Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 30 – Head Coach Brian Flores, Flores Conference Call, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, LB Kyle Van Noy, S Bobby McCain and CB Noah Igbinoghene

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores Conference Call with Seattle Media

(I’ve got to start with a question about RB Myles Gaskin, a local guy from here. What has he meant to your team so far?) – “Myles (Gaskin) is really everything we’re looking for in a Dolphin. He’s tough. He’s smart. He’s competitive. He loves to play. He loves to practice. Team first guy. He’s done a really nice job, especially making the Year 1 to Year 2 leap. Great teammate and he really works at his craft, so a really competitive young guy and always trying to get better. We’re happy to have him.”

(When you look at what Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and this offense have done through three games, just what are your impressions of how they’re playing and how big a challenge is that going to be?) – “It’s a very explosive offense led by Russell (Wilson), but good backs, good tight end, good receivers, good line, good play caller. It’s going to be a very, very challenging game for us. We’ve got to play smart. We’ve got to have good communication. We’ve got to tackle well. We’ve got to do pretty much everything well and try to limit the offense; but they do a great job really across the board – run game, screen game, play-action, drop-back, two-minute, red zone. It’s going to be a big, big challenge for us.”

(Going back to the last time you saw Seahawks QB Russell Wilson when you were in New England in 2016, what’s it like seeing that guy on the other side of the field and trying to figure out ways to slow him down when you see him playing at the level he did? He had a great game that day and he’s obviously off to a fast start here. What is it like just seeing just kind of playing out in front of you?) – “He’s a fantastic player and he’s improved really every year since he’s been in the league. I think my first year as a position coach in ’12 was his rookie year, and he played great in that game. We went out to Seattle and I was coaching safeties. I came out of that game feeling like – (laughter) he’s a young guy. He was just kind of coming along. I don’t know if that was his third or fourth start, but he played really well in that game and that was my first impression of him and he’s been a tremendous player since. But he’s grown a lot over the years. He causes a lot of issues. Most guys scramble to run. Some guys scramble to throw. He’s really a true dual-threat who can extend plays and create big plays or stand in the pocket and fire throws down the field. So it’s a big challenge and he’s a great player. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a great person also, and you can see the leadership he has on that team and how the players follow him and follow his lead. But there’s great leadership really across the board on that team. It’s not just Russell. It starts with obviously (Seahawks Head Coach) Pete Carroll and (General Manager John) Schneider. They do a really great job across the board as an organization. Defensively it’s (Bobby) Wagner to K.J. Wright. Obviously Jamal Adams. Really good leadership across the board. Really good players and they play good team football, so it’ll be a great challenge for us.

(I know your secondary, you’ve had some injury issues and you’re playing a young guy at one of the cornerback spots and things like that. What’s so far your thoughts on how you’ve played and obviously the challenge of going against Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and WR DK Metcalf and WR Tyler Lockett this week and all that?) – “It’s a great – it’s a very big challenge. And I think it’s a challenge for our young players. We’re playing some young guys at the corner position. We’ve got some vet guys also; but for our team, it’s a young team. This is going to be a big, big challenge against a veteran quarterback with good receivers, good backs and a good o-line, good play caller. I feel like I’m saying the same thing over again. I apologize for that if that’s the case, but there’s a lot of good players on this team. You turn your head and then David Moore makes a catch out of nowhere, you know what I mean? So it’s not just (Tyler) Lockett. It’s not just (DK) Metcalf. You’ve got (Greg) Olsen and you’ve got (Chris) Carson and you’ve got (Carlos) Hyde. So there’s players everywhere and then you turn around and (Jacob) Hollister makes a catch. And Russell (Wilson) does a good job of finding everybody. So as a team, everyone’s got to take care of their assignment, handle their responsibilities, set the edge in the run game, tackle defensively and defend the deep part of the field and play well offensively and play well in the kicking game to give us a chance to compete in the game.”

(When you’ve got a young team like you do, what’s a veteran quarterback like QB Ryan Fitzpatrick brought just in terms of the leadership and his experience of playing so many years around the league; and then on the other side of that, how’s the young rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa kind of developing behind the scenes?) – “I’ll start with Tua (Tagovailoa). He’s done a really good job really since we started training camp. He’s smart. He’s talented. I think he’s improved really on a daily basis and he learns something new really every day. And we go through situations in third down, in the red zone, in two-minute and then he and ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) have a really good relationship, and he asks ‘Fitz’ questions really on a daily basis about being a professional but also about the different situations that we see on a week-to-week basis – game planning, things of that nature. So Tua is doing a nice job and I think he’s got a bright future. Specific to ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick), I think he brings leadership. I think he brings experience. I think he brings great energy. He’s competitive and he loves to play. I think our players feed off of that and his leadership has been very important to this young team – these young receivers, obviously Tua behind him, as well as some of the guys defensively. So we’re happy to have him, and we just continue to hopefully build and grow and improve as a team.”

