Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 10 – Head Coach Brian Flores, S Bobby McCain, DT Davon Godchaux and RB Jordan Howard

Thursday, September 10, 2020

S Bobby McCain

(Head Coach Brian Flores talked this morning a little bit about in-game adjustments and how players might have a tendency to kind of stretch the truth about what might have happened on a given play. I’m curious to ask you how difficult is it to process and recall how a particular play went in the heat of the moment, and how do you escalate that knowledge or that concern to the coaching staff?) – “I can understand that because sometimes you may have a 10-play drive, 12-play drive – I’ve had even an 18-play drive before where they ask you what happened on play three and I mean, ‘well, play three was 15 plays ago.’ So it’s tough to regurgitate what happened exactly, but the one thing that’ll help you as a defense and the one thing that offense as a team, is if you’re coming off and you’re like, ‘nope,’ not necessarily lying but false information is the worst information. So if you’re giving good information when you come off to the sideline, that helps us be able to get adjusted and helps everyone around you to be able to play better.”

(How did you end up shaping in the point system? Did you and your team end up winning at the end?) – “I believe I led all points, but we ended up losing. (laughter) We ended up losing at the end. It was a close fight. It was a close fight.”

(I’m wondering if you guys were able to hear in your practice the fake crowd noise that the Patriots plan to use on Sunday?) – “They can do that?”

(I don’t know. I’m not sure the rules if each team has the exact same noise. I’m not sure.) – “I’m not sure either. We still practice with crowd noise as if there’s fans. We know there’s not going to be fans there, but I’m not even aware if they can use the fake crowd noise for the game or not. Either way, it’ll help – not on defense, they won’t use it while they’re on offense of course – but it helps us to be able to use it in our practices and be able to go through those things that you’re going to have to use such as cadence and keys, reading your keys and everything when the game comes.”

(I wanted to ask you what kind of growth have you seen from CB Nik Needham this camp. Also, CB Noah Igbinoghene – I know you worked with him during the offseason but how much do you think that he’s digesting what’s going on from a defensive standpoint?) – “Nik (Needham) – the game is definitely slower to him. You can see that and he’s understanding his techniques better. He’s taking that Year 2 jump as you should. Everybody’s just got to keep pushing. We’re going to keep getting better each and every day and that’s what I tell them. I tell them the same thing. ‘Man, just keep doing what you’re doing and keep getting better and everything will work out.’ As far as Noah (Igbinoghene), he’s a young guy. He’s a good football player, but he’s a smart guy as well. He’s not somebody that doesn’t understand. He understands once he gets it. If he makes a mistake, he probably won’t make that mistake twice. And that’s good. That keeps you in the league. Those two guys, they could be real good for us this year.”

(It seems like you guys have gotten so good at kind of the routine with the COVID protocols and wearing a mask is almost just part of your day, getting the test, wearing the tracker. Now that you’re in a game week and the routine kind of changes – you’re getting a plane, you’re staying in a hotel – do you almost have to kind of remind yourselves of what’s going on in the world and kind of take everything seriously again?) – “You still want to take everything seriously because you definitely know in the forefront of everything, football is important to us and we all love it, but people’s lives are at stake and we do understand that as well. So understanding that that is an important issue and you take care of yourself, take care of your brother, take care of the people around you and just stop the spread of coronavirus, such as wearing your mask, using hand sanitizer, when you’re getting on planes and buses and stuff like that wiping it down – understanding that if one of us gets popped, it could mean multiple of us could be popped.”

(Year 2 at safety – do you feel like a safety now? Is there a little bit more comfort level than at this time last year? A lot more?) – “I would say yes. Understanding the defense is really the part that I would say – just understanding my role and where I fit in the defense and knowing that I’m able to make plays on the ball even at free safety, whether I’m at free, corner, nickel; no matter where I’m at, just understanding that it’s a game that everybody has their piece of the puzzle and you’ve got to do your piece to the best of your ability.”

(Two things if I could – on the points deal you said your team lost like the Hood vs. Burbs or the safeties vs. the corners or both?) – “The Hood vs. Burbs.”

