Miami Dolphins Transcripts – October 14 – Head Coach Brian Flores, Flores Conference Call, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, G/T Jesse Davis, LB Andrew Van Ginkel and K Jason Sanders

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

(We’re asking a couple guys this week about what it’s like playing with you and a couple guys mentioned that you’re their favorite teammate that they’ve ever had. I guess, what do you think about the impact you’ve seem to make on so many particularly young players that they feel like you’re their favorite?) – “It’s probably a better question for them than me, but I know that my experience helps – just the road that I’ve traveled to get here and all the different teams and different teammates and different situations I’ve been in. I think all of that probably helps, but I don’t know. Probably a better question for all of them.”

(I was wondering if you knew that right now you rank fifth in the QBR statistic. I don’t know if you know what that is – a lot of people don’t – or if you give any credence to it, but do you think that’s a fair representation of how you’ve played in 2020?) – “I think you don’t really pay too much attention to any of that stuff, but I think that one’s probably a better metric of overall quarterback play than just the regular QB rating. That one, to me, matters more than the blanket quarterback rating one.”

(I saw a breakdown the other day. It was from Brian Baldinger. It was your 32-yard touchdown pass to WR Preston Williams and he talked a lot about you throwing to a spot under the face of pressure and kind of the trust you have in your eyes. Last year in training camp, you talked about how you felt you were playing some of the best ball of your career and I was just curious if those two things are intertwined and how you get to that point in your career where you really trust what you see fully?) – “A lot of it is experience and film study and just kind of years of accumulating this catalog in the back of mind of things that I really like and I’m comfortable with versus certain looks; and then the other end of that is getting the guys that you’re playing with to understand how I’m seeing it and where I want them to be and that was a huge play in the game, and that was a huge play for me just in terms of my confidence in Preston (Williams). For us to be on the same page and for me to be able to throw that ball knowing exactly where he was going to be and for him to make the right read and the right decision there, that kind of thing goes a long way in building confidence with guys. That one was a fun play because the set up and the way everything went, but also just because it was a pretty meaningful play in the second half.”

(I wanted to follow up on this whole QBR versus passer rating debate. I am a passer rating guy personally. Tell me why, in your mind, because considering you are the expert, you feel QBR is better?) – “I’m definitely not an expert, but I think if you throw an interception down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, it probably shouldn’t weigh as much as throwing an interception up a score or in the first quarter with the game on the line. All the stats that you can kind of accumulate when you’re behind – some meaningless stats – I think being able to avoid negative plays, sacks and those type of things are important for a quarterback. I think it’s a – even just the running and the scrambles and things like that – there are just a lot of things that it takes into account that aren’t necessarily, that either don’t show up on a stat sheet or they weight stats based on how important it is in the game. I think that is a lot of the reason for me as to why that one carries much greater weight for me.”

(I have one and a half questions for you. The half question is related to something TE Mike Gesicki said the other day where he hopes he can play 15 years with you. So I want to find out how you’re going to be playing quarterback at age 52. But the real question is what one thing do you think you’re doing better this year than maybe you have ever before, or just that you feel so good about in your play?) – “I just think as the years have gone on for me, I’ve become more accurate. I’ve become a better decision-maker, but more accurate in the way that I’m throwing the football, and I think that’s shown up a little bit this year. I don’t know. Also for me, it’s not necessarily about the physical anymore. I mean I think I could still make all the throws, but it’s never really been about that for me; so feeling comfortable in this system, feeling comfortable with the guys I’m playing with and right now, just spreading the ball around. There’s been other years and seasons where we haven’t either had as much talent or we’ve had one superstar where he’s getting force-fed a lot of the time. I think with the group right now, we’ve got a lot of really talented guys that have different skillsets. And we’ve said that in the past, but I think with the ball being spread out more, that’s also helped with my efficiency and accuracy a little bit.”

