big plays for this offense. Whatever aspect that I have to do – whether that’s picking up an extra block in the run game, pull someone on the back side, coming out of a speed route or making sure that I’m there open in the middle of the field for Ryan (Tannehill) – I really take pride in what I do and going out there and playing football and helping my team win. That’s probably the biggest thing that I expect to do is to just be an asset to the offense and do what I can to make this an explosive unit.”

(You mentioned the offense being like an orchestra. Which instrument are you?) – “I definitely understand the importance of the tight end in this offense from playing in it in Denver and the different things that (Head Coach Adam Gase) expected me to know and be able to execute. I’d say the tight end is a little bit like the bass drum – getting the ball and making a 5-yard catch on third down, needing to be called into protection based on maybe an exotic blitz you have coming up, being on a one-on-one outside, crossing the field. There are going to be so many different things that are going to be expected of me, and I just need to be consistent.”

(How would you describe the way injuries have impacted your career?) – “I think injuries have definitely been something that I’ve had to battle through. Sometimes they’ve come at the most unfortunate times. It hasn’t always been as peachy as I want it to be, but I take everything for what it is. I can’t go back and change anything. I can’t affect it so I try not to pay too much attention to it. My job as an athlete is to come out and show up in the best condition that I can, do everything I can to stay healthy and having that commitment pretty much 24/7 of doing all we can to stay healthy. The rest is in God’s hands.”

(The obvious follow up is what can you tell us is the most up-to-date injury information relative to your back, ankle and finger?) – “I can tell you that, fortunately for me, I don’t have any lingering deficiencies from injuries. At different times, you can have some injuries in your life that really affect you and make it hard. But for me, my ankle was able to heal up really well, especially from my ankle surgery back in 2012, I think. It’s relatively … I had very few ankle injuries after that, especially for that side. It’s encouraging that it was a great surgery, and I feel good about it. My back is fine. If you’re playing football and you don’t have something up with your hand at age 29, I think you’re pretty rare. I don’t really have any handicaps or anything holding me back with injuries I’ve had in the past. They’ve all been able to heal up. I guess the fortunate part is it’s always something new and not something chronic, so I feel really good. I know that I’ll be able to play at the highest level I’ve been able to play at in my career, and I still feel confident that I can do that. I’m very much looking forward to getting back out there and running around with the guys.”

Ted Larsen – March 10, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, March 10, 2017

Center/Guard Ted Larsen

(What drew you to Miami? How’d this happen?) – “I saw what they did last year and the style of offense they ran and how competitive they finished out the season, making it to the playoffs in the first year under (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase’s staff. I really felt like it was a team I wanted to be a part of.”

(How would you describe your style of play and your strengths?) – “I feel like I’m fairly versatile and that’s kind of … I can play right guard, left guard, center – wherever the team needs me – and I feel like I can play at a high level, at a starter-quality level. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses with pass blocking and run blocking. I feel like I’m fairly tough, smart and an athletic player.”

(This is a three-year deal? Is that correct?) – “Yes. That’s correct.”

(Where else had you looked? Where else was there interest?) – “There was all different interest. The thing for me is that Miami was a team I had been looking at and they … let’s say we kind of came and met in the middle. They were looking at me and I was looking at them. I thought it was a good place to go to compete and have a chance to go to the playoffs. This is where I ended up. That’s really all I’m focused on right now.”

(Do the Dolphins anticipate you playing right guard this year?) – “I’m just here to help the team and see. Wherever they want to put me is where they put me. I can play, like I said, right guard, left guard, center, at a quality level and I’m just kind of excited to get out and learn the system and compete.”

(What is your most comfortable position and what’s your comfort level at center?) – “My most comfortable position is the position that I’m able to play, that I’m given a chance to compete. Like I said, it makes no difference to me. I’ve played … I think I’ve started maybe 16 games total at center – maybe a few more, maybe a few less – something like that. But it’s fairly comfortable. I started the first two preseason games last year in Chicago at center. That’s my most recent center experience besides a couple of plays here and there last year where I had to fill in for injuries.”

