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Chris Grier Introductory Press Conference (Chris Grier & Mike Tannenbaum) – January 4, 2016 Download PDF version

Monday, January 4, 2016

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum and General Manager Chris Grier

Opening Statements:
(Mike Tannenbaum Opening Statement) “I appreciate everyone coming. I’m sorry if we are a few minutes late. As Steve (Ross) said yesterday, we are obviously all very disappointed on how the season went and I can assure you that no stone will be unturned. We owe it to our fans; we owe it to Steve (Ross) to get a much better result. I also want to take a moment to publicly thank Dennis Hickey. Dennis did a great job while he was here and gave us everything he had and I wish him nothing but the best moving forward. What’s really important now moving forward is that we take a long, honest, sober view of what needs to be fixed and that’s obviously going to start with our head-coaching search. Dan Campbell is a candidate. We told that to Dan when he got the job; both Steve (Ross) and I told him that. I want to publicly thank Dan for everything that he did. And yesterday’s result was nothing short of remarkable in terms of his leadership and his ability to manage his staff and the players to give such a great effort all the way through the end of the season. That’s just a great reflection of him as a person and as a coach. The search will begin in earnest today. I will lead the search. Chris Grier, Matt Higgins, Tom Garfinkel and obviously, Mr. (Steve) Ross, will be involved. We will make our recommendation to Steve (Ross). Steve will make the final decision of who our next head coach will be. As it relates to the 53-man roster and final control, we just don’t feel like that’s a decision we’re prepared to make. We want to have flexibility heading into the search and we’ll be better able to answer that at a later date. When you look around, we feel like we have every resource here to be successful. We have a young team with a lot of key cornerstones and I’m really excited about what we can accomplish in the future. Speaking of our future, our future starts with our new General Manager, Chris Grier. (I’m) really excited to partner with Chris. Chris is a highly respected personnel guy throughout the league. He’s been shaped by countless football people including his dad, Bobby Grier, who is a long-time NFL executive. I’ve gotten to know Chris over the years as a peer, as a competitor, and over this past year I’ve gotten to know him as a person and as a worker with great football acumen. So without any further ado, I want to introduce the next General Manager of the Miami Dolphins, Chris Grier.”

(Chris Grier Opening Statement) – “Good afternoon. First I’d like to start by thanking Steve (Ross) and Mike (Tannenbaum) for this tremendous opportunity. I am truly humbled but also excited to start the process of helping create a winning culture here in Miami. Each year we are reminded just how special this organization is by the ’72 Dolphins. They’ve set an incredible standard that we should all strive to achieve. Steve (Ross) is a great owner who wants nothing more than to bring a championship back to Miami. He has shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to win both on and off the field. Anyone who has spent time around him can feel his passion for the Miami Dolphins. The passion bleeds into the people that work in this building and this organization. I love this organization and I feel that I am the right man for this job. South Florida is very important to me and my family. My beautiful wife, Paige, and our two sons love it here. They are in the community. We love interacting with fans. To me, this is home. I want to be a part of winning a championship with the Miami Dolphins. I’m fortunate to have grown up in a football family. As most of you know, my father has been in the NFL for the last 35 years as a coach, a scout, and a vice president of player personnel. He was the best role model a young person could have growing up. He turned me into a man and showed me how to be a professional. I was fortunate to have spent time learning football from Francis “Bucko” Kilroy. For you football historians, you probably know who he is. He is the father of the modern day scouting combine. He’s Bill Parcells mentor and countless coaches in this league. To me, the time I spent with him learning this profession is invaluable. My football beliefs and philosophy has been influenced by many coaches that I have worked with over the years. I could never thank them all but the lessons that I learned, both good and bad, have helped to create my core beliefs. I would specifically like to thank Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Nick Saban and my dad for laying the foundation of my football philosophy. Finally to the fans; the past decade has been unacceptable for this organization. Steve (Ross), Mike (Tannenbaum) and I will find the right coach to help this organization. The talk of dysfunction in this organization is over. We will be thorough in our search and create an environment where everyone is on the same page, with the same beliefs, talking the same language and creating a model of consistent winning for the Miami Dolphins. We will earn your trust back both on and off the field. Thank you.”

Mike Tannenbaum Q&A:

(On if it’s time for the organization to hire a coach with NFL head coaching experience) “We’ve done a lot of research on what makes a successful NFL head coach and kind of reversed engineered the last 20 years of literally ever hire from their degree to really, sort of, almost every variable and I can tell you that there are a lot of different permutations, a lot of different answers and we want to get the best coach and we’re not going to narrow it to any sort of background because he was a first time coach or not. I know there is one theory out there that some of the recent Super Bowl winners, Pete Carroll, (Bill) Belichick and Tom Coughlin all did it on their second hire, but we just want to get the best coach regardless of their background.”

