Miami Dolphins Transcripts – October 13 – Coordinators and Defensive Position Coaches

Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander

(CB Xavien Howard, he gets a lot of interceptions. Now if you haven’t played football or coached football, you might not understand some of the things that allow him to do that. Can you kind of break down some of the things that he does and that he has, that enable him to get so many interceptions?) – “Well, the first thing, to get as elementary as I can put it, is he does his job. He’s aligned in the right places. He does what’s necessary for the play call. The communication to him allows him to understand what his responsibility is – whether it be man or zone – and then especially when we’re in zone defense, which was the call when he got his interception the other day, a lot of it really came from the defensive line and their ability to affect the quarterback and force a high throw. That’s why rush and coverage really go together. But more specifically for ‘X’ (Xavien Howard), he’s a guy that has good ball skills when the ball is in the air. There’s a lot of guys, a lot of corners – I mean I could look at my playing career. There were so many layups that I dropped that were right in my hands. A guy like him, who has the ball skills to really defend in the zone defense and catch those balls, or even in man-to-man and defending a 9-route, and going up there and catching the ball at its highest point. He does a really good job of just attacking the football once he’s in phase.”

(A follow up on CB Xavien Howard, do you see him physically get better by the week? And do you think he’s back in a place now where he was in the past, where the knee, the COVID and all of that is completely behind him?) – “I’ll reference this in terms of – you’re talking about specifically health, correct? I’ll reference this kind of in one of my favorite video games, which is Street Fighter. So I have four kids, three boys. So in Street Fighter, if any of you guys have played Street Fighter before, you pick a character and then when they say ‘Ready, fight!’ they have a health meter like on the top of the screen. So you can see how much health your fighter has until he’s no longer useable and you have to go to the next round. Unfortunately with ‘X,’ I don’t see his health meter. I do think he’s improving on a day-to-day (basis) and he has the ability to go out there on Sundays and make plays for us.”

(This isn’t a second-guess because CB Nik Needham obviously played well on Sunday and is highly skilled. I’m just curious what’s the thinking from you, Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer and Head Coach Brian Flores in not trying CB Noah Igbinoghene at slot in the nickel. I know Auburn Defensive Backs Coach Wesley McGriff has said he got some work there at Auburn and is capable of doing it. Why, at this point, are you working him only at boundary?) – “Well, this isn’t Auburn. I’m pretty sure he did that at Auburn but just for us and for Noah, and how we’ve trained him so far – nickel is a totally different position than the perimeter corner. The nickel is not just plugging in a corner and saying that he’s the nickel. There’s a lot of things that the nickel does, whether it be in the man defense or the zone defense, or being able to fit in the run game, possibly coming in on pressures. I’m sure he’s capable of doing so, but one thing you have to be careful with a guy like Noah or even any young player for the most part, is putting too much on their plate too soon, which gets them to hesitate and gets them to play slower. Again, Noah is a developing player for us. He’s done a good job with the reps he’s had so far. But right now, he’s really more of a perimeter guy for us who will obviously be in roles between Byron (Jones) and ‘X’ (Xavien Howard), as of right now, in our defense. And that’s all situational and game plan because that can change throughout the season.”

(I’m more of a Mortal Kombat guy myself, but I can appreciate the reference for sure. I wanted to ask you about S Eric Rowe. You were a coaching intern here last summer so you were around him a little bit and now you’ve seen him grow and develop into this safety that’s locking down tight ends and playing really well on Sundays. What have you seen from him from that first training camp you were here with last year to this year and the growth he’s made?) – “Just the feel of the position. I think safety is such a different position than corner. One, obviously a communication standpoint, which he’s gotten a hell of a lot better. Eric naturally is a quiet guy and when he’s on the field, he has to be very verbal and be loud and be confident to give the communication to everybody. So you get some feel of he’s starting to get better in that role as a communicator and also in the run game where he’s got to have recognition of crack splits if he’s a down safety and being able to fit in on the run game and seeing pulling guards. When you’re coming from the corner position, you don’t necessarily – you’re not exposed to that. So it’s just different nuances within the safety position where different keys and different movement and things like that; he’s now continuing to expose himself on a week-to-week (basis) through practice. He’s gotten a hell of a lot better since I was a little intern here just trying to get information.”

