Miami Dolphins Transcripts – November 10 – Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer, Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman and Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile

Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman

(Could you give us the top three reasons why K Jason Sanders is kicking so well right now?) – “(laughter) I think in my opinion, we have a very good rapport right now and a very clean operation with the snaps and the holds. Obviously any time that that triumvirate is working very well, it seems like to the kickers in the past and obviously with Jason now, that they’re really able to get a good, clean picture of what’s happening on the hit. And then he’s just in a good rhythm. As we all know in whatever our chosen profession is, there’s times when you just find that nice rhythm and things are going and they’re going smoothly and things are clicking. That’s sort of where he is right now and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”

(I wanted to ask about how crazy Sunday was with you guys missing a bunch of coaches. I know I think almost everybody had multiple roles. What was your responsibility beyond coaching special teams on Sunday and how do you think the staff handled all the craziness?) – “I think we handled it very, very well. We’re always in the next-guy-up mentality – whether it’s coaches, players – just as an organization, especially obviously this year during the pandemic. So whatever everybody’s opportunities are, whatever roles you need to pick up or transfer, I think we’ve talked about it since last spring and obviously have worked through it during the season. So when those things come up, we feel like we’re going to be in good position to just roll with whatever comes at us.”

(How do you, I guess, overcome the natural worry or fear that comes when you hear something like that? A coach on your staff has tested positive and not knowing how that would affect you one way or the other?) – “Again, I don’t spend any time even thinking about it, to be quite honest with you. It’s a pandemic. Anything can happen. You can do everything absolutely correct and properly and follow every guideline and still end up with the virus. So it doesn’t even enter my mind. I just come in every day and do my job and don’t even think about it.”

(I wanted to ask you about TE Durham Smythe, who had to leave mid-game in this game; and when he missed the San Francisco game a few weeks ago, Head Coach Brian Flores had told us about the impact that has on who dresses for game day. I just wanted to get your take on his special teams ability and the impact that he makes for you guys when he is available for you out there on special teams.) – “I think Durham (Smythe) probably doesn’t get enough credit. As an available player, he’s going to play three or four phases for us based on the week and how his play time is set up both in the kicking game and offensively. He’s very trustworthy, very accountable. So any time you don’t have those guys, it’s a knock; but we feel very, very confident in anything we ask Durham to do. (He’s a) good football player, a good leader and we’re happy to have him.”

(I know this play wasn’t under your department, but how thrilled were you for WR Mack Hollins when you saw him bring in that touchdown, especially considering the importance that he brings to special teams since Week 1?) – “Again, anything we can do to win the game and whoever is making those plays to win the game, I’m all for it. I’m happy for any player – whether it’s an offensive, defensive player – when those guys have to step up, if they make a play in the kicking game – and just like the guys that are predominantly kicking-game role players, when they get their opportunity offensively or defensively. So I’m very happy for Mack (Hollins) and obviously it was a big play in the game. I’m just very happy for the team.”

(Obviously K Jason Sanders hit one from 56 yards, which is I believe a career-long. He’s really good from 50-plus throughout his career. I’m curious, in practice do you guys even bother doing the 58 or 60-yarders? Has he successfully tried or made a 60-yarder in practice?) – “He has. Week-in and week-out, we have a certain number of kicks we’d like to hit in certain positions on the field – high, low, hashes, middle of the field, whatever it may be. And routinely we ask him to hit some of those longer field goals. So again, any time we send Jason (Sanders) out, his job and our job when that group goes out on the field is to score points. So if we’re sending him out there, we feel confident in what we’re asking him to do.”

(Just wanted to ask a little bit more about the coaching situation on Sunday. Did you have anybody in particular that helped you out on special teams or did any other assistants kind of stand out as playing a bigger or significant role in helping the communication, getting guys on and off the field, things like that?) – “Again, I’m not going to get into a lot of that stuff. I think ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) has talked about it. We had a lot of people step up. We had a lot of people ready to handle a lot of different roles, so it’s an outstanding staff – not only the coaching staff, but then you incorporate the strength guys who are always involved. So there’s always guys that do a lot more than a lot of people understand and know outside the building. And I think it just comes all with getting good people, hiring good staff and then everybody understanding that as things change, just like players – Mack Hollins came up earlier, going in and catching a touchdown – it’s the same thing from a coaching staff. You never know when certain things are going to be asked of you. We have a great group that’s always able to step up and handle whatever is presented to them.”

Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey

(Could you tell me what G Ereck Flowers means to that offensive line and where he’s at as far as his play currently?) – “He’s a veteran – one of the most veteran players we have up there. The one thing that’s great about him is his leadership and enthusiasm on game day. He really brings a lot of enthusiasm to the game every week. He’s excited about scoring. He’s excited about winning. That’s what you want out of those guys. He’s been a very good stabilizing force for us up there. He’s played well so far. I expect him to continue to play well and even improve on a couple of little things that (Offensive Line) Coach (Steve Marshall) has him working on.”

(When you were envisioning QB Tua Tagovailoa’s second start, I’m pretty sure you didn’t envision him going without three wide receivers, two running backs and his position coach; and yet, he went out there and played at a high level. What was the difference from Week 1 to Week 2 for him and how encouraged were you that all that he had to overcome as a player, he was able to do so?) – “I think probably the best answer for that is going to come from him. But from my perspective, as the game slows down, as he plays more – and I said this last week but I believe it’s the truth – as he plays more, the game will slow down and he’s able to see things better. He’s able to feel the game. He has a tremendous feel for the game. That allows him to see some things and do some things and throw the ball in some spots that other people might not do. I think that he just went out and played the game. He didn’t care who was there or who wasn’t there. He was playing the game and that’s what you like about him. He doesn’t think about adversity. He thinks about, ‘ok, how can we go be successful?’ That will carry a person a long way.”

(I wanted to ask about RB Salvon Ahmed. He led the running backs in snaps. What did you think of his performance? It felt like there were some plays there that showed some explosion that we obviously hadn’t seen before.) – “Yeah, he had some good plays and he had some things he’s got to work on. It was his first time out. He’s got some things that we’ll have to improve upon and talk about and get him better at. He does show what you just said. He does show some explosion. It was good to have that and be able to see a short run turn into a longer run with that burst that he has, to be able to get on the edge. I think he’ll improve. I hope that all of these guys that are playing for their first and second time, the second time they go out there I hope they improve and continue to improve. He was running the ball well in the first half so he played most of the second half.”

(We’re doing a story around the league on rookies at midseason. I wanted to ask you with no exhibition season and very little offseason, I’m wondering with rookies in general, do you think they’re still behind and will be behind all year? Or at this point, have they caught up in their development? What do you feel about that?) – “I think a guy that’s played in every game is pretty well caught up at this point. I think you get eight games into the season – halfway through the season – and you should be caught up if you’ve played in every ballgame. Those guys that haven’t, that are being thrown in there for the first time, they’re behind. They were behind because they hadn’t played early and they’ll be behind and it’ll probably take them about eight games to get fully aware of everything that’s going on and what they’ve got to do. If you hadn’t played in the first few, those rookies will be fresher at the end of the year because guys don’t realize a 16-game season, what that does to you.”

(What you said just now about playing eight games and being fully aware makes me excited about what you are going to see from QB Tua Tagovailoa the next six games. What do you think he has to prove moving forward and has to show? I also want to ask you about communicating with Tight Ends Coach George Godsey during that game? It seemed to me that he filled in for Quarterbacks Coach Robby Brown on the coaching staff there during the game.) – “That worked very well. We were fortunate in that Coach Godsey hadn’t been available earlier in the year, and that we had two coaches who had coached the tight ends so that (when) we needed George (Godsey) to come over and fill in for this, those guys had experience working with the tight ends to be able to deal with them on game day. So it worked out in a very good scenario for us to have George available to talk to me and to the quarterbacks and to do the communication. So that worked very well.”