(On why fans should believe the team should be competing for Super Bowls in the years to come) “I think on our best day this year, when you look at this past season, Houston, Washington, yesterday, we beat teams that were in the playoffs. We’ve played good football and we are a good team. We obviously weren’t even close to that throughout the year, we were too inconsistent, but there are a lot of good pieces here that we can build from. Being 1-5 in the division is completely unacceptable, we have to be better. We have to figure out a way to win in the AFC East being 1-5 is not ever going to get us to where we want. But with that said, there are a lot of good young players here, we’re a young team, we have as many players under 24 as any other team in this league, and that’s why I really believe that our future is bright.”

(On if he has an idea of how many coaches they want to interview) “Sure, being involved in a few other searches in my career, you just go through it, you want to remain flexible and our search is starting in earnest today and obviously we’d like to get that decision done certainly sooner than later. With that said, I was involved in a situation back in 2009 when we hired Rex Ryan. Rex was the defensive coordinator at the time of the Baltimore Ravens, they lost in the championship game that year to the (Pittsburgh) Steelers and you do feel a little anxious from the standpoint of putting your staff together. At the end of the day, our charge is to recommend to Steve (Ross) the best football coach and try to work through the rules, the geography, and try to make the best decision you can.”

(On if they enter the search with a wish-list of the top three candidates and go from there) “I think we just want to get the best coach. Certainly we’ve done a lot of research and have a sense of where we want to go, but I think we want to be married to the process and be disciplined to that and be open-minded and be great listeners and then ultimately what’s the best fit for us. I don’t want to say ‘Hey, it’s these two guys,’ and draw a line. I think we want to be open-minded.”

(On if they are looking for an offensive-minded head coach, defensive-minded head coach or just the most qualified) – “I think it’s the most qualified and the staff, in terms of we are looking for leadership, we are looking for somebody that can attract great talent, to manage a staff, to hold them accountable, grow with them, can they develop players, and sometimes it really comes down candidate X with these two coordinators and candidate B with these two coordinators, and what does that look like? I’m not really sure that’s written enough about. You’re hiring a CEO, you’re hiring a president. So it’s the president and his cabinet, and what does that look like. You’re not going to have every T crossed and every I dotted, but within reason, you want to have a very good idea that when that coach walk through the door, what is his staff going to look like? And does that marry up to what we need at certain positions?”

(On if the coaching candidates’ opinion on QB Ryan Tannehill will have an impact on the decision) – “Absolutely. We want their assessments on everything. We’re going to come out of this and I have in the past, better for it. We’re going to learn a ton. We’re going to hear things that we don’t want to hear, but that’s really frankly the only way that we’re going to get better and that includes their assessment of our quarterback. Some of the questions are: ‘How do we win our division? What do you see as our perceived strengths and our weaknesses?’ That certainly will be a factor.”

(On what has caused the dysfunction in the front office) – “I’m really talking much more about the future and I’m excited that Chris (Grier) is here. I think what’s really important is for us to hire a coach and say ‘Hey, how are we going to build a roster that will give us sustainable success?’ The best teams that I’ve been on, the best situations I’ve been in, it’s always been about (how) we all understand what we need at each position, how are we going to build a team and how are we going to be sustainable. And frankly, I believe in servitude leadership. We are here to serve the head coach. My football mentor is Bill Parcells, he gave me a one-line job description, ‘Go get the effing coach players,’ and that was it. You can boil it down, you get to deal with your good friends in the media all the time, probably a little bit more than we would like, but at the end of the day, our job is about getting the head coach players. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about dysfunction or who likes what. It’s about serving the head coach and getting the players that we can put the best product on the field. That’s really at the end of the day what our job is.”

(On if the new coach will have input on the roster going forward) – “Yes, 100 percent. I don’t understand how else you can do it. Again, we have to have a sense collectively of what our team needs to look like, again, to win the division. And once those decisions are made, it’s up to us and a lot good people that are behind your left shoulder, guys like Joe Schoen, to work our tails off and go get those players for our coach and our coaching staff.”

(On how much personal pressure he feels with getting the coaching decision right this time around) – “I feel it every day. I gave up everything to come down here. I’ve been to three championship games. It’s really not about me, but I came here to win a championship. I’ve accomplished everything in my career except getting a ring. I’ve got [my wife], two kids and the Miami Dolphins and that’s all I’ve got. I’m a real simple person and we’re either going to win or I’m going to die trying.”

(On how much the 2015 failures fall on him) – “We didn’t get it done. (I’m) part of it, without question. I had as high hopes as Coach (Joe) Philbin or Dennis Hickey or anybody else. I’m as disappointed as anybody. And candidly up until the Giants game on Monday night, we were doing everything we could do to stay alive. And I think what Coach Campbell did will never be understood, what he accomplished and changing coordinators where he did. Here’s a man that coached four players and the next day he’s the head coach of an NFL team. That’s really remarkable. We feel short. I was part of falling short.”

