Miami Dolphins Transcripts – November 18 – Head Coach Brian Flores, Flores Conference Call, QB Tua Tagovailoa, WR DeVante Parker, DT Raekwon Davis and S Bobby McCain

WR DeVante Parker

(I wanted to ask you about your pace this season. You’re actually after nine games, you’re kind of on pace where you were last year. The last seven games of last season you really tore it up. you had a few games over 100 yards. I think five or six touchdowns maybe. Do you think you need to turn it up here a little bit in the next stretch here to kind of meet those totals from last year and help the team out especially with depth being an issue at the receiver position?) – “Whatever position I’m in, wherever the coaches – whatever position they put me in to make a play, that’s what I’ve got do. I’m not worried about stats and all that. I just want to win and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’ve just got to keep doing that.”

(Kind of following up on that question. You had great success last year with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick because he was just kind of a star with those 50-50 balls. He would throw at a high point and you would come down with it. QB Tua Tagovailoa is a different quarterback. He’s timing and accuracy and boom-boom getting the ball out. Has that made you change your approach at all, your game and what have you done to build chemistry with him over the last month?) – “I would say we just spend a little time like during practice when we’re not up or something, getting passes on the side, get the timing good and just have to bring that over to the games.”

(I know you had that catch on the sideline. It looked like it was a TD but wasn’t. What did you think about it? Did you think you got your feet in and just kind of your view on that play?) – “On that play, I didn’t feel like I didn’t get my other foot down; but I felt like my shin or outside of my leg was down, so I thought that should have counted, but it didn’t. We still were able to punch it, so that’s all that matters.”

(When you see WR Jakeem Grant produce the way he did last week, how encouraging is that for the offense and then just for his confidence? He’s already a confident dude, but his opportunity now seems to be here to prove that he’s an NFL receiver.) – “Yeah, like you said, they gave him chance and he’s out there making plays. That’s what we need from him and he’s helping the team out, I would say, in every category. Special teams, too. He’s doing good in that. So whatever coach can do to help him; whatever he can do, it’s working.”

(I got to ask you about the stars inside your car. Is that a custom car you got?) – “No, I didn’t customize. It came with the car.”

(What is it? What kind of ride do you have?) – “It’s a Rolls Royce truck.”

(I wanted to ask you about the pass that QB Tua Tagovailoa caught off the ground on the snap and then threw it to you on the sidelines that you high-pointed, I think probably before the touchdown. I think that play kind of speaks a little bit to the chemistry that you guys may have, that he knows you’re going to be open. He knows you can high-point it. Can you take me through that play a little bit and your reaction to it afterwards when you saw that the ball was actually on the ground before Tua threw it?) – “Like you said, I was running the route – just a regular go route. I just looked back, I saw the ball was in the air, so the timing was still there. Like before, I didn’t know the ball hit the ground until after the play; but he still put the ball in the right spot where it needed to be and I was able to come down with it.”

(You were a part of that 2016 team that got hot – I don’t know what it was, six, seven or eight games straight late in the season to make the playoffs. You’re one of a few guys still left from that team. What from that experience can you carry over to now and what is the key once you’re this hot to keep it rolling?) – “Trying to keep everyone on the field as much as possible. Injuries are a big part of the reason why some teams can’t move on. Keep doing what they’ve been doing – it’s next man up in this league, but I think if we just keep on playing like we’re playing, keep practicing like we’re practicing; I think we’ll be fine.”

(Do you guys circle the playoffs or even the division, as a goal of things you guys want to conquer before the end of the season?) – “No, we just do it one game at a time. Take it one game at a time. That’s it.”

(You mentioned the injuries that teams have to overcome. You obviously overcame a bunch earlier in your career. What was it about you mentally that’s gotten to the point now where you can deal – I think you had a groin injury earlier in the season, you played through it. What has changed within you personally that you’ve got that mental fortitude to push through some pain?) – “Some injuries are real bad to where you can’t, but when I first started coming into the league, you’re not used to things like that. So you think it’s something real serious when it’s not and as you grow older, you know you can fight through things.”

(I want to go back to the question about this year and the 2016 team. Did you kind of have the same vibe, the same feel that you guys were onto something special when you started this run?) – “Yeah, I knew we do. Even the end of the season last year. Like I said, Coach Flores and all them are doing a big part in we’re building a team, and everything’s coming together right now. We’ve just got to keep doing a good job with that. We’ll be fine.”

