Miami Dolphins Transcripts – October 11 – Head Coach Brian Flores and Coordinators

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends George Godsey

(I was curious if the change in playing time allocation at running back yesterday with RB Myles Gaskin playing a ton and RB Malcolm Brown playing only five snaps, was that a logical byproduct of the gameplan, which was pass heavy, which would make total sense if that was the reason. Or, and this is what I was curious about, was it also a determination made internally that you need to start playing Myles a lot again because of his production last season, in training camp, etc.?) – “I think we alluded to it last week in kind of a similar question that we’ve got to get him going. We were able to get some production there. He had a couple of explosive (plays) there. Obviously the touchdown pass early in the game was a big one. His production is going to help us, whether it’s run or pass. It just so happened to be more pass in this past game.”

(I know this is something that is not going to be comfortably addressed, but Head Coach Brian Flores and QB Jacoby Brissett acknowledged that it’s now you communicating with them straight to the headset. How much does that impact you in your role and your ability to get the intent of the play-call out in terms of being the communicator with the quarterback?) – “There are a lot of things I feel like I see before the snap. As much as I can communicate with those guys, especially from upstairs, I think will help them. Whether it’s breaking the huddle, communication offensively, defensively, whether we’re aligned right. I think that streamlined things a lot. I’ll leave it at that.”

(How do you feel the offensive line played with the changes? Did you guys emerge from the game thinking ‘I think we might be on to something with T Liam Eichenberg at left tackle and T Austin Jackson at left guard?’) – “Yeah. I think there were some plays that were real impressive honestly, and then some that we’d like to get corrected. I think Austin is working his way through some things. Within a week, he made some pretty big steps there. Liam is going to continue to get better. Hopefully that group can maintain some consistency and some cohesiveness. We’ve had – whether it’s that group or the receiver group, it’s kind of been some plug and play with some different players and the more cohesive and consistent we can be with the same people out there, the better off we’ll be.”

(Head Coach Brian Flores seemed encouraged with how QB Tua Tagovailoa looked today. What are some of the things that he was doing well in your opinion before he got hurt, that you would like to build on going forward?) – “It was basically go and play the New England game. And we had a couple of plays or a couple of plays within the series that we’d like to have back. But overall, as far as leading the group, it was pretty consistently done. That was starting to build some relationships with each position. Whenever there is a lapse of time like that, I wouldn’t say restarting but we’re getting back on the field and now there is a little bit of an injury deal. It’s getting back the confidence that really you developed all training camp. For Tua, it will be getting back out there on the field, being decisive, getting back that silent alarm and really getting back to where he was building in training camp, and kind of taking it from there.”

(How much concern do you have with QB Tua Tagovailoa playing with pain, and what will you be looking for this week in practice to give you those indications that you’re not putting him at risk or in harm’s way?) – “It’s a unique week too with us traveling and getting ready for the London itinerary. But whenever there is an injury at any position, you’re looking to see what happens on a hit or you get tackled, whether it’s another position or not. We won’t be able to find those things honestly until game time. But as far as certain throws, making sure he’s able to rip a ball out to the sideline if he has to, show some touch over some linebackers, avoid movements in the pocket, those are obviously things that are going to happen throughout the game that you’d like to get a look at in practice and hopefully they come up – whether it’s a play that develops, a defensive linemen that kind of gets an edge on an offensive lineman. You like to see those movements take place. It’s a little bit different when there are no movements, which is kind of what’s going on right now, just to make sure you have the functionality to execute that when that happens. It’s always a touchy thing with all injuries, but obviously when he has the ball in his hands, he’ll be making those movements. We’ll take it day-by-day this week and see if we can arrive at a place we feel comfortable with before the game.”