(On how much would you recommend the next head coach to retain Interim Head Coach Dan Campbell) – “Well again, I think I can give you a better answer to that next week. We’re going to go through the process. Dan is going to have his day in court. He’s been told that. We wanted to give him some days so he can put his plan together in earnest. I believe that’s what he’s working on now. If you hear Metallica or there’s a lot of dipping chewed upstairs, he’s probably taking a study break right now; but I’m sure we’ll get his best efforts in the interview.”

(On if he has talked to Mike Shanahan) – “I’ve talked to a number of people, but no interviews have taken place. Those start in earnest now. Jason (Jenkins) will try to keep you guys up to speed. I know there’s a lot of interest in the names and the candidates and we’re they’re going to take place. We’re going to try to be as open and transparent as we can, within reason. We’re going to get it off and running as soon as possible.”

(On if the report that Mike Shanahan came to the facility and met with him on Dec. 22 is accurate) – “No. I have talked to Mike Shanahan. It was not in this building. I’ve met with a lot of people in a lot of different places, but I have not met with anybody in this bundling. I have a lot of friends in this league that I want to pick their brains. I met with Coach Parcells recently. I can assure that was not a head coaching interview.”

(On if Bill Parcells would take the job) – “Why don’t you ask him that question? Bill is not a candidate. We don’t need that on the ticker.”

(On how far away is this roster considering the team finished 6-10) – “Yeah, no question. One thing I do know is we are going to start next season 0-0 and I think in our league, you’re probably never as close — I don’t think we’re as far away as 6-10. If we were sitting here at 10-6 and not in the playoffs, you probably have to make more changes than you realize and candidly, I think some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made early in my career is sitting there, one game away from the Super Bowl, saying, ‘Man, we’re close.’ But you know what? The next season you start 0-0. That’s what’s great about our league and every year there’s the teams that go from worst-to-first and I think our window is right here. We’re going to have to make some changes, but I also think to be successful is well within reason for us.”

(On if his talk with Mike Shanahan was not an interview) – “Correct.”

(On if he is interviewing Shanahan tomorrow) – “And Bill Parcells was not an interview as well. And I’ve talked to many other people. As some of you know, I have a lot of friends in the industry, that’s part of my doing my job, and we will be interviewing Mike Shanahan tomorrow. That is true.”

(On what part of team was most underwhelming) – “I would say the whole. It was just extremely inconsistent. That was probably the most frustrating thing. When we played our ‘A’ game, we looked really good. We looked really good against Houston. We looked good yesterday. We looked really competitive. We looked fast and tough and there were other games we didn’t have it, for whatever reason. It’s up to me. It starts with me. Why is that? Is it how we train? Is it the heat? We’re going to look at everything. Our first-quarter scoring differential, (it’s) hard to explain. It’s hard to play balanced football when you’re being outscored by 40-plus points in the first quarter. It’s hard. It puts pressure on your offensive tackles. It puts pressure on your defensive secondary. There are a lot of things when you get off to these bad starts that hurt and we’ve got to look at all those things.”

(On if the new coach will have full autonomy on his staff) – “Absolutely. With that said, when you look at the great organizations like the San Antonio Spurs, the words you always hear are collaboration and partnership and organizational behavior and I believe in those things. I think when you’re really revving on all cylinders, your head coach is talking to your West Coast scout and your director of player personnel is talking to your tight ends coach. I think that’s so important. We’ve got to get to that point where we’re all in it together, we’re having candid discourse and we’re making the best decisions for us.”

(On how much is personality and ability to motivate factoring into the coaching search) – “Yeah, I think that comes in all shapes and sizes. People motivate in different ways. Curtis Martin was a great leader and never gave a team speech. I think there’s ways to impact people and it comes down to having attributes you can’t see. Greg Jennings really helped this football team, probably a lot more in the locker room than anyone will ever know, because he has attributes you can’t see. And I think that goes for coaching as well. I think you can impact, influence people in a lot of different ways.

(On what the added value experience brings and what are possible drawbacks for someone with experience) – “That’s a totally fair point. I’d like to think over time I’ve gotten better at my job, just based on experience. Clearly, when you cut your teeth, you’re going to have bumps in the road. Having experience certainly serves to help with that. With that said, there are great coaches, there are some great untold stories of great coaches that get the job and they go on 10-year runs. You look at Green Bay, Coach McCarthy wasn’t a head coach before. He’s still there. He was hired in ’06, I believe. For us, it’s about getting it right. You look at what Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner did a decade and a half ago. They hired Andy Reid. (He) wasn’t a coordinator. How’d that decision turn out? I think it’s just getting it right. And having experience, sure, that’s helpful, but I can tell you for us, it’s not going to be outcome-determinative.

