Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 10 – Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea and Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham

(So last year, if you look at metrics, they would show that S Minkah Fitzpatrick was probably the best in the league on slot receivers in your nickel package. I know he played some there on Sunday, but why not play him there most of the time and limit him to one or two things as opposed to having him do other things? What’s the thinking in not doing that?) – “I can’t speak on last year. I wasn’t here last year, nor am I worried about last year. I just know this past week, we tried to do what was best for the team and for the defense and tried to deploy players in the right spots and seeing what we thought was the right way to go. That’s how we’re going to approach defensively – how we’re going to use guys and where we put them at.”

(Was S Minkah Fitzpatrick used correctly because he said that players weren’t always put in the right spots?) – “You’ve got to speak to Minkah about that and anything we had privately about talking discussions, but we tried our best to put guys in the right spots. I could’ve coached better. There’s no question about that. I feel like I definitely could have done that. Guys could’ve played better; but you know what, today’s Tuesday. It’s a new day, and thankfully, we still have another opportunity this weekend, and we’re going to try to get better starting with today.”

(One last thing on that topic – have you figured out the correct way to use S Minkah Fitzpatrick, or do you think you have not yet done that?) – “Well, we haven’t practiced this week.”

(I meant – not this week, but in general.) – “(It’s the) early part of the season. We’re working through things, and we’re trying to figure out the best spots for everybody and the best way to deploy everybody, and we’re just trying to look to improve.”

(Do you feel like it’s important to listen to players and how they feel like they should be used, or do you feel like players should kind of go with how coaches tell them?) – “I think we’re all doing this job together. There’s definitely a leadership role. It starts with our head coach. It trickles down to me and then to the players and then the leadership within the player group, as well; but my door is always open. I’m always open to hear and listen and get communication from the players and input because we are doing this thing together. We spend so much time with one another. I think that’s a big part of it – just having clear lines of communication and understanding what each one expects from one another.”

(You said a minute ago, “we tried our best to put players in the right spots.” That’s half the equation. The other half is, once they get the call, they have to go to those right spots before the snap. Was that happening Sunday?) – “I think what happened on Sunday was, first off, I’ve got to do a better job of coaching. I’ve got to tip my hat to Baltimore, and again, we don’t want to be stuck talking about Baltimore – we’ve got a big game this weekend – but they did a good job. Their head coach, the offensive coordinator, those guys – they’re well-coached. They’re a good football team. They’ve got good players, and they executed better than we did, and they coached better than we did. The goal is to get better today, try to improve upon that so that we have a better showing on Sunday; but we’ve got to start with today. We’ve got to win today. We’ve got to win today.”

(Were you surprised at how effective Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was with his arm, particularly deep down the field?) – “We spoke about it. Again, here’s what I’ll say about Baltimore – then I’m going to really move on to New England. For me, this team (Baltimore) was in the past, a very successful rushing team. (They were) very good at running the ball. Statistically, from the film, it popped off. They added (Mark) Ingram. (He’s a) good player. Again, was I surprised that Lamar grew as a passer? No. That’s part of the NFL. I expect for those guys to grow and improve. I’m sure that’s what the offseason was meant for. Again, they executed better than we did, and they did a good job. They out-executed us, and I tip my hat to them. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

(I think that anyone would agree that S Reshad Jones has been one of the best defensive players here over the last five or six years. I know you haven’t been here, but can you give a specific reason to us, just to shed some light as to why he played well under half of the defensive snaps?) – “Specifically – I’ve said what I’m going to say really about Baltimore right now, and I’m really moving on right now to talk about (New England). But Reshad did a good job in his role for us. (We’re) looking to grow upon that role as we keep continuing going through.”

(Do you anticipate any defensive changes going into this week?) – “I think what’s going to happen this week – we’ve got a big challenge in front of us. The main thing I would say – aside from coaching better for me – the thing that’s going to happen is we’re going to focus in on tackling and making sure we’re working on our fundamentals like tackling (and) block destruction. Those are the main things that we’re going to be focused on. We’ve got to improve that first, first and foremost. I think that’s the stuff that will lead to better results. If we improve upon that – just the basic fundamentals of football – if we could get that done at a higher level, I think along with a better job coaching by me, that’ll go a long way for us.”