(So you all ended up losing that one?) – “Yeah, we ended up losing that one.”

(So I guess the second thing is obviously you’ve got Patriots QB Cam Newton this week. How is that for you as a safety, knowing you’ve got to defend him as a big runner and as a passer who can stay in place?) – “Just understanding that he’s effective in both ways – in the run game and the pass game and making plays outside of the pocket. If a play breaks down, him being the athlete that he is, he can get out of the pocket and throw the ball downfield. So you have to understand as a safety, as deep defenders, as corners; you’ve got to plaster onto your guys and understand that the play’s not over until it’s over. Until the play’s blown dead, it’s not over because he is Cam. He is a good athlete. He can use his feet. He’s mobile and he’s got a good strong arm.”

(I remember you as a fifth-round rookie just young, wet behind the ears and now you’re a team captain for what is it, your third season? What’s that like to be responsible for an entire unit?) ­– “Honestly, it’s my honor. It’s my privilege to be a captain and especially to lead these guys. Just knowing that they trust me, they have my back, I have their back; that’s big for me. That’s big for the team. There’s seven other captains – a couple of new guys – and they’re all good leaders. They’re all good veterans. They’ve all played in the league and they understand that at the end of the day, we’ve all got one end goal and that’s to win football games. If we do that – our end goal is to win football games, that’s all I’m going to say about that one.”

(Kind of on that same note about being a captain and we know how important communication is on this defense and on this team, Head Coach Brian Flores has talked a little bit about how there might be more rotation-based on this opening day without the preseason games to kind of ramp up. How much more does that add to your plate as far as communicating to guys that might be coming in and out of the game more at the cornerback and underneath spots?) – “Just making sure we’re all on the same page because one thing like, if we’re all wrong, we’re all right because at the end of the day we can get out of the play and we can play the play. You don’t want to be wrong, but things happen in the heat of the battle and understanding that guys may be rotating, understanding that guys may be coming in up front, in the back end, no matter where it’s happening; guys have to be on the same page. That’s me as a communicator, as a signal-caller, understanding that we’ve got to have the guys on the back end on the same page.”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

DT Davon Godchaux

(We were kind of in our feelings or it was a conspiracy that you weren’t a captain. How did you take it?) – “I didn’t take it no type of way. It was a team vote. It’s what the players voted on; but I still feel like my leadership role is a big part of this team as a defensive lineman. Being my fourth year is coming on, I still feel like my leadership role is important. I’m just focusing on the team, just focusing on having a great season.”

(Head Coach Brian Flores talked this morning about in-game adjustments and how players might have a tendency to stretch the truth by saying ‘I got doubled on that play.’ Everyone comes off the field saying that. I’m curious, how difficult is it for you as a player to process and recall how a particular play went in the heat of the moment, and how do you escalate that knowledge and the concern of that play to the coaching staff?) – “I just try to look at it on the iPad when we get to the sideline. But in the game, I don’t worry about, ‘oh, I got double teamed,’ or this or that. I just try to look at it when the coaches come and say ‘hey, look at this play. I think you could be a little bit tighter. I think you can be a little bit more violent.’ I just look at it on the sideline and adjust to it. I don’t worry about it in-game because if I do, it will bother me on the next play. I just take it one play at a time.”

(What do you think football is going to look like tonight?) – “It will be straight. It will be crazy like going into New England on Sunday and seeing the game without no fans. It’s going to be crazy; but you’ve got to bring your own energy. That’s what – fans or no fans, I think each and every game, guys will have to bring their own juice. It’s going to be an interesting one on Sunday – not having fans for the first time, it’s going to be crazy; but hey, you’ve got to bring your own juice.”

(LB Kyle Van Noy said something to the same effect yesterday. He said without fans, it may not be a road game for you guys. He’s played in that stadium so many times before, it’s probably different for him; but how much do you guys really have to bring the juice for each other as teammates?) – “You see it in the bubble with the NBA. You see No. 1 seeds going down. There is no home-field advantage. We know we’re in New England, realistically; but at the end of the day, there are no fans, there is no crowd noise. I think they can do crowd noise in their stadium; but at the end of the day, there is no fans. Those fans make a big difference, but at the end of the day, who wants it more is the team that’s going to win the game.”