(Just coming off your best performance so far this season, how big is the emphasis to just not get complacent, get off to another fast start, especially with a division opponent coming to town, even if they are winless?) – “I think we can always – I mean we’re 2-3 – so we can always point to that and just point to the fact that we still don’t have a winning record. There’s a fine line for us between carrying some of that momentum over and being excited about the way that we played and trying to build on it; and like you said, the word ‘complacent’ or patting yourself on the back and being happy with last week and not focusing on what we need to focus on this week. So we’ve made this week a lot about us and getting better on the practice field and continuing to take those next steps to just get better as an offensive unit, defensive unit and obviously as a team. So I think we had a good start today in practice. There was good focus, and guys are out there really running and trying to get better.”

(There are obviously a lot of ways to measure efficiency of offensive lines; but not giving up sacks is the big deal. Has it occurred to you that T Austin Jackson before his injury, G Solomon Kindley, G/T Robert Hunt – none of those rookies has allowed a sack? Has it pleasantly surprised you? Does it make you feel like they’ve got really good futures?) – “Yeah, I think the future is bright for all three of those guys and just like the previous question – they can be happy with how they started; but every single week, you’ve got to bring it and as soon as they show some cracks or weaknesses, they’re going to be exploited. So we have to continue to get better every week. Those guys are not any different than everybody else; but as far as being three knucklehead rookies, they’ve played pretty well. We just have to continue to make sure we’re on that upward trend and they improve every week.”

(I like how you termed the rookies, but building off of the question, I just wanted to ask specifically about G/T Rob Hunt. He didn’t get the benefit of those three or four games prior to this past Sunday’s game and he stepped right in there with no game experience. When you think about his situation specifically, I know week in and week out, they have to come ready to perform, but what did it mean to see him come in and really not lose a beat from what you had the first few games?) – “It’s nice – even just being in the huddle and not having the nervousness and those guys looking like they don’t belong in the huddle. All three of those guys have the right look in their eye. For me, I truly don’t pay attention to that stuff because I can’t. I’ve got too many other things I have to think about, so for me not to notice him in the game, I always take that as a good thing. But sometimes that’s stuff I can’t even really concern myself with because of all the other things I have to think about during a game.”

(I guess there was a visual we saw in the last game where after you threw that touchdown to I believe WR Preston Williams, QB Tua Tagovailoa is jumping up into your arms I guess in celebration. We talked about the dynamic in that QB room before, but I guess what does that show that you guys seem to genuinely support each other through everything?) – “I think it says a lot about him and just the fact that he’s enjoying the success of the team when we have it. And like I said last week, he’s a guy that is always upbeat and happy and that positive energy is really important in the good times when he’s jumping up after a touchdown, and the not-so-good times when we’re coming off a bad week or a tough loss. To be able to stay the same guy and bring that youthful exuberance, that’s good. And I guess you guys got to catch a glimpse of it there, but he definitely, he’s like that all the time in terms of his energy and how excited he is to be doing what he’s doing.”

(The Jets have not had a winning season since 2015 so the question I have for you is this: did they make a mistake in letting you go?) – “Well, we had a losing season in 2016 when I was there, so that one ended the way it did for a reason. But 2015 was a fun year.”

K Jason Sanders

(Congratulations on being named player of the week. What does that mean to you, and how important is it for you to be able to contribute the way that you have so far this year?) – “I’m off to a good start so for me, it’s a matter of how do I treat each kick the same? If that 20-yard field goal that’s happens in the first quarter, it’s the same importance as the fourth quarter kick. That’s the mentality I kind of have to take with each kick. When I go out on the field, I’m treating that 20-yarder the same as that 50-yarder.”

(I wanted to ask you about what you do, what your job is and what I mean by that is – from my point of view on the outside looking in, it seems like so often kickers are totally overlooked until they screw up. What do you see? How do you describe your job and how it’s looked upon?) – “That’s the down part of the job is when you miss the kick, everybody wants to point fingers; but when you’re making kicks, it’s ‘he’s doing his job.’ You want to be able to do your job. Whether it’s five kicks or two kicks, you want to walk off that field 100 percent.”

(You’re first in field goal percentage. You’ve got to be near the top in points. I don’t have that stat in front of me. But they announced today that there will be no Pro Bowl in 2021. Is that just to keep you out?) – “Like I said, every kick to me is going to be the same kick. I don’t want to be able to look at stats and say I should made this one or I should’ve made that one. I just want to be able to go out there and walk out of each stadium 100 percent, whether it’s PATs or field goals.”