(Do you scheme up pass pressure against Patriots QB Tom Brady, or does that have to come with individual guys beating the man in front of him?) – “In football, it always comes down to some individual battle. The guy lined up against you – it comes down to that. I think the guys start to fine-tune getting their eyes on their matchup as the week goes ahead, but Tom, he’s seen every pressure there is. The man, he’s seen every coverage, every front. He does a good job of getting those guys on the right play. The offensive line led by (Patriots Offensive Line Coach) Dante Scarnecchia, they do a great job working together along with the backs. (Patriots Running Backs Coach) Ivan Fears does a good job of coaching those guys up. It’s a daunting task. It’s a daunting task, whether it’s three-man, four-man, five-man, six – whatever the rush is going to be, they do a good job. They’re well-coached. They’re a well-coached team, and it’s going to be a great challenge.”

(Obviously, edge-setting is an important thing for any defense, but how do you feel like this unit can improve in that regard?) – “I think it’s going to come down to practice. It’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis – setting the edge, along with tackling. Just again, some of the basic fundamentals. The most important thing we do is practice. Aside from the game, that’s the most important thing we do, so we’re going to have to really see some growth and just working the technique of it in practice. That’s where I see that happening.”

(What was it about DE Jonathan Ledbetter that said that he’s ready to not only just play, but start?) – “Anytime – again, the guys we put out on the field, they earned that spot. It’s very hard to be in this league. It’s very hard to play. You’ve earned that privilege to be on the field. They earn that privilege to play on the field.”

(How often were you able to get to some of your – I don’t know if “exotic defensive packages” is the right word – but we noticed one time, DE Charles Harris was the only defensive lineman on the field. How often were you able to get to those things?) – “Well, you guys will have to scour through the tape and figure that out; but in terms of this week, really what I’m focused on – the scheme doesn’t really matter. I really want to worry about the fundamentals right now: block destruction, knee bend, leverage, pad level, eyes in the right place. That’s the stuff I’m worried about this week.”

(What does LB Raekwon McMillan need to do to show you guys that he maybe warrants more time than he got on Sunday?) – “I can’t speak on Sunday right now, but anything that these guys do – we’re trying to earn those spots on the field, the time on the field, and it comes from again, practice is the most important thing we do, and that’s where we get the most evidence in terms of being ready for the games. That’s what we’re going to work for this week. Really, last week doesn’t really matter. This week – it was a good learning experience, and now we’re just trying to improve now.”

(Can you speak of LB Raekwon McMillan’s progress in general? Where does he stand now?) – “He’s been doing a good job. He’s been working hard. Here’s the thing I would say – the vision that we have for who we’re going to be and who those guys are going to be – I think these guys have a clear vision in terms of how they want to grow as a football player, and they’re working towards that. Whether a bump in the road is going to turn you from your vision – I mean, I’ve never been swayed like that. That’s how we’re going to approach it. We’re going to approach it, we’re going to get better every day, we’re going to work on the fundamentals, and we’re going to build toward having a better showing on Sunday. That’s what we’re going to do.”

(How do you, Head Coach Brian Flores, Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea and some of the other assistants use your New England experience to kind of help you grow week-to-week here?) – “First, it starts with the people. I know ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores). I know (Offensive Coordiantor) Chad (O’Shea). I know (Defensive Pass Game Coordinator/Cornerbacks Coach) Josh (Boyer) and those guys because we worked together. The bond we have, the trust we have with one another, and I think that’s one of the best things about this profession. You get the chance to meet some of the best people. Some of the closest people in my life are people that I’ve worked with, so every day when you need somebody to talk to or somebody to run a thought by, it’s great to have people that you trust.”

(Is New England – I guess what they’re building there – a realistic goal for you guys?) – “I can’t speak on New England. I’m not at New England and haven’t been at New England. I’ve been gone for a long time, so I can’t speak on that.”