(What do you notice about the scheme and what the Dolphins ask to do – ask that their offensive linemen to do – particularly in comparison to the scheme and style and assignments you’ve been given in the past?) – “I’ve had the opportunity to play for so many different offensive coordinators and different schemes and each team is unique and as I get here, I’m sure I’ll learn more about the scheme; but a lot of the stuff is also the same – your pass blocking, your run blocking. You may be asked to do it at a slightly different tempo or a slightly different angle, but I feel like Miami does a good job running, getting outside, running some outside zone, running inside zone. Like I said, a lot of teams do a lot of the same stuff. The little nuances and stuff is stuff that we’ll work on in the offseason. But I feel like it’s an explosive offense. They’ve got a ton of weapons and I’m excited to just kind of compete and help the team improve.”

(Is there any player or coach on the Dolphins roster where you have either a connection or relationship with?) – “There are a couple of guys. Anthony Steen, who played a little bit for the Dolphins last year, was on the practice squad when I was in Arizona. So I’ve got a little bit of experience with him. It was neat to watch him play last year and get an opportunity to start a couple of games.”

(I noticed you were born in Miami. How much of a homecoming do you consider this or do you consider yourself from other parts of the country?) – “I was actually … it said I was born in Miami since I got in the NFL, but I was born in Kansas and I just lived there briefly, and I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. I’ve played four years back in Tampa and now I’m coming back to Florida after a few years away, it’s exciting. Playing in Florida, it’s a different deal. The heat and the humidity is a challenge and hopefully you’re able to use that as a weapon against other teams. But coming back now with – I’ve got two kids and my wife – and we’re going to be able to enjoy, in the offseason, living near the water and taking advantage of that. For me, that’s awesome. Down here with the Everglades, Biscayne Bay, being able to enjoy that with my children is really important.”

(And you’re an outdoorsman or do you consider yourself an outdoors-type person?) – “Yes, absolutely – hunting, fishing, paddle boarding. I do really enjoy ,and that’s one of the things I’ve missed, is the fishing. I’ve still got my boat in Tampa so I’ve definitely missed that aspect of not being in Florida. Every day that’s – besides football – if you’re talking leisure, it’s definitely fishing.”

(What would you consider your career highlights so far?) – “I feel like as a sixth-round draft pick, being able to make it to  – this is Year 8. I feel pretty good about that. Mainly, as far as the team, I was in Arizona. We had two teams that went to the playoffs. The second year I was there, we went to the NFC Championship. As a football player, you’re measured by how well your team does. Any time you can make the playoffs is really important to me and I feel like that’s one of the reasons why I’m here. I feel like this is a team that can go to the playoffs and win and consistently go to the playoffs and have that chance to compete.”

Lawrence Timmons – March 10, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, March 10, 2017

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons

(Can you talk about this opportunity and what led you to signing with the Dolphins?)  – “I had a visit here, I loved the energy here. I talked to the coaches and got a real nice response. I love the energy. I just felt it was fitting. I’m from here. I’ve been staying here for 10 years. It’s just fitting for me to be here.”

(Ten years in the NFL. What is it like to be dealing with the change of scenery?) – “It’s very different because you’ve been somewhere for so long. I love Steeler Nation always. You always respect what you’re true to. It’s just a new thing being here with the Dolphins. That’s why I love. Sometimes change is not so bad. It is a business. You can’t get caught up in it. I’ve just got to look at it as a business and do my job.”

(With a player of your experience, it is an inevitable question. How much do you have in the tank?) – “I’m the type of guy, I’m all or nothing. I’m going to try to give you my all no matter what. Nobody is going to change that.”

(What was the vibe that you got from Head Coach Adam Gase when you sat down and talked to him? I don’t know if you can compare it to other coaches but what kind of vibe did you get from Adam Gase?) – “Like I said, I like the energy here. You can tell the way this team was rocking the last four or five games of the year, they were a problem. They were a team to deal with. (With) me coming to that, I can add something to that. I can bring something to the table. For (Gase) to talk to me and give me the energy that he does, I want to do that for him.”

