Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 12 – Head Coach Mike McDaniel, S Jevon Holland, CB Justin Bethel, LB Elandon Roberts and OL Robert Hunt

OL Robert Hunt

(How did you all play as a group yesterday on the line?) – “It’s always good to get a win. The win is the most important thing because it’s hard to win in the NFL. I think we are fine. I think we know we have to come to work again Wednesday and get ready to roll the table and play a new opponent. I thought we did some really good things and there are some things we could work on too.”

(Have you asked coach about some plays at running back this week against the Ravens?) – “That’s my shine time, so I don’t know. (laughter) I doubt he has something for me right now. We’re going to keep working and hopefully he throws me something later on in the year.”

(What was it like going through a game where there was so much shuffling going on on the line?) – “It was fine. We all get paid to do what we do. We have a room full of guys that are capable of playing any position. That’s what it was. And I think guys did a good job of being ready when their name was called to play different positions, including myself when I played my one rep at right tackle. I think guys are ready. That’s exciting, we’ve got a bunch of guys in the room that are willing and ready to play any position.”

(What do you think are a couple of things you guys need to do better in the run game? I know it’s not all on the offensive line, but as a team?) – “I think we’ve just got to be on the same page. It starts with communication. That’s with everybody on the o-line or in the running back room. I think we had a couple of miscues with communication. That’s everybody. I didn’t see some plays that I wish I should have told Connor (Williams). Or Connor didn’t see a play. It’s a back and forth deal. It’s a unit working together. I think all 11 were on the same page on some parts. We did do a lot of great things. That was good.”

(Tell me a little about the communication. T Terron Armstead said yesterday that he thought the communication and identification improved in the second half. What are your thought on that?) – “The same. It’s the first game. We are seeing things that we saw on tape a little bit, but things change and people play different things. They play different defense, and that’s just what it was. We had to get our feet wet and like Terron said yesterday, we picked it up in the second half and hopefully we can improve on that this week.”

(What do you think when you see Baltimore’s defense? You guys faced them last year. What translates to this year?) – “You’ll see big physical guys. They’ve got some veterans over there, so I’m sure they’ll be ready to play. We’ll be ready to play too. Big physical guys. I think we’ve got a lot of big physical guys on our team too, so it’ll be fun.”

(It’s your third year in the league. How is it working with T Terron Armstead, learning from him, and what’s it like having him as an offensive lineman teammate?) – “It’s great having Terron. Terron has seen a lot of stuff. He’s played a lot of ball and he’s done a lot of things that I personally want to do in my career – the accolades and stuff like that. Him letting me know that all of those things are possible for all of us, and giving us the insight of that, is great. It’s like chasing something because he’s done it. He’s told us we can do it. He’s a leader in every way. He does something with us on our off days and everything. It’s been great having Terron in the room, I think he’s a great leader.”

S Jevon Holland

(Once Defensive Coordinator and Head Coach Mike McDaniel make a decision on this, it won’t be revealed publicly nor should it be. But how curious are you, heading into Wednesday, to see if Josh Boyer decides to blitz you and S Brandon Jones nearly as much as he did against Baltimore last year when he had 38 combined blitzes, the most by two NFL safeties in a game in many, many years?) – “That is a fabulous question that I am not going to answer. (laughter) I don’t have an answer. (laughter)

(My question is not what he’s going to do. That’s strategic. My question was just, is it something you’re curious to know what his game plan is because last year’s was so unique.) – “Nah. I’m just going to do what the coaches tell me. That’s my job.”

(How was the game you saw from S Brandon Jones yesterday? He was able to do so many different things off the edge.) – “It was huge. It was awesome. Brandon’s electric. You guys see that throughout practice and throughout the season last year. He’s a dynamic player and he brings great energy to the team. So I’m super happy with how he played. It was awesome.”

(The defense got a lot of praise yesterday and rightfully so. After watching the film, what did what did you see? What do you think?) – “I think we played well. We’ve got some things to improve on going into next week. I feel like we’re going to capitalize on that in practice and then continue to grow.”

