Transcripts

Jay Ajayi – January 4, 2017 (Conference Call) Download PDF version

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Running Back Jay Ajayi Conference Call with Pittsburgh Media

(A question regarding your quarterback: what are your thoughts on QB Matt Moore?) – “He has been doing a great job since he stepped up for (Ryan) Tannehill. We have no problems with him running the show.”

(QB Matt Moore is a veteran who has been around for quite a while. Does he instill that veteran leadership? Do you see that in him?) – “Yes, definitely. You can tell that Matt, he has been in the league for a long time. He’s composed back there. He has had his times in the league where he has been the starter as well. He knows what to do, and we have full trust in him.”

(You’ve always spoken very confidently about your abilities and I was wondering how confident you were about running against the Steelers in the manner that you did the first time?) – “I was confident that I would have a good day.”

(What about this time? That’s what I’m asking.) – “The confidence level hasn’t changed. It’s exciting. Playoff game. Win or go home. The stakes are higher. It’s a great time to showcase your abilities on the big stage.”

(Before you lived in Texas as a boy, did you live in Maryland for a time after London?) – “Yes, I lived in Maryland for a year.”

(And then you moved to Plano, Texas, is that right?) – “Yes.”

(You spoke about playing the Steelers that first time. Do you see any similarities or differences between their rush defense in Week 6 and what you’re going to see on Sunday?) – “There is a little bit of a difference now. They’ve got a couple guys that were banged up earlier that are playing now. They’ve been a good running game, so I know they’re confident that they’re doing things right. It’s exciting; but at the same time, all that stuff that happened in the regular season is out the window. It’s a one-game season. They have to strap up; we have to strap up. At the end of the day, only one team is going to walk off the winner.”

(What are your thoughts about coming north? The temperature on Sunday, I think, might be around 20 degrees they’re saying at game time.) – “That’s not an issue. It’s the playoffs, so the weather is the least of our worries. We’re trying to make it to the next round (inaudible).”

(What have defenses done to adjust to your success after the first 200-yard game?) – “Defenses definitely respect our running game now. They’ve been doing a lot more things to try and make us a little bit more one-dimensional. That comes with stacking the box, giving us different looks in the schemes. But whatever the defenses throw at us, if we execute – our o-line comes off the ball physical, downhill, I’m running hard and receivers are doing what they do on the perimeter – we’ll be fine.”

(Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin spoke very highly of you yesterday, and he said that your success this season wasn’t out of the ordinary. How do you evaluate your second year in the league?) – “I think I was able to have a productive year. I’ve had my adversity and challenges early, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and taking advantage of it and being able to showcase to the world what I can do. For me, it’s all good; but I believe I’m only getting started in the NFL. I’m grateful to my o-line and my team for helping me have a productive year.”

Adam Gase – January 4, 2017 Download PDF version

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase

(We saw, obviously, QB Ryan Tannehill out there not practicing. What did the doctors tell you about what he can do and what he can’t do?) – “A little bit of what we’re going through right now is we have to … He has to tell us how it feels. It’s really a big gray area right now for us, because they can’t necessarily say, ‘Okay, we’re good to go, and see how he goes along through the week.’ He has to tell us, ‘How does it feel? How do you feel moving around?’ It’s a big gray area, because for him to articulate a lot of these things of how he feels and what our doctors think he should be feeling, it’s a very complex process we’re going through here, because he’s trying to figure out, ‘What am I supposed to be feeling like?’ That’s where we’re at a crossroads there of trying to figure out what’s the best thing for him. He’s trying to tell us how he feels, and we’re trying to look at him, how he’s moving around and how it’s supposed to look compared to something doesn’t look right. We’re trying to figure that out. It’s not as easy as probably we all want it to be. That’s really where we’re at right now.”

(QB Ryan Tannehill is a competitive guy. He’s probably going to tell you he can do more.) – “Absolutely. He’s frustrated, because he wants to try to help. He wants to do anything he can to be a part of this. But at the same time, I have to be smart with what we’re doing moving forward. I don’t want any setbacks. I don’t want to jeopardize – whether it be – his career, next season, put him in a position to where he can’t defend himself on the field against a defense that’s playing really well right now. We have to be smart as an organization.”

(Structurally though there’s no concern, it’s just a matter of pain management? Is that what it is?) – “It’s more about the way he moves, can he fire off the way he wants, can he move laterally the way he wants. It’s tough, because you don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like. He can only tell us that, and the doctors can only say, ‘It’s at this strength right now.’ Some of these things, you keep going back and forth asking those questions (like), ‘What does this mean? How many days is it? How many weeks is it?’ We have a big gray area right now.”