(What do you think about playing with LB Kiko Alonso? What do you know about him and how you guys might fit together?) – “He kind of reminds me of (Ryan) Shazier because he’s very fast. He’s got a lot of range. He’s all over the field. I like the way he plays and he picks the ball off pretty nice.”

(This is obviously a different scheme than what you are used to. What do you see your role is here? Are you a Mike or a strong-side linebacker?) – “I don’t know yet. When we figure everything out, we’re going to get it rocking.”

(What kind of a transition do you think it’s going to be going from a 3-4 to a 4-3?) – “I’m a football player. I’m just see-ball, get-ball. I’m not going to try to go out here and glamorize anything, I’m just going to go out here and play ball.”

(What did the Dolphins tell you they were looking to add and how does that align with your strengths?) “I think me being an older player, I give them some veteran presence and some leadership from that standpoint. I’m just coming in, just trying to ante up to what we are doing here because it’s very special. I’m in the NFL, with the Miami Dolphins. God is good. This is beautiful.”

(What can you attribute to your remarkable durability?) – “God. I thank God every day. I work hard too, but God has always got my back. I work hard and stay loyal and stay true to that.”

(You mentioned the energy in the building. Was there an energy on the field? Did you notice anything about the Dolphins those two games last season?) – “Yes. Being in the AFC, you play against them (almost) every year, so we do know each other. It’s not necessarily Baltimore, but you know the two.”

(If you were asked to play outside linebacker, how do you think you’d react to that?) – “I don’t know. I don’t know about that. I’ll just figure out what they’re going to do. I just signed here. I haven’t even put a jersey on yet so I don’t know.”

(From my perspective, one of the things the Dolphins were lacking last year was kind of a physical intimidating linebacker – someone who could run, hit, chase quarterbacks and just sort of be aggressive. How does that align with your mindset and the skillset that you think you have?) – “They brought me here. I’m just trying to live up to those expectations. They believed in me. Football is what I love, what I live for. So, when I’m out there, I’m going to show that.”

William Hayes – March 10, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, March 10, 2017

Defensive End William Hayes

(How would you describe your reaction to being traded to the Dolphins?) – “Nothing really surprises you in this league, but I got excited. I felt like it was a team that wanted me last year during free agency and for them to still have interest in me again, it wasn’t the worst feeling in the world. I think if it was anybody else, I probably would’ve been a little bit more bummed; but I’m excited to get the opportunity to play for (Head) Coach (Adam Gase) and hopefully help this team any way I can.”

(How close did you come to signing with the Dolphins last offseason?) – “Very close. Very close. It came down between them and L.A. and I guess I chose to continue to go with the coach (Jeff Fisher) I knew. But I was maybe 10 minutes away from taking a flight here and probably signing (with the Dolphins).”

(With DE Cameron Wake and DE Andre Branch here, how do you view your role?) – “Whatever role they want me to play. Whatever role I can help the team. Cam is an exceptional football player and whatever way I can fit in to help better the team, I’m going to be that guy, the role player. (I’m going to be) the guy that can come in and just help fill in the holes as needed.”

(Obviously you’ve had a long career. I don’t know how many winning teams you’ve been a part of. How important at this stage of your career is making a playoff run, making a Super Bowl run?) – “It’s huge. I want to leave this game and when I leave it, I want to win some games. That’s the good thing about Miami. I’m coming in with a team that had 10 wins last year and you see them on the incline. The team is going up. That’s a big other thing. This team is on the incline and it’s only going to get better. Hopefully, I can come in and help make the team a little bit better.”

(How would you describe your game? What are your specific strengths?) – “The run. I play the run. I think I play the run fairly well. I think I’m pretty good from a leadership role. I want to come in and create an image and when guys see a guy come in, work hard and bring his lunch pail to work every day, but also have fun at the same time. That’s what I want to bring this team. I’m not trying to come in here and change the culture or try to do anything amazing. I just want to come in and fill that role that’s needed and help lead the team in a way that it’s probably already been led.”

