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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.”