DT Raekwon Davis

(You had a very impressive game this past week. You were very active, you were moving people back. Can you talk about the approach and mindset you wanted to execute in the game?) – “I just really want to help the team. Just be effective and just help the team. We knew going into the game it was going to be a big run and we needed bodies to stop the run. That was just part of my job.”

(A lot of guys that pre-date you – you might have been five when they were playing for the Dolphins – but they tell me that the position that you play is an extremely hard position to play in terms of learning and understanding and responsibilities. What makes that nose spot difficult?) – “You just have so many different blocks. Teams, they do different schemes and that middle is you. That middle is all you. Your name is written on it. You’ve got the A – you’ve got two A gaps. It’s hard. Basically you’ve just got to know your responsibilities, you’ve got to know what scheme that the offense is in and you’ve got to know what you’re doing at all times.”

(You’re from Meridian, Mississippi, is that right?) – “Yes, that’s where I’m from.”

(Is that a town that has a lot of recruiters come through? How did you get discovered? How do you think being from there formed you into the person that you are?) – “No, it was through one of my teammates. Schools were recruiting C.J. Hampton – one of my teammates back from high school. They just saw this big ole kid on the sideline playing ball. When all of that happened, that’s when I started getting my recognition and all of that from different schools.”

(There is a fun video clip where LB Jerome Baker said ‘Alabama offered you when you were 10, didn’t they?’ Is that a true story?) – “(laughter) No. I did not get offered by Alabama (then). I wish. (laughter) But no, I didn’t. I got offered by Alabama when I was like in the 10th grade. I was in the ninth grade going into the 10th grade.”

(A lot of us are learning over the past couple of weeks about RB Salvon Ahmed. Being in a rookie class with him, I know he wasn’t drafted; but can you tell us a little bit more about him and what it might be like going up against him in practice and some things we don’t know or see about him?) – “He’s a great, great guy. He’s someone you can learn from. He’s fun to be around and he tries to get better each and every day.”

(With you and QB Tua Tagovailoa, I heard you shout him out when you came on here. What is it like for you guys reminiscing and going through the thought process of playing with Alabama and playing here together with the Dolphins?) – “We talk about it all the time. Coming from the same college, we never – you wouldn’t think that me and Tua would be on the same team. We just left college. Now we are in the pros and we’re on the same team. It is just something you can just laugh about because you wouldn’t think we’d be on the same team together.”

(We talked to Head Coach Nick Saban in late April about QB Tua Tagovailoa and you and he mentioned how talented you are. He talked about getting the production to consistently match the talent. Was that anything he said to you to try to motivate you, and has that thought stuck with you and sort of driven you knowing how talented you are to be consistent play in and play out?) – “Yeah, Coach Saban is always a guy who would tell you before it got too bad. He would just stay on you. He would try to make sure you just stay perfect and do stuff right and keep learning and work on your technique.”

S Bobby McCain

(The fact that you and S Eric Rowe have been such a good safety tandem obviously is a testament to both of you guys first and foremost, but as you look back at the decision to switch you both from cornerback, do you look back and say maybe Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer and Head Coach Brian Flores were onto something? Are you glad your career sort of took this position turn at this point? It seems to have worked out very well.) – “Me and ‘E. Rowe’ (Eric Rowe), we’re just football players. We play where needed. We can do it all in the back end. We can play corner, we can play nickel, we play safety now; and we’re just trying to get better each and every week. We’re still learning. He’s learning, I’m learning little things that can make us better each and every week. So kudos to ‘E. Rowe,’ kudos to ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores), Boyer, everybody for putting us – they’re just trying to put the team in the best position to win.”

(I wanted to ask you, this week considering what’s going on with Broncos QB Drew Lock from an injury standpoint, how difficult is it or challenging is it to prepare for three different quarterbacks?) – “Just making sure because people don’t understand the quarterbacks, they have different physical assets and some are better throwers, some are better on the move; but you have to look at the coordinator as well and what’s his tendencies and what he likes to do and what he likes to do with all three quarterbacks in the game. There may be a little change when (Drew) Lock is in the game or (Brett) Rypien’s in the game, so just understanding what they like, whoever’s in the game, just know what they like and know what their tendencies are.”