(Was there anything that you thought the defense did particularly well – turnovers, third downs, anything along those lines?) – “Yeah, I think turnovers. We won the turnover battle, which is important for us week in week out. But yeah, like I said, even with winning the turnover battle, we want to capitalize on that and continue to make that a trend throughout the year.”

(What did you think of CB Kader Kohou’s game yesterday and did you say anything to him before the game to make sure he was in the right mental state?) – “No, not really. I was just like go out there and ball and do what you do. Kader Kohou, he’s a hell of a player, even though he’s young. He’s a dynamic player. And I use that term a lot with a lot of our players because we really are. There’s a lot of dynamic abilities on his team and Kader is one of them. So I’m really happy with how he went out there and performed.”

(I was pretty impressed by your pregame fit, cowboy hat and everything. Is that something you’ve been doing for a while now or is that a new thing you got going on?) – “Nah, man. It’s not a new fit. I was just seeing Blake Ferguson wearing some cowboy stuff and I was like, I might as well throw on a little cowboy hat or whatever. I already had the suit – shout out to Indochino for the suit. But yeah it was something simple. Plus, I got the nickname quickdraw Jev, along with other nicknames.”

(When CB Kader Kohou first arrived in May, was there any particular skill you noticed with him that made you think, ‘Ah, this could be a guy who’s on our 53?’) – “He’s extremely fast.”

(An early look at Baltimore. You guys had success in that game last year. How much of that can translate to this matchup and how much more will there have to be adjustments?) – “That is for the coaches to figure out and me to just go out there and do it. In terms of the game plan itself, I’m going to let them do that. That’s a question for them, for sure.”

(Head Coach Mike McDaniel got a lot of credit, and people saying that he ‘out-coached Bill Belichick.’ But it seemed like Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer had the Patriots offense off balance. Did you notice that? Did it seem like the Patriots offense was a little bit off balance and didn’t know what to expect from that standpoint?) – “I’m not really sure about off balance or who outcoached who. I just know that we went out there and did our job and then it came down to what it was, we just ran to the ball and caused turnovers.”

(Can you walk us through the pick you had? I know, CB Xavien Howard obviously was a big part of that, but I noticed you flying to the football. It’s kind of a theme of this team, right?) – “Yeah, for sure. Running to the ball is one of our things. If you get to the ball, Johnny on the spot, good things happen when you are run to the ball. I know ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) is a hell of a competitor and he’s trying to grab every ball. And the ones he doesn’t grab, I’m going to be there to take them, which, as you saw, was one of those right there. He popped it up for me, so I appreciate ‘X’ for that. (laughter) And I might pop one up for him too later on the season. But yeah, I’m just running to the ball. Like Jaelen (Phillips) running to the ball getting the fumble recovery from Kader (Kohou)’s fumble. Or ‘Mel’ (Melvin Ingram). That’s just kind of the theme of how we play. Like the ball is the most important thing on the field, so why would you not want to be around it?”

(Your reaction to LB Duke Riley’s pass breakup late in the game makes me think you maybe thought you had a second pick coming?) – “Yeah, man. It was just the way that Duke was and his positioning. It was a hell of a play. He was he was hauling ass getting back there. I was like, screaming at him, ‘ball, ball, ball,’ for him to turnaround. But he was in good position and he was trying to play through the hands. I saw the ball and I was like, ‘Oh, I can get it.’ But then, I couldn’t get through him to get the ball and he was also right in the sweet spot. It’s alright. Another one will come, but damn, I wish I had another one. (laughter)

(Do you happen to know if CB Xavien Howard was just doing anything he could to get his hands on that ball or was he trying to literally tip it to you?) – “Man, I don’t know. He probably was trying to grab the ball. I mean, ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) is trying to get interceptions at any point, so I’m going to just say he was trying to intercept the ball and he happened to hit it up.”

(Do you think you guys turned any heads around the league or in the division with your performance yesterday?) – “I’m not necessarily sure. Do I care? No, because I feel like regardless of what other people think, we know what we can do and we know what our ceiling is. We’re just going to put our head in the dirt and continue to work hard.”