(I’m curious, in baseball when there is a no hitter they don’t talk about it. When you’re perfect as a field goal kicker, are you able to talk about that or how does that go?) – “That’s kind of what I’m getting at. I want to stay on the same level. I don’t want to get too deep into the highs. I don’t want to get off track. I want to come out in every Wednesday practice and have the same Wednesday practice I did last week, the same Friday practice I did the week before. So when I go out on Sunday, it’s going to be the same thing it was last week.”

(I wanted to ask you about celebrity. And what I mean by that is former Special Teams Coordinator Darren Rizzi used to say that LB Mike Hull could be in the line at a Dunkin’ Donuts and nobody would know who he was. Of course, I hope Hull is doing well wherever he is; but have you been recognized at a Dunkin’ Donuts line?) –“At a Dunkin’ Donuts line? (laughter) No, I have not.”

(What about in general? Do you get the sense that people know they are in the presence of a football player?) – “I’ve been stopped maybe twice. Twice at a mall. That was about it. I like where I’m at right now.”

(Going back to your stats for a second, I know you take one kick at a time and all. Are you saying that the idea of having a perfect season kicking the ball has not crossed your mind?) – “That’s the goal, right? You want to walk out being 100 percent. For me, when the season is over, it’s a good time to reflect on what you did during the season. We’re only in Week 5 right now. It’s a long season. That’s kind of why I want to stay on the same line right now just going forward.”

G/T Jesse Davis

(How much did you enjoy playing left tackle again and how do you feel you did?) – “It wasn’t my best outing. I still have work to do over there and using every day to try to get better.”

(On the opposite end of that, what do you think of G/T Rob Hunt to step in there and not having the benefit like T Austin Jackson or G Solomon Kindley did of playing in games before, to take your spot on the other side?) – “I think Rob did a good job. I think he prepared very well for a rookie coming in, not having any starts, not having any playing time at that position. I think he did a good job along with Solomon on the right side. I’m proud of those guys.”

(We talked to you before about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick; but he had a really good game this past game. We’d like to get a view of what it’s like to play with him.) – “He just brings energy. I think everybody always comments on it, on how electric he can be and how he uplifts the whole squad, and even coaches. It’s refreshing to play with him. He’s out there getting us on correct assignments and watching him have fun throwing the ball and scoring touchdowns, it’s just great.”

(We spoke to Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey yesterday and he gave a lot praise to Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall. I was curious how the balance in that room works between he and Assistant Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre, and how it is to have a perspective from a guy that’s been around for so long and a former player, and how they balance each other in that offensive line room?) – “It’s a great combination to have a guy who played in the league for a while to a guy that’s coached in the league for a long time, especially with a young group. There is a lot of coaching happening and everybody has to adjust to it week by week. ‘Marsh’ (Steve Marshall) has done a good job. ‘Lem’ (Lemuel Jeanpierre) has done a good job with everybody as well with their techniques to the competition that we’re playing that week. Overall, it’s been really good.”

(I wanted to ask you about the run game. Do you feel like you’ve established a run game identity yet in terms of who you are and how you’d like to run the ball?) – “Yeah. I mean it varies week to week. We have our core runs that we get in and I think Myles Gaskin has done a good job contributing to that, along with the other running backs as well. Matt Breida had a really good game. I think for us each week, it’s how do we establish the run game early and often to open up our pass game? And not sit there and drop back 45 plays, and trying to figure that out. I think we’ve done a good job. I think we have a long way to go with it; but so far, I think it’s better than it’s been.”

(It’s still early in the season, but we’re starting to get a faint idea of what the standings look like and what the playoffs might look like down the road. How important was last week to kind of keeping you guys in this and do you feel like this is a team that’s about to go on a run?) – “Yeah. It was an important, especially with that opponent and who it was, that was a good measure of where we were, I guess. I know they are beat up as well; but actually every phase of the game, I think everybody played really well. I think instead of having one or three quarters of pretty good ball, we had a full four quarter game that was actually pretty good ball. We haven’t really played – I wouldn’t say the best opponents this year – but we kind of know who we are and moving forward, we have a long season left. I think it’s a good benchmark there to set a tone for us.”

