Miami Dolphins Transcripts – November 25 – Head Coach Brian Flores, Flores Conference Call, S Bobby McCain, WR Antonio Callaway, WR DeVante Parker, WR Mack Hollins, QB Tua Tagovailoa and G/T Robert Hunt

G/T Robert Hunt

(What are some of the sort of points of emphasis from the coaching staff for the offensive line this week?) – “There’s nothing specific. We all came in the building trying to get better this week and I think that’s as a whole, as a team. So we all just came in and we’re trying to work better this week. We’re trying to work harder and we’re trying to improve in everything.”

(It looked like last week the Broncos had a lot of stunts and twists that may have gave you guys a little bit of trouble. I guess for us who may not know a little bit more of the ins and outs that you guys work on, what is it about maybe those plays that cause a little bit of confusion sometimes?) – “It’s just a part of the game. I feel like everybody has stunts and twists. We’ve just got to be better and we’ve been better at it. Sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you want it to happen. So we’ve just got to improve and keep working at it.”

(I’m curious, do you remember meeting with Head Coach Brian Flores pre-draft? Did you have a chance to chat with him and if so, did you get an idea then of the kind of coach you’d end up getting?) – “Yeah, I did meet with him. I do remember meeting with him pre-draft. I met with him at the Senior Bowl. Serious guy and he’s been that way; so yeah, pretty much I had an idea. I had an idea.”

(What’s the feedback you get from Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall about how you’ve played?) – “I don’t really get feedback (about how I’ve played). We don’t really get feedback. We just – when we win, we look at what we can fix and improve on and when we lose, we look at what we can fix and improve on. So me personally, I just come in and I don’t really look for him to tell me what I can do better because I feel like I already know, so I just come and try to improve and work my tail off each day.”

(Regarding Head Coach Brian Flores, what has impressed you about him since you’ve started playing for him?) – “Everything. Good man. I think that’s the start of it all, when you’ve got a guy leading you that acts like a good man that can lead by example, I think that means a lot. It speaks volumes. He wants to win – we all want to win – and I think he’s done a great job with the team. We’re all excited for the future and right now.”

(Obviously you guys got a little bit of uncertainty this week with G Solomon Kindley’s injury and G/T Jesse Davis on the COVID list. How is that for you not really knowing who’s going to be beside you maybe how you guys flow on the right side?) – “It is what it is. I’m just going to compete and wherever they need me to play, wherever they need anybody else play, they’ll play there. Wherever they need me, I’m just going to stick in and do whatever I can to play well and compete.”

QB Tua Tagovailoa

(I’m wondering your opinion of how you think you’re doing getting through your progressions – maybe through to the third read, say – and what has to happen to improve on that?) – “I think the way I feel about my performance is there’s always things that I can continue to get better at and I think that’s day-in and day-out every day of the week. And how you do that is you continue to get the reps that you need in practice, more games under your belt and just being able to play in these tough games and whatnot. That’s really how you can get better at those things.”

(One of the most interesting things we thought you said after the game on Sunday was that when you were observing those final couple drives and seeing that receivers, if they might not be open that they’re open still. Since Sunday, obviously have you had conversations with some of your receivers just to – I know you talk to them every day – but since then just about kind of creating more space and knowing when you get the ball to them?) – “I would say to your question, what we try to do in our routes versus air is we just try to work on a lot of timing. I think the biggest thing for me is I need to be better at if it’s not there, trying to extend plays and our guys trying to get open and try to find holes to where we can get better with our scramble drills, if that makes sense.”

(I’m curious, when you were at Alabama, obviously you had a lot of speedy receivers who kind of would streak open at times and now you have a lot of bigger receivers who may be more jump-ball specialists? How does that kind of transition for you having different type of receivers and having to adjust to that?) – “Exactly what you said at the end. I think that’s what it is. It’s all about adjusting. We have a fast guy – I think all of our guys are fast. The thing is, we really have one really, really fast guy and that’s Jakeem and I think for me, it’s just finding who I’m throwing to, knowing the timing with those guys, understanding who’s running that route and things like that. It’s really just all about adjusting. That’s why we have practice and I’ve got to continue to be better on giving these guys opportunities to have good run after catches.”