(How late are you willing to take this decision?) – “Right now, it’s day-to-day. I don’t even know. We’ll see how the week progresses, see what he keeps telling me and how he feels. I’m going off a little bit of the eye test for myself of how he looks when he moves around. We’ve done some things to where I can see him dropping and moving and doing things like that. He’s making progress in that area. I have to go off of what I see.”

(Do you have updates on CB Byron Maxwell and S Bacarri Rambo?) – “Byron didn’t practice today neither did Bacarri. Right now, we’re day-to-day again.”

(That was the next question, how does QB Ryan Tannehill know how he feels if he doesn’t practice, if he doesn’t work?) – “We’re taking steps to where we’re doing certain things when we both have time to go out there and move around. That’s really our first step. The next step is getting him into individual (drills) and seeing how he feels there and then actually getting him in practice to where he has bodies around him. How’s he going to move when somebody flashes? If we miss a block, can he escape from the pocket? We’re trying to take these steps. We may run out of time this week.”

(Does any of this affect QB Matt Moore, or does it not affect Matt until QB Ryan Tannehill starts taking first-team reps?) – “Matt is preparing (for) the game. He’s the starter. Unless something changes drastically here in the next two days or three days, he’s going into this thing. He’s the starter. We’ve got a little ways to go. I don’t want to rule him out yet, because I want to see him try to get out there and do something; but if he’s not ready to go, we’re not just going to put him out there and put him in harm’s way.”

(From a competitive standpoint, QB Ryan Tannehill hasn’t taken a snap in a month. Are you comfortable with two practices throwing him into a playoff game?) – “When you’re a quarterback and you know our system probably better than anybody, at some point the natural instincts take over. He knows our game plan in and out. I have a lot of confidence in him being able to tell me, ‘I can’t do it this week.’ When he hits that point, he’ll tell me that. We’ll see how tomorrow … I want to see what happens tomorrow if we end up getting him out there. If we don’t, then we move on to the next day. Matt has done a good job. He keeps preparing and getting ready for this game.”

(Have you ever been in this situation going into the playoffs where a quarterback’s health is a concern?) – “No, I haven’t been in this situation.”

(Your team is a big underdog. Little respect from the national media. Little confidence from the national media. Is that a topic of conversation at all amongst the players?) – “It’s like every other week. I don’t know how many games we’ve really been favored to actually win. I don’t know if our guys really pay attention to that. They’re focused on what they have to do.”

(It has been a while since you went full pads in practice. Just curious what your thought process was?) – “After watching what we put out there last week, we needed to do something different. We’re not going to stay the same.”

(CB Byron Maxwell was a big part of holding WR Antonio Brown to four receptions last time around. What would it mean to get him back for this particular game?) – “Anytime you get one of your better players … We feel good about our secondary. Adding him to the mix, we’d feel better. But he only can do what he’s able to do right now. That’s why he’s day-to-day. Some days he feels good, and we feel like we’re looking good for him to go and then some days he doesn’t feel so good. We have to see, really, how the rest of this week goes. It has been a couple weeks now. I’m not really sure how that one is going to turn out.”

(Where does playoff experience show the most? Is it in preparation, actual games, tight situations in games?) – “I think once you get in the game, you’re really not thinking that way. I think it’s really the preparation (and) how much more are you going to do, how are you going to practice, are you going to bring it every day and get ready for this game even though it’s late in the year? You’ve already played 16 games. You’ve played a whole preseason. Do you have the ability to go out in a full-padded practice on a Wednesday and compete the way you need to compete, or are you going to be frustrated that it’s hot out and you have full pads on? That’s really what it comes down to. That’s where experience always comes in handy right there, because the guys that know how to do it, they go out, they prepare the right way, and they’re ready to go on Sunday or Saturday.”

Adam Gase – January 4, 2017 (Conference Call) Download PDF version

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase Conference Call with Pittsburgh Media

(You guys have been thought of as the heavy underdog here. Do you guys feel that way?) – “When you’re the road team in a playoff situation, we understand the atmosphere we’re going into. We know the team we’re playing against from playing them earlier in the season, and we know how tough of an opponent we have. We have confidence in ourselves and what we’ve accomplished so far this year with getting better during the season, guys going down and guys stepping up. Our guys have done a good job of playing at a high level. We know the challenge we’re about to go through up there. We have to make sure we play our best ball, because we’re playing a very good team.”

(Do you have any more clarity on QB Ryan Tannehill’s situation than you had on Monday?) – “Right now, he won’t practice today, and we’re going through our process with his rehab. Every day, we keep seeing improvement. It’s going to be more about, ‘Where’s his movement at?’ Every day it gets a little bit better. So, today he won’t practice. We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing with him, and we’ll make a decision on tomorrow as far as what we’re going to do at practice.”