(I’m assuming that going into the season, you guys had a spoken or unspoken goal of ‘hey, let’s make the playoffs.’ But you look up now and you’re only a half game out of first in the division. How much has that occurred to you that you guys are in the thick of the race and could conceivably win the AFC East this year?) – “We definitely understand that we’re in the mix and everybody’s excited that we’re in the mix; but as a team, we try to preach to guys just have a one-week season and don’t think so much of 13-3, think more of 7-3. And if you can do that each every week – go from 7-3 to 8-3 to 9-3 – if you can do that each and every week, that should be the goal. The goal shouldn’t – we’re not thinking hindsight and we’re not thinking down the road of ‘oh, we can beat this team’ or ‘what if we don’t beat this team?’ It’s just one-week seasons and understanding that you’ve got to prepare each and every week because every Sunday, any team could be beat.”

(This season I think more than any other tests the mental fortitude of teams. You’re dealing with stuff – you’re talking to us from your office, your den or whatever – your meetings are all remote the rest of the season, the NFL just announced. There’s a lot going on. You lose star players to COVID, all this. What in your past has prepared you for this moment? How have you been able – because you’re a fiery guy, you’re an emotional guy and you’re a tough guy – but what has gotten you ready for something that you’ve never dealt with before?) – “Just handling adversity. Being able to understand that it’s a lot bigger than you. Even though you’re out of your comfort zone and yeah, you’re having meetings at home and you’re used to being in the building and doing this and doing that, but everybody’s got to do it so you’ve got to understand that it’s about safety first, it’s about the players, it’s about the people in the building making sure everybody’s safe. And if we’ve got to be in intensive protocol the rest of the year, that’s just what it has to be and you’ve got to lock in and be able to understand that taking the teaching from the meeting and from the classroom to the field is going to be very important, because you don’t have that extra time in the building.”

(WR DeVante Parker said something interesting about he kind of felt like there was a direction for this team and that he felt like this team was special even at the end of last year because of what Head Coach Brian Flores has brought to Miami. I’m just curious, in your opinion, what is it about Coach Flores that you guys kind of bought into so quickly and then you saw it kind of pay off even at the end of last year?) – “Guys are just buying into doing their jobs and doing what they’re supposed to do. At the end of the day, football is about 1/11. If one out of the 11 guys doesn’t do their job, then that’s either a big play – and in my case in the defensive backfield that’s a touchdown. So just guys doing their job, making sure that you stay on top of it and at the end of the day, just competing. Competing to win and understanding that everybody has roles on the team and you have to just do your job at the end of the day.”

(After the Chargers game, Chargers WR Keenan Allen had a pretty unique quote. He said, “I would say we were pretty confused out there.” You don’t hear players say that too often in the postgame. He said that “the Dolphins were giving us so many disguises that the best thing to do was to run the ball and avoid catastrophic plays.” When you hear something like that, what do you think?) – “Just applying pressure and putting pressure on the quarterback, on the o-line, on the coordinator. Just putting pressure on those guys and making them feel us because you don’t know where we’re coming from, you don’t know what we’re doing and that’s a good thing. It’s good to hear. We have good game plans each and every week coming out, starting off and ending the week. Some things may change the day before the game. You never know, but that’s just being able to adapt. We have a big sign in the back of our room that says ‘adapt or die’ – not literally, but you understand – and just making sure that all the guys know where they’re supposed to be. It confuses offenses. They don’t know what to do and it confuses the quarterback, which is exactly what we want to do.”

(One thing I noticed when I re-watched the games is so much solid tackling on the back end between you and S Eric Rowe and I confirmed this on two sites, but you can correct me if I’m wrong. It says you guys have four missed tackles out of 82 attempts this year and that’s one of the best among all safeties in the NFL. So my question to you is, is there a sense of pride in being such a sure tackler and a sure-tackling team and is there like one or two traits that you think are consistent among teams that tackle well?) – “Definitely. Definitely. You have to practice tackling well and that’s one of our pillars in our defense. Set the edge, tackle, communicate, defend the deep part of the field and understand that tackling – when you make sure tackles, that just puts the ball back down. That gives you opportunity to get the ball back, so if you guys aren’t out there making sure tackles and the ball’s getting past you and breaking tackles and things of that nature, then those are big plays, especially in the back end like I said earlier. So that’s one of the things we emphasize on each and every week – not just training camp. Each and every week, just making sure we’re sure-tackling and we’re getting the guys on the ground.”

