Miami Dolphins Transcripts – November 19 – Head Coach Brian Flores, RB/WR Malcolm Perry, T Austin Jackson, S Brandon Jones and LB Jerome Baker

LB Jerome Baker

(I wanted to ask you about Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile. He seems like a real energy guy, a real whole ome family-oriented guy. What have you noticed about him and what has your experience been like working with him this season?) – “’Coach Camp,’ he’s full of energy. He’s full of excitement. You can just tell he cares a lot. He cares about every little thing. He’s just a guy that cares. He definitely brings a lot of energy to us.”

(When you arrived, you were at the tail end of several seasons where the Dolphins would come out in the first half of games and really struggled to take command of the game and struggled to score. Now you guys are tearing it up the first quarter. What is it about your preparation or you mindset that is enabling you to really jump on teams? What do you see when you look into the eyes of the opposition when you guys have jumped to a two or three touchdown lead and the ballgame has just begun?) – “I think this year, we put a big emphasis on starting fast and not just defense, not just offense, but as a team in all three phases. I’m a firm believer that if you put an emphasis on it, it’s going to work out. This year, the emphasis has been to start fast, start fast, start fast. We’ve proven that we can come back or different things like that. This year, we really wanted to, every game, start fast and lately we’ve definitely been doing it.”

(This is a team with two talented backs with two different running styles. With all that goes on in the 40 seconds between each snap, do you have time to really key their substitutions and how does their ability to swap those two talented backs in and out change your approach and maybe your pre-snap checklist?) – “Yeah. You definitely have time and if you don’t have time, you have to make time. They definitely have two unique backs and what I mean by that is you have to do your homework of who is in the game because you can eliminate – or kind of have anticipation of what they are trying to do with that back. For us, that’s been our goal with pretty much anybody we face. You have to know who is in the game, you’ve got to know who you’re going against, what they do well, what they struggle with and play accordingly. You definitely have enough time. You’ve really just got to really know your stuff.”

(I wanted to ask you this question primarily based on that you played the least amount of snaps last week that you have all season. You’re the leading tackler. How difficult is that for a guy who has been playing such a prominent role to minimize yourself and play the role and scheme they have for you every Sunday – no matter how little or how much?) – “I think the one thing I can say about me is I do whatever just to win. That’s why I play so many different positions, that’s why I do so much. My role is always switched. For me, it’s all about winning. Last week I didn’t play as many snaps. It really doesn’t affect me because the outcome was a win. I’ve played game where I’ve play 99 percent of the snaps and I’ve played other games where I didn’t. Ultimately for me, we came out with the win and that’s all that’s important to me.”

(Obviously you guys have won five straight and are in the playoff mix. If you all win Sunday, you are tied for the division. Do you circle any of those things as a goal before the end of the year – win the division and make the playoffs?) – “I think that’s the unique thing about this team is we truly do not – I’m not going to say care, but we really don’t make that an emphasis of this is what we’re going to do. The one thing is we truly just want to get better every day. Even in the video, I truly didn’t even know our record. I just go out there and keep winning games, keep winning games and in the end, it’s going to come out how you want it. I think for us, our main goal is to just get better every day and let the season handle itself.”

(The amoeba defense, I don’t know if that’s what you all call it or if you all call it something different. What does that do when you get that as a play call? What goes through your mind when that’s called and you see the other offense’s face when they don’t know what’s going on?) – “For me, I get excited. You don’t know who is down, you get to hear all of the different checks. You kind of just mess with the offense. They might say I’m the Mike. I would mess with them and say, ‘no I’m not.’ Then you look up and a tackle or guard didn’t hear and they asked what happened. The center snaps the ball, the next thing you know, we’re in the backfield. For me, I get excited because it’s kind of like a mind game. I know it’s confusing and the more you try to communicate, I’m going to communicate with you. I’m going to mess you up. ‘Did you say I’m the Mike, or is he the Mike?’ You kind of just have fun with it. I think that’s one of my favorite calls or my favorite defenses because you don’t know who’s who. We’re all moving, we’re all jumping around, we’re all talking. For the offense, it’s pretty tough. The more you confuse an offense, the more fun for defensive players you can have. I love it.”