(This is an offensive type of question but the fourth-and-7 decision to go for it there and get the big payoff and touchdown, how does that make you feel as a defense like as far as the confidence not just in the offense but also that we might put the defense in a short field here?) – “At this point, it is what it is. You go for it on fourth down, the defense is up. We don’t have to punt. It’s just the defense comes straight out. I was with it. I mean, going for it on fourth down, I’ll do it on Madden if I could. (laughter) So whatever. It is what it is. We trust him.”

Head Coach Mike McDaniel

(Was the news you got today if you had any on OL Austin Jackson – is it a sprained ankle that makes them day-to-day? Or is it something more serious that could land him on IR?) – ”It’s something that is – he was tough. He stayed in uniform and could have gone back in if in an emergency situation, but it’s serious enough that we’re getting some more eyes on it. And so we’ll be continuing along the process to have the best medical information on him moving forward. So to be determined.”

(And TE Cethan Carter?) – “He’s in the concussion protocol, and so you guys know how that goes where that is, of all things, the most case-by-case basis. So we’ll be taking it as such moving forward.”

(The running game – something you take pride in, of course – what did you notice? What do you take away that can be improved going forward?) – ”There was a lot. I didn’t give – there wasn’t a ton of opportunities for some bigger plays in the run game, but there were some. I think that New England does a great job of – like I knew going into the game – of presenting different looks and having a plan specific for your unit. So that kept us off balance to a degree. But something that I’m very glad they got that rep on collectively, coaches and players included, because that’s something that will not change as I’ve experienced moving forward. I think there were some good plays, but it’s something that we’ll look to improve upon, like really every other phase of our game moving forward.”

(You see the world is a better place when the Miami Dolphins win on Sunday. How do you look to improve on heading into next week’s matchup against Baltimore?) – “Well, I think there’s some areas of the country that would disagree with that statement, but you know what, who cares about them? So I agree with you. (laughter) It’s something that was a focus of what I spoke to the team about today and it’s one of the unique things about football that I think that not everyone totally digests. It is awesome, and the world is a better place, but if your goals are more than to just win a few games here or there, you take that feeling that you have on Sunday and you put it to bed because the best teams are the ones that continually progress throughout the whole season. And theoretically, not outcome-oriented, but theoretically if we’re on the journey that we want to be, that should be the worst game that we play all year; that you should always be getting better and that’s not always measured with wins and losses, but the best teams – if you want to be a good team in this league – you have to be playing your best football in the end of November and in December months. So that’s what we’re gearing towards and there was definitely no celebrations or parties today. I could tell that the team knew there were some plays to be made on the field that we didn’t make. Yes, even in the locker room. But today it was definitely throughout the whole building that guys were focused on getting better and improving before this Baltimore game because I promise you Baltimore does not care or Baltimore could care less about our happy feelings on Sunday.”

(Following up a little bit of the question on the run game, when you look at the offensive line  performance as a whole, taking into account that OL Austin Jackson was out for a while there, what did you see from the line?) – “I saw a line that is young in the season in terms of I saw some really good stuff. There was some really good plays made by the line. The one thing about offensive line play is you can’t take advantage of really good things by some players unless everyone is in concert. So really what happened to me in the game was that when players were making plays on the offensive line in the run game specifically, there were a couple players that were a hair off. And when you’re going against a team that plays physical like New England that was definitely emphasizing stopping the run, your results aren’t what you want. And I saw the same thing in the pass game. There are some really cool protection clips from and plays made by really everyone across the board, but then there was some miscues that were either just rule-oriented, or we had a halfback miss a protection here or there. So ultimately, I was pleased with it and I wasn’t that surprised, just knowing the level of detail the Patriots bring forth. They play heavy up front and if you’re off a little bit at one spot, it doesn’t look the greatest. So I was pleased with where we’re at, but that’s assuming and operating under the assumption that we’re going to continue to get better. So it wasn’t far from where I pictured and no confidence has been lost on my end.”

