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Coach Speak: Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin Talks to Media

December 26th, 2013 at 7:33 PM
By Mark H. Stowers

'NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend' photo (c) 2008, Mike - license:
The day after Christmas wasn't filled with gift returns at Dolphins headquarters. The team was practicing for its regular season ending with the New York Jets and the media both in town and out were in full force to get quotes from head coach Joe Philbin and players Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey. Here's the jist of the conversation with each:

Head Coach Joe Philbin:

(Opening statement) – “I thought we had a good practice today. The guys, we aren’t used to practicing on a Thursday obviously, but I thought we got a lot of things accomplished. It’s good to have our owner, Mr. Ross was here and practice today and spoke to the guys. As I told the team, Steve (Ross) has been supportive throughout the entire season and has always had great confidence in this team. We are excited about the game on Sunday.”

(On if he gets a sense his players aren’t stressing out over the various playoff scenarios) - “Yeah, I don’t think so. We talked about what kind of game we want to play against these guys and the challenges they present. They are a good football team. They are obviously playing better than when we went up there and played them in December 1st. I think they were very focused today in practice. We finished five minutes ahead of schedule, which again is one of the barometers, not the only one, a barometer that the focus was good, the concentration good.”

(On what owner Steve Ross said to the team and how the message was received) – “Yeah, again he has a lot of faith and confidence in the guys. I’m going to leave any of the other specifics out, but the guys were glad to see him.”

(On what the energy level was like switching schedules coming off Christmas) – “I thought it was very good. I thought it was very good. Today is an important practice. We did a lot of third down work, a lot of redzone work, which are two critical parts of the ballgame. As I said, I thought the speed, the tempo, the concentration, as I’ve said to you guys many times the look teams are really, really important, not just this week but every single week. I thought again they did a good job, too.”

(On how important making the playoff is in putting a stamp of legitimacy on all the work put in since training camp began) – “We are really focused on this game at 1 p.m. against our division rival at home. It’s an important football game. It’s important as a football team to finish strong. We talked about playing our best football of the year in December. We’ve won three (games) out of four, and we need to go out there and play our best game of the year. I think everything else would take care of itself from there.”

(On if he thinks it is important to the franchise to make the step into the playoffs) – “At the press conference, I talked about building a team that was going to consistently compete for championships, and Sunday at 1 p.m. we are going to have to play our best game of the year. That’s what’s really important” 

(On how he feels and if he has faith in his defense to make clutch plays in the fourth quarter) - “Definitely. We’ve practiced that stuff all the time. We’ve practiced last plays of the game. Every single week we’ve done a ton of two-minute work, and I have a lot of faith in these guys. They prepare well. They’ve competed hard. I definitely have confidence in them.”

(On his breakdown of the Jets’ Antonio Cromartie and if he’s seen an improvement of Dee Milner during the past two weeks on film) – “(Dee Milner) seems like he’s playing a little more comfortable, a little more confident, and they do a good job in their secondary. They give you a variety of different looks, a lot of different coverages. They don’t press every single play, but they are good when they do. They play off sometimes. They play press. They give you some cloud. They’ll press and bail out of there. They do a lot of different things that you have to be ready for and have to prepare for. I think both of those guys are playing well.”

(On the key to running the ball so well against the Jets defense in the first game) – “The elimination of penetration I think, as I’ve said many, many times, that’s the number one detriment to a productive running game is penetration whether it is at the point of attack, whether it is on the backside, it doesn’t really matter. I think that was the number one difference on why we had success.”

(On if he thinks if Bryant McKinnie’s comment about the Bills defense knowing Ryan Tannehill’s cadence is legitimate) – “We used a variety of snap counts in that game as we do each and every game.”

(On if the Bills maybe knowing Ryan Tannehill’s cadence was not a problem at all) –“Again, we use a variety of cadence. I’m not going to sit here and tell you. At times, as other opponents and we have at times, at times a defense times things up very well. We’ve done it to opponents at times, and opponents have done it to us.”

(On the Jets passing game and what their receivers pose to his team’s secondary) –“Yeah, it’s a good group. (David) Nelson is playing well. (He’s) a big guy and seems to be progressing nicely. (Jeremy) Kerley is kind of one of those tough, competitive, smart player (with) good hands, finds a way to get open. And (Santonio) Holmes has got that game-changing type of impactful play ability. It’s a good group. (Kellen) Winslow and (Jeff) Cumberland are doing a nice job at the tight end position. I think they are doing some smart things with the quarterback. He’s playing better”

(On the biggest area of growth he’s seen from Jelani Jenkins) –“Just the confidence level of getting out there. We have a variety of different calls. I think he just feels better about the checks, the adjustments, how a motion may change his assignment or an offset back may change his assignment. I think he’s gotten more repetition that has led to him feeling a little more confident and comfortable with the various calls in the scheme.”