(I wanted to ask you about the standings and everything. You said that you truly don’t know your record. So when we tell you that you can catch Buffalo for first place, is that a surprise to you? Did you know that? Are we poisoning your mind?) – “I know our record now. Kyle (Van Noy) told me last game. (laughter) But it’s going to work out in the end. If we just keep winning games, everything is going to work out. That’s the main thing. It’s going to work out. If you just constantly win games in this league, you’re going to get where you want to go.”

S Brandon Jones

(Good to see you getting regular playing time on defense. It’s been 20-30 snaps like last week. Where do you think you’ve improved as a safety from your time at Texas? What specifically have you gotten better in?) – “I would say overall, just being able to – I think it’s a lot different. I think the Dolphins always set the players to put them in the best position to be successful, so I just try to learn as much as I can and do whatever I can. Improvement-wise, I’m always hard on myself. I think there’s things that I need to improve on, on a daily basis for every aspect of my game. So that’s one thing that’s always kind of going to be unanswered because I’m never satisfied.”

(We’re all kind of obsessed with that fun third-down package where everyone sort of walks around and it sort of looks like a controlled chaos kind of thing. Did you do any of that in high school or college and what did you think when they explained the way it works to you at the Dolphins?) – “I’ve never done anything like that before, especially in high school and college. My thing was get the call, get lined, read your keys, do all that stuff. So that was something that was, it was fun just to – you never know, the quarterback never knows where pressure’s coming, if we’re coming, if we’re not coming. So it gives you a lot of freedom. It kind of just lets you be able to do what you want to do, put your own sauce on it, like our coach says, and at the end of the day, you just kind of create confusion for the offense and for the quarterback.”

(I wanted to kind of piggyback off that last question with a comment the coach made earlier today about defensive creativity. He said he encourages the Dolphins staff to be creative both offensively and defensively. So I’m curious if getting the week’s game plan for you, is it kind of like Christmas morning where you open it up and the game plan is different each week and you see how much dime or big nickel, how much am I going to be out there? Do you get pretty excited about that?) – “I do. It’s definitely exciting with this coaching staff and just the defensive scheme that we run. Like I said, just how versatile we can be and how many different packages that we have, it’s always fun just to see from my position to see where I’ll lined up this week, my certain job description this week versus what it was last week and just being able to adjust. That’s one big thing that I’m still kind of trying to learn each week, is just to be able to master my job description and be able to carry that on, on a consistent basis from week to week.”

(That project you did before the draft about notes on all 32 teams, I don’t recall, was that about each team’s defense or was it about offenses and stuff that you could study now to prepare for opponents’ offenses?) – “I was watching offenses and writing basically what I thought they were running on defense. It was kind of challenging, especially in college. I guess my football IQ – it’s a lot different – they run a lot of different stuff in college than they do in the NFL, so it was really just me just kind of guessing based off of what I knew in college, my knowledge, my IQ and kind of putting two and two together. I definitely look back now and think it was pretty cool because I felt like the majority of the time, I was right in a certain instance with just the basic coverage, like ‘oh, this is Cover 3 right here, this is Cover 4.’ Not really knowing – there’s a lot of different variety of things in the NFL, but I think from the baseline of it, I was pretty spot-on for the most part.”

(I think you guys catch a little bit of a break this week in Denver. It’s only supposed to be 40 degrees. It could be a lot worse. I’m curious being a Texas kid, what’s the coldest game you ever played in?) – “The coldest game I’ve ever played? I would say the coldest game would probably be in the 40s, 30s – not super cold – we always played Iowa State early or if we did play them late, we were at home. So I never got too cold when I played there. I would say the coldest places were probably either Kansas, Kansas State or probably West Virginia. It was pretty cold and rainy at the same time, so that was really fun.”

(Thanks for explaining that project to us again. I just wanted to follow up and ask you, has that work back in January and February helped you at all this season? Are there any notes you took that you ever look back to?) – “No, I really don’t look back with it now, just based off of my position. I got to know a lot of other different things and like I said, I wasn’t 100 percent sure when I was watching film preparing for the draft and stuff, if it was correct. So I kind of remember some stuff just mainly about the opponents, about the teams that we played against and people that I saw on film, but scheme-wise, not too much. I really don’t remember too much of that stuff and like I said, a majority of it was me just guessing depending what the corners and safeties were doing.”