(I noticed that you guys ran a lot of spread formations but with 12 personnel as opposed to 11 personnel. Was that more of a byproduct of not having WR DeVante Parker and WR Will Fuller? Regardless, what do you like about having 12 personnel in those formations as opposed to 11 with three wide receivers?) – “I think that’s a good question and the tight ends have a versatile role. Whether it’s run or pass, attached, extended, they can align in all of those different spots. I noticed some of them may have seemed like spread formations, but as a tight end, those guys really are dual-role players. Sometimes they motion in, sometimes they motion out. Receivers usually are detached and rarely are in the core of the formation. When you lose a receiver during the week, there are some things you have to adjust. But I think we can play the game both extended and attached, if you will, with the tight ends.”

(I’ve always been intrigued by WR Preston Williams’ talent. Obviously he did a couple of good things early in the game yesterday. What are the coaching points for Preston to enable him to when all is said and done, to say ‘you know what, he at least came close to reaching how good he can be?’) – “He’s coming off an injury. Getting cleared in training camp and not only learning the offense – it’s easy to think you have the offense when you’re not out there performing, then all of a sudden you’ve got 40 seconds between each play, then you’ve got to run back to the huddle, you’ve got to get your alignment, then you’ve got to know what identity you are. So as we were starting to learn that with Preston and as he was starting to get back into things, he got the opportunity this past week. He made a great play down the sideline to continue the drive. Then another catch and run that he had. He’s got to continue to expand his knowledge of the game, his alignments, his route tree. But that’s really what’s happening right now that we’re seeing. If we can keep taking steps forward with that, that will help us. Communication with the quarterback, getting on the same page, the third-down play comes to mind. The ball is thrown his way and maybe there are some things we can do better there too. And really play design, honestly. He’s going to continue to get better. He’s improving on his communication on where he actually needs to be when the play is over from the quarterback. We expect that arrow to continue to trend up.”

(The offensive line change, how much does that help you from a play-calling standpoint in terms of obviously this isn’t a finished product, but having a little bit more pocket security and pocket comfort for the quarterback?) – “Those guys got to prove that each week. It’s a different animal out there going against them. Blitzes, patterns – there is a lot that goes into the position. That whole group doesn’t get as much attention from every team as it should because there are a lot of things that are on those guys’ plates. Communicating from inside out. Like I said, pass pro, run, (play) actions. The more that group can work together and continue to excel play in and play out, the better off our unit will be. We think that every offense really goes the way their o-line plays. If they can continue to take it one play at a time and cover up who we need to cover up in both run and pass, then it will help the quarterback, it will help the running backs and obviously it will give us time to hit the tight ends or receivers down the field. The more that group can play together, the more the communication becomes more second nature and we’ll see a lot of positive plays from there. That’s definitely a good point.”     

Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer

(Is there a part of you that’s surprised that your veteran players, some of them, certainly not all of them, but some of them that have a proven body of work are not playing up to their standards? How puzzled are you by that? I know as you say, coaches, players, everyone is accountable. But just the fact that some guys are not playing up to past standards, is that surprising to you?) – “I think what we’ve put on film is what we are. I think it all starts with – for myself, I’ve got to do a better job of coordinating the whole thing to make sure that we’re better at run defense, pass defense, pass rush. That’s where I start. To do a better job of making sure that I’m putting guys in position to make plays. That’s how I look at it.”

(When you come out of a game like that and you’ve looked at the film now, what concerns you the most about – we can go with any number of questions, but as you looked at it, what’s your thoughts?) – “I think the major concern – very similar to what I just told Barry – is you look at yourself and make sure that everything is coordinated. Obviously we need to do better in all phases of the game. You look at the things that you need to change to get better, to get more production, to get things to carry over to Sundays. Like I’ve said, our players prepare well, they work hard and then obviously, I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we can see some of that translate to Sundays and change some things up to make sure we’re getting that production.”

(You guys have been on the field a lot every game. Do you see wearing down being a problem through the course of the game?) – “No, I don’t think it’s a conditioning thing. Like I said, our players work hard. We need to make more of opportunities to get off the field in third down situations. Again, that starts with myself putting players in better position.”