(Is there a “Patriots Way?”) – “You’ve got to ask them. (laughter)”

(Do you remember your first reaction when you heard that WR Antonio Brown was signing with the Patriots? Did you roll your eyes?) – “No, no. Everybody wants good players. (laughter) No big emotional reaction from me.”

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Chad O’Shea – September 10, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Offensive Coordinator Chad O’Shea

(I wanted to ask you about RB Kenyan Drake – why the thinking in not inserting him early in the game for the first couple of series?) – “Yeah, I think that – again, as I’ve said all along – we’re going to try to do the best we can to put players in position to do what’s best for our offense. I think there are certain circumstances that go along the way. Maybe if the game changes and we have to adjust to those sometimes, and I think that’s going to be a weekly challenge for us. As some of the circumstances change, how do we change, and how do we adjust? I think that sometimes certain expectations that we may have going into the game and usage of certain players might change just based on the way the game goes, and that’s always going to be something that I think that we’re going to have to do a good job of. As it changes, we’re going to have to change. We have a lot of good players on offense. We’re going to try to use those guys as much as we can. Sometimes we would like to use guys more or less, but that’s all part of our job – to do what’s best for the offense.”

(And with RB Kenyan Drake, can you say whether you want to get the ball in his hands more moving forward, him specifically?) – “Yeah, I think that he’s done a nice job for us. He really has, and we all know he’s very talented with the ball in his hands; but I think in the end, we have a lot of different players at the skill positions that deserve the opportunity to have the ball. He certainly is one of them, but I think we have a number of players on offense that are also very deserving of the opportunity to have the ball in their hands. I think that’s one of the challenges that we have as an offensive staff – to give those players an opportunity, but we just have several guys that fall in that category. So we need to do a good job of balancing that and making sure they’re all involved, and that’s our job. Certainly, it’s a good problem to have, and I think it’s a positive thing.”

(How challenging is it preparing for a Patriots defense that you know as well as you do?) – “I think there’s some familiarity, but I think that’s probably true of – there’s different coaches throughout the league that have been on same staffs and similar systems, so as much as it is, our challenge this week is really, it’s all about us. That’s really how we’re going to approach the week. It’s about us, and it’s about us doing a better job – both coaches and players – of our overall execution, of just being better in every area. We can all do better, and I think if we focus on us first – obviously, we have a tremendous amount of respect for the scheme and the personnel and the coaching staff at New England – I don’t want to shortchange that at all, and I’m not saying that – but it’s all about us and our overall execution and how we can be better as an offense. I think sometimes familiarity with other systems is overrated because at the end of the day, the execution is what’s most important. Certainly, we have a group on offense that’s still growing, still trying to improve, and I just think it’s so much about the basics right now for us of just being better, taking a few things and improving on those.”

(We didn’t see WR Albert Wilson a whole lot, but were you happy with the way you were able to use him and the ways you were able to get him the ball?) – “Albert is another player that falls in the category of someone we like to have the ball in his hands. In the last game, we tried to do that early, and again, I think there’s a number of players we have at skill positions that are going to fall in that category of – as a play-caller and as an offensive staff – we want to have the ball in their hands early. I think that some of that is dictated by what the defensive scheme is and how they have adjusted and how they’re playing and how the game goes, but certainly, Albert, I would say, has done a good job for us. I think he’s done a good job getting back from his injury and working hard, and the athletic training staff here has worked with him. They’ve done a great job of really getting him back to the game. Being a contributor for us is important, and he’s one of the many guys I think on offense that we have – we have some skill guys that can do something with the football.”

(Was WR Albert Wilson’s calf injury the reason he only played a handful of offensive snaps?) – “I don’t want to comment on the injury. He came back from an injury to get to this game, and I know he’s worked hard in that area as far as the rehab and all of those things; but certainly, the guys that are available to us, we’re going to put out there and use, and the guys that aren’t, aren’t.”

(So that wasn’t the reason. His injury – while not getting into specifics about it – WR Albert Wilson’s injury was not the reason why he didn’t play more?) – “I think that there’s a number of factors that go into that, other than the injury, so I’ll just leave it at that. There are certain factors that went into that game that changed for us offensively – the way the game went, obviously, when we had the deficit we did, it definitely changed some of the things we were doing. I think there’s a number of factors that are involved in whether a players’ participation goes up or down in a game, and that’s probably one of them – just the way the game went.”