(Have you seen more of a commitment from the Steelers to their running game since you played them the last time?) – “I feel like they’re always committed to the running game. Every game is different. Every game takes on a life of its own. Sometimes you feel like your best plan is to go in and throw the ball. When they feel like they have to throw the ball in the game, that’s what they do. When they feel like it calls for leaning heavily on the run game, that’s what they do. (Steelers Offensive Coordinator) Todd (Haley) is always going to do what’s best for that game. (Head) Coach (Mike) Tomlin, same thing with the approach of the overall team. They do a good job of playing complementary football. Whatever they think is best for them that week to win the game, that’s what they’re going to do.”

(You said you’ll see about QB Ryan Tannehill tomorrow. How many days of practice does he need for you to play him? If he doesn’t practice at all, would you still throw him out there on Sunday) – “I think that would be hard for us to do. I need to see him move around with traffic around him, how his escapability is. A lot of his game has been (based on) movement throughout his career and then all of a sudden to throw him back there and say, ‘Don’t move, and if anybody gets close to you, go down.’ That’s not really an option for us. It’s not his style of football. We have to make sure that we feel comfortable with the way that he’s moving around. Really, at the end of the day, you have to be able to protect yourself and so much of his game is movement.”

(What about the preparation? Would one day of practice be enough? If he can practice Friday, is that enough?) – “It would be for him. His knowledge of the offense is above everybody else’s. But really, for me, it’s all about, ‘How’s he going to move when he gets bodies around him and be able to be evasive?’”

(The Steelers have talked so much about how different they are since they saw you in Week 6. When you throw on their film, what do you see as the biggest difference in them?) – “I think every team can say the same thing. I think we’re different than what we were when we played them the first time. We were both at different spots in the season. They have been on a roll lately. We’ve had some good stretches here in the last two months, but we’ve had a couple low moments. They’ve been red hot for the last six, seven weeks. We all develop and we all morph into a different team as the season goes on. Certain guys start playing better than others. Right now, they’re playing as well as you could want to play heading into the playoffs. That’s why they play the game. It’s really (about) who’s going to be better that day.”

(What’s different about them in terms of how they play the run and how their defensive line works? I think that was the first game that they played without DE Cam Heyward when they played you guys. What’s different about how they’ve approached things up front?) – “Any time that you’re missing one of your better players, it’s tough to adjust, and you need guys to step up. When you do get those guys back, you usually notice a big difference with the attitude that a lot of teams play with. We’ve had some ups and downs when we’ve lost some guys and then we get our starters back and then all of a sudden, we’re having more success in what we’re trying to do. It’s no different with what they’re doing. That confidence goes up. You feel like you got all your bullets, and you’re ready to roll, and you’re playing physical. It’s that chemistry you have where when you can play together for a good stretch of time, everybody understands how to play off each other. That’s the whole key to playing great defense is you got 11 guys playing together and everybody is swarming to the football, you’re penetrating up front and you’re rallying to the ball. When you got a defense doing that, it makes it very difficult to move the ball.”

(How have you guys handled all the personnel losses on defense? What have you guys had to do to find cohesion there?) – “We really have a next-man-up mentality, and guys have done a good job of stepping up. Some of the guys that either weren’t on our roster earlier or had been on our practice squad that have moved up, they’ve stepped in and played with every ounce of ability and probably some of the guys have played above it. The good thing is our coaching staff has done a good job – especially on the defensive side of the ball with (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) and his group – really getting those guys to try to play together. I know a lot of the times the numbers don’t show that, but we’re making plays at the right time, we’re getting turnovers at the right time, and that’s what has kept us in the ball game until the fourth quarter, and then somebody is making a play that turns the game.”

(The Steelers have five different defensive starters since the last time you played them. Can you look at that film 10 weeks about and use that knowing that there’s so much different personnel?) – “A lot of times when you look at your past games, you take a peek at how they played you schematically and then you make your adjustments, because like I said earlier, you evolve as the season goes on. You start really leaning on things that you’re doing well. That’s why every year is different from the previous. One year you may be good at one thing, and then you try to do the same thing the next year and you’re not as successful at it, and you have to make adjustments, and then all of a sudden, you find something else that you’re better at and you start leaning on that. When you play early in the season, sometimes you’re still in that experimental phase. You think you’re one thing, and all of a sudden at the end of the season, you may be a completely different (team), leaning on a different coverage or different types of pressures. That’s why the whole year you’re working to get better towards the end of the year and try to figure out what you’re best at when you get to the playoffs.”