(I appreciate the Street Fighter reference, so I wanted to follow up on that. One, do you or your sons have a favorite character and does CB Xavien Howard remind you of any of those guys on there or Chun-Li? Any of those characters?) – “I’m more of a Ken/Ryu guy, depending on if I just want to wear the red suit or the blue suit. I never really got into the other characters because I wanted to master those. So still to this day, if I need to kind of put a whooping on my 7-year-old son, that’s going to be my selection. As far as ‘X’ (Xavien Howard), he hasn’t thrown any fire balls or anything like that, so he doesn’t really remind me of those guys. So I’m not sure in regards if I can reference him to any Street Fighter guy. I just want him to be a street fighter that wins.”

(You’ve got to pass that Street Fighter reference with the health bar up to Head Coach Brian Flores. He would love that talking about injuries, not being able to see a guy’s health bar.) – “I’m just trying to be a little small example for anybody in the building. (laughter)”

(I wanted to ask – you spoke about this earlier on how much the coverage helps the pass rush. When a guy like CB Xavien Howard and CB Byron Jones – when you have those two out there – what does that do for kind of everybody else on the defense including linebackers as well?) – “I would reverse what you just said. I think the rush helps the coverage more so, because if those guys are coming after those guys and attacking those linemen and really putting pressure on the quarterback, not only can they get the quarterback on the ground, but that can really affect the throws and really create ill-decision. And again, it marries. If obviously we’re doing a good job in coverage, that’s why you see coverage sacks because the quarterback is trying to hold onto the ball and guys are doing a good job whether it be in man or in zone. But if you have guys like Byron (Jones) and guys like ‘X’ (Xavien Howard), who are experienced corners in the league and those guys are playing tight coverage and then all the guys around them, whether it be ‘backers on their man or in their zone, and we’re doing a good job on the back end, that gives time for the rush. Maybe that initial work on the guard didn’t work or maybe that pick stunt needed a little bit more time or maybe they’re just beating that guy off the one move and those guys aren’t able to get into the progression in the route concept quickly or in enough time for the quarterback to be on the ground. So it all works together. We all know how important each phase and each defense – I always say that everybody’s one of an 11-piece puzzle that’s a beautiful picture, and everybody’s just got to do their one-eleventh.”

Outside Linebackers Coach Austin Clark

(I wanted to ask, what are some of the contributions that LB Kamu Grugier-Hill has given you guys specifically as a pass coverage linebacker?) – “I think Kamu (Grugier-Hill) is a versatile guy. I think he’s made some big-time plays in every game so far. He can do a lot of different things. He can rush, too, now. I think he’s a smart player. Very instinctive and excited about what he’s done so far.”

(I know that we can kind of manipulate statistics good or bad, like the narrative we’re trying to tell; but this is a good narrative so I’ll give you a good stat. It says here that the Dolphins are now eighth in sacks per pass attempt. So obviously the pressure and the sacks have been increasing. What are some of the things that are most encouraging to you overall that are leading to more sacks?) – “First, I would say, it’s early. So all those numbers, all that stuff, we’re focused on the Jets; but I think the players’ preparation, effort, focus and execution on what the plan is each week is the biggest thing. I think all the guys – it’s kind of been a group effort and a group contribution from all the players. It’s not just one single guy rushing the passer. They’re all winning their matchups. They’re all executing the scheme properly, and they’re all bought in. That’s something we’re really excited about.”

(I asked this question for Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby. He said he doesn’t have a chance to work with S Eric Rowe, but we did hear Head Coach Brian Flores talk about the fact that he will play some linebacker positions on certain calls. I’m just curious – do you get much of a chance to work with Eric Rowe and what do you see from him?) – “No, you have to talk to ‘G.A’ (Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander) and (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer); that guy is a hell of player. He did a hell of a freaking job on Sunday, and those guys are doing an excellent job with him.”

(What can you say this first season has been like after the first month – I guess your time as a coach through the first five games? How has it gone for you – your first experience as an NFL assistant?) – “I think it’s been great. I would say I’m extremely lucky, one, to be around the staff that I’m on, on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve got a bunch of great coaches on this staff, so for me, I’m learning a lot. Everything from day-to-day preparation – that would be the biggest thing I think I’ve taken during my time here so far, is just all the preparation that goes in each week. I think I’m extremely fortunate to work with the players we have. I think we’ve got some great guys and so I just feel lucky to be here every day, to be honest with you; and just being from Florida, being down here to work for the Dolphins, for me this is a dream come true.”