(Where do you guys feel the program is as far as the rebuild?) – (Laughter) “Rebuild? I wouldn’t call it a rebuild. I feel like a bunch of guys are hungry man. Me, myself, (Kyle) Van Noy coming from New England, ‘E-Rob’ (Elandon Roberts), Bobby McCain – you’ve got a lot of guys on this team. I think the whole 53-man roster, including the practice squad – they are giving us great looks at practice. A lot of people are hungry. A lot of people are ready to win around here so I’m excited about it. I’m excited about Sunday, the first game. You have a lot of rookies playing in their first NFL game with this whole corona pandemic. No fans. But at the end of the day, like I said, you have to bring your own juice. I’m excited for Sunday.”

(Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said a lot of great things about DT Raekwon Davis. He also said the goal with him is to get the production to match the physical ability. When you’ve watched him these last five weeks, has he been someone who really wants to do well? Just your views after watching him up close the last couple of months.) – “I guess you guys just have to wait on Sunday to see him. It’s going to be interesting, just him growing in training camp each and every day with the play calls and things like that. Like Coach Saban said, he has great physical ability. He’s 6-7, 328 (pounds). He’s a big guy. That speaks for itself. I guess you guys have to stay tuned in on Sunday and see it.”

(LB Kyle Van Noy said yesterday that his goal is to help you guys win a playoff game for the first time in 20 years. Is that something you all as a team have talked about, circling that as a goal?) – “I’m just taking it one day at a time. Everybody has their different goals, but I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’m pretty sure each and every body is. You’ve got to win the first game to win one playoff game. We haven’t played the first game. We’ve got to win this one on Sunday. They all count just like a playoff game. You’ve got to win those to get to the playoffs. This week is going to be a big week against the New England Patriots. It’s a division game, so I’m very excited about it. Like I said, I’m just taking it one game at a time.”

(Coming into Year 4 for you now, this is your seventh game against the Patriots. They’ve got a lot of continuity up front with the guys you match up against, G Shaq Mason and C David Andrews and G Joe Thuney. How different is it for you to prepare for a team that you’ve seen so many times and guys you’ve gone up against so many times?) – “Don’t get lulled to sleep. I think a lot of people, when they see the same guy each and every time, ‘they’re like I know this guy. I’ve been playing against him for three to four years. I just see them on Sunday.’ That’s where a lot of people go wrong. I’m going to use the word of being complacent. Don’t get complacent. They have some great guys up front. They play together well as a team. At the end of the day, you just have to stay hungry and never get complacent. I know I’ve played those guys for going on four years. Everybody has an offseason, everybody either gets better or they get worse. I just kind of take that same approach each and every game.”

(I’ve got to challenge you on something you said – this franchise is not rebuilding?) – “Nah man, we’re trying to win. Hey, you all said last year we were tanking. You all said that last year we were tanking. I (have) never tanked a day in my life. I work too hard to tank. You see me out here in this 100-degree weather. I work too hard to tank. I’m not going to practice this hard to go out there on Sunday and lose. No way in the world. I work too hard to tank.”

(One guy that’s not going to be the same for the Patriots is the quarterback for the first time in maybe the majority of your life. Do you all have to remind yourselves that it’s not Tom Brady playing quarterback for the New England Patriots anymore?) – “I think somebody asked Coach (Bill) Belichick that one time. Tom, he moved on. I’m just kind of focusing on Cam Newton. At the end of the day, Tom did wonderful things for that franchise; but at the end of the day, we’re focusing on Cam Newton. We know he’s a superstar. At the end of the day, we’re focusing on him, locked in on him and his intangibles that he can do – run and pass the ball. I think it’s going to be interesting him playing in a new offense in New England. We’re just kind of locked in on him, just focusing on him.”