(You said something about eight games in, players are going to get a lot more comfortable. What does QB Tua Tagovailoa have to show you more in the next six games? What are the next strides you want to see him take after Sunday’s performance?) – “The next strides are he’s got to see and understand defenses more and more. And that just comes from doing it. We worked against the same defense all offseason, so you didn’t have any preseason games to go say, ‘okay, this is what another team does, this is what another team does.’ He’s getting that on the fly. So I think just understanding defenses, what they’re trying to do, how they’re trying to attack you, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are; those types of things will be the strides I hope he makes here in the next few weeks.”

(I guess with everything that QB Tua Tagovailoa’s been through I guess over the last year, do you feel like he’s back to where maybe you were seeing him on tape in college as far as his play-making ability?) – “It looks like it to me. I can’t see a real difference. Physically is the one thing you had the concern about and I think he kind of relieved all our thoughts about that the other night.”

(I wanted to ask you about TE Adam Shaheen. I know he had the extension a couple weeks ago and we saw TE Durham Smythe out in that 49ers game and then leave this past game. I’m curious to get your take on the impact he’s had in that tight end room and the confidence level you have in him to elevate him into a more prominent role if someone like TE Mike Gesicki or TE Durham Smythe is unavailable ahead of him.) – “I think we have a great deal of confidence in Adam (Shaheen) and what he can do. He’s come in here, he’s learned the blocking schemes, he’s blocked well. Everybody can get better at that, but he’s done a good job there, and he’s a very good pass receiver. He’s been a big plus to our tight end room and we have a great deal of confidence in what he might be able to do in the future for us.”

(I wanted to ask you about poise and maturity as it relates to QB Tua Tagovailoa being 22. He kind of feels like an old soul to me. Can you think of an example of on-field poise and maybe off-field maturity since you’ve met the guy?) – “It’s hard to me to talk about on the field on game day, but in practice I see the way he interacts with the other players on our team and you see a real maturity there, the way he handles his interactions day to day, on a day-to-day basis. So is that on the field or is that off the field? I don’t know which one that is, but he really has a great deal of maturity in how he builds relationships with other people on the football team.”

Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer

(First of all, your thoughts on the defensive effort – you got another defensive touchdown, but you gave up more points than you have in weeks past. Was it a function of Arizona just being really good or what were some of the things that went wrong. And specifically with your corners, we’ve obviously seen them play at a high level throughout the season. Were you kind of surprised with some of the passes they gave up and the DPIs?) – “Again like every week, you kind of start with a self-evaluation and obviously I need to do a better job of putting our players in better positions. We could surely execute better, so we’re all going to work hard to improve that and make sure that we do a better job. I would say the Arizona Cardinals offense – that’s an outstanding offense. Coach Kingsbury (Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury) – you can’t say enough good things about him. He makes it extremely hard on a defense, so nothing but respect for them. They’re a very good offense and like I said, we ended up making the plays that we needed to make, but obviously there’s room for improvement and again, I would say that I could definitely do a better job putting the players in better position. I need to work hard to do that, and I think as a group, we could execute a little bit better.”

(I wanted to go back to the fourth-down stop late in the game there. To the untrained eye, it looks like both DT Zach Sieler and LB Elandon Roberts were on the scene first, but I was hoping that maybe you could give us an expert opinion on how that play was able to be successful for you guys at such a big spot in the game.) – “I think it was a group effort there. We got good execution. We were able to stop the play. I can appreciate the question. I usually don’t go into specifics on plays. I just think it puts you at a competitive disadvantage to talk about scheme; but our players were able to execute on that play. Obviously Zach (Sieler) and Elandon (Roberts) were part of that. Xavien Howard got in there on that play; but yeah, it was a big play for us in the game and I was glad to see that we executed it well.”

(I know this week was different for you guys because you had a few assistant coaches that weren’t able to come with you. How did that affect maybe how you were flowing through the defense and how you guys went about your normal game process?) – “I think ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) has done a very good job of from all the way before we started training camp, making sure that we had contingency plans in place – kind of a next-man-up mentality, whatever that entailed. And I think everybody that was asked to do things did it well. Again, I think (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle Johnston, (Vice President of Football Administration) Brandon Shore; those guys, they did an outstanding job of making sure that our protocols were being followed and that the safety of our coaches and our team were at the forefront. Ultimately we had enough guys to go to the game. Everybody that was on the next-man-up mentality was there and we were able to get a win on Sunday.”

