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Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin, Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Defensive Lineman Cameron Wake Speak to Miami and Buffalo Media

December 19th, 2013 at 12:51 PM
By Mark H. Stowers

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At 8-6 and eying a playoff entrance, the Miami Dolphins travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills this weekend in a key AFC East matchup. The Bills are currently at 5-9 and last in the division but beat the Dolphins in Miami back in October, 23-21. The Fins would like to return the favor and need to keep winning to secure a spot in the 2013 post season.

On Wednesday, head coach Joe Philbin, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and defensive lineman Cameron Wake all met with local media and conducted a conference call with Buffalo media.


Head Coach Joe Philbin

(Opening statement) – “I thought it was a good practice. We are going to go inside on Friday to get acclimated to the elements as best we can. I told the team we are going to have to play a very good football team on Sunday against these guys.”

(On if the Bills starting Thad Lewis at quarterback instead of E.J. Manuel changes the team’s preparation at all) – “Not an awful lot. We’ll tweak it. We’ll go back and study all of his games, not that we haven’t looked at them already. As you’ve mentioned, when we are watching the cutups this week Thad Lewis is on them. He’s a good football player. We are going to have our hands full of him.”

(On what Thad Lewis showed him in the first game against the Dolphins season) – “Poise. He sat in the pocket. I remember he took one, delivered a shot to our bench, 15 or 20-yard route and took a hit. He’s a tough guy. He’s got a good arm. He played well the week before against Cincinnati. I want to say he had, I don’t have this stuff in front of me, but over a 100 quarterback rating that first week he played against (Cincinnati), which is a very good defense. He’s good.”

(On when he found out Thad Lewis would be starting at quarterback and if the coaches threw out the E.J. Manuel tape) – “It was early this afternoon I think. Again, we’ve been working with these players since April 15th. We have a defensive system in place. While we certainly adjust and emphasize certain things on a week-to-week basis, it’s not like we are going to take one plan and throw it out the window and do other things. The key to the game is going to be getting blocks, stopping the run, tackling, getting pressure on the quarterback. I think it’s a little dramatic to say we threw this out. If we are going to play our style of defense, we have to do that every single week.”

(On how much Ryan Tannehill’s ability to move around will help limit Buffalo’s pass rush) – “Mario (Williams) is having a great year. Jerry Hughes is really an excellent player as well. Their other defensive end has played. He’s contributed an awful lot to that team. Their two inside guys, (Marcell) Dareus and (Kyle) Williams are excellent, so it’s not just a one-man show when you are playing against these guys. Yeah, it’s good to be able to move the pocket. Ryan (Tannehill) can certainly do that, and he throws well on the move.”

(On if Tyson Clabo has improved since the first Buffalo game) – “I think he has. I think he has. We told the team we would watch some of the film from the plays the other day. The guy is a pro. He’s a professional. He comes to work every single day, same attitude. Even though he’s been in the league nine, 10 years he doesn’t take anything for granted. He comes out on the practice field, works hard, studies tape (and) gets himself ready to play. So I think you are happy to see a guy like that have success.”

(On how much during the course of the season luck plays into the outcome of the games and season) – “Things usually even out. I wouldn’t consider ourselves lucky in Pittsburgh. I thought our guys played, and I’m sure you are not insinuating our guys didn’t play hard. You know football is football. I think the goal is to play, get this team to consistently play at a high level week-in and week-out, and things kind of tend to even out, officiating, luck, bounce of the ball, all of that kind of stuff. The better you play, the harder you play, usually the ball bounces your way a little bit more.”

(On how he tempers the attention Michael Thomas received this week and to make sure he stays grounded) – “He has a lot to learn. He’d probably be the first guy to tell you that. He did a great job the first week getting accustomed to the system. He still obviously has other things. He doesn’t have everything down yet, but he’s been spending extra time in the building like he did last week to keep learning and keep adding as much as he can in a short of period of time so he can contribute as much as possible.”

(On what challenges Mario Williams present) – “I think he’s an excellent player in of himself. You have to give him his due for sure in regard to his protection scheme. The issue becomes Jerry Hughes is having a very, very good year. Their two inside guys are very good, so it’s hard to just isolate on just one particular player. As I’ve said to you guys many times, they have an excellent pressure package. Sometimes when a team pressures they can create one-on-one matchups. Your guys, you can’t go into a game saying, ‘Hey, every single play you are going to get help on Mario Williams or Jerry Hughes or on Marcell Dareus.’ You have to have a scheme where your players can have confidence they can block this guy one-on-one.”