(You probably experienced this past week what we, who have been covering Head Coach Brian Flores for the last couple years have known, that he is an in-the-moment win-the-game type of coach. I’m curious, when you first met him, you built the relationship with him six, seven, eight months ago or whenever it was – what were your first initial thoughts about him as a coach and I guess how have they evolved in the time since?) – “Coach Flores is a very passionate – he’s very passionate as a coach and he’s very disciplined as a person with the things he does. I would say as a team, the more success we have, in a way the guys start to kind of lay back a little; but that has never been the case while I’ve been here with ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores). We never change anything and the recipe to success is how we go out and practice every day. With his philosophy, you’ve got to work hard to go out and be successful.”

(You often point to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s tutelage as a big help to your game and since you’re playing a team you’ve already seen this year and how the tape where he went out and played against this defense you’re going to see on Sunday, how does that kind of help benefit your preparation this week?) – “I would say it helps tremendously. ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) has been out there and he’s seen this defense. He’s played against them. I’ve only had about like three snaps against them the last game we played, and just hearing his thoughts on where he would go with the ball, how to manipulate guys in the back end and also where we want to attack these guys; but I think a big deal with this, too, is I have to take ownership on being disciplined with seeing things for myself as far as the film, looks that they give and whatnot. To me, it goes back to discipline, kind of like what Coach Saban (University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban) actually said: ‘you either suffer from the pain of discipline or you suffer from the pain of defeat.’”

(One of the things that has been talked about quite a bit in the past several days is sort of a concern about if you pull a quarterback, you could be messing with his confidence and we asked Head Coach Brian Flores about that the other day and he said, “hey, Tua’s a confident guy, I’m not worried about that at all.” You know yourself better than anybody, so where is your confidence level now and are you avoiding any temptation to look over your shoulder during a game?) – “I would say my confidence level as a person, it never varies. It stays the same to me. And like I said, with whatever happened in the Broncos game, it was really for the benefit of the team. And the conversations that we kind of had, too, in a way leading up to it, are in-house and I don’t know – it just can’t be explained, if that makes sense. But for me, there’s no looking behind me or to the left or to the right. It’s what I can do to help our guys be successful and we have another week, another opportunity to do that.”

(Going back to the tight windows and not being able to take the completions out there like QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had told you, are you kind of afraid to make some mistakes out here? Is that something that’s kind of playing a factor into maybe some of your timidness as a passer?) – “I would say to that question, it’s not me playing like I’m scared or anything. It’s me trusting what I see. If I don’t see the guy open, I’m not going to throw it and that’s really how it’s been in the games and also in practice, too. It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to practice. You see it, you practice, get throws with guys in tight coverages and tight windows and then you kind of dictate how you felt through that and if you didn’t like it, then it won’t happen in the game. So that’s kind of how I see it.”

WR Mack Hollins

(I don’t know if this has been asked to you already. It probably has. But I need to know the inspiration for the touchdown dance a couple of weeks ago. What was it like to teach DE Shaq Lawson on the sidelines after that game?) – “I mean most of my dances are pretty made up whenever I’m feeling it. That was my second touchdown. My first touchdown, I did the backpack dance, which kind of just hit me. Then this past one, I don’t know what that one’s called. I kind of made that one up, too. I don’t know. Maybe the ‘Mack Roll’ or something like that. It’s just whatever – whatever I’m feeling at the moment, I’ll just break out. I just play in the moment. I guess my dances reflect that.”

(We haven’t gotten a chance to talk to you a bunch this season but I see you’ve switched from the afro to the free-flowing hair. When did you make that switch and what led to it?) – “My hair is just whatever I’m doing that week. Sometimes I’ll braid it. Sometimes I’ll have it like how I have it right now. Sometimes I’ll pick it out into the afro. It really depends on if I get it braided, if I feel like dealing with it and how much time I have before a game or who is coming down. If my parents are coming down, usually I have it more under control than if they’re not coming down.”