(On the key to Ryan Tannehill playing well Sunday) –“Well we talked to the team about we’ve got to do a better job protecting the quarterback and pressuring the quarterback. We had one sack on defense. We gave up seven last week. We have to do a better job. We have to protect the quarterback better. We’ve got to pressure their quarterback better.”


Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill

(On what Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace has meant to him) – “It’s great to have two really good players. They both can go get the ball, they’re a little bit different in their styles of play obviously but two guys that really helped this offense out this year.”

(On if he believes that the Bills timed up their cadence from the game) – “I haven’t talked to him about it. It was brought to my attention that he had thought about that during the game. Those guys would probably know more than I would know during the game if their getting a jump on us upfront because obviously their looking directly across at the guy from them. I’m sure it’s something we’ll evaluate this week.”

(On if you can change you cadence during the game or at halftime if the opposition is timing the cadence) – “We always have the ability to change the cadence. If it was something we’d discussed of course we’re going to move on it during a halftime or whatever.”

(On if it’s possible for a quarterback to target a specific cornerback, and if he can target Dee Milliner) – “Well he’s been playing very well the last couple weeks so you have to give respect to that. Our offense is not so much to pick on a guy, you kind of go through your progressions and if you have a matchup you’ll take it. I don’t think we completely focus on singling out one particular person.”

(On how important is making the playoffs to adding a stamp of legitimacy to their season) – “Well it’d be nice obviously, but all we can control is this game. We have to go out and play. I think it’s going to be a motivated Jets team coming down. We beat them at home a few weeks ago, and I think they’re going to want to come and do the same thing to us. We’re going to have to be ready to play. What happens from there, we’ll see.”

(On what he sees differently from the team on film compared to when they faced them previously) – “We knew going into the first game that they had a good front seven, some good pass rushers upfront. I think we just did a good job of blocking them throughout the game the first time we played them. It seems like they’ve gotten back on track since we’ve played them so it’s going to be a good matchup.”

(On if they can see the season as a success if they don’t win on Sunday) – “I’m not worried about that. I’m totally focused on winning this game.”

 (On what does the public miss about Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace that will give them clues to the person they are) – “I would say (Brian) Hartline’s detail, day in and day out, coming out to practice every day, being detailed in how he runs his routes, working extremely hard. I think Mike (Wallace) is a funnier guy than people know. He has a handshake with each of the offensive lineman that he does all the time, during practice and during games. He definitely brings a little juice to the huddle that way.”

(On how he’s feeling) – “Good, good.”

(On if there are any affects, does he feel fine) – “No, I feel good.”

(On if there is anything that the Dolphins did vs. Buffalo that can be corrected) – “Well there’s a lot of things that we can fix, that are correctable. Obviously, not much was done well in that game from an offensive standpoint. I don’t think we came out flat or there was no sense of deadness in the locker room leading up to the game, during the game on the sideline, anything like that. We just didn’t execute well, they played a good game and we didn’t. Definitely there’s a lot to be fixed but it’s not something where we didn’t come out ready to play or something like that.” 

(On if he will have to change something to keep the defense away from him) – “That’s football. When you play a team, especially a team that has a coordinator that has close relationship with another team, and they have success against you, you have to expect to be able to defend the things that you didn’t do well the previous game. We’re going to have to have a plan, and execute better than we did last game obviously, be able to pick up the pressures and get the ball out on time.”

(On if he feels like this is his biggest game in the NFL) – “Obviously we know it’s a big game and we realize the implications of this game, we’re not stupid. We have to approach it 1-0 because if we don’t win this game then there’s nothing else, or no chance of anything else. We’re approaching this game 100% focused on the task at hand. We know that it’s a talented Jets team that can make big plays is coming to town and we’ll have to be ready to play.”

(On if the week feels different) – “Well it feels different in the sense that it’s a 1-0 season at this point. It’s black and white 1-0 season as opposed to theoretical 1-0 season.”

(On knowing all the scenarios involved with this weekends game) – “Right, yeah you know, we know the situation that we are in.”



Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Head Coach Joe Philbin

(On his emotions heading into this weekend’s game with a win taking a big step towards the playoffs) – “We have a good group of men in the locker room. I think that they are professional. They have gone out and competed hard virtually every single game that we have played. We have had an opportunity probably in the 15 games to legitimately win 13 of them I would say and we have had opportunities, obviously we are 8-7 so we didn’t win all those games, but I like the way they prepare. I like the way they come into the building and work and this is a huge game obviously.”

(On what his message has been to the team through all the distractions that have taken place during the season) – “Well we are all professionals and we all have a job to do. We all have a responsibility and obligation, our owner has provided us the resources and the support and commitment to build a championship type organization and every day when we come into the building, whether as you mentioned, 10 satellite trucks out front or none, our job is to get ready to play a football games usually on Sunday afternoons. We all have lives outside of football, personal lives, sometimes there are things don’t go the way you want there and you have to deal with it and you have to carry on. I think our guys did a good job staying the course and we didn’t have any magic formula and we just kept coming into work every day and giving an honest effort.”