(On why the two-minute offense is having success other than practicing it so much) – “I think (Ryan Tannehill) has become comfortable. It seems like we’ve been in it an awful lot for a variety of reasons. Obviously at the end of the games the games are close. It seems like from a possession standpoint we’ve been getting our hands on the ball at the end of the half an awful lot with a minute-and-a-half left, whatever it may be. I think he’s comfortable. He’s got a lot of reps into it. We do practice it an awful lot, and he’s made good decisions. Especially as of late, I think our protection has been very good. There were times I think earlier in the year, especially in the second half of a two-minute drill, I think it’s been well documented, we’ve had some protection issues that popped up. I think we’ve done better in that area, so I think it’s a variety of things.”

(On where the rookie cornerbacks stand right now with secondary depth being an issue, and how did Will Davis play last week) – “Will (Davis) did a good job. From an assignment standpoint he was very, very sound, which is the first step. I think for a young player who gets on the field is can he handle the speed of the game, get the call in and adjust whatever formation or coverage call adjustments that the safeties may give them. I thought that part went real well. I thought he got guys on the ground and tackled well. He’s probably played a little cautious, which is not surprising for a young player. He was in here Monday looking at the tape, and we expect he’ll play better. Jamar (Taylor) has been out here working hard and improving.”

(On if it is normal for him to have a rookie class produce this little or if it is a product of what is going on) – “Every year is different. Every year is unique. I think these guys, Caleb Sturgis has contributed a lot. (Dion) Sims is playing a lot. Dion (Jordan) is playing 40-45 plays a game. Those other guys are coming along. It’s a good group of guys. They are working at it, and we are pleased with them.”

(On what he generally has to worry about from a Mike Pettine coached defense) – “They are very multiple, number one. They have a very good pressure package, number two, and they are playing very well. I think their redzone defense has been very good. They’re just a sound defense. You don’t see a lot of free plays, as you would like to say, busted coverages, guys getting over the top on a consistent basis. They make you earn it. They are not afraid to challenge a receiver. They are not afraid to play a lot of press, overload the box. They make it tough on you. It’s a good defense.”

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

(On why the team is successful in 2 minute drill) – “I think that’s true, we do practice it a lot and that obviously helps. Guys are stepping up and making plays. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you look at the plays that are being made in those situations, the catches, the blocks that are being made, that’s what drives the success.”

(On what does 4,000 yards passing mean to him) – “It doesn’t mean a whole lot. What matters is what we do the next two games and beyond that, winning.”

(On if they’re planning on adding anything to stop the Buffalo pass rush) – “Well we know they have a good pass rush, a very good front all around, guys that play the run well and get after the quarterback. We’re going to have to be good upfront. They got after us a little bit in the second half last game. They know that, we know that. It’s just going to be a battle of man versus man and who can win that.”

(On his decrease of turnovers over the last few weeks) – “I think just taking better care of the ball, making better decisions, learning from mistakes I think that’s a big part of it. I try not to make the same mistake twice; the same bad throw twice that and the good coaching around me. The coaches are putting me in situations where I can succeed.”

(On what he remembers from the first Bills game) – “Well obviously two turnovers in the first two drives or three drives or whatever it was…can’t do that. They’re a good defense, they swam to the ball and play hard. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

(On if he feels like his play is coming together) – “Yes, I feel comfortable. I think the guys around me are really stepping up as well and that’s what I think drives my numbers to be better is the guys around me making plays.”

(On if he remembers the last Dolphins v. Buffalo game in Buffalo) – “In Buffalo? No, I don’t remember that one as vividly. Obviously, I remember situations from the game but a new defense so we’re not going back and looking at that tape or anything.”

(On his comfort level with the left side of the O-line) – “They’re doing a good job. The offensive line in general has kept me off the ground, given me time to throw which has given us a lot of success. Especially like you said the left side. Two new pieces that I think Bryant (McKinnie) really has the offense down now and (Sam) Brenner is several games in now as well so he is feeling good.”

(On if he feels that he’s linked to Coach Philbin) – “You guys can judge us I guess. Obviously, we’re linked together. He’s my coach, he’s who I play for. As long as we’re together in the same organization then of course we’ll be linked.”

(On if there is an extra sense of pride beating the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick) – “I don’t really think of it as duos at all. I think of it as teams. We have a lot of respect for the Patriots and what they’ve done in the past 10 years. That’s just one game in this season and yes we felt great about it on Monday, but Tuesday came and we’re already getting ready for the Bills.”

(On if Mike Wallace is open on every play) – “Of course (laughing).”