(I wanted to ask you, most of the NFL – a lot of the NFL – is in the intensive protocol. You guys have been in it now for a couple of weeks, but the league mandated that everybody’s going to it on Saturday. How does the intensive protocol impact your preparation week? What changes? What’s different? And do you feel like it’s going to put the league at a disadvantage?) – “No, I don’t think – not at all. I don’t the league will be at a disadvantage at all. I think overall, our schedule is pretty much the same from a practice standpoint, for meetings – especially being able to have this during the offseason when all we were doing were meetings. So it’s basically – we have a familiarity with how that went and stuff like that. For me, I would say the only difference is just we used to have kind of walkthroughs before practice and that was super beneficial for me, just as a young player still trying to get the hang of things, being able to see it. I’m a guy that has to kind of walkthrough – I learn better with walking through and being able to see it in person versus kind of over Zoom. So that’s kind of the only thing that I battle with. I don’t know about everybody else; but yeah, mostly the schedule’s the same. Practice, the tempo of practice throughout the week is about the same. Another thing is just the grab-and-go stuff – that’s a little different from versus being able to eat in the facility.”

T Austin Jackson

(Do you feel totally back from a physical and rhythm standpoint to where you were before the foot injury?) – “Yes, I do. I’ve had a good amount of time to get ready. I’m still working on my treatment.”

(I always love hearing your perspective on technique and matchups and things like that. So what do you have to do this week to handle Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb? What’s his best move you have to look out for and what’s the best route for you to get him blocked consistently?) – “He’s a bigger type of athlete. Last week we had Melvin (Ingram) who’s also an athlete but doesn’t have as much size to him. I’d say Bradley Chubb is pretty close to as good an athlete, but he also has some size and speed on him as well, so I would say biggest thing for him would be just to get down the middle of him. Try to center myself up with him so I can be in a good position to react to any move – to any initial or counter move because he will throw a counter move after his initial rush.”

(I’m actually not a big pet guy.. . Is that a dog with a squeaky toy or something?) – “Yeah, that’s my dog sitting right here just happy I’m home from practice. (laughter)”

(What’s your dog’s name and what kind of dog do you have?) – “He just ran away, otherwise I’d show you. His name’s Pluto and he’s a Cane Corso. ‘Pluto’ like the ex-planet. I know it’s not technically a planet now, but yeah. (laughter)”

(My football question – Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey says QB Tua Tagovailoa has a “everything is going to be all right” mindset kind of approach to life, which is a good approach to have. What do you think when you hear that and can you think of an example when you saw it in action?) – “Yeah, I’d say that’s kind of the model going into every game because every team has ups and downs in every game. You could start off the game 21-0, but if you don’t do your job in those three quarters the rest of the game, you could walk out of the game 50-21. You never know. So I think by that, it just means just be calm and just focus on trying to control and play the next play.”

(Do you pay any attention at all to how Browns T Jedrick Wills Jr. and Buccaneers T Tristan Wirfs and Giants T Andrew Thomas are doing? And is it at all meaningful for you considering you were the last of that group drafted although still obviously a good draft pick to be considered better than them, as good as them this year?) – “No, I wouldn’t say I watch them to judge myself, make myself or better or worse off of how they play. Obviously any athlete, any competitor, wants to be the best at the position regardless – not just out of them, but out of the whole league. So when I watch them, it’s nice to see guys that I’ve known for a while compete, doing different things, seeing different things, helping me learn different things. And I just enjoy watching the game, so I do like to watch those guys, but not in that context.”

(We just had S Brandon Jones on and I got a chance to ask him about the coldest game he ever played in being a Texas guy. I know you going from Phoenix to USC now to Miami, you kind of hit the jackpot as far as where you’ve lived your whole life. It’s supposed to be 40 degrees in Denver so kind of a break for late November, but have you played in a game colder than 40 degrees and what’s your thoughts just on cold weather football?) – “Pregame sucks in cold weather football, I’ll tell you that. Before you get a real sweat, (laughter) it’s tough. But once you start playing, you don’t really realize how cold it is outside. And I would say – this will be my third time playing in Colorado and both times were pretty cold, but I think the coldest I’ve ever been in was Notre Dame last year. I think it was like late 20s, early 30s when we played them by the end of the game, so that was pretty cold.”