(What was it about the Dolphins that was appealing to you? And I’m doing a story on Head Coach Brian Flores and I’m curious, what kind of a change in coaching style was it from Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson to Flores?) – “It wasn’t really up to me. Obviously I got claimed off waivers so I didn’t really get to choose the Dolphins, but I’m glad that I’m down here. It’s a young team and it’s a team that I enjoy being on because there is a lot of energy and we have a lot of fun. Now we’re starting to win games and understand how to win games. I think I came at a great time and I’m glad that I can be a part of it. I think every coach is different that I’ve ever played with. They’re all great in different ways. I had success when I was in Philly with Coach Pederson and we’re having success down here with Coach Flores. It’s hard to explain. It’s like comparing two players; it’s hard for me to explain their differences when they’re both being successful. It’s a little easier when one is not successful and one is successful, so I’m not really sure how to answer that other than they’re just both good coaches in their own way.”

(Obviously you’ve played more on offense here the past few weeks but I wanted to ask you about your position as gunner on special teams. What do you enjoy most about doing that and seeing your effort out there? There have been many times this season where you have caused disruption back there on the back end of a punt return.) – “Anybody who has ever played gunner will tell you that it’s probably like the hardest rep you can get in football. I mean it’s basically just run as fast as you can but get beat up along the way. It’s just a ‘who wants it more’ type of thing. Usually it’s one-on-one. Every once in a while you get a vice or a two-on-one; but if it’s one-on-one, it’s just who wants it more. And I really enjoy that because in my mind, I’ll always want it more than the person across from me. That’s just my opportunity to prove that. I really enjoy that play because I’m able to run, I’m able to be physical and that goes to my traits as a player, being a big and fast guy. I really enjoy it. Gunner is probably my favorite position special teams-wise and I like causing that disruption down there.”

(One of my most read stories of the year is about your hair. It’s the only one that wasn’t about QB Tua Tagovailoa, so thank you. I didn’t get a chance to ask you about it but I still wrote a story about it. I wanted to follow up about Head Coach Brian Flores. I’m originally from New York and he’s from New York – he’s from Brooklyn. How does Coach Flores’ personality and leadership style sort of align with what the perception of New Yorkers is. He’s obviously a New Yorker.) – “I don’t know. I don’t really know the perception on New Yorkers, really; so I’m not really sure. I mean ‘Coach Flo’ (Brian Flores) expects a lot from everybody and there’s nobody – whether you’re practice squad or the starting quarterback, he expects the same from you. He expects you to be great. He expects you to play at a high level. I don’t know if that’s what New Yorkers are. If they expect a lot from you, then New Yorkers aren’t half bad. (laughter)”

WR DeVante Parker

(We all saw the cartoon that came out this week. I’m curious, what sort of reaction have you gotten from people, whether it’s this week or in the past, and what has it meant to you?) – “A lot of people want to be on there. People from the team are always asking me, ‘Man, I got you.’ It’s something big to me. If people like it and they want to be a part of something like that, it makes me feel good, really – that they want me to be a part of something like that going on.”

(How have you seen QB Tua Tagovailoa respond to being pulled from the last game? How has he responded to that?) – “He responds well. Tua, his confidence is still there as well as in the game. His confidence is still there and he’ll be just fine. We’ve still got plenty of more games left, so he’s got plenty of time to bounce back.”

(As a player who expressed some confidence issues yourself in the past, what are some things you could probably tell QB Tua Tagovailoa moving forward to help him out in that regard?) – “Come on, man. I didn’t have no confidence issues with me. I’ve just probably got to talk to him and tell him everything will be ok. There are other games ahead. Just move on. We’ve got to move on. Like if I drop a pass, move onto the next play. That’s how it works.”

(This past week was the second straight week you’ve tried to make a miraculous catch. What do you think your best catch in a game has been?) – “My best catch in a game? Do we count onside kicks?”

(Whatever you want to count.) – “Yeah, I’m counting that. The last – the home game we just had (against the Chargers), the (onside kick) that sealed it away. I’d say that was the most important one right there. As far as the best one, you can count that.”