(On why he doesn’t throw it to him on every play) – “You have to spread the ball around.”

(On what specifically is Tyson Clabo doing better) – “I’m not an O-line coach so I can’t get into fundamentals or details. He’s not getting beat obviously and he’s run blocking well to go along with good pass blocking. Obviously, I don’t know O-line fundamentals but he’s keeping guys away from me and he’s doing a great job of that.”

(On if he’s feeling more secure in the pocket) – “Yes, I think so. It’s natural I think when you’re being protected more, being given a little more time. Building that confidence, receivers knowing that I’m going to have an extra half second, second, whatever it may be. Myself, feeling comfortable to go through second and third, maybe not having to force it to that first guy. It plays a big part in our offense.”

(On if the “1-0” signs help keep the players focused on the one game) – “I don’t think you need signs to tell you, but as humans you’re naturally drawing cues from your environment and if you see it every day it hits your brain that many times a day. It’s a mindset I think we’d have regardless but seeing those signs up constantly, even subconsciously just glancing at those signs as you  walk through the building I think creates that mentality.”

(On if there is a chance the team would take Buffalo lightly) – “No, I don’t think so at all. We have a lot of respect obviously we lost to them earlier this year and that’s reality. We’re not taking this game lightly at all we understand, especially the offense that’s how I think of things. They have a good defense, they have playmakers. A good front, opportunistic secondary that will pick off a pass if it’s there. There is no relaxing form an offensive perspective.”

(On why the team doesn’t run the hurry up offense more) –“I don’t know, you’d have to ask Coach (Mike) Sherman that. Obviously, the tempo of the game plays a lot into that. If you’re in a hurry up and you go three and out then your defense is right back on the field. I think there is a balance of finding when to use it and not to use it. We’d like for our regular offense to be good as well and it has been at certain times. I think we just need to be good at it when we’re in those situations and then fix the things that we need to fix in normal downs, normal tempo situations.”


Head Coach Joe Philbin Conference Call with Buffalo Media

(On what he makes of the news that Thad Lewis will start at quarterback this weekend) – “Thad (Lewis) is a very good player. He played well against us when he was down here at our stadium. He played real well against Cincinnati the week before that. He’s a very good football player. I think he is a competitive guy, tough guy. He’s got a good arm. He’s got good mobility. I was very impressed by him when they came down to play us in October.”

(On if preparing for Buffalo is easier after already seeing Thad Lewis compared to not playing against E.J. Manuel before) – “Not necessarily. At this point of the season guys this is our 15th game, and we’ve been at training camp since July 21st. We have a defensive system in place. While we certainly adjust it and tweak it based on the opponent we are playing, we don’t radically change any one particular thing, We are going to line up and play our defense, but we have a lot of respect for Thad Lewis and the rest of their offense.”

(On what has collectively happened to get on this run and pull the ship in the right direction) – “First we have an excellent group of men in the locker room. These guys are very professional. I think they’ve been able to stay focused and work through the usual issues that happens when you are building a team and putting a team together. Sometimes it takes a while to get all of the pieces working right. I think they just came to work every single day with a professional approach and a positive attitude. The games, really our season guys have really come down the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter of virtually every game, if you look at our season, literally we’ve had about 10 games that have almost come down to the last play. We talked to the guys on December 1st, ‘Hey, it’s December. We have five games left. There’s nothing to wait for. We’ve got to start playing our best football of the year. Hopefully we can continue to do that.” 

(On what his team has shown him to pull through, overcome and prove wrong the critics) – “I’m not surprised. Again when all the stuff happened, first and foremost our owner Steve Ross never flinched. Our staff, our coaching staff and other support staff in the organization, we never lost faith in the players that we had. They never lost faith in themselves. They just kind of kept working, and there was no pixie dust or magic dust that we threw around in the locker room. We kind just went out on the practice field, worked hard. They sat in the meetings and paid attention to the install and played with good effort on Sundays. So we’ve just been battling our way through it. That’s how we really got to where we are.”

(On how the offensive line is playing given it has been patched together) – “I like the way they are working together. They haven’t had a ton of time to mesh. It wasn’t like this is a group we assembled in the June minicamp or that worked together in the preseason or the first seven or eight games for that matter. This is kind of the group we settled on right now. I think their production the last few weeks has been good.”