(I’ve got to ask you about Pluto, so tell us what Pluto is like. I’m not quite sure – is this like a big guy with a really tiny dog walking down the street or is Pluto a big dog? And what’s the craziest thing Pluto does?) – “He’s not a little dog, nah. He should be a pretty big-size dog, not like Doberman length or St. Bernard length, but he should be a pretty big dog. But he’s brindle. His color is brindle, so he’s got – I don’t want to say stripes but these deep brown ridges in his black coat. And he’s a pretty funny guy all around. What’s the funniest thing he does? He does a lot of funny things. He’s just always running around. He likes to act like my cat, so my cat will kind of jump up on the windowsill on the back of the couch where that hard part is and so he’ll try to jump up there and act like he’s my cat. (laughter) That’s pretty funny to me.”

(Can you show him to us? Can we see Pluto? Can we see your cat? Can you pick them up and grab them for us?) – “I actually just kicked them out because they were stressing me out during this meeting. (laughter) So they’re probably all downstairs.”

(Maybe next time.) – “Next time, yeah, if they’re acting right.”

RB/WR Malcolm Perry

(I’m writing a story about mental toughness and I couldn’t imagine the degree of mental toughness you need to get through four years in Annapolis at the Naval Academy. What was that experience like? Were you ready for it when it began? Can you give us some examples of what you had to go through and how do you think it prepared you for life in the NFL?) – “I wasn’t prepared at all, I don’t think. Coming from a military background, I thought I had a notch up on everyone and I’d be a little bit ahead because I had been around it a little bit; but I don’t think anything prepares you for the initial culture shock that you go through. I vividly remember the first night in Annapolis. I was being woken up with pots and pans at like 4:30 in the morning. There was a whole bunch of screaming and yelling going on. Everybody was running around and then five minutes later, we’re all running miles and miles in the dark of the morning. It took a lot of mental toughness not to quit. A lot of people that started with me didn’t end with me. Then on top of all of the military stuff, you have some rigorous academics and then on top of that, you’ve got to go play football. It took a lot to stay there and I think balancing all of that and then coming to the NFL helped me prioritize and balance everything that the coaches ask for me to do, and stuff like that.”

(I wanted to ask you about RB Salvon Ahmed. Just being rookies, working together, what’s it been like being in the same room and on the field with him in the past few months?) – “He’s been great. He’s a great guy on and off the field. Obviously you saw what he could do on Sunday. I think he’s a playmaker and I think he brings a lot to the table. He’s smart and just a good guy on and off the field, like I said. I like hanging around him.”

(I think it was in this last game where there was that one play where it looked for sure it was going to be a loss and then you kind of turned it into a positive. If you know the play that I’m talking about, can you tell me what was going through your mind as it was developing and the mindset that you try to take relative to escaping a negative play?) – “The play didn’t start off too well but luckily I was able to create something out of nothing. I didn’t want to end up doing too much and hurting the team or losing too many yards. There was an element of ‘hey, go make something happen,’ but there was also an element of ‘don’t get caught doing too much and end up hurting your team a lot more than need be.’ Luckily I was able to make a positive out of a negative and move the ball a little bit.”

(If you have an NFL career over an extended period – and the early signs look very promising – for a guy who is a former college quarterback, it can basically go a couple of ways. You could be like a change-of-pace gimmick type guy. Or you could be a slot receiver who players there with a lot of snaps – like WR Julian Edelman – long term. How determined from a career goal perspective are you to be that full-time slot guy as opposed to a guy who is just thought of as a gimmicky few snaps a game guy?) – “I don’t think about much stuff like that long-term. I like to take things day by day and come out every day and attack the day. I don’t like to think long-term of what my legacy will be or what role I’ll have in the future. I’m just trying to go attack the day that’s ahead of me and not think about everything that’s going on in the future.”