(I know you just answered a question about this protocol, but you’re one of the guys that talked earlier about the challenges that the NFL players have faced having to kind of be disciplined. Do you feel like it’s getting to a point now considering the severity and the ramped up cases that you guys might not be able to finish the season?) – “No, I haven’t thought about that one bit. I’m just thinking about Denver and we’re going to keep going each and every week. I know that those questions are above my pay grade, whether or not we’re going to finish the season, so I’ve just got to go out and play football. My job is to play football and that’s what I’m going to do. If they tell us we’ve got to stop playing because of the severity of the corona(virus), then we have to stop playing; but if not, we’re going to keep the train rolling.”

(I guess just piggy-backing, whether it’s the amoeba look you guys give – I don’t know if you guys call it that or just your better play on the defensive side of the ball – what do you think the biggest difference in this defense from last year? It seems like it’s completely new.) – “Just putting emphasis on the little things. Putting emphasis on the details such as tackling, such as making sure the play call – making sure we’re are all lined up, making sure guys are in the right positions and understanding what the offenses are throwing at us, understanding the weaknesses of the defense, understanding what the offense is seeing on film. That’s one of the biggest things. That’s one of the biggest steps we’ve taken as a defense, especially the secondary – understanding that we know our tendencies and we know that they know our tendencies; so help them help yourself. I’m not sure if that’s the right way to say it, but you’ve got to understand where your help is and understand how you can make plays and what helps the defense.”

QB Tua Tagovailoa

(The NFL released information that everyone is going into the intensive stage of COVID protocols. How does that impact preparation for games; and for you, is there concern that the league may not finish this season?) – “I definitely think that that’s going to be a big change for everyone and how we prepare – ot being able to hopefully walkthrough plays before practice and whatnot due to the times that we are meeting and the times we’ve got to drive over to the facility. But as far as us finishing the season, with all of that, I’m not going to speculate anything. I would say that’s beyond what I’m getting paid to do here. (laughter)”

(The team is 3-0 since you’ve taken over and you’ve been playing well. Did you picture your career starting with this sort of efficiency on a team level and a personal level?) – “I think for us, as a team, our goal is to just take it a game at a time. I think we’ve all been very fortunate to have won five in a row. We hope to continue to do the same thing throughout this week. That comes with our preparation and how we prepare with one another, the scout team giving us good looks – both offense, defense and in special teams. It’s not just me; it’s a collective effort from everyone.”

(I’d like to follow up a little bit on the previous question. I don’t have to tell you that most of the time when a quarterback is drafted, especially high like yourself, you wind up going to a team that’s rebuilding. I’m wondering for you, what is the pressure like to keep this thing rolling to get to six in a row, seven in a row or whatever it may be? How is that pressure compared to if you were in a situation where you were on a one or two win team, and you’re looked upon as the ‘savior?’) – “I think ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) alleviates all of that. He tells all of us rookies, all of us players in general, to just come out and perform to the best of our abilities. That’s all that they ask of us. I think for me, I just put pressure on myself to get the guys going and try to do good with what I need to help our team become successful. But yeah, other than that there is really no pressure. I just think everyone on this team – offense, defense and special teams – we just all want to do good. We fight for one another out there on the field and we play as a family and we play for one another as well. I think that alleviates all of the pressure and all of the outside talk.”

(I wanted to ask you about – I guess you did a podcast on Pro Football Talk, and you said you expected the NFL to be a lot harder. What did you mean by that? What specifically is easier than you thought it would be, and has Head Coach Brian Flores gotten into your year to say ‘hey rook, it’s going to get harder before it gets easier?’) – “I think that was probably taken out of context because after I said that, there was another paragraph that I said after that. But I still have a long ways to go. There are a lot of things I need to learn. By any means, I did not mean that the NFL was easy because it’s hard. It’s difficult to score, it’s difficult to move the ball against these guys. But just like from what I originally expected it was going to be as far as the difficulty, it wasn’t as I expected, is what I’m trying to say.”