(TE Mike Gesicki’s usage, or lack thereof, was that a byproduct merely of matchups? Do you envision getting him more…?) – “No, I would have expected at the end of the game, by our game plan for him to have more pass game production, I guess. I think that was the case with – I would have expected to get the ball more to Jaylen Waddle, who I think had four receptions. I would have expected Raheem Mostert to have more opportunities with the ball. And that’s one of the things that happens in the course of the game and when you’re on a better – the better offenses that you’re on, the more that that can – you don’t have to force your hand to certain players all the time and defensive presentations and the distribution of the ball gets spread. I can remember games where I think the most productive offense that I’ve ever been on was probably the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. I think the fourth game of the season, Julio Jones had 300 yards receiving and I know during that season, he also had games where he had two receptions so that doesn’t really necessarily reflect the exact game plan at all. I would have expected him to have more, but that’s just how the ball bounces sometimes in an NFL football game.”

(Your secondary – what did you think of its production overall and CB Noah Igbinoghene being inactive, what was the reasoning behind it?) – “I was pretty happy with the secondary. It’s kind of what I expected. And like I told you, these are hard game day decisions. Noah (Igbinoghene) knows I wasn’t punishing him. It happened to be about our specific game plan and the specific matchups that we had this week and those are things that on a team, especially when you have – I think you guys have been grinding me on our secondary depth and I tried to explain to you guys why. Well I think you saw a little bit more from some of the players and why I feel that way. So we have some good players there that we will always try to do the best thing for the Miami Dolphins and the given matchups and the given defensive game plan so that was just part of it.”

(Do you think LB Andrew Van Ginkel would have played more if he wasn’t still working his way back from the appendix or was that snap count – seven I think defensively – a game plan decision?) – “No, that was him working his way back. He’s had a tremendous offseason and it’s to his credit that he was playing in that game. So that’s a guy that his teammates root for him because of what he brings to the field and I would expect him to get more stuff moving forward.”

(Having had a chance to digest the film now, what can you say about the defensive game plan going into the game and also the way they adjusted from your defensive staff?) – “I was very happy with it. I was happy with where they are focusing and their overall game plan was pretty good. I thought there were some things that we were trying to get done in the second half that there’s ultimate accountability that we try to preach and to their credit, the players are saying, ‘hey, we could have got that done.’ And the coaches are saying, ‘well, we probably didn’t articulate it right.’ That’s where, for a game where they give up seven points and score seven points, you’re very happy with the mindset of the whole unit. And so after digesting the film and talking to all the guys, I’m very happy with where they’re at and they’re expecting to continually get better, which is what we all expect.”

(What did you think of QB Tua Tagovailoa after watching the game film?) – “I was happy with Tua (Tagovailoa) because he did a lot of things well, and then he got the taste of, there was some things that he wasn’t that fired up about. But this is a team thing and there’s a lot of things that me personally, that I told him. ‘To do your position right in the National Football League, you can’t be afraid to find things that you can do better at. And there were several times that I think Tua was covering for me, because I was getting the play in later than I would like. Those things I have no patience for for myself, and so I let the team know I think after the game and then as well as today, and you move forward with that. There are some things that I think he’s done in practice that he didn’t do exactly the same in the game, but over the course of the entire – I mean he touched the ball every play – that’s to be expected. What I really liked was that he made plays in each quarter because to me, that’s good quarterback play. Because the hardest thing is between your ears to deal with this position in the National Football League. You have all this stuff going on. You have high expectations for yourself and for the offense and when it’s not – anytime you have a three-and-out or it’s kind of herky-jerky you can get frustrated and he found ways to make plays even after plays that he was frustrated at which a lot had to do with me so together we’ll keep moving forward and I’m excited to do so.”

(On the challenge of facing Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and their defense) – “It’s as good of a challenge as you get in the National Football League. I’ve been following – that team has spawned a ton of ideas for me personally in the run game. They do an unbelievable job at forcing you to defend all gaps and be sound and then they do a good job in the pass game, too, with things to balance that out. So you have to account for all 11 players on every down. You really do. You have to have a plan for all the different bells and whistles that they run. They’re very physical when moving players and that’s one of their challenges. And you can’t take anything for granted really when you play a dynamic playmaker at the quarterback position like they have Lamar Jackson so it’s going to be a fun game, a challenging game, one that we’re going to have to leave no stone unturned in the entire process for us to come out the way we want to come out this coming Sunday.”