(Is there anything at all that you’re doing to prepare for the cold or will you guys just have to deal with it when you show up?) – “Yes, it’s never really bothered me, personally. When we went up to Buffalo I told our guys, ‘You guys are out there for about four or five minutes, then you’re on a heated bench.’ It’s really not that big of a deal. Our guys really didn’t seem to be bothered by it when we played in New York or Buffalo. I don’t know. I’ve coached in Chicago and Denver and it was never a discussion. It hadn’t been down here either. It seems like we’ve played in almost every condition from monsoons to when we went up to Buffalo, it was cold and windy. That’s football. These guys are all from different parts of the country. It really doesn’t matter that we’re in Miami right now. Most of these guys have played in cold weather in the past.”

(What does QB Matt Moore bring to the offense that maybe QB Ryan Tannehill doesn’t? Does he add anything or any dimensions?) – “The only difference that we really have is Ryan is really … We can implement a lot of the zone-read stuff when Ryan is in the game, and really that’s not something that Matt’s really done in the past or we’ve asked him to do. He’s an older quarterback. Ryan is (28) years old, a former wide receiver and quarterback in college that has a lot of experience doing the zone-read game. Matt is the traditional play-action, drop-back passer. Ryan has that element as well but Matt’s really not the on-the-move guy.”

(In the NFL playoff picture, there’s a lot of variety at quarterbacks, whether it’s backups or rookies or Patriots QB Tom Brady. What does that say about the old adage that unless you have a top, top guy it’s hard to win big?) – “I think a lot of teams are just playing really good team football. Adversity has struck a lot of teams that are involved in the playoffs right now. Guys have found ways to win games and win enough to where you get in the playoffs, and we’re no different than some of these other teams. We’ve had a lot of bumps in the road and really it’s about what teams are going to keep fighting to try to get in the tournament, and once you’re in the tournament, anything can happen.”

(What impresses you about RB Le’Veon Bell on film and is there anybody current or historical that he reminds you of as a runner in terms of style?) – “It’s hard for me to compare him to anybody else. Just seeing him really become the guy that he has become, I’ve obviously paid attention to him when he was in college being a Michigan State grad myself and seeing him go from what they did at Michigan State, where they were power football. I just remember him being a big guy that was downhill. Just seeing him transform his body and become a guy that can do everything in the run game and then becoming the weapon that he is out of the backfield and when he’s removed from the backfield and empty (sets) and all of the different things that they can do with him with the route tree he has. It’s been very impressive to just see how he’s grown as a player from the time he was drafted. If he’s not the best one in the league, he’s one of the top three. I just can’t think of a lot of guys that are better and as versatile as he is. He’s such a weapon for them and he’s a guy that obviously we have to make sure that if we want to be in this game in the fourth quarter, we have to do a great job of just making sure that he doesn’t have a ton of explosive plays.”

(Does that DT Ndamukong Suh, C Maurkice Pouncey matchup boil down to whoever wins that probably has a better chance of running the ball or stopping the run?) – “I don’t know how many times they’re actually going to be one-on-one with the scheme we run. There will probably be some times where they’re matched up; but that’s two really good players when they do go against each other, going against each other. I’m sure they’ll both have their fair share of wins against each other; but I don’t know if it’s really going to come down to one-on-one matchups up there.”

(How are you trying to give your defense to look at what WR Antonio Brown does and how he works with QB Ben Roethlisberger?) – “I don’t know if that really exists. It’s tough to match what he brings and practice against what it’s going to be on Sunday. He’s such a tough guy to go against and it’s hard to replicate that in practice. We have to do our best job of making sure that we keep our leverage and make sure that he can’t take over the game. You do everything you can and sometimes it’s tough because special players do bigger things when it’s the big time moments and when you’re in the playoffs and you have a player like that, he’s going to step up and we just have to do a great job of staying as tight as we can on him and trying to prevent him from making explosive plays. It’s just one of those things where if you’re slightly wrong against him, it’s going to be a problem.”

(What do you tell to the guys that you do have put a penny on and try to be WR Antonio Brown [on scout team]?) – “There is nothing you can tell them. You try to get the routes that he runs and see if you can at least give them – or try to give them – the speed that he possibly is going to play with; but your guys aren’t going to be ready until they hit game day. That’s when you’re going to realize how fast and how quick and how sharp he is on his routes.”

Kenny Stills – January 2, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, January 2, 2017

Wide Receiver Kenny Stills

(On the playoffs) – “We have to realize the significance of every play. So you have to really just seize the moment and go out there and finish every play and know that the game is on the line.”

(Does the week leading up to the playoff change? Anything change during the week or is it the same thing that got you here?) – “No, it’s the same preparation.”