(On what he sees in new General Manager Chris Grier that made him believe he was ready for the role) – “Just being around Chris every day. Again, he’s been around a long time, I’ve been around a long time, and he’s just extremely thorough. (He) has great instincts for players and coaches. I called around other people just to say ‘This is what I’m thinking, what are you thinking?’ and there are a lot people in the NFL that feel the same way I do, and if he wasn’t going to be the general manager of the Dolphins, I can assure you he would’ve been a general manager very soon, if not within the next 10 days. I’m really proud to be his partner and I think we’re going to accomplish a lot great things together. Chris is an understated guy but works his tail off and probably doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.”

Chris Grier Q&A:

(On his role in the head coaching search) – “I will be there with Mike (Tannenbaum), Steve (Ross) and Matt (Higgins). I will be interviewing all of the coaches. I will be there to talk football, philosophy. Again, it is all of our input. It is a collaborative effort. And I think it is important that you try to see that connection face-to-face when you talk to a guy with all of us, especially Mike and myself, with the relationship that I will have to have with that head coach.”

(On interviewing with the Jets last year and if he expected to be a general manager in the next 10 days) – “Yes. I interviewed somewhere else too. I had two interviews last year. And I was a finalist for the other one. I interviewed multiple times and I received some information from league sources that I was requested to interview this week.”

(On which other team interviewed him last year) – “I really don’t want to say just out of respect to that team… I don’t think that is fair to them.”

(On why he is confident there will not be any dysfunction in the front office) – “Really for me it boils down to, I’ve been around a lot of great team-building. The coaches I’ve mentioned from Coach Parcells to Nick Saban to Coach Belichick, Coach Carroll, being around them and seeing how they built the teams, how they interacted with their general managers and stuff, it’s been 20-plus years I grew up in a household with my dad doing that. Going forward, it’s all about communication, everyone being on the same page, believing in the same beliefs. Going forward today, I think it is a great day for the Miami Dolphins. I’m very excited to work with Mike in this process and getting us winning again here.”

(On his mention of dysfunction being over when he and Tannenbaum were both here last year) – “No. I’m not avoiding the question but today is about the Miami Dolphins going forward and our process of how we are going to work to build our organization, in terms of everyone being on the same page and communicating well. Today is about us and it sounds like I’m avoiding it but I really don’t want to talk ill of people on this day.”

(On his philosophy about identifying football players) – “Not to get into philosophy, I think once we start building this team, I think you will get a sense of the types of players that we are looking for. I think if you take a look at the people who have shaped my football philosophy, those types of players will be evident in what we are looking for. For me, you want to find guys that have passion, love the game and love being a Miami Dolphin. To me, that is going to be very important going forward that these players want to be here, want to be in this community, want to be in this locker room and want to win games for this organization.”

(On what he will have final say on) – “Right now it’s an organizational thing, in terms of the coaching stuff. For me, I’m a communicator. I like working with people. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who gets credit for what. I think it is more important that we get the right coach in here to help lead us and that we all come together and work together in the process to build the team the right way.”

(On QB Ryan Tannehill) – “I like Ryan. He’s our guy. I think yesterday is a great indication of some of the things that we can do. We can win with Ryan. I’m a firm believer that when you build a roster, you build competition. For me, I want competition, not just for Ryan, but for (Ndamukong) Suh and everybody on our roster. We can win with Ryan. We can do a lot of things to help him get better. I think Ryan would tell you that he’s not happy with a lot of stuff that has gone on. But us and an organization, we are moving forward with him and we are going to build a competitive roster at all positions.”

(On what part of the roster needs the most work) – “When you are 6-10, as Bill (Parcells) says, ‘You are what you are.’ At the end of the day, I think we leave no stone unturned and keep working. Like I said, to me, competition at every spot is key. I think that makes everyone better and grows them as a player.”

(On if he can fix the defense in one offseason) – “Yes.”

(On Bill Parcells and how much his fingerprints are still on this organization) – “Like I said, for me it’s about all of the people. I’ve kind of been shaped by so many people. Pete Carroll and Bill Parcells are complete opposites (in) how they do stuff. Nick Saban is a Belichick (disciple) and then Coach Belichick and Bill (Parcells), but they’ve all adapted. I think in this league, you can have your philosophy and how you think you should build your team but at the end of the day, you have to be flexible in your thinking and work with what wins in the league. I hope that answers your question.”

(On what his dad would say about where his son is standing right now) – “I talked to him last night when I was thinking about it and he was very excited. For him, it was always difficult for me in New England, going through that with him, because he and Bill (Parcells) did a great job with that roster. That first Super Bowl run was basically all of their players. So he is very proud, he is very happy. My brother is a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks and he got a ring last year when they won, so I was pissed. He beat me to one so I am hoping to get one down here soon.”

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