(Earlier today, Head Coach Brian Flores told us about how he encourages creativity among the coaching staff. As a player like yourself, with such a unique skillset and diverse skillset, I’d have to imagine that you’re as appreciative of all the creativity and opportunities this type of offense affords you, right?) – “Of course. I’m appreciative of the fact that I’m able to say that I’m on the Dolphins. That on top of the ability to come out here and use my skillset in a way that helps the team and just get on the field, really, is a blessing. I’m appreciative for that and the ability to use my skillset.”

(We were talking to Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and he was saying regarding QB Tua Tagovailoa that he has an ‘everything is going to be all right’ kind of mindset. I’m curious what comes to mind when you hear that and maybe an example?) – “Yeah, I think overall he’s just a positive guy. He doesn’t let negativity get to him. He tries to look to the next play if something negative happens. He’s always encouraging his teammates, whether something bad happened or something good happened. I definitely agree with that and I think it helps the team, it helps the offensive huddle and I think it’s a positive thing for the organization as a whole.”

(Where do you think you’ve improved most as a receiver since the end of July? What part of being a receiver?) – “I think probably just the knowledge of what’s going on as a defense. In college, everything was a lot more simple, obviously. But just getting a better feel for what’s going on on defense and offense – just the whole scheme, what my role is in that scheme and what I need to do to make sure that I’m successful and the offense as a unit is successful.”

Head Coach Brian Flores

(How do you think your safety combo of S Eric Rowe and S Bobby McCain have played this year?) – “I think they’ve grown together over the course of the season. I think the communication’s gotten better week to week, not just between those two but everyone in the secondary, second level at the linebacker position, d-line, really across the board from a communication standpoint. But obviously it starts with those two at the safety position. You’re really talking to obviously each other, but the corners, the linebackers. When you get down in the front – I know Bobby’s been down there quite a bit, so has Rowe – you end up talking to some defensive ends. So their communication’s vital and both have done a good job from that standpoint. Then just as far as their play, I think it’s been solid also; but like everything else, we can get better. We’ve got to continue to try to play consistent football and we need that from them as well as everyone else on the team.”

(You’ve talked at length about your past and growing up in Brooklyn and all that and all that you had to overcome. I’m curious, how much of what your past put you through and developed you as a leader, as a person, has prepared you for a season that no one ever kind of considered possible? Certainly you need a level of mental toughness to be a coach in the NFL, but to deal with what you guys are doing now, how much did that prepare you for this moment?) – “I think right now the focus is on our team and what we’ve got going on right now. I’m not going to get into my past and the things that I’ve been through. I think we’ve all had experiences that have helped us grow and get better. Everyone deals with some form of adversity throughout the course of their lives. Some are different than others. No one’s is more important than anyone else’s, but I think we learn from them and I know for me personally, they’ve made me better and I continue to try to get better for this team, this organization. I think all of our players feel the same way. They’ve all dealt with things as well that have helped us in this type of year. I think this year in itself has been – we’re all dealing with some of adversity. How we deal with that or how we’ve dealt with that hasn’t been easy, but I think each one of has had to make some sacrifices over the course of this particular season and I think as coaches, as players, as executives and really any field, no one’s really exempt from making those sacrifices. I’m not going to get into my personal situation and I’ll leave it at that.”

(With the NFL sending out that memorandum basically saying everybody is going into the intense stage of the COVID protocol – I don’t know if that’s the right name for it – how does that change the dynamic of your preparation in terms of less meeting time or less in-person contact? How does that change the week of preparation?) – “Yeah, the entire league is going into the intensive protocol. We’ve been in it the last 10 days, two weeks; so from a scheduling standpoint, from a meeting standpoint, there’s definitely some things that are different than before we were in the intensive protocol. I want to say we’ve gotten into a little bit of a routine from that standpoint. Again, virtual meetings and less contact with the players, players having less contact with one another. Look, we’re just going to follow the lead of the league and follow the protocols. I think everyone’s trying to do what’s in the best interest of the players and give us all an opportunity to play games, which we all want. Again, the players love playing, coaches love coaching, I’m sure you guys love reporting on the teams; and I think if the league feels like this gives us the best opportunity to get all those things done, we’ll follow suit. I think Commissioner Goodell, he’s doing everything he can possibly do to help, to find a way to keep this season going. (NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Troy Vincent has done a good job from that standpoint, (NFL Chief Medical Officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills, (NFL Senior Labor Relations Counsel) Meghan Carroll – these are names of people you probably don’t know – (NFL Chief Football Administrative Officer) Dawn Aponte. They’re constantly on the phones, they have all the information, they’re the ones we’re going to for answers; so they’ve got to deal with all 32 teams, so I imagine their phones are ringing constantly. And they answer all the calls. They answer at all hours. They try to answer questions as best as they can. They understand just like we do that everyone’s got to be adjustable, flexible given where we’re at and I think we’ll just continue to – at the end of the day, they’re looking to keep the players and the coaches and everyone safe and healthy and try to play football.”