(A couple of questions ago, you talked about the special teams, defense and offense all working together. You guys are the ninth scoring offense in the NFL but 28th in terms of total offense. I went back and looked at it and over the three games you’ve started, you’ve got nine takeaways and 49 points off of those. Four drives have started in plus territory and two of those on the plus one-yard line, so winning that hidden yardage battle. Obviously you guys want to score every time you touch the ball, but does that quick change opportunity created by the defense and special teams sort of give you an added since of urgency like we’ve got to go pay this thing off?) – “I think you always want to end the drives in a kick. Whether it’s a field goal or a punt, you always want to end it in a kick. When the defense gives us the ball back, we’re just thinking opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to put points on the board for what the defense did for us. For us, repaying it, we need to put points on the board. I would say yes to that question.”

(I have a two-part question about two of your offensive teammates. The first is about WR Jakeem Grant. I was wondering, what is it about his skillset that you’ve developed a pretty good chemistry – eight catches over the past two weeks. The other one is about RB Salvon Ahmed, you went out of your way to mention him after the game on Sunday without us even asking. What is it about him that he brings the juice to the games?) – “I think first off with Jakeem – Jakeem is a phenomenal player. He does a lot of brotherhood routes. And what I mean about brotherhood routes, he runs routes knowing he’s not going to get the ball but to get other guys open. And also, when his number is called, he’s there to make plays. It’s not just a wide receiver, it’s also in the kicking game as well. He’s just a really good teammate at the same time. With Salvon, he’s a rookie as well. Any time that I can give somebody like that some love – he’s undrafted and he’s trying to make a name for himself. I think he did a really good job for us in protection, and also on the ground every time he got the ball running. Every time that I can give credit to all of our other guys that don’t really have that opportunity, I’m going to do it.”

(What’s the coldest game you’ve ever played in and I’ve also wanted to ask you about the one day at a time mantra that Head Coach Brian Flores has been incessant with and you’ve repeated with us as well. What does the one day at a time thing mean to you?) – “The one day at a time thing, to me, is worrying about what you’ve got to do today. Thinking of adjustments you’ve got to make in practice and after practice, things we’ve got to fix after watching the film. So you’re not looking ahead, you’re just worried about what you have to do to accomplish the things that need to be done today. I’d say the coldest game I’ve ever played in was in 19-degree weather in Seattle, Washington. It was raining and it was windy. I don’t think that was a good combination. (laughter) I was super cold. That was when I was in high school.”

(Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey was talking about how you have an ‘everything is going to be alright mindset,’ which is good. People like to be around people who have that mindset. I was wondering what went through your mind when the ball hit the ground and you just kind of didn’t panic and threw it over to WR DeVante Parker on the right-hand side. And then, is there someone in your life who really when you think about that concept of everything is going to be alright, what sort of resonates in your head?) – “Coach Chan (Gailey) and (Quarterbacks Coach) Robby (Brown) and all of our other coaches offensively have helped me tremendously throughout the week, throughout the prior weeks as well, in helping me get ready and knowing where to go with the ball, being decisive with all of that. When the ball was on the ground, already in my head I knew where I wanted to go with the ball as far as my pre-snap read. So I got the ball, took a peek a little bit before I threw it, and with DeVante (Parker), you’ve just got to give him an opportunity to go up and get it. To me, I like my chances with giving him a chance.”

(In terms of a broader perspective in life, is there a person who has helped instill that peace in you that everything is going to be all right?) – “I would say that I probably get that from my mom. My mom thinks that everything is going to be good. She is a very optimistic person. She is very prayerful over her kids. I would say I get that from my mom. When everyone else panics, mom is the one (to say), ‘ok everybody, relax. Everything is going to be good.’ Then she goes on and eventually they do become good; but even when they are not, they end up getting good.” 

Head Coach Brian Flores Conference Call with Denver Media

(Where have you seen QB Tua Tagovailoa make the biggest strides from start one to last week?) – “I think he’s just doing a good job of communication, getting guys in and out of the huddle. I think once you get some game reps under you, you have a little bit more confidence. You understand the speed of the game. I think that’s something that every rookie, no matter the position, has to get acclimated to – how big, how fast, how strong the players in this league are, how smart they are, the different disguises that they give you. Obviously we’ll be dealing with that this week for sure with (Broncos Head Coach) Vic (Fangio) and the Denver Broncos defense. Look, he’s still young. He’s still got a long way to go like a lot of our young players. He’s working at it. Hopefully he continues to improve and get better.”