(How do you balance in using the confidence in the way you guys played on Sunday and then coming in today and saying ‘hey guys, we’ve still got a lot of areas to get better. It’s a division opponent,’ and just not getting complacent?’) – “You approach each week the same way. You don’t get too high on what you did and you don’t get too low on what you didn’t do right. It’s just make the corrections, move on, put it behind you. We have the Jets. They are still a good ball club. They’ve got really good defensive guys. For us, let’s feed off of this win, but stringing it together, that’s how good teams become great. They keep stringing them together.”

(You were obviously here for the past 21 games under Head Coach Brian Flores. After Sunday’s win, does it give you a different outlook into where the direction of this team is going?) – “Yeah, I think this organization has done a really good job of bringing in the guys that they need, what they want, who is going to fill roles. It’s fun to see our defense get the ball. It just feels like a practice out there where there is a sudden change and you go back out. With that happening and with us moving the ball and contributing as well, all of that from the time that I’ve been here with ‘Flo,’ it’s kind of fun to see that come together. His ideas, his philosophies are actually working, and it’s really exciting to see.”

(I heard the P-word earlier – playoffs. We didn’t hear that much at all last year. It’s making me wonder if that is something that you guys start talking about at this point? Discussing that maybe being a goal or possibility for you guys?) – “No. We don’t. No one has said playoffs anywhere. We’re always focusing on the next week. If that’s in the cards, it will work itself out. For us, it’s to see if we can get one more win, each week, the next win. That’s for us. That’s what we’ve been doing.”     

LB Andrew Van Ginkel

(With LB Kyle Van Noy not at practice today and no indication of when he’s going to play again, did your role change at practice today?) – “I’m just going to leave that up to coach to figure out what the plan is going forward. I’ll leave it at that.”

(I’m looking at a video of a play in the second quarter where you drilled QB Jimmy Garoppolo from behind. I’m wondering if you can take me back to that moment. When you’re about to do that and you know what’s about to happen, what does it feel like?) – “Obviously it’s a great moment. You just try to get there as fast as you can because the quarterback’s got a quick release, so you want to be able to get there and get the sack. Anything on top of that is just bonus; so whenever you can get the ball out and get an opportunity for a turnover, it’s a great play in the game and you thrive for those. It’s a great feeling and it’s something that you always push for.”

(You come across as a quiet, timid kind of guy, and that hit definitely showed a little different aspect of you. Did you have any saved up energy or anything you kind of wanted to lash out with that hit that you delivered there?) – “No. I was just trying to get the ball out. I knew it was in the front of him, so I couldn’t really punch at it or reach for it. I knew getting a big hit on him would give me the best opportunity to get the ball out.”

(I wanted to ask you, you’ve done a better job of setting the edge as the season has progressed. What has gone into improving in that area?) – “I think just building my strength in the weight room and trusting my technique. I think (Outside Linebackers Coach) Austin Clark has done a great job with teaching me his technique and how to do a better job of setting the edge. Whether it be hand placement or my feet, not giving up ground but more attacking, I think that’s really helped improve me this year.”

(I think you were hurt at the beginning of last year. Is that right? You missed the first part of the season?) – “Yes, correct.”

(So you weren’t on the field during that hard start that you guys had. I think 0-7 was the beginning but since you’ve been back, the defense has played better and the team has played better. What has it been like, the turnaround, this team has had in the last 12 months from wondering when that first win will come to talking about being in the hunt?) – “I just think it’s our preparation and our willingness to practice and get better. I think that’s a huge part of it. We all know that we’re not good enough and that there’s a lot to improve on. So being a young team, we just need to trust what the coaches are teaching us, be able to practice it and then go execute it on game day. I think that would be the biggest thing.”

(For some reason, when I watch you play I have this like 1980s heavy metal soundtrack in the back of my head. I don’t know if you’re too young to know like Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer. Do you like that kind of heavy metal music or not at all?) – “I listen to it but it’s not my favorite. If it’s on, I’ll listen to it and go with it; but it’s probably something that I wouldn’t prefer.”