(I know you guys are a primarily man team, but when you’ve got a team that runs so many crossers, what’s the role of the linebackers in those situations – where guys are getting rubbed, guys are getting picked? What’s their role in that?) – “It depends. Sometimes if you’re in man coverage, those guys could have a particular coverage. Well, we don’t always have somebody free. Sometimes they are free and they’ll force one crosser to go in a different direction. But if you’ve got multiple crossers, then you can’t get all of them in that situation. There are different coverages, different things you can do to those crossers, and there are different ways you can handle man too. There are a lot of variables that go into that. Again, obviously I’ve got to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays.”

(Earlier we spoke with Head Coach Brian Flores and he was expressing concern with the run defense. But I wanted to ask you about the pass defense yesterday. The Bucs put up 437 and five touchdown passes against your secondary. I’m wondering what did you see out of that secondary that concerned you from yesterday’s game?) – “We need to improve in all phases. We need to improve in pass defense, the pass rush, the run defense. And again, I think that starts with me coordinating it better and putting players in better position. None of it was good enough and that’s my fault.”

(What did DT Raekwon Davis look like – 37 snaps for a nose tackle seems relatively high. Did he look like he could handle that workload?) – “Yeah, Raekwon has worked very hard to get back. Obviously there were some good things that he did out there and there were some things that hopefully will get a little bit better as time goes. He’s worked so hard to get back and keep himself in good shape and go out there and do some good things. Hopefully we can build on those.”

(You told us a couple of minutes ago that you may have to change some things up. Are you talking only about schematics and play calls, or are you also referring to the possibility to personnel changes in terms of playing time allocation?) – “I think all of our guys that you see out there on the field, we feel comfortable with. I think it’s a matter of fine-tuning better – whether it’s scheme or whatever it may be, or different calls in different situations to put the players in better position. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do. I would say for me, that’s where it starts.”

Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman

(What is it about WR Jaylen Waddle that made the team comfortable going with him at returner instead of WR Jakeem Grant Sr.?) – “I think his history. He’s a very, very gifted player. Has history in the return game both in punts and kickoffs in college. Maybe an opportunity to get him some more touches. We feel like we have several good players and obviously with Jaylen being one of them, we got him out on the field on Sunday. Unfortunately, he didn’t get many opportunities.”

(A lot of – I don’t have the final stats in front of me but at one point there were nine extra points missed and a few short field goals missed. Any reason this week? I don’t know if this is a season-long thing, I just read about it yesterday. Do you have any thoughts on that or any reason?) – “I don’t. With the setup of this week and heading overseas, I haven’t done my normal early week ‘around the league’ studies. Over my years, there’s going to be some of those weeks. I just always firmly believe that the specialists in this league are very, very good across the board. When those numbers dip, I think you’ll see them come right back really strong and at the end of the day, they will be what they normally are.”

(I wanted to ask you about the kickoffs and even Head Coach Brian Flores addressed it now, where it seems like it’s de-emphasized because of the recent rule change. I know they made that change because they wanted to limit the kickoffs because of fear that injuries take place on that play. Do you feel like it’s minimizing that aspect of special teams and their role in the field position battle?) – “It’s an interesting deal. It really is. There are times where you see around the league teams where you want to put the ball in play and there’s times where you don’t want to put the ball in play. I think especially always early in the year, you see the numbers really tend much more towards the touchback and I think for two reasons. No. 1, obviously with the good weather, some guys are able to put the ball in the back of the end zone. Then you see some of those numbers come down. I think the other thing is you see teams, once they get a better idea of who they are working with and what their unit’s strengths and weakness are, I think as the season goes on, you’ll see more and more balls put in play and you’ll see some more returns.”

(Again with the kickoffs, what is your philosophy in terms of kicking the ball out of bounds or through the uprights as opposed to kick it right around the goal line and maybe force a return or force some hesitance to getting them behind the 25-yard line? I’m curious because I know teams have different philosophies.) – “I think it varies. It’s a week-to-week thing. We always have the idea of having multiple things available. Whether we are putting it in play, how we are putting it in play, whether we are kicking it deep, whether the returner is going to return it even if it is deep. There’s a lot of things that go into it. At the end of the day, the biggest thing to remember is when you’re asking your specialists to do certain things, you’re not always going to get exactly maybe what you want. Again, I’m not a golfer. I don’t play golf/ I have never played golf. But at times you see even the best guys in the world have a hard time hitting the ball where they want to do it. I think sometimes that falls into play a little bit in the specialist world also.”