(Aside from work ethic, which everyone raves about with LB Andrew Van Ginkel – if we put that aside, what specific skill do you think gives him a chance to be a quality performer long-term?) – “I would say – and I hit on this a little bit with the pass rush as a group – but this guy prepares extremely well. He’s up there all the way up until the day before the game watching tape. He’s versatile. He can kind of play a lot of different roles. I think he uses his hands extremely well. I think that’s something he developed in the offseason in the run game, that I think he’s been able to show. But his preparation and his effort. I know you said work ethic, but effort to really – not just to get to the ball, but to try to make every play – and I think that’s something that he’s done so far. It’s a testament to him and I’m excited to see him keep going.”

Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile

(What did you think about LB Jerome Baker and most specifically – I was going to ask about a specific play but I got lost on the Italian food track.) – “(laughter) That’s an easy thing to get lost on. I’m lost on that on like 20 hours a day. (laughter) I thought ‘Bake’ (Jerome Baker) played well the other day. I think he’s been off to a good start this year. He’s played a bunch of snaps for us and has a really variable skillset. He’s done a good job in coverage, a good job in the run game. I think he’s just playing very physical and he has some pass-rush ability too. I think he’s done a good job with that. He definitely was a factor there the other day. I’m proud of him. I think he’s doing a good job.”

(How is LB Andrew Van Ginkel different from the guy you watched on tape when you got the job? How is he better?) – “I said something in regard to Van Ginkel maybe two weeks ago. He’s a tireless worker. I think a lot of times at this level, people think in professional football, the guy is – you’re obviously an elite player to get to this level. But I don’t think sometimes people understand that at this level, guys still improve. A lot of the best players in football, they improve every day. He’s done that in a myriad of different ways. I think he’s done a really good job of improving his game in the run game and as a pass rusher. He’s another guy that has a very multiple skillset and allows us to do a bunch of different things when he’s in the game.”

(I wanted to follow up on LB Andrew Van Ginkel. There was a play in the game where he stacked up and shed TE George Kittle. You guys talked a lot about in the offseason about him adding that functional strength and the tireless work in the weight room. Do you think that’s a direct translation of that work in the weight room?) – “For sure. I think (Head Strength & Conditioning Coach) Dave Puloka does an unbelievable job with these guys here – all of our strength coaches. We work hard all the way through the season with that. I think he’s done a really good job in terms of the fundamentals of block destruction. I know just watching from my own perspective, from the spring on, he’s really put a lot of work in, in that regard. I think everybody talks about running to the football, running to the football and that’s of the utmost importance here in this organization; but you can’t run to the football unless you can get off blocks. He’s done a really good job with that and he’s improved very much so in that regard.”

(Is gelato better than ice cream?) – “Yes. That’s not even close. That’s like two different universes right there. Gelato and ice cream. Gelato is like – what are we doing? If you haven’t eaten that, then you haven’t lived. Anybody who has never tried it, you have to get on that like right now. I don’t think that’s even a question.”

(Why is it so good?) – “Less fat, a little bit more real. That’s like the whole diamond of ice cream – gelato. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey

(Head Coach Brian Flores said he was happy with the running game in the second half of the game on Sunday. I was curious if there was one or two things that you can specifically point to that you liked that you saw in the running game?) – “We had a couple of bigger runs in the second half, especially when we were trying to run some clock and get it down the field with the running game instead of trying to throw it all over the park. We did a couple of things that were good. It was more of our counter game than it was of our just straight zone game. We’ve got to work on our zone game, that’s what we got to work on.”

(We’ve heard you talk a lot about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick here, but he had probably one of the better games that you’ve seen him play, I’m guessing. What comes to your mind when you see him play as well as he did Sunday?) – “He does things with this offense that we have that are truly amazing to me. He really does. He sees things – we’ll call a route and he’ll change one guy because he sees something, and he’ll change one little wrinkle to it and be able to take advantage of the defense. The other day, he saw the defensive end’s stance, so he knew the coverage, so he changed one route and we get a touchdown. It’s little things like that, that he’s amazing with. He knows what the defense is doing and how to beat them. He’s a special guy, very special guy, in that respect.”