(I wanted to ask you about Head Coach Brian Flores. Specifically this year, what has impressed you about how he’s handled the team and everything?) – “I think he does a great job of handling the team, regardless of making sure everybody is out there doing their assignment right. Just checking on people to make sure everyone is good and stuff like that. Little conversations on the side. He’s done a great job of getting the guys together as a team. We’re all one. For that, we want to play hard for him and do whatever we can.”

(What are some of the things you guys need to do so QB Tua Tagovailoa can complete some longer passes in the game? I think in the Arizona game he had his best performance where plenty of passes were over 19 yards; but that hasn’t been the case in the other games that he’s started. How do you guys help improve in that area?) – “Improving on what?”

(To get longer receptions in the game. I think in the first couple of starts, they haven’t been over 20 yards, outside of the Arizona game. So how do you guys try to kind of expand the field together?) – “Have plays that are deep. That’s it.”

(Have you ever gone to a quarterback and told him ‘even if I’m not open by a lot, throw me the ball, I’ll make the contested catch?’ Is that something you’ve done with QB Tua Tagovailoa or might want to do?) – “I’ve done that in the past, like in college or something. I think I’ve mentioned it to him once before, but I’m not really sure. I feel like if you just throw it up and give me a chance, I’m going to come down with it. Either me or I’m going to make sure he doesn’t get it. That’s all I need is a chance; but we’re going to work on that.”

(Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. What are you eating good at DeVante’s crib?) – “DeVante – ain’t nothing gong on at his house for Thanksgiving. I’ll probably end up going somewhere else, but I don’t have nothing going on here.”

(I wanted to ask you more about the big explosive plays you guys need to get going. Do you go to Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and say, ‘this is what I do well, this is what I don’t do as well? Maybe call some of the shots that have worked in the past?’) – “I’ll talk to him. He asks me what I want and I tell him exactly what plays that fits me perfectly well, like my strengths. We just have to execute them.”

WR Antonio Callaway

(Can you give us a description of what this journey has meant for you and what it meant to suit up a few weeks ago? And obviously you had a catch since then. Just knowing the process and the steps it took to get this far?) – “It was a journey. It was a tough one, but my agent stayed in my corner, my agent stayed on me, and I just worked hard every day until somebody gave me an opportunity. I’m excited to be with (Head Coach) Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins.”

(Was there a point that you didn’t think this opportunity might come, that you thought your football days were over?) – “No, not really. No. It was always (about) me getting better with my knee, and once I got better with my knee, somebody would give me an opportunity.”

(I know a lot of people remember you from your rookie year and what you were able to do. How close do you think you are physically in football shape to where you were when you first came into the league?) – “I’m actually in way better shape than when I first came into the league because when I first came into the league, I really didn’t train as hard as I did for me to come back this time.”

(Obviously you wouldn’t be available to the Dolphins in the first place had it not been for some of the things that you’ve gone through. What did the Dolphins tell you about maintaining discipline to stay on the roster, and what have you told them to assure them that you’re going to be there when they count on you?) – “I just take it day by day. That’s all. They basically told me a day at a time and stick with it. They gave me structure. I know that. It’s been making my journey easy.”

(Can you talk a little bit more about that structure? How has that kind of helped you stay on a good path and how would you say your knowledge of the playbook is coming along so far?) – “I meet with my coaches a lot – after practice, before practice. Right now, I’m on a schedule. I have something to do all during the day, so it’s like really no free time. And when I do have free time, I still find things to do to keep me occupied.”

(Do you think being back in Miami is a good thing or a bad thing for you?) – “It’s a good thing. I get to play in front of my family.”

(We got to see you play a little bit and get your first catch this past week. What do you think you can bring with your skillset to this offense?) – “Whatever coach needs, I can bring. Whatever coach needs me to bring, I’m going to bring it.”

(If you could have a conversation with your 17-year-old self, what would you say?) – “Why – I’d say why did I make the choices I’ve made. But you live and you learn. Lessons learned.”