Head Coach Brian Flores

(Were you able to talk to QB Tua Tagovailoa yet today? Is he still feeling much discomfort in the ribs and is it affecting his throwing as of today from what you know?) – “Yeah, I talked to him today. He threw today. He’s definitely making progress and we’ll take this day-to-day but we are hopeful that he can practice this week.”

(One other quick thing, just on how T Liam Eichenberg and T Austin Jackson played in their new positions after watching the tape and your thoughts on that?) – “Overall as a team, we were disappointed. But just specific to those two players, I thought they did some good things, some things that we can try to build on. There are certainly some things that they can do better. I thought the both of them on that left side did some good things.”

(Whenever a team struggles, loses a couple of games in a row, a lot of negativity starts to swirl out there around the team. How do you keep the locker room positive, upbeat and looking forward as the team is struggling?) – “I think that’s more about the people who are in the locker room, who are in the building. I think we’ve got a group that sticks together, supports each other, that understands and knows how hard they work, how hard they prepare and we’re just not getting the results that we want right now. My feeling is that it’s a good group, they’re going to band together, support one another and try to play better and get back on track as a team.”

(I’m sure after yesterday there were a lot of concerns that you have regarding the defense. But after looking at the film, what’s the one thing that jumped out at you regarding the defense more than any other?) – “There’s a lot of things but we’ve got to do a better job in the run game. That stands out. That starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of putting these guys in better positions. That’s the one thing that sticks out. We talked about it this morning and we’ll talk about it this week. We’ve got a big test in the run game this week with Jacksonville and I think that’s the one thing. If there’s one – there’s a lot there, but if you’re asking for one, it’s that.”

(Offensively, I wanted to get your thoughts after watching the film of the changes made to the offensive line. Did it look like something that could be long term or was this just a patch situation in terms of trying to fix the leaks? How do you view what’s going on with your offensive line right now?) – “I see this as potentially long term. I think Liam (Eichenberg) at left and Austin (Jackson) over there inside at guard, I think that’s something that we’ll probably stay with for the foreseeable future. Obviously, nothing is set in stone. I like some of the things we saw in practice last week and then in the game. I think we can try to build from there.”

(I’m going to ask you on DE Jabaal Sheard and the safeties. On Sheard, what led to him being active yesterday? I know he got in for 11 or so snaps. And on safety, I know it’s a tough call every week because you have four good safeties that you want to get playing time to. We saw something a little different yesterday. We saw a heavy tilt towards the young guys. S Jevon Holland and S Brandon Jones played a lot more than DB Jason McCourty and S Eric Rowe. Was that entirely a matchup thing or has Jevon reached a point where you and Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer have decided he must be on the field more, he’s a talented young kid who we need to play more?) – “Jevon has done a nice job. We think he’s talented. Experience and playtime, I think he’s earned it and that’s why he’s out there. We’re comfortable with all four of those guys. They all played but Jevon and Brandon have done some good things. The gameplan was to get those guys in, get Rowe in and Jason in in specific packages. Sheard has done a really nice job in practice, really since he came on the practice squad early in the year. We wanted to add another edge rusher, edge defender. We had space for that in the gameplan and decided to make the move and get him some snaps in the game.”

(I was wondering if you could tell us the extent of TE Adam Shaheen’s injury? He left the game Sunday and I don’t know if there was ever another update on him.) – “He’s in getting treatment. Let’s call that one – I think it’s still a little early. Kind of call that one day-to-day and see how he’s feeling here and whether or not he will be ready to practice this week. Obviously he left yesterday and didn’t come back. He’s definitely sore, I would say. We’ll see how he feels in a couple days or if he’s ready to practice here Wednesday or Thursday.”