(The interview with the Broncos a couple of years back, what was that experience like for you and in prepping for that interview, what were your impressions of the Broncos team and organization?) – “Yeah, that interview was – I remember it vividly. Obviously (President of Football Operations/General Manager) John Elway was there, (President and CEO) Joe Ellis, (Chief Communications Officer) Patrick Smyth, (Vice President of Football Operations and Compliance) Mark Thewes and my good buddy (Vice President of Player Personnel) Matt Russell, who I know from our days in New England in the personnel department. It was just great for me to – just from doing my own background work – learn more about the Denver Broncos and their history and the Bowlen family and the great history that they have there as an organization. I was excited to interview with them. I thought it went well. It was just great to meet obviously the executives there and spend some time with them. I think Vic’s a great coach. They’ve got the right coach and the right people in place. It’s a talented team, that’s for sure. It was a good experience for me personally.”

(Your special teams unit has really helped you guys flip games this year, particularly during this winning streak. What’s gone into that? Obviously WR Jakeem Grant is a big difference-maker but what really has gone into, over the course of the time you’ve been the coach, building a unit that you know can be one that really gives you guys a leg up in games a lot of times?) – “Well I got my start in coaching in the kicking game. I was a special teams assistant for three years in New England under two very good – two of the best, honestly – in Scott O’Brien and Brad Seely. It’s an important phase to me. We place a lot of emphasis on that phase as well as offense and defense. We’ve got good players and they’ve been able to execute, and it’s important. It’s important to them – as important as any offensive or defensive snap. We try to place an emphasis in every phase and that’s no different.”

(What are your thoughts on the Broncos’ secondary, particularly their starters in CB A.J. Bouye and CB Bryce Callahan at the corners and then S Kareem Jackson and S Justin Simmons at the safeties?) – “Well, we’ll start with Justin Simmons, the Boston College grad. (laughter) I think he’s a very, very good player. I remember interviewing him when I was in New England coming out. He’s smart, obviously talented. He’s really played well over the first five years of his career. You see him growing and getting better, really on a weekly basis, quarterbacking the defense and making plays in the deep part of the field, tackling, blitzing. He’s a very good player. Kareem Jackson, I think he’s another guy who is a physical player, fast. The same thing with Callahan. He made a bunch of plays last week. And Bouye obviously has been a very good corner, a very productive corner, in this league for a long time. So it’s a good secondary, to include (Essang) Bassey, who jumps in there in the nickel position. So it’s a very good secondary. They’re well coached. They do a good job with disguising. Look, this is a good defense, I would say. I think they’re No. 2 in red zone defense. I think they’re up there as far as third-down defense. They get pressure on the quarterback. So you do the math. If you stop people on third down and keep them out of the end zone and pressure the quarterback, you’re doing pretty well. It’ll be a tough test for us.”

(Considering how S Justin Simmons has played this year and last year, would you put him in the elite NFL safety category?) – “I don’t like to put labels on guys. To me, he’s a guy who has improved. He’s gotten better every year play-to-play, whether it’s (the middle) part of the field or down in the box or in coverage. He’s been productive. He’s a very good player. I know him well. I’m not sure he needs the label of ‘elite.’ I think he just wants to go out there and make plays for his team. He’s a team guy. He’s a typical B.C. (Boston College) player. (laughter)”

(I would imagine as you guys were evaluating QB Tua Tagovailoa and you saw a good deal of WR Jerry Jeudy film, I was just wondering what stood out to you about him and what you’ve seen from him so far this season that makes him difficult to cover?) – “Yeah, he’s going to be a good player. He already is a good player. He does a great job with his releases, which as a young player, that’s one of the things that I would say oftentimes shows up last. He’s already very good from that standpoint. He’s very good at the top of the route. He’s got good hands. He can make contested catches. He’s good in the middle of the field. He’s good in the deep part of the field. I mean he’s a very good player. He’s going to be a very good player. He’s a tough cover. It’s not – there’s a lot of good youngster players there from (Tim) Patrick to (KJ) Hamler to DaeSean (Hamilton) to (Noah) Fant, (Nick Vannett). They have good backs. The o-line plays well together. This is going to be a tough test for us.”