(We’ve asked a lot of your teammates what’s it like playing with QB Tua Tagovailoa, and now that you got your first catch and you’re continuing to build chemistry with him, what is it like playing with Tua back there?) – “It’s great. He’s a great quarterback. He’s young like me. He has a lot to learn. With this coaching staff, we can do a lot of great things.”

S Bobby McCain

(I’m curious, is Head Coach Brian Flores tougher on you guys after wins or after losses?) – “He’s tough on us after both. Even when you win football games, you still have to make corrections and you still don’t – no one plays a perfect game so he still coaches even through wins and losses.”

(CB Byron Jones was gracious talking about this the other day. He and CB Xavien Howard are two of the best cornerbacks obviously in the league, but while Xavien has six interceptions, Byron doesn’t have one since 2017, which just underscores what a ball magnet Xavien is. What do you think of that, that Byron has been so unlucky in that category and Xavien just seems to come up with one every week?) – “I’m not going to sit there and say this guy is doing this and that guy is doing that. No one is unlucky; we’re all fortunate enough to be here and be in the position we’re in. If he’s not catching picks, the ball’s not coming your way, (but) you’re winning football games and you’re getting stops and you play good football, that’s a credit to him as well and a credit to ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) for being the ball magnet that he is. I don’t really look at it as ‘oh, he has this this many picks and he doesn’t have this many picks.’ As long as we’re playing on one accord, playing good football, playing as a secondary, playing as one unit, it doesn’t matter who gets the picks just as long as we get them.”

(You guys were on a high obviously on a five-game win streak and you finally took a setback this past week. Is it a different vibe at all this week compared to previous weeks after the loss?) – “No, you’ve got to just flush it and come to prepare each and every week. It’s a one-week season. We all believe in that and we all understand that – understanding that every Wednesday, you’ve got to come work and it’s your next opponent. So regardless of if you won or lost last week, you’ve got to put your hard hat on and go to work this week. It’s definitely good to get back out there after a loss and fix some of the things that we got wrong.”

(I wanted to follow up on the previous question about Head Coach Brian Flores. Since we met him and I’m sure since you’ve met him, he’s talked about wanting to be smart, tough and disciplined, and I feel like he’s moving the program in that direction. So my question is what have you found to be unique about him that has helped establish that?) – “He demands what he asks for and as a defense, as a team, offensively, special teams-wise, we all understand you have to be hard, smart and tough to play on this team and to do the things he asks. He’s a unique coach in a way that he can get the best out of his players and he’s a great teacher, great coach and we’re just trying to just be the best we can each and every week for him – and same vice versa, he is for us.”

(I’m curious how much have you been able to go up against WR Antonio Callaway at practice and what are your thoughts? We’ve only seen a handful of snaps with him in a game?) – “I know (Antonio) Callaway’s been in this league for a minute as well, especially with the Browns. I still remember the slant he took for like 60 yards to the house. I forgot what game it was I was watching, but he’s a good player. He’s coming along. He’s learning the playbook, I’m sure. I don’t know what you want me to tell you on his snap count. That’s not really my job, but I can say I know he’s a good player and he looks like he’s getting better and better each and every week in practice.”

(A couple times on this call you’ve alluded to some corrections you guys want to make from last Sunday to this Sunday. I’m curious from both your personal perspective and as a defense, what are some of those corrections you’re working on?) – “I can’t tell you that. Just stopping the run. Yeah, just trying to stop the run and play good defense as a whole – communicate, tackle better, tackle well. In that realm.”