(How tough was the call to go with WR Trent Sherfield and promoting WR River Cracraft instead of WR Erik Ezukanma? I know Erik obviously has flashed, but you have a background with Trent and River and they are trustworthy. What went into that decision? How tough a call was that?) – “No, it was tough because you know that Erik (Ezukanma) can make plays, but at the same time, we were anticipating some position versatility that we needed and having River come up, he can make a ton of plays, too. I think that is something that it is tough when you have multiple players that you’re confident in, but at the same time, you embrace those decisions on a weekly basis because it’s not what you’re left with, it’s who gives you the best opportunity in the given gameplan. So I was happy for River to get in and get some plays and I told Erik that it’s also an opportunity for him. Any time you’re not active on the active roster, the tendency for players to do is to is to – it sucks for them and they want to hide from the moment. I just told him, ‘No, this is something that you use to your advantage moving forward. You take in the environment. You take in the plays that you think you could make out there, and you use that as motivation moving forward to be extra detailed on your game plan. And as soon as he just gives the rest of his team the confidence that he can own game plans week-in, week-out from multiple positions, he won’t have that problem anymore, which he understood and he is going to move forward amicably.”

CB Justin Bethel

(What was it like getting integrated with the team so quickly and making some key special teams plays?) – “It’s really cool. I got cut at the deadline then was literally here the next day, started practicing and getting acclimated to everything. The weather is definitely different than in New England, obviously. Being able to come out and play against the team that let you go is always a cool feeling. You know a lot of the guys. You’ve been practicing against them. I was there all training camp so I kind of knew how they were. Playing them in a live game is a little different than in practice. It was cool to be able to go out there and make a good play at gunner. That’s what I’m here for. That’s what I do. I’ve been doing it for a while. I just hope to keep going and make those same kind of plays.”

(You were born in Sumter, SC. Do you often visit a lot? What was it like growing up?) – “I was born in Sumter, South Carolina and moved to Columbia, South Carolina when I was about six. I went to Blythewood High School then went to Presbyterian College. I do try to go down – I throw a camp every year like a 7-on-7, and then I’ll go down and see my parents. They’re still out there. So I’ll go back every year, see them, spend a couple of days down there, see them, see other family. I’m always trying to find a way to get back down there. I still go back to my high school every now and then and go back to my college and just show some love.”

(The running game had a lot of new working parts, starting with Head Coach Mike McDaniel. There were two new offensive linemen, new running backs. Do you have any idea how long it generally takes a new running game to get in sync? A couple of weeks or a couple of months?) – “The guys got the whole offseason to try and get things going and it’s hard – a lot of things you can’t really tell until you’re hitting live bullets. I think they’ll get everything how they need to get it. From that, you just watch and see them make progress and get better every week.”

(Coming over from New England, were you able to reveal to the Dolphins valuable team secrets?) – (laughter) I know every time somebody like the Pats pick up somebody from the Dolphins or the Dolphins pick up somebody from the Pats, they’re like, ‘Oh, they got him so they can tell him all of the secrets.’ You’ve got other guys who have played there. You’ve got coaches who have played there. Really, when you’re talking about a division opponent, they play each other so much that there’s a lot they already know. They didn’t really ask me anything. It was kind of this is what we do, this is how we run things and trying to get me acclimated to how it’s going to be here. We just kind of went from there.”

(What do you think it will take for you to get back to your Pro Bowl level that you had earlier in your career?) – “Truthfully, I always kind of feel that I’ve worked to reach that kind of level – Pro Bowl, All Pro. That’s my goal every year. I’m always criticizing myself on what I could have done differently on this play, what I could have done differently on that play. I feel like I should be able to make every play out there. But that’s my goal every year. That’s never gone away. I think I have the capabilities to do it. I might be a little older than everybody else but I definitely think I still have the gas in the tank to get it done.”

LB Elandon Roberts

(What do you remember about facing Baltimore last year and the success you were able to have defensively?) – “Last year, Baltimore came out and did some things that we expected them to do and stuff like that. But with their type of offense, they can give you looks and do a lot of stuff off of it and whatnot. Lamar (Jackson) is the engine of that offense. It’s all about Lamar. He’s a big part of their offense. I feel like he’s the engine that gets everything going.”

