Last Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers is old news. Jonathan Martin’s return to the Miami Dolphins is looking bleaker. So thankfully it was business as usual for the Dolphins this week. On Sunday, they will play their first of two divisional games when they head north to play the New York Jets. After Friday’s practice, Coach Joe Philbin spoke with the media about the dramatics of the Jets rivalry as both teams battle for the wild card spot.
Joe Philbin’s opening thoughts
“I thought we had another good day at practice. I thought we had a productive week. It’s a very important game, and our guys should be ready to play.”
Do you miss the drama and theatre that has been associated with previous Dolphins and Jets games?
“No, again this is a really important game, as I mentioned. We are going to have to go up there and play well on the road. It’s been a couple of times since we’ve made a couple of trips and haven’t come back with a victory on the road. We talked to our guys about really focusing on the task of playing as well as possible Sunday at 1 p.m. I’m not missing the drama one bit.”
Does the drama and theatre (that has been associated with previous Dolphins and Jets games) have the ability to fire up a team?
"Games are usually, the ones I’ve been around for 30 years, they are usually decided on the field by the players, by how well they execute and the effort they put forth into the game. We are focusing our guys on coming to the game, playing as hard as we can, playing as sound as we possibly can."
How much you can take away from the successful game at New York from last season?
"I think all three phases contributed to the outcome of that game. As you mentioned, I think we got a field goal then made a special teams play, onside kick and those type of things. Our defense played well. I think Ryan (Tannehill) got hurt, but our next guy stepped in. Matt Moore came in and played well. Our defense played (well). It was a team effort, and we are going to need the same kind of team effort. I don’t know how it is going to unfold. I can’t say we are going to recover an onside kick this year, but we are going to need the same kind of attitude and effort, guys contributing and stepping up."
How has Mike Gillislee responded in practice this week?
"He’s responded well. He’s a hard-working guy, number one. He comes out to the practice field every single day, and he’s very attentive in the meetings. He puts forth excellent effort on the practice field, and so we’ll see how things shake out on Sunday."
Why is Tyson Clabo playing better in recent weeks?
“I think he’s paid a little more attention to his technique and fundamentals. I know he’s kind of studied himself and did a little more self-scout of some of the things he feels like can contribute to him performing better. I think he’s been a little more detailed in his play, and that’s helped.”
Can you give offensive linemen help all the time in pass blocking if they are facing a good pass rusher?
"It all depends. It depends how many guys you want to release into the route, number one. It depends on what their exact defensive call may be. In today’s NFL, coaches on defense do a very good job of moving people around. You can’t always bank on the fact that a particular player is going to be on one spot on the field. Last week, for example, we thought (Greg) Hardy was a really good pass rusher. At the end of the game, he lined up inside over one of our guards. Usually he’s playing defensive end 85 percent of the time, or something like that. It all depends. Yeah, you can certainly keep a tight end in and not release him or a back in and not release him, but then you are vulnerable to other areas. You don’t have as many options for the quarterback, obviously. They can make a double-cover a receiver if you are not going to let somebody go, so they can add on a blitzer if you keep a guy in. It’s a little bit of a chess match, so I don’t know that every single play you are going to want to do that. You certainly want to have some flexibility in your protection schemes.”
How would you say the tight ends have evolved in their blocking?
“Yeah, it’s a good group. We ask a lot of those guys. There’s in-line blocking. There’s blocking from the backfield in the running game. There’s pass blocking both in-line and in the backfield. They have to know a variety of schemes from a protection standpoint and a running game standpoint. The position is demanding mentally, and I think our guys are coming along and doing a good job.”
What have you thought about the performance of the defense ends in pass rushing?
“I think they’ve both done a good job. (Olivier Vernon) is not only (has) some sacks on tape where he’s clearly beaten an offensive tackle on a one-on-one rush. He’s got some sacks on tape where he really is pumping it, busting his tail and just outworking people, hustling to the ball. And some of his teammates are maybe pulling up a quarterback on an extended play and (Vernon) is just working it. You love the way the effort he is playing with. He’s becoming more and more productive. Cam Wake has done a very good job. He has usually the toughest duty because some of the things you mentioned in your earlier question happened to him. At times there a tight end there, at times there’s a (running) back there. Sometimes he’s by himself, but he’s doing a good job too.”
Do you subscribe to the theory that teams learn how to win, and if so where is the team’s confidence in making the plays needed to be made in the fourth quarter?
“We’ve made some. As I’ve said before, I want to say we’ve had eight games (decided by) four points or less. We are 4-4 in those games, so obviously half the time we’ve made enough plays in the fourth quarter, half the time we haven’t. It’s a matter, I think, of consistency. Every single week is a new week. There’s new challenges. There’s different schemes, different personnel you are playing. But the bottom line is the way our season has been is the execution in the fourth quarter, from our standpoint, has to be more consistent, and we have to step up and make more plays.”
Do you feel anybody in the NFL gets a home field advantage from artificial means?
“I’ve seen it work both sides where the home team where you thought would have the advantage you know didn’t quite work out that way, and vice-versa. I think it really gets down to the execution of the players. I think there are coaches in this league who do as good of a job as they can preparing their team to the best of their ability for whatever elements they are going to partake in. It comes down to blocking, tackling, holding onto the football and playing good, sound fundamental football. I think if you get your team to do that on a consistent basis, the weather is kind of going to be secondary.”
Check back tomorrow to see Who's in the Fish Bowl!
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