(In the past, we’ve seen your defenses where you have the ability to trick the quarterback. Where maybe you’re lining up and it looks like a blitz, disguised coverages and going in your bag of tricks. When you’re going up against QB Tom Brady, which is what we saw yesterday, was it just the case of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time doing the types of things the greatest quarterback of all time does?) – “Yeah, I think you have to give him credit, give them credit. I thought they had a good plan. I thought they executed their plan. He made some good throws. They made some good catches. Obviously we want to play a lot better than that but I think you have to give them some credit. We’re disappointed. We want to make more plays and do a better job across the board. We weren’t able to do that yesterday and we just have to turn the page and move on to the next opponent.”

(You mentioned yesterday postgame an emphasis of getting to the line of scrimmage quicker for more motion and pre-snap shifting. In what ways do you think that benefited the offense yesterday?) – “I thought offensively we did some good things. Obviously not enough. Some guys showed up. I thought Preston (Williams) showed up. I thought Myles Gaskin showed up, did some good things. There are some things to build off of offensively, but not enough and we’ve got to do a better job of putting these guys in position to make plays. We have got to play more complementary football so we have more opportunities offensively. When you can’t get off the field defensively, they can’t get the ball offensively and we just didn’t have enough possessions. I thought there were some good things. I thought we moved the ball more efficiently yesterday. We were on schedule a little bit more. We protected better than we had. We have some things to build off of but we certainly need to be better.”

(This is the week that QB Tua Tagovailoa is going to be back on the practice field. I know you don’t have a green light in terms of how he’s going to look but what are the things you are looking for from him to let you know that he’s ready to return to the football field?) – “I saw him today and he’s making a lot of improvement. What we’ll need to see is him move around, see him throw the ball, see him make throws on the run, see the deep ball. The one thing we won’t see is real and true contact on the quarterback. There’s obviously going to be from a pain-tolerance standpoint some things he’s going to have to push through, which I’m sure he will. Yeah, that’s what we’re looking for. Just get him to go through a normal practice, make all the throws and go through a two-hour practice.”

(Keeping on the quarterback theme, we’ve had so much focus on QB Tua Tagovailoa but I want to revisit QB Jacoby Brissett for a second. He came out temporarily yesterday. How is he doing today? Any soreness or anything or is he fine?) – “Definitely sore. Definitely getting treatment. Definitely sore. I thought he really toughed it out yesterday with the leg injury. Look, he’s tough, he’s competitive. I thought about pulling him a couple times and he fought me to stay in. That just speaks to his competitiveness. We’ll see how that goes this week but he is definitely sore.”

(Does the fact that you’re going to London affect in any way the possible move back to QB Tua Tagovailoa? Does that complicate things in terms of how much time you have to work Tua back in or is that totally a nonfactor, the travel distance part of it?) – “I don’t think so. I think we’ll see how it goes in practice with both guys. Obviously, like we just mentioned, Jacoby is dealing with something as well. But no, I don’t think so. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how it goes with both guys. We’ll see how it goes with Tua. I would say he’s moving in the right direction, Tua I would say, based on what I saw today. We’re hopeful that he’s ready to go this week in practice and this week for the game.”

(Speaking of London, other than the fact that it’s a longer flight and you are playing in a different country, what tweaks or changes do you make to the way your week is set up and what, if anything, is different because it’s a London week?) – “We’re leaving Thursday night, so that’s definitely different. Well, Thursday evening. We’ll get there Friday in the morning. That is all very different. Our practice schedule, we’re basically bumping it up a day. We’ll do a little bit tomorrow, a little bit on Wednesday and a little bit on Thursday. Leave Thursday. Do a little bit on Friday, walkthrough and try to get back to our normal Saturday-Sunday routine. It is different. The time change, going five hours ahead, definitely is a little bit of a difference, the long flight. Some things will definitely be different for us this week but they’re also different for Jacksonville. It’s just what it is and we’ll make the best of it and do a good job with our preparation and go out there and try to play a good football game.”


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