(Thanksgiving tomorrow – what’s on the plate at your crib? What are you eating good?) – “For sure, I got dressing for sure. Collard greens, a little turkey, a little ham, a little bit of both. I’m not big on the yams. I’m not big on the yams. Some corn, green beans, couple rolls, warm rolls, butter rolls. That’s about it. A nice Sprite. I’ve got to drink so much water, I’ll get me a nice Sprite. (laughter)”

Head Coach Brian Flores Conference Call with N.Y. Jets Media

(Obviously both of these teams have young quarterbacks. Not specific to the Dolphins or the Jets but just generally speaking, what do you think is a fair amount of time to evaluate a young quarterback? It seems like 10-15 years ago, teams were more patient than perhaps they are now. What do you think is fair before determining, ‘hey, maybe this guy can be the answer for us?’) – “So you’re talking about (Sam) Darnold, not (Joe) Flacco. (laughter)”

(Yeah, I think QB Joe Flacco isn’t as young as he used to be.) – “Gotcha. (laughter) I think every situation is different. I think it’s case by case. I think we live in a world where everybody wants it right now. I would say, you’re right. Fifteen to twenty years ago, people were a lot more patient. I think that’s societal, I would say – the instant gratification. This is something everyone is looking for. We believe in developing players and helping them improve on a daily basis. But at the same time, this is a production league. There’s a balance there. There really is. I think every player is a little bit different and I think every person from a development (and) maturity standpoint, we’re all a little bit different. I think it’s no different for a football player except for the world is watching them and they’re looking for instant success. I think I would say the best players – really every player goes through some challenges early in their career and if they can improve and get better from it and continue to get opportunities, I think they’ll eventually have success.”

(So you don’t believe there’s any kind of point of no return? That there’s a sentiment that if a guy doesn’t develop after X amount of games or X amount of starts, it’s not going to happen for him?) – “It’s hard to say. Again, it’s case by case. Obviously you want success early. You want to see improvement. You want to see development. I think seeing improvement and seeing development doesn’t always necessarily turn into wins and things of that nature; but I think that’s in the eyes of the evaluator and the people making the decisions. Again, it’s case by case. I don’t think it’s a ‘hey, it’s got to be done by this amount of time or else it’s no good.’ Again, it’s a team game. So what else is going on within the team? Is Player X playing well enough to win but we’re not getting enough from the team standpoint? I think those are all kind of questions you’ve got to ask as evaluators and decision makers and make your decision from there.”

(Can I ask you specifically about QB Sam Darnold? Obviously you’re not seeing him every day, but just your assessment. You didn’t see him this year but just your assessment, preparing for him for a couple of games last year and potentially this week?) – “I think he’s a talented quarterback. I think he’s got a big arm. I think he’s mobile. I think he’s talented. I think he’s developing. I think he’s better than he was last year and two years ago. I think injuries have hurt him a little bit. But that happens at every position. What I see is a talented young guy. There’s a lot more to the quarterback position. I’m sure the people within that organization know about his leadership and his intelligence and things of that nature. Those are things I don’t know. Those intangibles are important for every player and especially the quarterback. I don’t necessarily know what’s going on there from that standpoint. But everything I read, everything I’ve heard, says that those are aligned the right way as well. And he’s got a guy like (Joe) Flacco who is an older guy, a veteran guy, someone who has won a lot of games that can help him.”

(On a non-quarterback related question, did you guys do a lot of work on WR Denzel Mims in the run-up to the draft? And regardless of whether you did or not, what do you see in the few games that he has played this year?) – “I see speed. I see talent. I see hands. I see play-making ability. I see a good player. Yeah, I see a good player.”

(Just generally speaking, when you’re playing divisional games, is it an advantage to the team that won the first game or an advantage to the team that’s looking for revenge typically in the second game?) – “I think it’s the advantage to the team who executes better. That’s kind of my thought really on a week-to-week basis. I think a division game, I think they know us, we know them. I think the Jets have played some good, competitive football over the last few weeks and could easily have come out of a couple of those games with wins. I think they’ve got young guys who are playing hard and playing tough. You mentioned (Denzel) Mims. Getting (Breshad) Perriman back helps and (Jamison) Crowder is a good player and (Chris) Herndon made a catch last week and (Joe) Flacco is playing well. (Mekhi) Becton came back. He’s tough to handle over there. Defensively, they’re playing some young guys but they play hard. They’re well coached and I expect a very, very competitive game. That’s what I expect. Neville Hewitt makes every tackle. This guy is all over the field. I’ve been impressed with him. Harvey Langi, I’ve been impressed with him. Ashtyn Davis is a good, young safety. I like some of the things they’re doing from what I see, just from my evaluation standpoint. I expect a very, very competitive game against a divisional opponent on the road.”