(What are the pros and cons of playing a team that you have already seen before this season?) – “People always say that it’s hard to beat a team twice, but it’s football. You just have to prepare, go out there and be on top of your details, don’t turn the ball over, don’t get penalties, play clean football and try to come out with a victory.”

(If it’s cold there, is playing in adverse weather just a mindset…) – “The cold has nothing to do with the game. We’re just going to go out there and play football.”

(Experience. How do you avoid not trying to do too much because you know it’s the playoffs and it’s one and done and all that?) – “You just go out there and play your game (and) prepare like it’s any other game and know that it’s one and done. You just have to, like I said, leave it all out there on the field.”

(Is it tough to do that?) – “No. For us, we don’t have too many guys that have playoff experience and so we just go out there and play like we have been, have fun and let it loose. We know that if we do our thing, that we give ourselves the best opportunity to win.”

(Are you going to say anything to guys that haven’t had playoff experience? Do you tell them or give them any advice?) – “All the guys here have played in big games before in college, whatever. So they understand. We’ll be ready.”

(Regardless of not getting the result that you guys wanted, just the fact that you were able to wake up this morning that you guys are going to the playoffs, that feeling that you guys had some sort of accomplishment.) – “So what’s the question?”

(The fact that you woke up this morning and you guys are in the playoffs, no matter what happened yesterday. Forgetting yesterday, moving on to today knowing that you guys are…) – “You’re never happy with a loss, especially against the Patriots, and so we have to clean up the mistakes we made yesterday and move forward from it and know that we have another game coming up this week. We can’t do that again or we’ll be going home.”

(What do you remember about the challenges of the Pittsburgh defense?) – “They play physical, sound defense, and like I said, it’s more about us than it is the other team. So if we go out and play our game, we know we’ll be fine.”

Adam Gase – January 2, 2017 Download PDF version

Monday, January 2, 2017

Head Coach Adam Gase

(Are you any more optimistic today about LB Jelani Jenkins and CB Byron Maxwell being able to play this week?) – “Once we hit Wednesday and start going through practice and see what they can do, we’ll have a better idea. We’re still really doing their rehab things. It sounds like Jelani is at least moving around a lot better than the last time we were going through this process. We need to see really where Byron is when we’re really getting him moving around against somebody else because that’s the biggest thing for him is being able to cover somebody, change direction, start and stop, things like that.”

(You said you were going to speak with the doctors today about QB Ryan Tannehill. Has that conversation taken place?) – “Not yet; but I’ll have a better idea whether it’s tonight or tomorrow. I need to know what his movement skills are, where we are as far as really the structure of his knee and things like that. So once I get that update, I’ll have a better idea of what we’re going to do moving forward.”

(A little life for this team obviously if they’re able to get their starting quarterback, it would be huge. Would you agree with that?) – “Yes, anytime you get a starter back you’re going to be … No matter what position it is. That’s what you want; but I know since Matt (Moore)’s been in there, he’s done a really good job and he’s done exactly what I need him to do.”

(Are you expecting QB Ryan Tannehill to practice this week?) – “That’s what I want to find out, so I don’t know. I don’t want to say yes or no. You guys all know that guy is a freak of a nature. I mean the amount of hits he’s taken over his career … We’ve all seen him take worse hits than (the one that injured him) during the season. That one was bad but there were a couple of other ones that were pretty bad. His body is unique and the way he heals, the same way. So we’ll just take it one step at a time. I’ll have a better idea, especially once we hit Wednesday, but probably Tuesday I’ll have a good idea, so game plan-wise we can figure out what’s going on.”

(Has QB Ryan Tannehill been knocking on your door about this?) – “He knows I really don’t … I’m not going to really listen to him saying he wants to play. I know he wants to play.”

(You’re not going to take his medical opinion?) – “No. Even though he’s … I’m pretty sure he had some medical classes in college but I know he’s not … He doesn’t have a degree quite yet.”

(How would you feel about the possibility maybe even going up to game time not knowing for sure who your starting quarterback is?) – “It’d be an option, but I’d highly … I mean I doubt it, just because I need to know where he’s at. I’m going to have to see him practice. I’m going to have to feel really good about this.”

(The idea of giving him a playoff experience I would imagine would be a huge boon for him as well?) – “That’s everyone. We don’t have … You look at our roster and you go start tallying up the playoff experiences. It’s very minimal.”

(So is it important that the players, the few players that do have playoff experience, to advise the ones that don’t just to give them an idea of what lays ahead?) – “Really, it’s more about those guys leading by example and showing them how it’s done and trying to allow those guys to understand it picks up. It’s another level. They’ll know it. They’ll know it when they hit the field. Trust me.”