(I know you get excited going into any regular season; but compare the feeling this year when you guys brought in a lot of new players as opposed to last year when a whole lot of big name players actually headed out the door?) – “Last year it was guys you’ve been in training camp with, in OTAs, and they kind of got traded or whatever. It was kind of crazy; but at the end of the day, it’s a business. This is what we all signed up for. We know the protocol signing up to play football, signing up to play any professional sport. It’s a business. One day you may be here, one day you may be gone. At the end of the day, my advice to people in this league – new rookies coming in – is just being consistent. You’re always being evaluated, whether you’re taking a walk to the bathroom or going out on the practice field. I like to tell people, just always stay consistent with who you are, what you’re doing on the field and what you’re doing off the field. I kind of try to take that approach each and every day. Somebody is coming for your spot each and every day. I kind of take that same approach, whether I’m on the field or whether I’m off the field. I tell those rookies the same thing.”

(You mentioned defending QB Cam Newton earlier. How is it defending a guy who can throw the 60-yard deep ball and at 6-5, 250 pounds, can still try to run you over? How do you go about that as a defender, defending that type of guy?) – “I don’t listen to anybody when they said ‘Cam, he lost it.’ I look at it like this dude was an MVP in our league. This dude was a Super Bowl runner-up. He led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. I don’t look at it like this guy lost it. Last time that I checked, he still can make every throw. He still can outrun people. I’m still taking that same approach on Sunday. He’s a professional. He gets paid just like I do. At the end of the day, he’s a professional in this league, so I kind of take that same approach. Don’t underestimate anybody. I’m taking that same approach to Sunday’s game.”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

RB Jordan Howard

(You’re obviously going to play a lot, whether you or RB Matt Breida starts Sunday; but is it at all meaningful to you that you’re atop the depth chart given to us this week?) – “No, that doesn’t really mean anything because we’re all going to have our roles. We’re all going to have our plays where we get in so it doesn’t really matter, as long as we all get to play. The spot on the depth chart doesn’t really matter because we’re all going to playing. It doesn’t really matter too much.”

(I wanted to ask you, how much do you think it’s important for you to dispel this theory that you can’t be a pass-catching back?) – “I feel like it’s important because I feel like defenses try to focus in on that. When you get this label placed on you, it’s kind of hard to shake it. I just try to do the best I can and try to take advantage of any opportunities I have in the passing game. Once you get a label, it’s kind of hard to shake it once people get a formal opinion on you and stuff like that – whether it’s fair or not. I just try to take advantage of all of the opportunities I get in the passing game.”

(How realistic do you think it is for this team to be involved in the playoff conversation come November and December?) – “I’m not really sure. We’re really just taking one game at a time. It’s a new team. We’ve got a lot of new players and stuff like that; so we’re really just taking it one game at a time. It’s a one game season each and every week. We’ll just let it go from there.”

(Head Coach Brian Flores talked a little bit this morning about in-game adjustments. I’m curious from your perspective, how do you process the flow of the game? Maybe it’s guys are jumping gaps or whatever it might be. How do you process the flow of the game and then communicate those adjustments to your coaching staff?) – “Yeah, the first few plays and stuff – the first few series – you see what they’re showing and stuff like that; so you tell your coach what you’re seeing out there and then we’ll take adjustments, maybe at halftime. Sometimes when you come out of halftime, they’ll bring you something new because they make adjustments as well. Just constant communication with your coach and telling him what you’re seeing and stuff like that, so he can relay it to who he needs to relay it to, so we can make the proper adjustments and the proper fits.”

(How much are you looking forward to watching a football game tonight? It feels like it’s been a really long time and how much will you have your eyes on that game to see how it all shakes out?) – “I’m looking very forward to it. I just love watching football – not even as a player, just as a fan. I’m not really going to be scouting the teams. I’m just going to be watching as a fan. I’m excited. It seems like it took a while to get here at first. It seemed like we didn’t know if we were going to get here; but now we’re here and everybody is excited.”