(Do you have any friends on the Dolphins roster?) – “Not now; but hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll have couple of friends. (laughter)”

(Do you think the change of the coaching staff in L.A. kind of led to this? You obviously had been with Jeff Fisher for a long time.) – “I’m not sure what led to it, but I’m okay with whatever led to it. That’s something I can’t control. I’m not going to sit up here and try to figure out why it happened the way it happened. I’m just grateful that I have the opportunity to continue to play football and that’s what I definitely want to do. I’m not trying to go into this and figure out maybe if I would’ve done this different, if I was … I don’t know. That’s not really my concern anymore. I’m not affiliated with L.A. Rams anymore. I’m a Miami Dolphin. I’m not trying to figure out why. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I’m just not really trying to figure out why I got traded. I’m just happy to be where I’m at right now and I want to win.”

(You mentioned having fun. How would you describe your personality and how that plays into who you are?) – “Full of life. I don’t know what I’m going to be when I … Every day I can come in and I can be a different character. But it’s never going to be negative. I just want to … I’m all about positive vibes. You can be happy and come to work and you can enjoy coming to work, it makes coming to work a lot easier. So that’s what I’m all about. I’m about good vibes and just creating a good atmosphere for me and everybody around me.”

(A little bit of a left field question but I think I saw on Hard Knocks, your take on dinosaurs not existing but mermaids existing. Is that correct? Elaborate on that.) – “I’m going to give you a quick little tutorial on the way William Hayes thinks. My theory is, I don’t necessarily believe in mermaids; but I believe in a theory there could be mermaids. For me personally, we have this world that is 80 percent water or something ridiculous like that. We’ve only discovered a small part of it. Every single day we pull out different creatures out of the ocean and we find different forms of life in the ocean. So my whole thing is, who is it to say there can’t be an Ariel floating down there in the water. We haven’t even looked everywhere. There are certain areas of the ocean that we can’t even see. So that’s my theory on mermaids. It’s a body of water. We made up this mythical creature called mermaids. It had to come from somewhere. With all of the body of water out there, I’m just convinced there could be (a mermaid) out there. But as far as the dinosaur thing, I just can’t roll with it. I go to the dinosaur museums and people tell me you see a fossil. You might see one bone that’s a fossil they dug up and everything else are just pieces they put together around the fossil and created a T-Rex. When I went to the Hard Knocks thing, I went to the dinosaur museum and they told me most of the fossils that was on the one dinosaur, everything was completely fake. It was just like made-up fossils. It was maybe like one leg – just a piece of a leg. You would have to create this big massive creature. It just doesn’t make sense.

(Are there any other interesting theories you have? I guess just to dig into your personality a little bit.) – “I don’t think men ever went to the moon. They told me not to say nothing, but that’s just another one. I’ve got plenty of theories. I can do it all day but we don’t have to do it right now.”

Nate Allen – March 10, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, March 10, 2017

Safety Nate Allen

(What was your understanding from talking to the Dolphins about the role they want you in this year?) – “We didn’t really talk too much specifics right now. It was more so just getting to know everybody and the different stuff they like to do as a defense and the culture around the organization. I don’t expect anything. I’m just ready to come in and start working right away and getting to know everybody and start building that chemistry together with everybody.”

(What sold you on the Dolphins then?) – “Just being close to home – I grew up in Fort Myers – and just the direction that this organization is going. It’s headed in the right (direction). They’ve got the right people and they’re bringing in people and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

(Can you talk about how your health is? Obviously you had that setback two years ago and then you played last year. Where are you physically right now?) – “I’m healthy. I feel good. Yes, I had that little MCL thing but that’s all good. I played all last year and I’m healthy. I feel good, no problems and I feel good to go.”

(Sometimes a knee injury takes two full years for you to feel right. Were you still hampered by it last year and is that the case that you’ve totally recovered from it?) – “I don’t think I was hampered with it last year. It was just certain things happened last year. I was just doing whatever I needed to do in Oakland. I’m 100 percent. I’m good to go. I’m healthy.”

(How would you describe yourself as a safety, your style of play?) – “I like thinking of myself as being pretty well-rounded and all-around. I feel like I have pretty good ball skills and I feel like I can tackle pretty well. I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable about being back there at safety and I’ve been doing it for a while now. Hopefully I can bring some knowledge to the room and just help the guys out however I can. I know we’ve got a good room and a good group of guys so I’m excited to start working with them.”