(Describe what that ratcheted up intensity is like?) – “It’s adrenaline for the entire game and you feel it. You feel the speed of the game changes. I mean really you look at it, every guy is playing for the same amount of money and really, at the end of the day, it’s about who wants it more.”

(For you was there a different feeling walking into the building today because it’s playoff week?) – “Not really. I’m still a little irritated at yesterday, so I haven’t quite got over that one yet.”

(What was your evaluation of the pass coverage yesterday? Where were the breakdowns or how bad was it?) – “We had some errors as far as what was going on and what our guys were doing. We got loose a couple of times where we just need to be more competitive and tackle the catch. We have to be tighter on our coverage to try to squeeze the windows as much as possible. We have to do a better job with the rush. We can’t be up in the line of scrimmage in some of their play action things. Offensively, defensively, special teams, it didn’t matter what phase we were in, they beat us in every phase. They beat us in everything – coaching, players, everything.”

(On the long touchdown to WR Julian Edelman where LB Kiko Alonso dropped back. Is that a similar play to what he did in San Diego when he took the interception back?) – “It wasn’t the exact same thing, but it was close to it. But we’ve got to make that tackle there. (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph), that’s a good call. We’ve got to make that tackle. They’re going to be short of the first down.”

(With Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph, I understand a lot of people talk about the yards that the defense has had put up against them. Can you just kind of give an idea of what Vance Joseph has meant to the defense?) – “He’s done a good job with putting those guys in the right position. Really from where we started and how we’ve grown through the year, guys being in and out, losing some key players. He’s done a good job trying to make the necessary changes throughout the year. We’ve tried to play together offensively and defensively and with the special teams, trying to do the same thing to where we play more complementary football. I think we were a little off-kilter early in the season. The fact that we’re able to have those discussions and try to play this game together, each game together, that’s been very helpful. There is not that division of offense is just trying to do this and defense is just trying to do this. We’ve really tried to play this … play every game together.”

(Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph’s name has been linked to a job. You’ve been that guy. How do you handle it when you’re that guy and how will you handle it as a head coach?) – “It’s good that I’m just recently coming off of two years of this. It’s a great experience to be able to go through. You have an opportunity to do something that is one of 32 jobs. There are going to be a great opportunities for him and whenever that time comes, there are certain protocols the league has you go through: when you can interview and where you can interview and if you’re still playing or if you’re not. He’ll get opportunities and that’s a great thing for not only him, but our players on defense should be proud because one of the reasons why he’s getting that opportunity is they played well. They did some things that people didn’t really expect us to do and they were on board with what he was trying to accomplish this year with the defense and it’s a credit to him and the defensive coaches, and then our players. Our players went out and they played hard and they executed well enough to put us in a position to where we’re getting to play this week.”

(Directly on Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph, have you been contacted about him by any other teams so far?) – “I didn’t ask specifics, but teams have sent in some requests to be able to talk to him.”

(You have no restrictions? Whenever Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph is able to talk, you’re willing to let him talk?) – “Yes, when the right window is for him. I’m going to put it more in Vance’s court when those times are good for him. Vance is somebody that I trust a lot. I know what his focus is. I know he’s trying to get corrected some of the things that went wrong yesterday. He’ll have the right approach to being able to handle this.”

(Your thoughts on some of the challenges the Steelers present?) – “Offensively, it’s the same thing we saw last time. They’ve got three very elite performers at critical positions on offense, and their defense historically has been what we all know it has always been. They’ve been tough. They do a great job of tackling. They stop the run. I know last game wasn’t ideal for them, but that happens (when) you don’t have exactly the game you want. They play great team defense. It’s a very tough team to go against, especially on their own turf. They’ll absolutely be ready for us, especially the last time we played, I’m sure they’ll be ready to go after what happened last time.”

(Without being arrogant, does the team have an added confidence, because they were 4-1, you were 1-4 and yet you beat this 4-1 team?) – “I’m not sure about that. When you get to this point of the season, everybody is 0-0. If you’re still playing, whoever shows up and plays well that day that’s all that matters.”

(You’ve had so many injuries this year. When you look at the replacement guys who have had to step up – when you look at them as a whole – how important a role would you say they played in your success? Are there any guys you can single out as especially key?) – “I look at it as a group, the guys that have come in, they’ve done a very good job. There have been moments of inconsistency, and that’s where sometimes you miss the guy that was the starter, because one game it’s good, one game it’s bad, where some of these high, the elite performers … What’s the one thing we always talk about? Consistency. It’s the same every week. You know exactly what you’re going to get. But as a group, when we play together and we do it right, that’s when we’ve had our best games. We’ve kind of fallen short of that, especially these last two games. We haven’t played well together. That’s where we have to make some corrections and we have to get this thing right very quickly.”