(In Seattle here, we’ve been pretty much locked down the same way since March and from afar, it seems like Florida is more open. What kind of challenge has that been for you guys to keep your players corralled and it looks like maybe the NFL protocols could even be more strict than your state?) – “I think our medical staff as well as everyone within our organization, we try to be extremely vigilant about wearing masks and contact tracers and just protocols in general. It’s important. Florida for the most part – I would say we’re a little more open than some of the other states; but specific to our football team and what we’re doing here, we’re telling our team the same thing I know Pete (Carroll) is saying in Seattle and all the coaches around the league are saying to their team, ‘let’s be smart, let’s make good decisions when we’re outside of the building.’ We’ll do everything we can to keep our facility safe, but a lot of the responsibility falls on the players, the coaches, really everyone. There’s so many different departments. I think people forget about the training staff and the equipment staff and the nutritionists and the strength and conditioning staff, the people who handle our meals. Everyone is kind of tied into doing what’s best for the team off the field from a COVID protocol standpoint, and we’ve just got to continue to try to do the right things and hopefully we’ll all stay safe and healthy. And hopefully that’s the case for really all the teams around the league. We don’t want to see anyone get sick.”

(To follow up on RB Myles Gaskin, you mentioned the growth between Year 1 and Year 2. What specifically has he grown in?) – “I think when you’re a rookie, figuring out where the – again he moved from the other side of the country – and then he was inactive for let’s call it half the season a year ago. He just learned how to be a professional. Not that he didn’t take a professional approach, but in that first year you always – there’s things you don’t know. You don’t know what you don’t know, which I learned that early in my coaching career. So he learned the best way to prepare physically in the weight room from a conditioning standpoint; but also mentally and from a preparation standpoint, as far as how he watches opponents defense in zone coverage versus man coverage versus 4-3 versus over fronts versus under fronts versus diamond fronts and just understanding where the best ways to attack those from a run game standpoint, from a pass game standpoint. But he’s continuing to grow. He’s asking questions today about ways he can get better, and that’s what you’re looking for in a young player. I think we’ve got a lot of young guys who are trying to improve and try to get better and ask a lot of questions, and Myles is one of many young guys we’ve got. Hopefully over time, we improve and we see the fruits of some of the labor that they’re putting in right now.”

(Seattle’s defense has really struggled here through three weeks and I know you guys were kind of in a similar circumstance last year as things kind of grew as the season went along, but do you see any correlation between that and the possibility for this team to jump as they kind of ease into each other? How did you get your guys on track last year?) – “You’re not going to rock me to sleep here. (laughter) We know what this is historically. Pete’s (Carroll) a great coach. (Defensive Coordinator) Ken Norton is a great coach. We’re expecting them to come here, play well. They’ve played good defense – great defense, I should say – for a long, long time. Yeah. We’re expecting them to come out ready to play. (laughter) I’m not going to get lulled to sleep here. They’re going to come here, they’re going to play well. They’ve done that since Pete’s been there and even before then. So we know this is going to be a big, big challenge. Everyone talks about the offense, but they’ve played well in the kicking game, they’ve played well defensively. We’re not going to get lulled to sleep, but I understand the question.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

CB Noah Igbinoghene

(My first reaction to you being a rookie here is QB Cam Newton, QB Russell Wilson and Josh Allen in your first couple of games. That’s got to be a challenge for a guy like you. What do you think about all of that?) – “It’s crazy when you think about it. Like I said, it’s a blessing just to be here. Those are three really good quarterbacks. I feel like we played well against all three of them. Of course we went down on two of them and we won the last one. We’ve just got to keep on that roll and we’ll be good.”

(What’s the No. 1 challenge when it comes to defending WR DK Metcalf?) – “He’s big, physical and fast. I’m pretty sure everybody knows about that. You’ve seen what he did at the Combine. I feel like it’s not really about him. We all have the physical abilities to beat him, but we have to focus on ourselves. We have to do our technique and be disciplined ourselves and focus on that. I feel like it’s not really about the Seahawks. It’s about how we play ourselves, so that’s how we’re going into this game.”

(The Dolphins have very few penalties and that’s been the case since Head Coach Brian Flores arrived. What are some of the specific ways that these coaches help guys and put you in position to understand the rules, to understand the trends, to understand what is more likely or less likely to actually get called?) – “We’ve sat in Zoom calls and face-to-face meetings and he really details and explains to us every single rule. Literally, he’s explained every single rule. He’s brought referees in to tell us about the rules and stuff. It’s been real. He comes educated about it, I would say. Real educated. I think that’s why we’re successful in that area of the game. We just have to keep doing it and keep being disciplined.”

(One more question about WR DK Metcalf. You’ve obviously matched up with some of the better receivers in the league. If Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer asked you to guard Metcalf for 65-70 snaps on Sunday, what have you learned from your past experiences and why do you think it will be better this time around?) – “I just have to be overall better myself. I feel like the Buffalo game, it just wasn’t me that day. I’ve just got to come together. If that was the case, I’d come together and I’d do what I have to do as a man to prepare like I need to and dominate like I know I can.”

(Last game was a good bounce back game. You covered well, tackled well. What happened on that one play where WR Chris Conley got behind you?) – “I really don’t know. I can’t really go into detail with it. I really don’t know, honestly.”