(You started your college career at Morgan State in Baltimore. What was that experience like playing at an HBCU?) – “From an HBCU standpoint, it was great. I was only there for a semester but it was great. I’m trying to rep Morgan (State). I graduated from the University of Houston and I always throw up the Cougs all day, but when Morgan State is balling, that’s near and dear to my heart. I loved everything about the experience there.”

(What was your feeling when you heard your coach say this is a defensive team?) – “Just as a defense, as a whole, we try to go out there and do what we’re paid to do. And that’s get the ball back to the offense. I think it’s a great compliment from him but as a defensive player, we’re just doing our job. I think the whole defense would say the same thing. So each week, we’re going to go out there and try to stop opponents and give the ball to our offense to give them a chance to do what they do best.”

(Head Coach Mike McDaniel was saying that there were no celebrations or parties today. As a veteran, how tough is it to put a game behind you like yesterday’s? And then how emotional was yesterday – a first-year coach, home opener, New England and all of that?) – “To answer your first question, I feel like that just shows the growth of our team. We’ve been young a couple of years now since I’ve been here and it shows the growth of your team to be able to put a win behind you and move forward because it’s not a one-game-a-year type of thing. Each week it’s a new opponent. No opponent is to be slept on. Every game is a big game. So being able to turn the page quick and getting focused on Baltimore, that just shows our maturity of the team and where we look to go this season.”

(Were there times in previous years where you felt like the team kind of celebrated a little bit too long and didn’t move ahead to the next game?) – “I feel like that’s a good question because throughout the NFL, you have teams that maybe you feel like celebrated too long. But like I said, I feel like we’re in a good place as the Miami Dolphins to be able to flip the page. We’re putting New England behind us. That was a good team win. But right now we’ve got our full focus on the Baltimore Ravens.”

(Early in the game yesterday, the Patriots were moving the ball well and by the end, the final statistics showed you guys had a solid defensive game. What flipped the switch or adjustment did you guys make to make it happen?) – “I think it was the first game. With the Patriots, you guys have seen it, you didn’t really know what offensive coordinator you were going to get. It’s not using excuses but just speaking facts. Once we got adjusted, we were able to put some things together from a total defensive standpoint.”

(What did you see from special teams yesterday? Two field goals and three punts inside the 20. It seemed like you guys were on top of it. What did you see?) – “I feel great about all of our phases – offense, defense and special teams. If you have those three and you can play complementary, sometimes you think offense can win it and sometimes you think defense can win it. But you need all three to come together and win a game. All three phases being on the same page, that’s what is going to take you to your ultimate goal.”

(What has LB Melvin Ingram done for your defense, do you think?) – “I think Melvin has done a great job for the defense. Just like the other guys on the defense, everybody is just out there trying to get better, do their job and whatnot. I think everybody, even defensively, offensively and special teams – from a whole team standpoint – you might get patted on the back for this and that but we’re looking at what we can better at as a team. That’s what we’re going to do, which we did today. Now we’re putting all of our focus on the Baltimore Ravens.”

(Then with CB Kader Kohou, was there a moment back in May or June where you noticed him and thought he might be something?) – “To be honest, anybody that gets an opportunity to play in this league and is out there making plays, whether it’s the first day of practice, it is what it is. Every man, we look at them like they must be here for a reason. If you can help this team be better, then we’re going to embrace you. I think Kader has done a great job of controlling what he can control when he’s in the game doing his job. That’s all you can ask for. I’m proud of him, with the first game, just as a defensive leader. We know as a defense that Kader can move on, put that game behind him and like I said, the entire defense and Dolphins organization, we’re all turning the page towards the Baltimore Ravens.”

(Did you know CB Kader Kohou could hit like that? He had the play where he jarred the ball loose.) – “The last three years, everybody on the Dolphins defense can hit. We’re big hitters. I don’t think you can name one guy that isn’t hitting. I think that’s what we do best is fly around and hit.”