(Defensively, when you give up a franchise record in yardage against the Bills then 35 points against the Patriots, where can the improvements be made?) – “We just have to play better team defense. I feel like we’ve been a little off here the last couple games. It’s not guys going off on their own. We’re misfitting on certain things. We’re using the wrong techniques. We’re not getting the call in as far as where (Defensive Coordinator) Vance (Joseph) calls the defense, we’re not getting it communicated fast enough or correctly. We have to do a better job in that area. We have to be smoother in what our operation is, and then we have to be smoother as far as making sure all our guys are good and we’re doing the right things. When we do our job, that’s when we have success. When somebody is wrong, it’s really throwing things off to where we’re not just giving up a 3-yard gain, we’re giving up 8-, 10-, 12-yard gains. We’re really putting the play caller in a bad situation, because now it’s first-and-10 again instead of second-and-8. We have to do a better job of doing our jobs. That’s really our starting point.”

(Are you curious to see what kind of playoff team this is, or do you feel like you already know that?) – “I want to see us play better than we played this last week, yesterday. Yesterday was awful. For us to show up and look the way we looked against a team that has dominated this division for the last … What have they won it, 15 out of 17 (years), whatever it is? For us to show up and get smacked around in our own stadium is terrible.”

(Have you gotten an opportunity to watch the film? There was a play there where one of the receivers went streaking down the right hand side of the field.) – “We busted the coverage.”

(Has leverage been an issue?) – “It’s not a leverage issue. It’s a communication issue. We have to … When guys communicate, we have to react. Sometimes, when things happen fast, we don’t react as fast as we need to.”

(I don’t know if it’s something you want to weigh on or not, but RB LeGarrette Blount kind of popped off yesterday about DT Ndamukong Suh. When you watched the film, was there anything that looked dirty to you?) – “I didn’t see that. Maybe there is something from the past that I don’t know about. I know since I’ve been here, Suh has done everything right. He’s played hard. He has tried to do everything he can to help our defense play well. It’s hard for me to comment on something that I’m not really sure exactly what (Blount) was talking about or what incident he was talking about. I can’t say I really understand what he was getting at there.”

(On WR Jakeem Grant, can you talk about the punt return that he fumbled and then his carry and what you saw there?) – “We were trying to get him involved a little bit on offense. He’s an explosive player that we can get him the ball more than what we’ve been getting it (to him). With the kickoff returns, everybody is trying to bang it out of the back of the end zone. They don’t want him or (Kenyan) Drake touching the ball. We were trying to find ways to get him the ball and see if he could make a game-changing play. We need him to hold onto that ball. We need him to be consistent, consistent catching the football. You know what I’m going to say: we’re going to put him back there again. The guy is too explosive. He’s a game-changing player. You never know. This might be a good week for him to have one.”

(To go back to QB Ryan Tannehill for a second. When you go to the doctors, are you expecting them to say, “Yes, he has a clean bill of health?”) – “I don’t know what to expect. Like I said, we’re going to play the Jets and everybody was telling me, ‘Kiko (Alonso) is not going to go,’ and then all of a sudden he’s going. So, I don’t know.”

(WR Leonte Carroo, you’ve been playing WR Rashawn Scott over him. What’s the thought process there?) – “We felt like we wanted to give (Scott) a shot and see if he could bring something to the special teams. When you’re in that position where there is a chance they could play wide out, but we don’t think they’re going to get in the game on offense, really it’s special teams. (It is) really an opportunity for him. We’re going to keep developing these guys. I know everybody will look and say, ‘Draft pick over an undrafted guy,’ but I really don’t care about that. I care about guys competing and trying to do it right and seeing if guys can contribute. That’s part of what happens in that back half of the roster sometimes. We’re trying to find as many guys as we can to (where) we trust them and they can do the right thing. This week will be a different week, and we’ll see what the inactives (are), what we do with that.”

(DE Mario Williams has been fighting some injuries. Is him being inactive yesterday injury [related]?) – “I made the decision I wanted to play (Terrence) Fede instead of him yesterday. We only went with eight defensive lineman and Fede has been playing really well. It was really a numbers thing. We have nine guys that we like and we have five defensive ends. We like all those guys. It’s hard for me to justify not playing Fede when he gives us something on special teams and the way that he’s playing on defense. It’s nothing against Mario; it’s (that) Fede gives us some snaps on special teams as well. He’s a big man that can move, he can run, he can do things on punt return or punt. We want some … If you get some special teams value out of a defensive lineman, that’s good for us. It helps us a lot.”