(I was going to ask you what you did specifically in March, April, May and June to become a better player, because you’ve clearly become one. Was it simply working out to add strength? Had you looked at tape of other edge players in the league?) – “I would say the biggest thing is just adding strength, during quarantine, being able to spend time in the weight room. Back home, I was working out with (Washington G) Brandon Scherff a little bit. He’s from my hometown – or not from my hometown but he lives in my hometown now. So just being able to pick his brain a little bit and understand kind of what he does on a regular basis has really helped me, I would say.”

(I wanted to ask you about a couple of games this year where you really produced and the defense got a bunch of pass rush. I’m just curious, what is it about this scheme that benefits your skillset as a pass rusher?) – “I would say they put us in a position to succeed. The coaches know our strengths and weaknesses as well, so they’re not going to put me down the middle of a guy or make me do something I’m uncomfortable with, which I think has really helped me. Whether it be movements or edge rushing, I think they just align guys where they can succeed, which has benefitted me.”

(So now we have to get into what music do you like? Are you easy listening? What music goes with this hairstyle?) – “(laughter) Oh, man. Honestly, I kind of listen to everything from country to rap to a little bit of rock and roll. I’d say country is at the roots. Classic country is kind of my thing.”

(I couldn’t help that you have some resemblance to Sunshine from Remember the Titans. Have you gotten that reference before? Is that something that guys talk to you and mention to you about on the field?) – “Yeah, I’ve definitely heard that before. Everywhere I go I seem to pick up a new nickname here and there. I’ve got probably about 20 nicknames, but I’ve definitely heard ‘Sunshine’ quite a bit. I’ve been a lot of places in my career; so yeah, there’s tons of guys that have thrown that at me.”

(I think the play before you nailed QB Jimmy Garoppolo, if I have it right you shed TE George Kittle and tackled RB Raheem Mostert. I’ve noticed – I think I have the sequence right – that your ability to shed blockers seems to have improved. What is the key to that, to disengage whatever you guys call it?) – “Once again, I’ve just got to give credit to (Outside Linebackers Coach) Austin Clark. I think the key that he has taught me is getting inside hands on their chest plate. That way you can get a grip on them and it’s easier to disengage. I would say that’s the biggest thing is to get inside hands and being able to grab them has made a huge difference.”

(I just wanted to follow up on something you mentioned a minute ago. Since you brought up the nicknames, what is the best nickname you’ve gotten? And I’ve got to pin you down and ask what’s the worst nickname you’ve gotten?) – “I get anything and everything that rhymes with ‘Gink.’ I would say ‘Gink’ is my favorite. It’s just short for my last name. Man, I don’t know. People call me ‘stink’ just because it rhymes with ‘Gink,’ and something like that. I don’t know. I’d probably say that, honestly.”

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

(A couple of things: One, why do you think that guys kind of rally around QB Ryan Fitzpatrick? And then on a completely different note, what do you learn from your first year from a leadership standpoint? Coming in as an assistant and then trying to command an entire room, what did you learn from last year that you’ve used in your second season?) – “I’ll start with ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick). I just got asked this question by one of our local writers and I think a lot of why they rally around him is because of the relationships he builds off the field. So in the locker room – when I say off the field, to me you see his infectious energy on the field on game day, but he creates and he builds relationships in practice, in meetings, in walkthroughs really in the locker room. That’s why he has such rapport with his teammates. We have a lot of guys like that but honestly, a lot of our guys work hard to build relationships and try to create bonds throughout the team offensively, defensively and in the kicking game; but I think it’s really important at the quarterback position and honestly, Tua (Tagovailoa) has a lot of those same qualities. He’s learning from a good guy. I think that’s a lot of the reason why those guys rally around him. As far as your second question, I learned a lot from Year 1. Look, I’m a guy who is always trying to learn and always trying to get better. So just from a leadership standpoint, I just think it’s important to be authentic and to be honest. I don’t have all of the answers. I tell the players that; but I’m constantly working to find the right answers. I think it’s about being genuine and being authentic. I think at the end of the day, I’ll have peace with my actions and the things I say, regardless of how things go. I think, to me, leadership is about service and how I serve the players and how I serve the coaching staff. Those are things that I’m constantly trying to think about as I’m going through the day. It’s not always about yelling and screaming. Obviously I’m demanding also. I think players will tell you that. But I think this role is about service. How do I get other people to play, coach and operate at their optimum level? That’s constantly on my mind. I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s my answer.”