(On if he had to give the team an ‘us against the world’ speech to get them to this point over the course of the past few weeks) – “No, we just never lost faith in one another. We thought that we could accomplish some things this season if we were all unselfish and tried to do our best to maximize our contribution and just to focus on the task at hand. We kind of had a 1-0 mantra and we have talked about playing our best football year in the month of December and that is what has to happen this Sunday.”

(On with the Baltimore Ravens playing at the same time will he be scoreboard watching on Sunday) – “No, not at all.”

(On if the distractions worked in a positive way and helped the team focus during the season) – “It’s hard to tell. I tell the team all the time one of the great things about NFL football, certainly when we gathered on July 21st none of us could predict some of the things that would happen in an NFL season. That has certainly been true of us. Nobody would have predicted that we would pick up a player (Michael Thomas) on a Tuesday and he is the AFC Defensive Player of the Week five days later. That is the beauty of NFL football, you just don’t know, it’s a little bit of a ride and you have to avoid kind of getting too high or too low and I think these guys have done a relatively good job of that.”

(On comparing and contrasting the 2012 season to the 2013 season and how he has grown as a person over the past year) – “I thought that last year we laid down a solid foundation in terms of how we wanted to prepare for a game and how we wanted to conduct our business on and off the field. This year certainly as a head coach, you’re in it for your second year you know a couple of the landmines that might be out in front of you, but you are not always certain, things change. I told the guys, it’s a privilege to be head coach of the Miami Dolphins. It’s a great organization; we have a lot of people here that are committed to doing things the right way. We have a great support staff and its fun to come into the building every day and do something that you love to do.”

(On if it is fair to say that this isn’t the same Jets team that the Dolphins played a few weeks ago) – “Those guys are playing well. As you mentioned, they are doing a better job offensively. Their production has been much, much better. I think they are taking good care of the football, they are protecting the quarterback better and the scoreboard has reflected that and their defense has always been good and they are playing well on defense too, so they have definitely improved.”

Center Mike Pouncey Conference Call with New York Jets Media

(On why the Dolphins offense was successful against the Jets highly ranked defense in the first game) – “We ran the ball very well against them the first time. If you go back and look at it, not too many teams had success running the football. We kind of did in the first game, and it kind of set up the rest of our offense. Our receivers made some plays after the catch, and we had a complete game that first game.”

(On if he’s seen any improvement from the Jets defense since the first game) – “Oh they are really playing (well). They have a really good defense. Even when we went up there and played them, we knew that that wasn’t their best shot they were going to give us. We knew coming into the second game that they were going to give us everything they had this week. We are prepared for it. That defensive line is really active. They have one of the best front-sevens in the NFL

(On how they were able to protect Ryan Tannehill so well in the first game against the Jets) – “We just did a really good job pass protecting. I think what set us up for our pass protection game was us running the football. It kind of wore them down in the first half pounding the football against them. In the second half it was easier to pass protect him.” 

(On what were some of the causes of struggle last week in Buffalo) – “We just couldn’t get anything going on offense. We came out real slow. We didn’t run the football at all. Then we just didn’t make any plays. They played better than us. We really didn’t show up last week.”

(On if this is the same Jets team they played earlier in the month or if they are a team on the upswing) – “No this is definitely not the same Jets team. They are playing really good on offense. The first time we played them they didn’t play really good on offense, so they kept their defense on the field a lot in the first game. That’s something we’ve really got to focus on is getting them off the field and running the football so they don’t set us up for the pass rush.”

(On what his impression is on the job the team has done in dealing with the distractions from earlier in the season) – “I think everyone did a great job kind of just trying to focus on football even though we had all of the outside distractions, all of the media trucks outside of our camp. I think Coach (Joe) Philbin did a great job keeping guys’ mindset just on football and trying to eliminate all of the distractions. We kind of got through it, and now we are at the point where this game is everything for our season right now.”

(On if the experience dealing with distractions during the season brought the team together) – “Well I think a lot of guys got closer just for the fact we felt like we were against the world a little bit, so we kind of wanted to prove everybody wrong. It brought us closer. It made us a better football team.”

 (On if he expects to see a fired up Jets team Sunday that might be playing for their coach) “We definitely expect to see that. We know those guys love their head football coach. We all know he’s a very good football coach, and those guys are going to come out and be fighting until the very end for their football coach. It’s going to be a really good game. It’s a rivalry game for us and for them. It’s going to be high intensity, and we are looking for a good crowd and we know it’s going to be a good game.”

Tags: Football, Miami, Miami Dolphins, NFL

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