(How big of a step in the right direction did WR Preston Williams take and what do you think this can do for him moving forward for this season?) – “It was just a matter of time, in my opinion. He’s been practicing well, he’s been working on his routes, he’s doing some good things. When you’ve got several good players, everybody doesn’t get the ball. This is one of those times where he got the ball, took advantage of it and made plays. To me, that does nothing but help our football team. Now they’ve got to worry about him, they’ve got to worry about ‘D.P.’ (DeVante Parker) on the other side, Jakeem (Grant), Mike (Gesicki). They’ve got a lot of things to think about. I was glad we were able to get him more involved. Now it just creates more open opportunities for everybody, now that he’s back on track. I hate to use that term because he wasn’t off track. It just hadn’t happened for him yet.” 

(What went into the decision to insert G/T Robert Hunt in at right tackle, and how did things look on the right side of that line with the two rookies when you broke it all down?) – “Our plan all along had been to work Robert in at right tackle if something happened. (Offensive Line Coach) Steve Marshall does a great job of getting guys ready in case we get an injury, and he had been working Rob at right tackle. Jesse (Davis) had been working a little bit at left tackle. We just work those scenarios. ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) told us to start working that back – three weeks, two-and-a-half weeks before the first ball game. We’d been working that, so it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. We’d been planning if something happens, this is the direction we’re going to go. The players knew it. It wasn’t like it was a shock to them either. And he did a good job.”

(I’d like to follow up on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. I talked to TE Mike Gesicki yesterday and he called him his favorite teammate he’s ever played with. I’m just curious what it’s like for you knowing him so well to coach with. How would you describe him among the players you’ve coached?) – “Wow. That is a tough question because you hate to ever label anybody your favorite, because there then there are a bunch of other guys you’ve been close to through the years that might get offended and I wouldn’t want to offend anybody. But I’ve been with ‘Fitz’ (Fitzpatrick) a long time. We’ve had some great times together and we’ve had some bad times together. I think I have as much respect and I like him as much, if not more, than anybody I’ve ever coached. He’s a great teammate, a great, great, great competitor, and he’s a lot smarter than me.”

(WR Lynn Bowden Jr., I think he started at receiver, and then took at least three snaps at Wildcat. How many options does him being at Wildcat give you? And how is his route-running and understanding of the offense coming along for the slot position?) – “I’ll answer the second part first. He’s learning. He didn’t get any of the preseason. He didn’t get any of the base stuff. Since he’s been here, we’ve been game planning, and that’s a little bit tougher to learn everything when you don’t get the base concepts down from Day 1. It’s been a longer process for him than somebody who got here the first day of camp. He’s learning though. He’s getting better. He’s understanding it, but that’s a lot to comprehend. And now we’ve thrown the Wildcat package on him, so that takes time away from some of the other (stuff). We’re trying to massage the situation where we get him to understand the slot receiver position, and get him to play the Wildcat, and keep expanding both packages so we can – and we try to play him in there on regular downs so they can’t tell if Wildcat is in or if Wildcat is not in. We kind of just don’t want them to know when it’s coming.”

(I wanted to ask you about the Jets. I think they are 29th, 30th, or 31st in points allowed. They are pretty bad when it comes to yards. Has what they’ve done been a reflection of not getting a lot of help from their offense and being on the field a ton? Or is there some part of the defense you guys can really attack this weekend?) – “I don’t know what the situation is. I only look at one side of the ball. ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) can probably give you a better overview answer there; but what I see is a group on defense that is flying around. They’ve given up a bunch of big plays. That’s where the yardage and the points have come from is a bunch of big plays. There have been some drives down the field, but you have to fight for every yard against this crew. They are flying around the football field pretty well right now. We’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities when we get a chance to make a big play. If we don’t get those opportunities and they decide to go back and play it soft and not give you the big plays, we’ve got to be good enough and detailed enough to work it down the field and punch it in the end zone when we get down there.”