(Are you preparing to face QB Drew Lock or QB Brett Rypien and how do you handle the uncertainty that the Broncos have at quarterback right now?) – “Obviously there’s a lot of film on both guys, so we’ve got to prepare for both. They’re both good player. Rypien went in there and got them a victory in the Jets game. He played well. Obviously Drew Lock has played well also and is talented and can make every throw. There’s plenty of guys to throw it to. It’s going to be a tough test with whichever quarterback we’re playing against. We’re going to have to prepare the right way and do a good job with our communication and tackle well and set the edge and just play good team football.”

(You guys obviously have a winning streak coming into this week. Do you like the mindset of your team? Are they focused on the next task instead of maybe getting excited about what’s in front of them?) – “I think it’s important, and we’ve talked about it, we just try to take things one day at a time and not worry about what’s in the future or what’s happened in the past. That’s a hard thing to do with young players. But I think just the way they responded in practice and how our meetings are set and the attention to detail in those settings, hopefully we’re not looking past – I don’t think so. This is a very good team, like I’ve said. This is a very good defense. We talked about the players on the defense. This is a very good offense. It’s just a one game focus. It’s hard to play in Denver. This is a good team.”

(Obviously Quarterbacks Coach Mike Shula is on the Denver staff. In your position as the Dolphins’ coach, how much is Don Shula’s legacy still felt as part of the organization in your job?) – “It’s a big part of our organization. He’s the all-time winningest coach in history and one of the greatest coaches of all time. His pictures are all over our building. The legacy he’s left is still a part of this team. Obviously with him passing this year, he’s on our minds. We want to try to play some of that same tough, physical, smart football that the teams he coached played. I don’t think Mike would want it any different.”

(I’m just wondering what sort of impact has Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville had for you? What sort of resource has he been? Obviously he spent a good deal of time here in Denver.) – “Yeah, Eric’s phenomenal. I think he’s a phenomenal coach. He’s a phenomenal teacher, communicator. He’s someone I’ve leaned on in different situations over the last 18 months since I’ve been here. Obviously he was here before I was here and we kept him on the staff. Just as far as the lay of the land here in Miami, he’s been someone that I’ve been able to lean on. I think he’s a great coach. I think he’s got a coordinator and head-coaching future. I think the players gravitate to him. They listen. He’s a very, very good coach.”

Head Coach Brian Flores

(I was hoping I could get an update on a couple of guys that have been out. We saw DT Christian Wilkins wasn’t brought off the COVID-19 list. Do you expect him to be out a little bit longer now? And also with RB Matt Breida and LB Kyle Van Noy, where do they stand?) – “Again, we’re just following the protocols on all players from a COVID standpoint. I’m not going to go into anyone’s medical situation. Breida and Van Noy, both – obviously Breida has been out the last couple of weeks but he’s been working to get back. He’s been practicing and hopefully he can continue to improve. I know he’s working hard and wants to be out there. Van Noy got dinged up in the game. He’s received treatment and just taking it one day at a time, trying to rehab and get back as quickly as he can.”

(I wanted to ask you, is there an early instance in your life, maybe with a former coach or family member or things like that where you first realized that one day at a time is the best approach to life and football, etc.?) – “Yeah, I would say that’s definitely the approach for a lot of people. That was my approach going up. I mean I’m not going to get into the specifics of that, but I learned early on that that’s the best way to approach things – not to look too far ahead, not to get too high, not to get too low, to stay even-keeled and just take things one minute at a time, one day at a time and focus on right now. But yeah, I’ve had experiences really throughout my life that have brought me to the conclusion that that’s probably the right way to go about things. I found some results doing it that way and that’s the message that I try to send to the players.”