(I’m just curious, what do you see moving ahead this weekend with the Chargers? Obviously a rookie quarterback who really doesn’t look like a rookie. What do you see?) – “Again, we’re facing a very good offense this week. You can take the record and throw it out the window. These guys have been in every game. They could have won every game. They’ve moved the ball well. They’ve ran the ball well. They’ve thrown the ball well. They’ve had explosive plays. They’ve got good players. They’ve got good scheme. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. They’ve used numerous different backs due to injury. All of them have been successful. They’ve got a loaded skill receiver group. They’ve got good tight ends and they’re really running at an efficient pace. It’s going to be a big challenge for us this week. This is a very good offense, so that’s what we’re working all morning on. Like I said earlier, we’re just trying to find ways to put our players in positions to succeed and we’ve got a huge challenge this week. This is a very good football team coming here this week.”

(I wanted to just go back to the performance by the coaching staff. Was there anybody in particular that you want to give some praise to that took on a bigger role on the sideline there maybe helping you guys get in and out of huddles, getting guys on the field, playing a real big vocal role on the defense on the sidelines?) – “I think ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) probably mentioned earlier in the week, it’s really a team effort. I think just like we ask our players to be, we ask our coaches to be the same way. It’s pretty much a selfless effort. Everybody’s just trying to do what we can do to win the game. I think everybody that was involved – whether they were on the field, not on the field – everybody was doing everything they could to help us win the game.”

(I wondered if DE Jason Strowbridge – had the practice work improved to the point that you all wanted to use him last week? Did that contribute to why he played and how you thought he did? And just also DT Raekwon Davis, how he’s played the last couple weeks.) – “I think for both guys – Jason (Strowbridge) and Raekwon (Davis) – I think like we ask all our guys to do, we ask them to try to improve on a weekly basis. Jason actually, he got some opportunities this week. There were some good things. There’s some things that we can correct. Again, we’re going to just keep trying to get better and better each week because we don’t have any easy games on the schedule. Every week is hard and the goal is to win each week, so it’s important for us to improve. We know other teams are improving, so we’ve got to set the bar pretty high for us and especially for young guys, you hope that that improvement comes at a rapid pace. Both of those guys are working hard to do that and we just need to continue to get them better as we go.”

(I’m wondering where you place yards allowed in your priority list of things that are important to you at the end of the day when you look at the stats and look at the game film?) – “I would say in order, for me, when I look at it; one is did we do what we need to do to win the game? Two, obviously we would like to keep the point totals down. Three, we would like to get the ball back to the offense as soon as we possibly can. Obviously we’re not trying to give up big chunk yards, big plays; but as far as the stats go, like I said last week, I don’t really pay any attention to them. It’s more of a factor of us trying to put our players in position to succeed and for us to win the game, and really ultimately as a defense, what you’re trying to do is limit the points and get the ball back to the offense, and that’s kind of the way we look at it, we approach it. Ultimately, you’d love to go into every game and the offense has minus yards and you intercept every pass they throw, but this is a tough league. The coordinators are good. The offensive players are good. Sometimes they’re going to make plays; but at the end of the day, like I said, what you’re trying to do is win the game.”

(I have an important question on Chargers WR Keenan Allen in terms of he’s one of the better route-runners in the NFL. How difficult is it to kind of get some of your best cornerbacks on him considering how much he works inside and in the slot?) – “I would say Keenan Allen is a very good receiver in this league. I would say he’s a very good route-runner. He makes big catches for them in big situations – third down, red area, two-minute. He’s a very talented receiver. There’s a lot of things that – like I said, we’ve got a big challenge. They’ve got other guys – (Jalen) Guyton – that can take a top off the defense. Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, they have so many weapons. Their backs out of the backfield – pick a back, it doesn’t matter who it is – (Austin) Ekeler, (Justin) Jackson, (Troymaine) Pope, (Joshua) Kelley, it doesn’t matter. These guys are a very good offense. They present you with a lot of problems, and they’ve got a lot of good players everywhere and Keenan Allen is a big part of that. So like I said, we’ve got a huge challenge this week in front of us and again, our goal, our time, focus and energy is putting our guys in the best position to succeed.”

Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile

(We’ve seen a high volume of big plays these last couple of weeks from LB Elandon Roberts in these last couple of weeks. Maybe a bit of a slow start, but high-impact plays recently. What’s changed for him? Is there anything you’ve been working with him on that we’ve suddenly seen this big-play ability the last month?) – “Not really. Not really much has changed. I always say feel like we say this in the room: big plays are made with anticipation. When you can anticipate, what’s going to happen, you have a pretty good idea it’s one of two things as opposed to one of 10 things. I know I’ve said that amongst you guys before as well. That gives you the opportunity to go out and make some of those plays. He really studies about as hard as you possibly can. He’s really a great guy to coach in that way. I would attribute most of that to him. That’s why we wanted him here and he’s brought that to our team. He just prepares relentlessly every week. I think that’s just a byproduct of that.”

(How did your role maybe change Sunday and this week with you guys being down a few guys due to protocols on the staff?) – “I just think everyone picks up for one another. ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) has done a tremendous job with that. He’s had a contingency plan and we all just stick to the plan in terms of what gets altered slightly for each guy. That’s why it went pretty well the other day and he’s done a great job with that.”

(How wild was it on Sunday? Did you feel like a lonely man out there? And who was the unsung hero of the day that really stepped up and made a difference for you guys?) – “I just thought that everybody collectively (stepped up). That’s what a team is. I feel like that’s what Coach Flores has built here. That’s really like the length and shadow of one man. That’s him. That’s what he’s been preaching ever since I’ve been here, that everybody has to pull in the same direction. We’re all going to need each other at some point. One week the offense is going to need the defense, the defense is going to need the offense, whatever it may be. That’s true of a coaching staff. If you want to have a great team, you better have great teammates. I feel like on this staff, we’ve got a ton of great teammates. The players, really more than anything, I thought they did a tremendous job on Sunday. I really did. Just playing, and in between drives and everything, they were great.”

(I like watching DT Zach Sieler in his pregame warmup. He goes like 100 miles an hour. It’s like he’s trying to play a preseason game before the real game. I think Outside Linebackers Coach Austin Clark does the Rocky thing with the covering of the pads; but I couldn’t tell from so far away, did you fill in for Austin or did someone else fill in on that?) – “Yeah, there were a couple of coaches over there. I was still with the linebackers during the pregame; but Zach is 100 miles an hour and he’s a great dude. He practices that way every day. I know some of you guys have obviously been at practice and seen that. Him, like many others, he was ready to go.”

(I wanted to ask you about LB Kyle Van Noy. He seems to get some crap from the other guys for being the old guard, so to speak, on the defense. Do you give him a hard time for being a whopping 29 years old? And can you speak on maybe how underappreciated he might be on this defense, and some of the underlying things he might do for this defense that we don’t see as fans and media?) – “I just think that a guy like Kyle is incredibly bright. He has a high IQ in general, but really a high football IQ. I think he’s really been helpful for a lot of the younger guys as well, just in terms of even the day-to-day talking to them, schematics within each game plan. I think he does a great job throughout the week in preparation, just like Elandon, like I was talking about before. I think he does a great job in the game on the sideline in terms of being aware of the information, communicating with the coaches and the players alike. He’s really just – he’s been a pleasure to coach that way, and has brought a lot to our team.”

(What is your go-to when you are not eating something Italian?) – “Oh, man. That’s tough. The good thing about me is I’m like a human garbage disposal, so I’ll just eat anything. Like if you put something in front of me, I’ll eat it. That’s a tough one. I’m pretty easy, though. My wife is Portuguese. She cooks a lot of Portuguese food. I love that. I’ve been enjoying trying pretty much everything down here. Like I said, if you put something in front of me, I’ll eat it. That might not be a great answer; but yeah, just about anything.”

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