(When we saw the o-line got redone this offseason, I guess a lot of the assumption was that the run game will come along quicker than the pass game as far as protection and push. It seems to me early, it’s been the opposite. I’m curious as to why you guys have been so successful in the pass-blocking early and why it hasn’t translated as much in the run game as much as you’d want?) – “I’m going to go back and say what I said earlier about (Offensive Line Coach) Steve Marshall. He does a great job of teaching protection and concepts and ‘Lem’ (Assistant Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre) is right in there helping these young players especially, work on their techniques and their sets. We work pass protection a lot, and really the run game is more of a process of they are putting an extra guy in the box. So if they put extra guys in the box, guess what? We’re going to throw it. We’re not gong to try to run uphill. We’ve tried to force it a few times just to keep them honest and hadn’t made a lot of yards on it. I think we’re capable of it, and I think if people start taking away the pass, then we’ll start running it better. If they keep playing the run down there with an extra guy in the box, we’re going to keep throwing it. We just try to take advantage of what the defense is giving us.”

Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer

(Since this was a good overall performance in terms of pressure and coverage and it was just a lot of good, what may be not so obvious after you reviewed the film that you were very pleased with?) – “I think win, lose – I think you go back every week and for me personally, it starts with myself and then you kind of look at the things that we’re doing and you kind of just self-evaluate. And I think there’s always good things and bad things each week, and the things that we’re not doing so well, we need to work hard to improve that because ultimately they’ll show up again. A lot of coordinators in this league, they’ll test you to make sure that you got stuff corrected. We’re working hard to do that, so I think the approach is the same. You start over. We’re done with San Francisco. We’re onto the Jets. We’ve got a division opponent this week. It’s a big game for us, and all our time, effort and energy is into the Jets.”

(I wanted to ask you about S Eric Rowe – a guy you’ve been around since 2016 when he got to New England and you really saw him fight through injuries in those early days. I just was curious what does it mean to you to see him really thriving here and can you turn that into something of a coaching point with how maybe the rest of the guys deal with and overcome adversity?) – “I think the good thing is for Eric (Rowe) is he’s a mentally tough kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s constantly striving to improve, which is what we ask him to do, and I think he’s seeing some results of that. Like everybody, there’s things that he’s got that he can continue to work on. As far as using him as an example and stuff, I think each individual’s case is a case-by-case study, if you will. I think sometimes things can start off good for a guy. Then they have to deal with a little bit of adversity and then they can come back. Sometimes guys just need a chance and then there’s other times that it doesn’t start off so good and guys work their way to that. I think it’s different individual to individual; but again, Eric is a hard worker. He’s been able to handle the ups and downs. He’s a good professional. He puts in a good day’s work and we’re going to continue to ask him to do that.”

(CB Xavien Howard now leads the league with three interceptions. I think his 15 since the end of 2017 or the most in the NFL even though he missed basically a season. Is he back now to where he was pre-injury? Is he by now a top-three cornerback in the NFL?) – “As far as the stats and the evaluations and comparisons, that’s probably a question for somebody else. What our focus is, is just getting the best out of each individual player week to week. Obviously like we’ve said time and time again, if you see guys out on the field, we feel like that they’re good to go and they can help us, and I think with all of us – and it’s really been a week to week deal – is we’re striving hard to improve, to be the best we can collectively as a group.”

(LB Jerome Baker after the game attributed the pass pressure that you all were able to generate on moving guys around, lining them up in different places, and said some of that was even based on decisions the players made just before the snap. Did you see it that way and I’m wondering how much flexibility for the players is built into the system?) – “Ultimately again, there’s no coaches out there in between the white lines on Sunday, so it’s the players making decisions. You try to build it in so that those guys have flexibility within calls to change things, to see things, so they can go out there and play fast at a high level. So there’s a structured scheme that we put out there and then within certain things or certain things that they see, guys can have the ability to adapt based on certain parameters, which I think our communication is improving as a group. We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re working hard at that. We’re working hard on that in the meetings and at practice, and hopefully it carries over to Sunday. It’s a hard thing to get 11 guys all on the same page and that’s what we’re working to do. And then you can have a variety of different guys out there from time to time. So really again, it’s a credit to the players putting in the time, the effort and the energy to get it right.”