(What do you think of the opportunity to play alongside S Reshad Jones?) – “It would be great to play alongside him. He’s a heck of a player. Like I’ve been telling everybody, I’ve watched him through the years. He’s a heck of a player. His play speaks for itself. We can learn from each other and I’m excited to start working with him.”

(How many teams were you talking to and what was the deciding factor with Miami aside from I guess money?) – “You obviously want to take care of certain aspects of things but I’d rather be in a more comfortable place where I’m happy and my family is happy than necessarily about the dollar signs because at this point in my career, I want to enjoy who I am playing with and enjoy the coaches I’m around and just be part of a group that has a chance to do something big. That’s what I feel like we can do here in Miami.”

(Is it fair to assume that you may have left some money on the table elsewhere to come to Miami?) – “No, not necessarily. I just like what’s going on here and like I said, I’m close to home. My family can come watch me play. There are certain things that you just can’t put a dollar sign on that appeal to me, being here in Miami.”

(Do you consider yourself a player that’s more likely to play closer to the line of scrimmage or deep?) – “I feel (I can do) both. I’m pretty comfortable in both scenarios. Throughout my career I’ve played down in the box before; I’ve played in the post. I feel like I’m pretty well-rounded and have a lot to offer.”

Andre Branch – March 10, 2017 Download PDF version

Friday, March 10, 2017

Defensive End Andre Branch

(What was the biggest reason that the deal was able to get done?) – “Since I got to Miami, it felt like a family-based organization and I haven’t felt that since college … The fit was just right. We’ve got some unfinished business here down in Miami and I want to be a part of that.”

(I assume there were other teams involved. I know you won’t probably want to say specifically who, but how many teams are in the mix and was there one that was close to Miami and Miami won out because of your familiarity with them?) – “There were quite a few. There were quite a few but I’m very happy to be a Dolphin and I’m very happy to continue playing with my teammates and my brothers.”

(How does this contract impact your life?) – “I talked to my financial guy. I was like, ‘So what different can I do?’ He was like, ‘Um, you really don’t spend money on anything but fashion and food.’ Other than that, I might just eat out a little bit more and buy another item per month, but other than that I’m living a good life already. The only way it’s going to impact is … This contract was for my mother. I’m able to take care of her and give her what she wants. She’ll tell you she doesn’t want anything but I guess I can spoil her now.”

(I’m sure you’ve paid attention to all of the moves the Dolphins have made. A) Are you aware of it? And B) If so, how excited are you to have this talent infusion on defense? You guys obviously at the end of last year were down a bunch of bodies. Now it seems like you’re stocked up.) – “I’ve been noticing the (additions) on the offensive and defensive side. I’ve got my brothers back in Reshad (Jones) and I’ve got Kenny (Stills) back on offense. So for me, it’s awesome we added some key pieces. With the depth now, it should be a very, very good season.”

(What do you believe your ceiling as a player is?) – “I’m just getting started. I didn’t start until Week 7 (last year). So with me, I’m just going to go out there and give it my all and continue to grind and continue to be the best player that I can be to help this team win.”

(NFL fans and NFL media, they judge players who make more money in a certain way. Have you thought about how, now that you make more money, that might view or impact the way that your performance is judged and viewed?) – “At the end of the day, I play for my teammates and my coaches and fans. For me, I’m going to go out there like I’ve done since I stepped in the league and give it my all. Nothing is going to change, that’s for sure. I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business to handle. I know what (Head) Coach (Adam) Gase wants out of me and I know what I’m going to give this team, and that’s going to be my best each and every day. Outside of that, I don’t really know what they say.”

(Do you have any professional goals? Pro Bowl, 10 sacks, anything like that, that you now want to go out and get?) – “I have a ton of goals. I actually set these goals last year and the list has changed now, but I’m not going to say those goals. I’ll let you know at the end of the season if I hit those goals. I think you’ll know if I hit them or not. (laughter)”

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