(I wanted to ask you about I guess your “amoeba look.” I’m not sure if that’s what you call it, correct me if it’s different. But sort of where everybody’s doing something different at the line and confusing. I heard Chargers WR Keenan Allen say that he was confused or the offense was confused after the game. It’s not the first time an opponent has said something like that after facing you guys. I guess one, how important is that confusion to the defensive scheme and two, how do you create confusion on their side without having it on your side when you run that element of your defense?) – “I think (Defensive Coordinator) Josh Boyer and our defensive staff, they do a really nice job of trying to come up with different schemes, ideas that – to answer your question – we can handle, but we also feel like will be an issue for the offense. And again, we try to promote creativity really on all three sides of the ball and an outlandish idea to some may – I try to be open to any idea from a football standpoint. If we can get it and we can execute it, we’ll give it a shot. That may be different from week to week and it should be because everyone gets the film and I’m sure people have seen what we did last week and they’ve seen what we’ve done in previous weeks and they prepare for them and try to give them something different. I think every team tries to do that, but I think our staff on all three sides – (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) obviously offensively, (Special Teams Coordinator) Danny (Crossman) in the kicking game and (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer) defensively – I try to let them be as creative as they can be and not try to hold them back from anything; but obviously we’ve got to be able to execute it.”

(Have you guys determined if WR Preston Williams will be out for the rest of the season or if he’s going to return at some point? And for RB Myles Gaskin, do you expect him to return in a week or two?) – “I think both guys are doing everything they can to get healthy as quickly as they can. Again, I don’t like to put timetables on guys. A hand for you might take a day, a hand for me might take 10 days. Everyone is a little bit different and it’s hard to put a timetable on specific guys; but I can tell you that all of our players are working hard to get back as soon as they can.”

(The Florida Panthers and Brett Peterson made a little history this week. Brett Peterson being the first African-American Assistant GM in the NHL. I believe you guys knew each other back at Boston College.) – “I know Brett.”

(How happy are you for him to see him make a little history in the NFL?) – “I was looking for my Florida Panthers’ hat this morning. I couldn’t find it. Yeah, I’m excited for Brett. We went to school together. This is a smart, talented – I think they got a great hire there. (Florida Panthers President & CEO) Matt Caldwell is someone I’ve been in contact with also. I support the teams down here in South Florida. I’ve been to a couple of Panthers games. I look forward to going to a few more. They have all of my support and I’m excited in the direction they are moving.”

(I wanted to get an update on LB Kyle Van Noy. He’s an important piece for your defense. If he doesn’t play, who and how do you fill in that void in terms of guys and their ability to play so many different roles?) – “Kyle is like all of the other guys, he’s doing everything he can to get back as soon as he can. He plays a number of roles – linebacker, defense end, he’s inside, he’s outside, rusher, in coverage. It’s almost you’ve got to get a couple of guys to say ‘hey, you’re Kyle on this play. You’ll play Kyle’s role on this play.’ It’s by committee. We’ve got a few guys – a number of guys – whether it’s Kamu (Grugier-Hill), whether it’s (Andrew Van) Ginkel, whether it’s (Sam) Eguavoen. We have a few different guys who can fill those roles in practice; and hopefully not, but if we had to go that route in the game, I think our guys are ready to step up if that’s the situation. Kyle’s going to do everything he can to get ready to play. It’s important to him. Hopefully we get him back, but it’s the National Football League. Nicks and bruises happen everywhere. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our players and we’re not going to put anybody in a situation where they could do any further harm.”

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