(You’re a back and backs don’t have much shelf life in terms of what people expect from backs in the NFL. Do you feel like that’s a slight on the position and if so, if you had to do it all over again as a young player, would you want to be a back considering how much they sort of disrespect the position now?) – “Yeah, I do. I feel like I’ve always wanted to be a running back no matter what. I know the pay isn’t always great for the running back; but I just love the position. I love everything that comes with it. I don’t really feel like the shelf life of running backs is that short anymore. A lot of teams do a committee and stuff like that. They spread it around so running backs are able to last a little bit longer, and the advancements in medical treatment that you can get, that just prolongs your career. I really feel like running backs don’t have a short career life anymore.”

(I know this is so hard to determine without preseason games, but do you have any sense of what T Austin Jackson and G Solomon Kindley are going to be like as run-blockers?) – “I feel like they’re going to be ready. Once they get adjusted to just playing a game – it’s going to be their first NFL game. They’re just going to go back to their technique, rely on their technique, rely on everything they’re doing at practice, and it’s just going to be like a regular football game for them. They’ll make adjustments when they need to; but they’ll definitely get comfortable. I’m not sure if they’re nervous or anything. Probably everybody has nerves and stuff like that for their first game, but I feel like once they settle in, it’s going to be like a regular game for them.”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(Two questions for the price of one again if I could – with CB Byron Jones is the Achilles at all a concern in terms of whether he’s actually going to be able to play through this and I wanted to ask you why you and General Manager Chris Grier decide to take a chance on WR Antonio Callaway? I know that the league’s own website says he’s got to sit out seven more weeks.) – “I’ll start off with (Antonio) Callaway. (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and the personnel staff – Chris, (Assistant General Manager) Marvin (Allen), (Vice President of Football Administration) Brandon (Shore) and our scouting department – obviously did a lot of work on Antonio, along with a lot of other players. We felt like it was an opportunity to add a talented player. That’s what we did. We’ll work with him over the next few weeks in the capacity that we can – obviously not so much because of the suspension but when we can, we will work with him – and we’ll see where it goes. The first part of your question with Byron (Jones) – Byron is working extremely hard to rehab and we’ll see where he is for game time; but it’s something he’s been dealing with and he’s working to get back out there and quickly as he can. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing, so we’ll see.”

(We heard yesterday from CB Byron Jones and LB Kyle Van Noy that the players have something in mind in terms of demonstrating before the game. I would assume they’ve looped you in on that. Is whatever they’re planning, are you okay with? And is there any kind of demonstration that you would not be alright with?) – “Yes, we’ve had some conversations as a team. I’m going to keep those internal. We’re going to support any player and every player however they want to protest or whatever they want to do from that standpoint; but yeah, those conversations are ongoing and again, I think the topics they’re talking about are very serious, and we respect each guy’s opinion and right to protest or not protest. But I would also say that a lot of the guys, they just want to focus on the game and that’s in more of those conversations – how do we do whatever we’re going to do, but also just have our total focus on the New England Patriots.”

(When you’ve got a game I guess like tonight, where you don’t play either opponent, can you sit back and relax, eat some food, have a drink and enjoy the game or are you always on football mode trying to scout?) – “When I watch the game, you can try to relax but what would you do on third down, what would you do in this situation, two-minute? Your mind kind of goes. I think that’s how every coach is – Pop Warner, high school, college, National Football League. Once you get into this profession and those types of situations, your mind kind of goes there regardless. You can try; but that is relaxing in a lot of ways for coaches. It’s nice to sit and watch a game; but yeah, your mind starts to wander a little bit. You start to work on how would you handle this situation or that situation; but it’s going to be fun to have a game to watch. It’s been such a long time whether it’s preseason – like a lot of people, I love the sport; so I’ll be watching and I’ll be working as well. It’s a normal Thursday night. It’s back to kind of the normal routine in-season.”