Jermon Bushrod – January 1, 2017 (Postgame) Download PDF version

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Postgame – vs. New England

Miami Dolphins G/T Jermon Bushrod (transcribed by Ted Leshinski)

(Going into the playoffs with a loss like this, how do you…?) – “By tomorrow you won’t even say anything about it. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to have a chance in the post season and we have a chance right now.”

(Does it make a big difference heading into the playoffs after a loss, or rather you win?) – “We wanted to win. We fought to win. Every player that could play, played. We just didn’t get it done. Honestly, at the end of the day, tomorrow we have to erase the regular season out of your head. Don’t worry about it, because we’re where we want to be. We wanted one of those six sports – we got one of those six spots. We have to figure out how we are going to be better individually as an offensive line as a unit in this offense and overall as a team. So, yeah, it sucked. They came out and they played well. We didn’t do enough, we didn’t do enough often. Can’t start low, get high, go low, medium … you can’t do that. You have to fight to be a consistent squad. We’re going to put together a good week of practice, I’m looking forward to it. It’s a good position for us to be in, so we’re just going to keep fighting.”

(Do you look forward of the challenges of being in the playoffs?) – “Football and in your life all you want is an opportunity to get to where you want to go. We know where we want to go. It’s going to be a tough road. Teams have done it before. We played Pittsburgh, obviously, we played them down here in the heat. Now we’ve got to go up there in the cold, wherever it is we got to go.”

Ndamukong Suh – January 1, 2017 (Postgame) Download PDF version

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Postgame – vs. New England

Miami Dolphins Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh (transcribed by David Norwood II)

(What is it about the Patriots early in the game you just had a tough time stopping them? Next thing you know it’s a 20-0 lead you got a big hole to climb out.) – “Yes, they started fast. I think caught us off guard in a lot of aspects. Made plays, got into the end zone and we couldn’t figure a way to stop them.”

(Tough to get to him (Tom Brady) and get him to pull the ball down, seemed like he was in such timing and rhythm, and there’s really nothing you can do to get him off that early in that football game) – “Yes, a lot of quick short passes. They got their running game going from the standpoint of getting good yards on first and second down to make it where he didn’t have to drop back deep for the most part, and I think some penalties in there as well so we got to eliminate those and get prepared for next week.”

(A lot of talking going at the line of scrimmage seemed to escalate as the game went on. Then at the end it got pretty crazy out there what was going on there?) – “Guys are just children sometimes, but at the end of the day you take care of your business and continue to play as I did.”

(When you say they caught you off guard was there confusion out there among you guys or what specifically are you referring to?) – “I think it’s just we weren’t prepared in certain aspects so just like I said got to get prepared to go against them, simple as that – weren’t tackling or making plays.”

(Not a great day for the defense overall, how do you feel about the defense heading into next week against Pittsburgh?) – “I feel great about the defense. We been through a lot of tough times, a lot of good times and I think we’ve been in every single situation in this particular season so we got to be prepared for whoever we have and get ready to go.”

(What are your thoughts on this football team? It’s been a long time since this football team has been to a playoff game and has a chance to go to a playoff game next week. Is there something you can contribute to the guys in here that haven’t been to playoff games to get them to understand what’s at stake?) – “It’s one and done. The elevation of the height and sensitivity of the games will be through the roof. This is my third time in the playoffs and I just know the feeling going into particular games, very, very, intense so as you go and get ready for these games be prepared. The level of play definitely steps up.”

Andre Branch – January 1, 2017 Download PDF version

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Postgame – vs. New England

Miami Dolphins DE Andre Branch (transcribed by Jason D. Silver)

(Coupled with the slow start Brady and those guys were able to move the ball rather efficiently. How hard is it to stop those guys?) – “I’ve got to watch the film. See what we did wrong and whatever that is we have to correct it fast and move on to whatever opponent we play.”

(Do you guys kind of just put this one in the rear view mirror or take a lot from what you did today and try to implement it for next week?) – “Today stinks. Now, tomorrow we move on and figure out who we’re playing and go from there and see what’s going on.”

(What makes you believe and feel confident that this defense is playoff ready?) – “We put together a good body of work. I know the talent we have in our locker room on all sides of the ball so for us is, if we do our job the rest will take care of itself. But there’s times when we don’t do our job where it starts to slip.”

(What’s the toughest challenge about playing Tom Brady?) – “He gets the ball out fast. Very efficient. He’s been playing at a high level in this league for a very long time. We knew that going into this so for us we just have to keep the pedal to the metal and keep rushing him. No matter if he’s throwing the ball in .3 seconds just keep rushing and hopefully he’ll hold it.”

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