(On how much the wintery conditions in Pittsburgh two games ago helped the team prepare for playing in Buffalo in late December) – “We talked to our guys and said, ‘Look guys, we certainly don’t control the weather. I think when the ball gets kicked off it’s really about blocking and tackling and the basic fundamentals of football,’ because yeah if that were the case we certainly didn’t practice in snow. We didn’t have any of those conditions in that temperature. We got our bubble down to 61 degrees, I think. That’s about what we can get our bubble down to. We are not going to have that luxury on Sunday either, but we’ve stayed outside in rain a couple of times. We get some wind down here. We’ll be fine. I think it’s going to come down to really the execution, and that’s stuff is kind of good to talk about before the game but I think when the game occurs it’s about football.”

(On needing to drop the temperature in the bubble by 40 more degrees) – “Yeah, I know (laughs).”

(On how important he feels building a team around weather elements during a certain time of the season) – “I think it’s more important you get quality individuals who want to be great professional football players. I think that is the first and foremost thing. The weather, I think all of that stuff is secondary. You want to get guys who love football and want to make a difference on the field, off the field and want to be part of something special. I think you can adjust your scheme and all of your other stuff once you figure out what those guys do best. I’ve always looked at it that way. I don’t know that the offense I was a part of at my former employer was necessarily built for the cold weather. I don’t know. That was never a discussion I was a part of.”

(On what he is saying the teams with the better players is the team that is going to win most of the time) – “Yeah, I don’t know about sheer talent but the team that is the better team usually wins. There is a lot that goes into that. It’s usually just not sheer size and speed and all of that stuff. There’s a lot of other things. I don’t want to say it’s simply pure athletic talent. That’s a starting point. I think as you are evaluating the people you want in your locker room, obviously they have to have the athletic skill but there is a lot of other characteristics that are as important, if not more.”

(On teams having letdowns after emotional victories) – “We talked to our team about it. We put it on the table. We talked about it. We addressed it. Our team we’ve talked about a 1-0 approach and a one-game season from the night before we played the Jets in our Saturday night team meeting. We put up 1-0, one game season, and that was our starting point on December 1st. I’m going to tell you December 21st when we are staying in Buffalo is going to be a thing on a PowerPoint that says 1-0. Now that’s easy for Joe Philbin to sit here and tell you guys on Wednesday afternoon, but I think our players have bought into that. We know our players are going to have to play very well up there against Buffalo. You look at their home games, they’ve lost two games in overtime. They beat Carolina there. They had New England on the ropes. They’re a hard team to beat up there, so our guys are going to have to play well.”

(On who or what that impresses him the most about the Bills pass rush that leads the league in sacks) – “I think they have balance. You just can’t say, as good of a season Mario Williams is having, you can’t put three guys on him. I think Jerry Hughes has been a great complement on the other side. They move him around. He’s had a very good year. Again their two inside guys, (Kyle) Williams and (Marcell) Dareus, they are excellent. Then they have some other guys that they sprinkle in there as well. They have a good pressure package. We are going to have all hands on deck against them.”


Defensive End Cameron Wake Conference Call with Buffalo Media

 (On if he knew that Thad Lewis would be the quarterback Sunday, and what is his reaction) – “It’s actually the first I’m hearing about it. I literally just got off the practice field. I still have my cleats on. Well I mean another guy we’ve played, we played him last time. A good football player, a guy who’s going to do whatever he can to make plays and it’s going to be our job to limit those opportunities. We gave them some big plays in the last game probably that kept them in the game. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot but we have to make sure we eliminate that so that we can have a better outing this time.”

(On what turned the Dolphins around since loss to Buffalo) – “If I’ve heard correctly I think 12 of our 14 games have come down to one score or less. Obviously we’ve been in a lot of games where it’s been close and it’s a lot of experience in playing to the end of the game. You have to literally play the full 60 minutes and when you’re in a game that’s that close at the end you literally have to go back and look at every play is the play of the game. It could be that play in the middle of the second quarter that turns around when you look at it at the end of the game was the play of the game but at the time you have no idea that that’s the case. I think we’ve gotten into a groove where, we are who we are and we have to go out there and you literally have to play every play every snap all out. There is no play off, there is no series off, no back side of plays. Everybody has to be all hands on deck and I think when we do that we’ll definitely be victorious.”

(On what the team did to pull together to ignore distractions and get on winning streak) – “Well honestly we came together April 15th. That’s where we kind of got together as a group. We have a room full of professional guys who play up to high standard and you talk about off the field but on the field there’s been adversity. We’ve had some ups and some downs but at the end of the day we’ve come together and done our best to make sure that when it’s time to make that play it’s going to be a win for the Dolphins. There’s definitely been no dull moments in this season. Every game you have to take your blood pressure medicine because it’s definitely been a hell of a game. We’ve definitely won the games and made the plays recently that need to be made so we’ve just got to keep that going.”