(I wanted to ask you about DT Davon Godchaux – how his contributions at defensive line have helped you guys then how do you guys kind of move forward with this d-line rotation if he does have to miss some time with the biceps injury?) – “Again we’ll just see how it goes. I know ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) kind of deals with the injuries. We’ve been busy game planning most of the morning here, but Davon (Godchaux) – his leadership, his work ethic – all that stuff has been great. He’s been a mentor to the younger guys and on top of that, he’s been able to give us some production on the field. So nothing but good things to say about him, and like everybody else, he’s continuing to strive, to make himself the best player he can possibly be. As a coach, you always hope all of your guys are available to you and whatever the scenario is, we just kind of deal with it from there.”

(I could ask you about DT Zach Sieler every week because he’s just a beast, but instead I’ll ask you about the youngster DT Raekwon Davis, who maybe will be in line for some more playing time. How is his progress coming along? What does he have going for him? What does he still need to do better?) – “I think like all young guys, there’s some ups and downs, and I think you kind of have to one, learn what the NFL is about; two, learn about being professional, which I think Raekwon is working hard to do all those things. It’s hard to perform in this league. It’s hard to win in this league and there’s a constant reminder of ‘hey, you need to get better on this. You need to get better on this,’ or ‘hey, this is good. Let’s build on this.’ And I think Raekwon comes in – he loves football, he puts in a good day’s work and we’re going to hope that continues to improve week-by-week, which is what we’re all striving to do.”

(My question is also about DT Raekwon Davis. How ready is he to handle a bigger workload?) – “Raekwon, he’s been out there for a handful of snaps for us. What the workload is, obviously for us that’s going to depend on a week-to-week basis. Obviously we’re ultimately striving to put our guys in the best position to succeed. Raekwon is a guy that we have a good amount of confidence in. We’ve put him out there. Like I said, hopefully he continues to grow as this season moves along.”

(You had S Bobby McCain, CB Xavien Howard and CB Byron Jones on the field there for over 150 snaps in the game. I was curious what you saw from that first extended playing time from the three of those guys together, the way they communicated and handled the 49ers passing game throughout the course of that game.) – “I think as a group, as a team, whether it’s d-line, linebackers, secondary, there’s a lot of communication that goes out on the field. I think as a group, we’re getting better. I think Bobby obviously spearheads a lot of that communication with the linebacker group, but I would say it’s really a credit to the players putting in not only the time that we spend here, but putting in some extra time meeting and talking over situations, what they see on this, what do you see on this. I think the work ethic that we’re getting has been outstanding. We need to continue to do that and we need to continue to improve, and that’s what we’re working for. We have a big challenge this week, like I said, with the Jets coming up. It’s a divisional game that all of us are going to put our time, effort and energy into that.”

Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby

(I wanted to ask you about the fourth-down run stop we saw there. It looked like DT Christian Wilkins and DE Emmanuel Ogbah were a big part of that. What did you see from that play and how can that type of a play in a game spark momentum in your favor?) – “It was a really big play – fourth-and-1 and I think they had already crossed pretty much midfield. It was a big turning point in the game. It was a pretty good knockback, that you could see both of those guys really came off the ball and knocked them in the backfield and made a heck of a play.”

(I wanted to ask you about DT Raekwon Davis. How would you assess his progress so far and how ready is he to handle a bigger workload?) – “I think he’s getting closer and closer and getting better and better each week. Time will tell. Like we’ve talked about earlier this year, this is a long season. Everybody in that room is counted on. One thing about pro football is you can’t keep 12 like you keep in college sometime, so those guys that you do keep on the roster have to keep getting better and better. I think he’s going to keep getting better as the season goes along.”

(Can you speak to the work ethic and the drive that DT Davon Godchaux has had over the last two seasons that you’ve been here with him? How have you guys kind of looked towards that defensive line rotation now that he may be out an extended period of time?) – “I’ll tell you what, working with him is a treat. I think every coach wants to work with someone who really loves to play football. He’s very conscientious about practice. He’s very conscientious about his play. One thing is he’s a great leader. His leadership in the room is second to none. I can always count on him as a leader. I also count him first is big time. He’s really progressed and I really enjoy coaching him.”

(I’m looking for some education from you here because I noticed S Eric Rowe kind of sneaks down onto the line of scrimmage a lot. I’m curious, do you ever work with him when it comes to playing down in the box?) – “No, I don’t ever work with Eric. He’s a little too fast for me. He runs too well to be in my group. (laughter) No, I don’t. I’ll tell you what, he does catch my eye with his speed and like the great play he made in the game when he did run the guy down on the sideline. His speed jumps out at you but I don’t have the pleasure of working with Eric.”

Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman

(Football Outsiders – I don’t know if special teams coaches look at that or if that’s one of the more popular formulas; but they say you’re doing a good job. They have the Dolphins special teams unit overall at No. 2 in the NFL. I know you’re always going to strive for perfection, but can you just talk about some of the areas that you really are happy with over the first five games?) – “(laughter) I don’t know if I’m ever happy, but I think the biggest thing is I think our group is getting better every week. I think we’re getting better in each phase, even though some of the plays that you’d like to have aren’t necessarily showing up. I think we’re doing a better job blocking in the return game, even though we aren’t getting a lot of opportunities. I think our landmarks, even though we’re not getting opportunities, I think we’re getting better on understanding that. But like we always say, to be good in the kicking game, your specialists have to perform well. I think when you look at the punter, the kicker and the snapper, again we haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities in the true return game with those specialists; but if your specialists are performing well, you have a chance of being pretty good, and I think our specialists are performing at a high level right now.”

(I wanted to go back to something that Head Coach Brian Flores talked about with K Jason Sanders. He called him one of the most diligent workers of his craft that he’s ever been around. I just wanted to maybe get a follow up from you, as a person who has been around him every single day, that’s really helped lead him to a franchise record for consecutive makes to start a season. He’s got 14 in a row. What have you seen from him?) – “I think ‘Flo’ (Brian Flores) is exactly right. I think what people don’t realize is the time that Jason spends – along with Matt (Haack), the time he spends before we ever even get on the field, both from a mental and a physical standpoint, and making sure that when we go onto the field, that he’s ready to perform at a high level. And he performs and executes in practice. We call them mini-games. So every time your opportunities come up, whether it be in practice and/or a game, as a specialist, there’s not a lot of outside influences as there are with some other positions. If you can get that mindset and framework – both mentally and physically – on the practice field, you feel good about having good carryover into the games.”

(How much of the chemistry level between P Matt Haack, LS Blake Ferguson and K Jason Sanders has helped in terms of not just chasing success, but more so with Blake being a rookie and being comfortable out there? I was noticing in Santa Clara when the field goal unit would come out, Blake is the first guy on the field, motioning with his hands and everything. How much has that helped between them three?) – “I think that’s always important. When you look at that battery, the confidence that each guy has in the other guy to perform at a high level; and at the same time, you talk about it. Being able to feel comfortable about somebody bailing the other guy out when something may not necessarily go exactly as planned. There may be a time when the holder needs to do something special with the ball. There may be a time when the kicker has to bail out the holder. There’s going to be times – all of that stuff goes together. Again, that just comes down to repetition and spending time together on and off the field, so when you do it on the field, there’s great confidence in one another.”

(I believe WR Jakeem Grant had a fumble in this game. What do you say to him? What does he need to do to limit that?) – “Yeah, we had a muff on a punt. It’s – a thing that you’ve got to understand is that at times, those things are going to happen. We just have to make sure, to me and what we talk to the returners about, is are we doing everything to put ourselves in the right position when it’s time to catch the football? There’s so many things that go into that in terms of reading the football and the rotation and the spin and what kind of ball it is. That’s the thing we’ve seen the last couple of weeks with some of these guys hitting these different balls. When you look at the (Michael) Dickson kid from Seattle, and then Mitch (Wishnowsky) from San Francisco and being able to hit some of these odd spinning balls, we’ve just got to make sure we’re doing all of the stuff before it ever comes time to catch it, that we’re putting ourselves in the best position. It’s a constant deal. We’ve got to keep working on it. Some things are hard to simulate but that can’t happen. Ball security is the most important thing when those guys go on the field.”

(Are you all giving WR Lynn Bowden Jr. any work at all as a returner in practice? Or have you, Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey and Head Coach Brian Flores decided he simply has enough on his plate with Wildcat, slot receiver, and he shouldn’t be doing returns?) – “No. Lynn is another guy that we’re working with day in and day out in the return game, in terms of both punts and kickoffs. He’ll continue to work on that and be available if we need him.”

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