(I know you expressed your confidence in QB Tua Tagovailoa and said that with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, you felt more comfortable in the 2-minute. Is that just a feel thing? I’m sure you’re aware many, many years ago, QB Kurt Warner was the de facto 2-minute quarterback for Arizona when QB Matt Leinart was a rookie. Is that something that is a consideration or was that just kind of an in-the-moment gut feel for you to make that switch at that point last week?) – “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Tua. A couple of weeks ago, we were down in Arizona and he took it down the field and scored. It’s a gut. It’s a feel. Yeah, it was a gut thing in that particular moment. We just felt like ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) gave us the best chance in that particular game. But Tua is the starter. Again, he’s young and he’s developing and he’s done some good things – I would say a lot of good things. Hopefully he continues to develop. This week is going to be a tough challenge against Gregg (Williams) and the multiple looks that he gives quarterbacks and really offenses in general. They’ve done a good job. They’ve done a good job stopping the run, they’ve done a good job in the red zone. I think this will be challenge and again, I expect a tough, competitive, physical game against these guys, like it always is.”

Head Coach Brian Flores

(Opening Statement) – “I want to send our thoughts and prayers to Markus Paul. He’s the strength coach for the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve known him for a long, long time. This is a great man of faith, a great coach. He was a former great player. I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to him and his family, to the Cowboys, their entire organization, their coaches, their players. When you’re dealing with health, a lot of things seem trivial and that’s certainly the case here, so I just wanted to make sure they know that they have our full support, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

(If G/T Jesse Davis and G Solomon Kindley are unable to play on Sunday, who would be the next man up in your mind? Has C/G Michael Deiter, even though he’s worked some at center in practice, has he still gotten many guard reps this year?) – “We’ll have to see how this goes in practice. We’ve got a few guys who haven’t played much, but have practiced well in training camp and throughout the course of the year. You mentioned Deiter. (Adam) Pankey, (Julién) Davenport, we’ve got some guys who’ve played in games, have some experience and we’ll see how it goes in practice. I think they’re all looking for an opportunity. If that opportunity presents itself – we’ll have to see how it goes at practice and get the best five out there and the best combination of players.”

(How has QB Tua Tagovailoa responded to having been benched?) – “He’s been fine. I think it’s – a little bit of adversity has never hurt anyone. He’s fine. We did our normal Tuesday meeting yesterday and went through the Jets. No issues.”

(Where are we with RB Myles Gaskin? Is he someone you could potentially get back this week and how would that change what you guys do in the run game, if so?) – “Myles is doing everything he can to get back. He’s eligible to come off (injured reserve) and we’ll make a decision on that here, whether or not he’ll come back to practice. He’s definitely made some gains over the last few weeks and we’ll see how it goes.”

(I wanted to ask you about DT Davon Godchaux. I know he’s on IR. I know he’s eligible to come back. Is that a possibility for this season or is the bicep injury too much and he’s done?) – “He’s as tough a guy as there is on our team and as I’ve been around. It’s a tough injury, but he’s doing everything from a rehab and treatment standpoint. I wouldn’t rule anything out. He’s eligible to return. Obviously that’s the rule this year, that anyone can return after three games; but he’s still treating and rehabbing. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t like to put a timetable on things like that. I do know he’s been in here, he’s been treated, he looks good. We’ll just take it one day at a time.”