(On how well prepared the team will be for the elements on Sunday) – “Speaking from a guy who’s from the northeast, being a guy from Maryland, played at Penn State, the cold, that’s winter time. It’s normal to me. It’s still weird, I mean literally I just came off the field in shorts and a t-shirt, 80 degrees so that’s still a little odd. I mean we just came from a game two weeks ago where it cold and windy and snowy. It’s just like anything else in football whether it’s the crowd, or whether it’s the ankle that’s bothering you or the heat or whatever it may be. Those are things that you put outside your brain and you have to go concentrate on your job. We did that a couple weeks ago and I don’t think guys really key in too much on the elements.”

(On how the Pittsburgh game can help know what to expect for this week’s game) – “Well, again I hope that I can speak for most guys and say that we really aren’t concerned with what the weather is. I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees or 10 degrees that’s football. We play in the elements all the time and what the real issue is, is that the guy across from you is going to be trying to kick your butt and you’re going to have to do the same, play in and play out.  The weather doesn’t matter, it’s really probably the least of my worries. We have to go out there and play a full game and make sure we get a W.”

(On his thoughts of the Bills pass rush) – “Well you’re right, I do concentrate more on the offense. When I spend my time studying guys I’m studying the plays I’m going to get and the schemes and so on and so forth. I don’t really concentrate so much on the defenses that we’re going against because I’m not going to be on the field with them. I always have a passion for getting to the quarterback and rushing the passer and obviously those guys are doing pretty well. I think we’re not too shabby ourselves and we have a good group of guys upfront who can get after the passer. That’s something that we’re definitely going to make sure is high on our priority list on Sunday.”    

(On if there are any other pass rushers in football that he takes interest in watching) – “Well, it’s unfortunate now during the season I rarely get to watch football as a spectator. I watch a lot of games but their generally from a study standpoint. I’m actually watching a specific person or a specific group of plays or type of plays where I’m trying to study up on whatever is coming up for that week. To kind of sit down and watch a game for entertainment value hasn’t happened in quite a while. When it’s been the offseason, or maybe in a certain situations when I’m not playing anymore and I just sit back and watch I’m generally a guy who cheers for the defense regardless of who’s playing and I like to see guys get after the quarterback. It’s a skill that I definitely recognize is hard to do, it’s special to have and there’s a lot of guys in this league that are pretty good at it.”

(On how do you avoid a letdown after win versus Patriots) – “I would venture to say that’s not hard at all. From the moment you step on the field of football you have to learn that you have to have a short memory. It doesn’t matter if it’s forgetting something great or forgetting something bad. If you get a sack on one play you can’t be walking around with your chest out for the next four plays. The next thing you’ll know is your getting dumped on your head and they’re running the ball down your throat. Vice versa, if you miss something, miss a sack, miss a tackle or whatever it may be you can’t be out there pouting or else the same thing could happen. If you have something good happen whether it’s a tackle, sack , a game, you celebrate you enjoy it for that moment. Usually it’s short, maybe 40 seconds on the field or it can be like you said 24 hours as far as a game is concerned. This past week is a win just like the week before and the week before that. You did your job, there are things you have to fix and things you have to improve, you move on and literally nobody in this building has spoken about New England, we are on to Buffalo. That’s the way it’s been every week since we’ve been here, literally I haven’t’ thought about that game for quite some time and I’m already on to what I have to do with my job on Sunday.”

(On what it’s like to control your own destiny) – “Well the reality again is that the carrot isn’t there. There is nothing going on beyond Sunday right now. The season ends Sunday and it will start again Sunday at 4 o’clock or whenever the game is over. It’s literally a one game season, that’s how we’ve approached every game this past season and it’s literally been a 1-0 mentality. You win this game, you go you make the corrections and you move on and you do it again. You know that there is more games than this one but the reality is that you put everything you have into this game, do whatever you can to win. At four o’clock you can celebrate and enjoy it and then you have to move on again to the next one. It’s fun to play, I love playing the game it’s always good to be playing, quote on quote meaningful games this late in the season. Obviously we’ve been battle tested as far as these close games, theses big games. Every game these past five games have been the biggest game of the season and that’s the way we’ve always played it. The next game or the next play is always the most important one. I’m not thinking about a few weeks from now I’m thinking about Sunday and literally when you take care of Sunday all the rest of that stuff will take care of itself.”

Tags: Cameron Wake, Football, Miami, Miami Dolphins, NFL, Ryan Tannehill

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