(At some point over the course of this season, you’ll be faced with the decision – maybe – of maybe having to pull QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and put QB Tua Tagovailoa in at quarterback. When you do have to make that decision or come across that bridge, whether it could be halftime at Sunday’s game or later on in the course of the season, what makes you feel that Tua would be ready and prepared for that moment whenever it does come?) – “That’s a very hypothetical question there…”

(At some point, it’ll happen.) – “I think it could happen at any position. It’s football. Guys get injured. Things happen. So the entire team or the guys who are on the active roster have to be ready to go and Tua (Tagovailoa) is part of that. There’s no specific to pulling someone. It’s no different than if a guy goes down. The next guy’s got to be ready. I think it’s – I understand the question to a degree, but I want everyone on our team to be ready to go. If you’re on the active roster, you need to practice and prepare as if you’re going to go into the game, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

(I wanted to ask you about do you see the coincidence in the fact that you’ve got three former Patriots as captains even though – those guys haven’t been with you and familiar with your scheme and familiar with the organization you’re coming from? Does that have any kind of impact on where they’ve gone status-wise on your squad?) – “You kind of froze right in the middle there. I believe the question is about the three former Patriots?”

(C Ted Karras, LB Elandon Roberts and LB Kyle Van Noy.) – “I think they’re all good players. They’re smart. They’re tough. They care about the game. They’re team-first. I think they’ve tried to build relationships throughout the locker room and on defense, on offense, on special teams. They are guys who care about those relationships; but there’s also a number of other guys who are very similar – guys who aren’t former Patriots like Bobby (McCain), like ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick), like (Davon) Godchaux. So it’s always good to have those types of players on your team and I’m happy to have the three former Patriots, but also the other guys that we have as captains as well.”

(A lot has been said about the uncertainty of the game, and how the teams haven’t seen each other in preseason and it’s new to everybody. Is there any part of that uncertainty that you like, and what is that?) – “I think there is uncertainty for everyone. The thing I like about it is, you go back to your rules, your reads, your fundamentals, your techniques. You see how far you’ve come along from that standpoint. I think at the end of the day, in football, there is a lot of different schemes, concepts, defensive structures and eventually you’ll see something that you haven’t seen before and you’ll have to rely on your rules and your keys. If you do that, you should be okay. That part of it I like. That unknown is something that a lot of players, they need to feel that. I think coaches need to feel that also and how we respond to that will help us moving forward.”

(I know we spend a lot of time asking about QB Tua Tagovailoa, but I wanted to see, are you okay with a scenario where he doesn’t play at all this season?) – “You know how I feel about questions about the entire season. (laughter) We’re just going to take it one day at a time. Again, everybody has got to be ready to play. It’s football. You knock on wood that there are no injuries; but the reality is there are at several positions – the o-line, d-line, quarterback, DB. I mean we’re dealing with some now. Everyone has to be ready to go. When your number is called, you have to be ready to go in and try to be productive and if your number is not called, then you just have to stay ready. That’s kind of the approach I’d like all of our players to take, and coaches. Couple that with the pandemic, and I think everybody has got to be ready to go. If there is a year where you’d see more players playing, I think this is it. I’m not really thinking about guys not playing. I’m trying to get guys ready to play. I think that’s what every coach should be doing.”

(Earlier this week, G/T Jesse Davis told us that he thinks whoever makes in-game adjustments the best will be the one that comes away with the victory. I’m just curious, are those mostly coaching observations, player observations, and how long does it take to make those adjustments? Can you just talk about the communication and process of in-game adjustments?) – “It’s a little bit of both, player and coach. The players are out there on the field, they hear things, they see things. If you can get the players and coaches on the same page, then you can make some adjustments. Now, have there been times where everybody is getting doubled? There are only so many people on the field. So if this guy got doubled and I got doubled, and I got doubled – they just don’t have that many guys. There has got to be some honesty and transparency there on both ends. Then you look at the tablet and we have film. You just try to tell them, ‘let’s be honest,’ and if you screwed up a play, then tell us about it and what happened and we’ll get it fixed. But, ‘I got cut, I got doubled, eight guys got doubled,’ – I’ve been in games where that’s happened too. It’s not funny in the moment; it’s funny the day after, after you watch the tape and you see the one guy that got doubled and the other guys just couldn’t beat a block. But yes, to answer your question, the in-game adjustments, you can make them, but it’s got to be – the communication on both sides has to be transparent, it has to be honest. That would be my first thought. But, thank you; I’ll remind the guys on that, too. (laughter)”   

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