(With the offensive line, obviously you didn’t intend to get just 12 carries, but what’s it going to take for that unit to create more of a surge from a running game standpoint?) – “We’ve focused in on kind of all the positions right now and what everybody needs to do, and certainly the offensive line is one that has been together not a very long period of time here. It’s a work in progress, and I think they’ve improved. We saw a drastic improvement in practice last week, just from – you’re learning a new language. You’re learning how to communicate with each other. You’re learning about the specific fundamentals that we’re asking of that position that might be slightly different than some other places they’ve been on the way we want to do it. I think, again, it’s all those simple things are the building blocks to our success on the offensive line. It’s a work in progress, and it’s one in which I think that they’ve come in here, they’ve embraced the challenge of trying to do this in a short period of time. I have a lot of confidence in ‘Guge’ (Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo) as the offensive line coach, who spent a considerable amount of time with that group last week, and to get them to the game, I think was a tribute to him and his ability to coach that position. I just think it’s something that’s going to continue to get better if they work at it and embrace what we’re trying to do.”

(What was it that made left tackle the right fit for this team for G/T Jesse Davis?) – “I think that Jesse was somebody that was obviously here in the building who we worked with, so we had familiarity with him, and I think Jesse’s ability to play both right and left (tackle) was something that was beneficial to us in the game. I don’t think there was a specific reason why we put him at left, other than we thought the combination of those five was the best fit. I think it’s like pieces of the puzzle, and I think that you have to look at the entire five and just not solely Jesse at left tackle. It was what was best for our team at those other positions, too, and I think that that’s probably true of our other positions. We ran some five-wide receiver packages in the game early when Albert (Wilson) was in there, and I think we played the best five in each of those positions that we thought they were the best to move the ball, and I think that’s true of the offensive line, too. Jesse is one part of the decision, and the four others are part of the decision on where to put guys.”

(Now that T J’Marcus Webb is here and probably has an opportunity to compete, do you see more movement happening on that offensive line, or is that what you’re going to invest in?) – “I think that – like we’ve stressed to the players this week – this is a blank canvas. This is a new week, and our personnel is going to be based off of what we think is best for the team, and whatever combination we feel is best for this game, it’s going to be. I don’t think that anything is set in stone here, and I would say that’s not only true of the offensive line positions, but that’s true of our other combinations that we’re putting out there, whether it’s a certain personnel group or whether it’s a certain running back to put in the game, a certain receiver. Certainly, we have tight ends that are different combinations, so we told these guys that every week is unique to itself, just like a play during the game is unique to itself, and nothing is set in stone right now.”

(There was a play last week, and I think I’m remembering the details. I think it was a swing pass to RB Kalen Ballage to the left. Looks like G/T Jesse Davis is supposed to block a linebacker, but No. 42 Ravens DL Patrick Ricard for Baltimore shoves G Michael Deiter. He falls into Jesse’s legs, and the linebacker makes the tackle. Is that a situation where that’s just one of those weird things that happens, or could Deiter have avoided that through footwork or angle or whatever?) – “Not to get into the specifics of that, but I’ll say overall, I think that our execution can be better in a lot of areas. Certainly, we can coach better, we can play with better technique and play with better fundamentals. I think – your reference to that play – whenever you have two offensive linemen on the ground at the same time, which they were, isn’t a good thing, and that’s not how we want to play. That was probably a good example of one of the things and one of the areas that we can be better in, but there were multiple examples of that during the game. We’ve used those to grow and get better and move on, and certainly, I would say there’s all of us that can get better. That play was just kind of a reflection of some of the things that we need to grow and get better, and we will.”