(You were talking Monday about CB Xavien Howard and the interceptions. Regarding DE Emmanuel Ogbah, I’m wondering if it’s kind of the same thing. The sacks are obviously the thing that sticks out to people but he’s obviously bringing a lot more to the table than just that. What’s the thing about his great leap forward this year that has you most pleased?) – “We talked about it on Monday. I went back and did the math. Over the course of the season, most guys have let’s call it 1,000 plays. A 20-sack season is an all-time season. It’s literally two percent of the plays. I think we can all do the math. Everyone can do the math. But those are the plays that we’re focused on and I’m focused on the other – those plays are fantastic. We love them. Everybody loves them. Those are the flash plays. But it’s the other plays that we as a staff try to focus on, try to get all of those things right. Those plays that nobody is really watching that really help the team and help your teammates. I think Ogbah does a great job from that standpoint of taking on blockers, taking on double teams, setting the edge, getting in the gap on a game or a stunt, getting his hands up on quick throws, communication. Those things have been very good also. Again, the statistics – you can look at them a lot of different ways. I think when we spend a lot of time on the flash plays, the big ones, we forget about the other ones. Hopefully our players don’t.”

(There are collectively bargained reasons why you can’t put your players in a bubble, but those don’t exist for the coaching staff. You’ve had multiple coaches miss multiple games the last two weeks. Have you considered putting the coaching staff into a bubble and what would be the pros and cons of that?) – “I’m just going to – I understand the question – the bubble. But if I wasn’t able to see my family, my wife, my kids, I’m not going to be as good a coach. Period. So you can talk bubble and everybody wants to talk bubble and you don’t have to go in the bubble; you just want to stick other people in the bubble and not really care about their personal situation, so I’ll leave it there.”

(I’ve got a question from Houston if you’ll oblige me. I want to see, can you describe what Jack Easterby did in New England to help build a strong culture around that organization?) – “I’m going to talk about people here with the Dolphins. Jack – my experience with him and the time I spent with him was – I’m going to talk about people here at the Dolphins. I’m not going to get into what’s going in Houston or Jack. I’ve got a great relationship with him, but I’m not going to expand on that.”

(I wanted to ask you with the Broncos QB Drew Lock situation how much film do you have to do or study and where do you go when you want to study QB Brett Rypien and maybe QB Jeff Driskel, and how closely do you monitor that because of the quarterback uncertainty?) – “You watch them all. They’ve both played, so there’s plenty of film on both quarterbacks, really all three; so we watch it and we evaluate those guys, their strengths and weaknesses in conjunction with our game plan, and see if the game is called differently with those guys in there. If it is, then we’ll have to adjust, but I think they do a good job. They’ve done a good job working with the strengths of each different quarterback, so it’s going to be a tough test either way and they’ve got a lot of really good young skill players – (Jerry) Jeudy, (KJ) Hamler, Noah Fant, good backs. I think this will be a tough test for us.”

(I wanted to ask your thinking about WR Antonio Callaway. You activated him off the practice squad and put him on the 46 or 47 whatever it is this year, but didn’t play. What was the thinking behind that and also I think he’s reverted back to the practice squad but is not protected. I just wanted to get the thinking that the franchise is thinking about in Antonio Callaway?) – “We activated him and he was up for the game, so we were ready to put him in. How the game went, he ended up not playing, so the thinking is he’s a good young player. He’s getting better on a weekly basis and hopefully he can improve in practice, in meetings and get a better feel for what we’re doing offensively and in the kicking game and give himself an opportunity to play.”

(I think one thing we’ve certainly all come to know and learn about you is the focused mindset of your football team and the day-by-day improvement, but I was curious if you find it important to strike a balance with kind of the serious time and maybe when it kind of can be a little bit lighter, and what does DE Shaq Lawson do in your defensive meetings or your defensive line room to help kind of strike that balance?) – “What we do, it’s not easy. Playing football – yeah, you have to be demanding. It’s a physical game. It’s a violent game, so any way you can make it fun as a coach, you need to try to do that. I think each coach has their own different personality. Mine is different than a lot of other guys and a lot of other guys are different than mine, and each player is the same way. But I think as a coach, the best approach is to let players be themselves and coaches have to be themselves also. I think if you’re genuine and authentic, then you have peace with the things you say and how you interact with people. If you’re making it up on the fly, then I think people see through that, too. They’re young guys. They want to have fun, they want to laugh and they joke around with each other and they joke around with the coaches and we joke back. And Shaq is full of life. Shaq’s got a great laugh apparently and he’s a lot of fun to be around, and you don’t want to temper that as a coach. You want to let him be himself and bring his energy to the rest of the group and they feed off of it and I think it makes us a better team.”

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