(We watched QB Ryan Fitzpatrick for a couple of years here in New York, and saw what he can do for a team. What has he done for your team in his last year or year plus?) – “I think he brings a veteran leadership experience. I think he has a joy – he just brings a joy for playing the game that is infectious. I say it all of the time, it’s almost like he brings a Pop Warner attitude where he just wants to play and there’s not like a – I don’t want to call it business but he has fun playing the game. I think that’s infectious and other guys see that. He brings energy, he brings juice and guys feed off of it. That’s been good. He’s also been productive. At the end of the day, it’s a production business. I think we all know that. If you can have energy and juice and be productive, (and if) guys feed off of it and hopefully they’re productive because of that same energy, and that’s a good thing. This league is about consistency and that’s something we’ve harped on with really all of our players. It’s one thing to do it one time. Whether or not you can do it over and over and over again is the mark of whether or not you’re good, for lack of a better term.”

(I’m just curious, at the very beginning of last year, obviously it was your first year and the numbers were staggering as you guys were trying to get started over there. How difficult was that to stay the course and what were some of the most important things you did to continue to believe in your system and your philosophy, and sticking with it?) – “I think any time you deal with adversity – and this was my message to the players – it either breaks you or makes you stronger. For me and our staff and the players – for me personally, I think any time you deal with some type of adverse situation, how you come out of that says a lot about who you are, your character and whether or not you can withstand a troubling time. Looking and thinking back on it, it was definitely a tough time; but I think we learned a lot from it. I know I learned a lot about myself. We learned a lot about ourselves. The people who were here learned about dealing with adversity. Hopefully it’s made us better. But last year was last year. We’ve had our own adversity this year and it’s no different, to be honest with you. Every year is a little bit different. I know that we can withstand it. I can withstand it. We as an organization can withstand any adversity and I think we’ll come out of it for the better.”

(I’m sure you’ve talked about this ad nauseam with your local guys, but what went into the decision of luring Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey out of retirement and how has it been working with him over the past couple of months?) – “When Chan was in New York and I was up in New England, he gave us some problems. He’s given a lot of people a lot of problems over the course of his career. I’ve always had great respect for him as a coordinator. As a head coach, as a coach, we were looking for someone who was a very good teacher. Someone who obviously had leadership ability. I couldn’t think of anybody – or I was excited to have the opportunity of working with Chan. I think it’s been good thus far. We’re always trying to improve and get better. This week is going to be – every week is a tough test in the National Football League and this week is no different. I’m excited about working with Chan and continuing to work with him, and pick his brain about offensive football and talk situations. It’s been good.”

(If you could pluck out one or two of your most important philosophies on building a team, just some of the things that you stick to – as you referenced a minute ago – through the adversity and as you move forward here. What are some of those things, the principles, that are most important?) – “I think we’re still in the process of building. I think it’s about – I think with anything, it’s about people. It’s about having the right people, having the right cohesive group. It’s about communication. I think it’s about having good people who are team-first, selfless and want to do things for the greater good – I guess that’s the best way to put it – which, in this arena is for the team and what we can do to help the team win games. Those are the types of people we’re looking for. People who are tough, who are smart, who are competitive, put the team first and people who love to do what they’re doing. People who love to coach, love to play, love to scout, love to do equipment, do nutrition – people who love what they’re doing. I think you need as many of those people as possible and I don’t think it’s just the football because there’s a lot that goes into it, a lot of people who are involved in helping this team improve, get better and build. That includes the grounds crew, the strength and conditioning staff, the PR department. It’s everybody. Everyone has a role and everyone’s role is important. I think when you have a – the thought process is that everybody understands that and there’s a respect that’s built and there’s a camaraderie that’s built, and hopefully that team type of atmosphere, you see that on the field. Hopefully.”

Head Coach Brian Flores

(Any plans to put DT Davon Godchaux on IR and do you have a player in mind that you might promote to the 53 if you do?) – “We’re still going through – (General Manager) Chris (Grier), myself, the scouting staff – we’re just still talking through kind of our options on that one, so I don’t have a concrete answer for you as far as any moves that we’re going to make. We’re still kind of talking through it; but yes, (Davon) Godchaux has an injury. We’re still kind of getting the information on that injury before we make the final or any final decisions.”