(Five carries, -1 yard for RB Kalen Ballage. Was that mostly because of lack of blocking, or have you and Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville seen things on his five runs that he could have done better?) – “I think that the running back position is really reliant on a lot of other things to go well. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Kalen’s running style, one of which excites me moving forward. I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for the way he approaches the game, but at the same time, the running back position relies heavily on the guys around him. Like we tell the guys on offense, if there’s one breakdown on offense, it’s not going to be a good play. That’s probably true of the run game. There were some things that we thought we were really close on, and what happens is, close just isn’t good enough. Everybody needs to be on the same page. It takes all 11, but I’ve been certainly happy with everything Kalen has done with us and his running style. I have confidence in Kalen as a running back, and I just want to stress that we all can be better. I can be better as a play-caller. Everybody can be better to help Kalen out to be in a better position to be successful.”

(What do you anticipate your emotions and I guess reminisce at what it will be like in that pregame when you play New England?) – “I have a tremendous amount of respect for New England and obviously spent a number of years there, but so much of the focus for us – especially after last week – is becoming about us and what we can do better. I think that although the tremendous amount of respect and have great relationships and great memories with both the coaches and the players there, I’m going to have such great focus on doing a better job on game day and making sure our players are doing better job in all the areas that we talk about, so it’s really so much about us that hopefully – although I’m respectful of those relationships, I think that what’s most important is that on Sunday, we’re worried about us.”

(I’m not sure how many moments you guys had in New England, but do you and Head Coach Brian Flores and some of the other assistants kind of draw back on past experiences and how to rebound from a loss?) – “I think that when you’ve worked with guys – I’ve worked with ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) for 10 years and a lot of the other members of this staff, we’ve worked together a long time and have a great working relationship. When you have a working relationship that has been over a number of years, I think it’s very valuable because you can talk about past experiences, whether good or bad, and you can learn from those.”

(You’re in a situation where you’re a new coach, and there’s stuff that you worked on all throughout preseason. Then you get the offensive line change. Then, you’re down by two or three touchdowns. How frustrating was that for you that you really couldn’t show your offense in a sense?) – “I’ve always looked at my job as a coach is to put the players in position that we have on a roster in a position to succeed, and I embrace the challenges here. I think all teams have challenges. We were dealt maybe a challenge different than other teams, but it’s not something that hasn’t happened in the NFL. All teams have different changes to their roster and certain challenges along the way with injuries, so it’s something that I look at and I know our team has approached it this way that everybody’s just going to try to do better and embrace the situation that we’re in with some of the changes, but it’s not different than a lot of other teams. I feel like we have a group right now on offense that has a great attitude. They’re trying to do everything we ask them to do. They’re working hard. They’re buying into what we’re asking them to do, and I think if that’s the case here, we’ll get better. I feel like we have a lot of guys that are headed in the right direction, if not all. It really is a great group of guys. The coaching staff has been great and very supportive of everything we’re doing here. I believe strongly in ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) and what he’s doing as a leader, and I think the challenges are something everybody goes through on all NFL teams.”

(Individual positives from the game, whether it’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick or…) – “Yeah, I thought – starting at quarterback, I thought ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) really competed and battled through some tough circumstances at times. Certainly like I said with Kalen (Ballage), it takes all 11, especially at the quarterback position, for him to have success. He relies heavily on the jobs of others. I thought he competed. Obviously, we had a turnover in the game, which we don’t ever want to have; but he really competed, did well. I thought his communication was good. The biggest thing about ‘Fitz’ is I think he really handled himself through some tough times there during the game like a real professional and one of which we want playing quarterback for him just because he’s got great mental toughness, great leadership, didn’t waver any in tough times, and that’s one of his traits that’s very awesome.”

(In a year of transition like this, does the onus kind of focus more on the development for players?) – “I think that the No. 1 goal is for us to win. I think along the way, we’re really stressing to our players that what’s most important is we improve right now as a team. Obviously, there’s a lot of improvement after the result of last week that we need to make, so we’re focusing on the process of improving. We know that the goal is to win, and that is our goal. That’s what we’re going to try to do this week, obviously, is go out there, play the best we can and win the game; but along the way, we have to focus on the process of improving to do that. I think everybody on our offense has really bought into that. We had a good day yesterday, and we’re moving forward this week and playing a really, really good team obviously in New England, but what’s most important is that it’s all about us and our ability to improve this week.”

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