(I wanted to ask you about the COVID situation. You put G/T Jesse Davis on the list on Monday and you haven’t put anyone on it since, which to us is a sign that maybe this thing has been contained a little bit. How have you managed to play a game and travel home together with presumably Jesse on the plane, and not have anybody who pops a contact tracer? How have you avoided that?) – “We take the tracing and the spacing and the distance and the mask wearing, we take it very seriously whether that’s on the bus, on the plane or in the building. I think the intensive protocol helps in that we only see them during practice and then everything is virtual. We work with the league and talk about exactly who is in, who is out and things of that nature. But from a contact tracing standpoint, we all wear the tracers and everything we do, we try to keep distance. I would say that’s the main reason – whether it’s the plane, the bus or definitely in the building. We do our best from that standpoint. I think (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle (Johnston) and our medical staff, we’ve tried to educate the players on how important it is to keep their distance. From a tracing standpoint, if you’re within six feet of somebody, you beep so you get away from them. I don’t know how much more we can do.”

(With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow and the NFL’s more stringent policy toward players gathering, what are you telling the players regarding tomorrow, especially your single guys who may not have a family around here to gather with?) – “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I try to be honest with them about that and I understand that families are going to come in, but we also try to educate them and tell them that limiting the amount of people you come in contact with just helps the situation. I understand that. I think they understand that. At the same time, family is important, too, and we just try to educate them and tell them how important it is to mask and try to keep your distance as much as you can. For our single guys, I can’t definitively tell you what those guys are doing. Again, these are all adults. They’ve got to make decisions and hopefully they’re making good decisions. We’ve been preaching that really the entire year. I think this is a year of sacrifices. I don’t think we’re any different than a lot of other families and people around the country. There aren’t going to be the big gatherings that you normally have. I’m used to having 30-40 people in the house for Thanksgiving. That’s not the case – not going to be the case this year. That’s how I grew up – big family, everybody gets together. Those are great holidays and I have great memories from those times. That’s a sacrifice that we’re making as well as a lot of other people around the country are making. I think our players are no different and I’m sure you guys are doing things differently on Thanksgiving as well, so we’ve all got to make sacrifices, especially if we want to continue playing this year.”

(I’ll stick on the theme of Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for this year? I think this is a year where this holiday hits a little different just with everything that we’ve been through.) – “I’m thankful for health. I think that’s the first thing that came to mind. I’m thankful for my wife, who puts up with my nonsense on a daily basis and who handles our household and is a great mother to our kids and a great wife and a great everything. She’s the first person that comes to mind. But (I’m thankful for) my family. I’m thankful to be the head coach of this team. I’m very blessed. My life could’ve gone a few different ways and to be sitting in this position, I’m thankful for it.”

(I’ll just continue on that Thanksgiving theme. You said it’s your favorite holiday. Do you have a favorite meal? Does Jennifer cook a specialty meal? Is there turkey versus ham? How do you feel about the whole Thanksgiving food?) – “We’re a turkey and ham family, so you’ll see both on the table. My mom, this was her holiday, so she actually – I think Jenny stole a few of her recipes, so I still get a little taste of Mom’s cooking for Thanksgiving. But yeah, we’re a turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, greens; there’s a lot on the table. There’s always too much.”

(I’m going to be the spoiler and get back to football. How do you guys improve? It’s been an issue all season – the run game and the struggles that you guys have been having sustaining the run and then helping it build the pass game.) – “I think it’s the same answer. You’re probably sick of hearing it, but we’ve just got to continue to practice and then it’s about execution. I think we’ve got to try to find different ways to put the players in better positions to have some success in the run game on both sides, offensively and defensively. I think there’s a lot of different ways to do things in this league – different personnel, different schemes – so we haven’t tried every avenue. I don’t think any team has; but we have to keep looking for those different ways to create some opportunities for ourselves and if it’s something that we’re unfamiliar with, then maybe we do that. But at the same time, the things that – there are always ‘hey, if we got one block, we would’ve sprung that one’ or ‘if we handled that movement, we would’ve sprung this one.’ So there’s a little bit of back and forth on the best ways to try to make those improvements, but they’re constant conversations and we’ve been having them. We have them every day and not necessarily just on the things that we struggle with, but even the things that we haven’t struggled with. That’s coaching. There’s a lot of different conversations and communication and we’re all just trying to get better. I think (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey), (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer), (Special Teams Coordinator) Danny (Crossman); they’re just constantly trying to do everything they can to help put these guys in position to be successful and we’ll continue to do that.”

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