(We talked to TE Mike Gesicki before. He called QB Ryan Fitzpatrick his favorite teammate he’s ever played with. I wanted to ask you why do you think players love playing with him so much?) – “I think he just brings a lot of energy to the field. I would say first and foremost, he’s a great teammate, and that goes, I would say, far beyond what you guys see on the field. So that’s their interactions in the locker room, outside of the building – I think that all plays a part in why he (Mike Gesicki) said something like that. But on the field, you guys see his energy, his enthusiasm, his support for his teammates, his willingness to put his body on the line for his teammates. I think that’s why you get that type of response from a guy like Mike and other players as well; but to me that starts – what you see on the field is what you see on the field, but those relationships and that respect is earned in practice and meetings and in the locker room. Then it kind of manifests itself into the relationships you see on the field.”

(What has impressed you the most so far about DE Emmanuel Ogbah?) – “There’s a lot of things – his run game, pass game, work ethic, competitiveness. I think he’s tough, smart, he can play multiple positions. Ogbah’s been obviously improving and getting better every week, getting more familiar with the system, his role and his fit in the defense. I’ve been pleased with him.”

(In both wins this year, you guys have gotten out to 14-0 starts. I’m just curious if there’s something consistent or synonymous with playing that well that early and that fast, and how do you get that fast start against the Jets on Sunday?) – “We always talk about playing fast, starting fast. It’s something that we harp on, on a weekly basis. Again, it’s football. The ball bounces a few different ways, so anything can happen and we’ve got to be able to play any type of game. When we start fast and when we’ve started fast this season – we’re five games in – we’ve started fast twice and we won those games. When we didn’t start fast, we didn’t win those games. Every game is a little bit different. I think there’s some – if we can get going early, we want to and that’s always a good thing; but we’ve got to be ready to play any type of game, and we’ve talked about that as a team. You’re up, you’re down, it’s a back-and-forth, it’s a defensive game, it’s an offensive game. We’ve got to be able to adjust and we try to play any style because every week it’s a little bit different based on your opponent, based on a lot of factors. But starting fast has always been something we put a lot of emphasis on.”

(I wanted to get your reaction to Jets RB Le’Veon Bell getting released. What does he offer a team and how does this possibly change the Jets attack?) – “The Jets have got a lot of good backs, so – (Frank) Gore, (La’Mical) Perine – they’ve got good skill players over there offensively, so I think they’ll be okay. Look, Le’Veon Bell is a great player. I think we all know that. He’s had a lot of production in this league – run, pass and just a dynamic player. For us, our preparation doesn’t change. Obviously he won’t be there or obviously that transaction hasn’t officially gone through – so that’s what it looks like, but our preparation doesn’t change. We’ll still go through the early downs and the third down and red zone, two-minute and get to know their players and their strengths and weaknesses and try to improve in all our areas – whether it’s run game, pass game, pass rush – and just try to get better and get the Dolphins better and also prepare for the Jets. Transactions happen every day and if this is – it sounds like this is going to be another one – then we have to prepare for the guys we’re going to see, which they still have good backs.”

(Speaking on that conversation, how do you improve your run game? Last week you did get over 100 yards, but the yards per carry average wasn’t high. I know you were playing with the lead, but where do you feel like your run game is right now?) – “It’s like every other area on this team. It could improve. So run game, play-action, run defense, pass defense, kickoff, kickoff return, punt, coaching; all of it can improve, so that’s what we’re trying to do on a daily basis. It starts in meetings. It starts in meetings and then you take it to walkthrough and then you go out there and practice and you try to improve and get better. Whether it’s blocking an eight-man front or one guy – getting seven-on-seven and the back beating the eight guy or something schematically that we could do that would help us in that phase of the game. But we’re doing that on a weekly basis and there are things that people think we’re struggling in, obviously; but also there are things that we might be having some success in. So we’re trying to improve every area – even the rover position. We’re trying to improve that position also. (laughter)”

(I’ve noticed that the Dolphins have been underdogs in every game you’ve coached – 21 straight times, the Dolphins are underdogs. That’s expected to change this week. My question is, what had it been like for you to be an underdog every time?) – “I’m not a big betting odds (guy). I’m not really big on that. I’m not really – the plus/minus, over/unders, I don’t really follow that or understand it very much. The underdog role, that’s not really something I think about. We just try to go out there, prepare for each opponent, give our best effort and try to win every week. I don’t really honestly know much about spreads. The underdog role, that’s not something I really think about too much. It’s not something that gives me a source of motivation. I think if you’re not motivated to play in this league, than you don’t belong in this league, whether you’re an underdog or not an underdog. It’s not something I put much stake into, quite honestly.”

(You said betting odds, plus/minus, over/under and spreads, I think you know a little bit. But my question for you is going back to leads, psychologically, what does that do for a team with a lot of young guys and guys still learning to play together through five games. How do you kind of reinforce that? Can early leads also translate to playing well late in games, when games are most decisive? Playing with a lead, psychologically, what does that do for a team with a lot of young guys on it and a team still five games in and trying to learn to play with each other, and how do you kind of let the guys know that if you get off to an early start, we can play great late in games as well?) – “I don’t think it’s automatic that you play (well) late, if you start fast. I think with any team – young, old – when you play well, you build confidence. That’s part of the reason you always want to start fast because if you play well early, you’re confident in the game plan, you’re confident in your teammates. Conversely, if you don’t play well (early), then you could potentially start pressing and doing things outside of your role or your responsibility. I think it’s important to start fast. I don’t think it guarantees that you’re going to finish strong. I think that’s a whole other entity to the game. That’s different, in my opinion. You may feel differently than that; but in my opinion, they are two totally different things. As far as the betting odds and spreads, yeah I know all of the terms; but -8, +8, I think anybody who has seen anything can tell you the terms, but I’m not much of a betting guy. That’s not something that I’ve spent a lot of time on.”

(What are things that make you nervous about a team that’s 0-5 and has a coach who is on the hot seat?) –“This is the National Football League. Every team has good players. On any given Sunday, any team can beat any other team. That’s my approach every week, whether the team’s undefeated, has won four out of five or hasn’t won any games. There is a competitive nature to these games that when you’re on the field and you see these guys compete, you understand what that is. I’m not taking anyone lightly. That’s going to be my message to the team. That’s how we should approach every game. That’s how every NFL team and player should approach every game. It’s the best of the best. Every team has good players. If you walk into a game thinking that somebody is going to lay down, you’re probably going to get the opposite, in my experience, in my time in this league.”

(I wanted to get an update on DE Shaq Lawson, and also DE Jason Strowbridge hasn’t been active for a game this season. Last week you guys needed a body on the defensive line and promoted a practice squad player. Where’s his status, in terms of Strowbridge, in terms of what he can contribute, and what’s he doing at practice?) – “I think we talked about this the other day as far as (Tyshun) Render being up over Strowbridge. Again, a lot of people take that and you just see the one position – d-line; but there is a special teams element here with Durham (Smythe) being down. Render’s role is kind of d-line, but also some of those tight end/d-end roles in the kicking game. I forgot who asked me about that on Sunday or Monday, but I think we talked about that one. That’s was really – I think Strowbridge has done a good job. He’s getting better, he’s improving.  There are only so many spots and we’ve got to fill all of the kicking game roles, all of the defensive line roles, all of the offensive line roles, etc., etc. That’s part of what goes into the decision making to bring guys up or not. That was the case with Render. It was really more kicking game than it was d-line. There is no real knock on ‘Strow,’ but just as far as being able to fill the team and have backups involved in the kicking game, that’s part of that. Look, as we make decisions – myself, (General Manager) Chris (Grier), our coaching staff and our personnel staff – again, like I’ve said, there are a lot of things that go into those decisions that you guys may not know. That’s ok. You ask and I’ll let you guys know our thought process. But yeah, that was it on Render. On Shaq Lawson, he’s getting better. He’s rehabbing, he’s getting treatment. I expect to see him out at practice today. We’ll see how this goes in practice. We want to see him out there obviously. If he’s healthy enough, we’ll get him out there.”

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