(You had mentioned focusing on your own technique and your own fundamentals and being discipline. Just to piggyback off the previous questions, what would you say you changed in your fundamentals and your technique from Week 2 to Week 3 to have more success on game day?) – “I’d say I took a breath. I just relaxed. I feel like that second game I was tense, just on myself. I was so tight everywhere. In this last game, I was playing relaxed and I hope you were able to see that. I was just myself. I was relaxed and focused on my game, not really focused on my opponent, and just focused on my eyes, my technique and my fundamentals and stuff like that. It was just being focused. It turned out to be a better game.”

(I’m wondering if you can describe the challenges – it’s not just WR DK Metcalf, but WR Tyler Lockett, TE Greg Olson, it seems like they have so many weapons. It almost seems like they make it look easy sometimes. How difficult is all of that when you look at their offense as a whole?) – “Like you said, they are a complete team. They have really good receivers all around, really good players. Like I said before, we have to come around as a team, as a defense. I feel like it’s not really about them. I feel like it’s really about us. If we come together as a team, if we do what we’re supposed to do, do our job and execute, we’ll be fine. I don’t feel like we’ll have to worry about that at all.”

(This is a matchup of two of the best special team units in football. You play a role on Dolphins special teams. What makes what you guys good in kick and punt coverage so good right now?) – “We practice. We do a lot of practicing and we focus at practice and do what we need to do at practice. We take care of what we need to do in this week. We prepare like we need to and I feel like that’s why we’ve been successful the last couple of weeks.”

(This is about to be your fourth game. As a first-rounder, you come with some higher expectations to play here for this team. How have you dealt with all of those things after those first couple of performances?) – “Like you said, I feel like there is a high standard for me. I put a high standard and a lot of pressure on myself, so to play to the standard I know I can and what my coaches preach on me – like I said, I put a lot of pressure on myself but I don’t really feel it from my coaches. It’s just a standard. I need to meet that every single game.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

LB Kyle Van Noy

(As we’ve seen with our own eyes and as you’ve told us, you can do everything. You’re not a one-dimensional linebacker. What do you think you do best? We’ve obviously seen you have great success as a pass rusher in particular this year. I think you have the most pressures of any linebacker.) – “I just pride myself in being a disruptive player. Whatever you want me to do, I got you, and that varies week to week. Different teams do different things and we want to attack those situations, and I feel like all 11 of us are playing together to allow those plays to happen, and hopefully we can continue to keep progressing and keep doing that.”

(You’re going to see one of the league’s most athletic quarterbacks this Sunday in QB Russell Wilson and he’s got a penchant for evading the rush as well as anybody. How does that change your target point as a pass rusher or kind of alter the way you work to get upfield, so as to not over-run him?) – “I think you have to be conscious of that; but at the same time, you’ve got to do your job and do it to the best of your ability without overthinking. You want to get pressure on him. You want to be able to do what you need to do to get back there; and I think if we do it as a team – the coverage doing their part, the rush doing their part and marrying it together – I think we’ll be all right. It’s not easy though. (laughter) It’s easier said than done.”

(If the Seahawks get to the 1-yard line what do you think they’re going to do? Run or pass?) – “(laughter) You can answer that one.”

(That’s why I asked you.) – “I’m not sure.”

(I was looking at my notes. When Patriots RB Brandon Bolden came south a couple years ago – you probably know Brandon – they asked him what he brings with him from a mindset and I wrote it down. He said “pay attention to details in order to correct small mistakes more quickly,” and he said, “turn the other cheek when it’s hard to avoid penalties that hurt the team.” The penalties element really stuck with me. What are some of the things from your previous stops that are sort of being echoed here in the area of penalties?) – “I don’t know if anything’s being echoed. It’s more so just taking on Coach Flores’ philosophy and being a fundamentally sound team that doesn’t make mistakes, and mistakes are penalties. We want to limit those as best as possible. We’ve done a pretty good job of it this year and we want to do business how business is being done. If they’re calling it tight, then we’ve got to adjust our game. If they’re calling it loose, then we can be more aggressive. So you just want to be able to do business as that’s being done.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

S Bobby McCain

(When you have one of the best QBs in the league getting ready to come to the crib, what type of excitement level is there in terms of going up against that challenge this Sunday?) – “Very exciting. We know he’s playing good football right now. We know we have to have a good week of practice, a great week of practice, to be able to perform well on Sunday. That’s what it takes. It’s not necessarily so much about them; it’s about us doing what we need to do and being prepared.”

(Both Head Coach Brian Flores and Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander are very complimentary of how you’re playing. Do you feel really comfortable right now at safety, and how do you feel of your play?) – “Each and every day we can get better. I can get better each and every week. That’s my goal. I’m just trying to play well and play better each week. I’m not going to sit here and say I’m comfortable, because you never want to get too comfortable. But you want to keep getting better and keep applying pressure.”

(The Seahawks come into this game with a couple of really dangerous deep threats. I’m just curious, from your perspective in that single-high safety look where you’re 20 yards off the ball so many times, how much of an importance do you put on yourself to help eliminate that deep passing game?) – “Just doing my job. Defending the deep part of the field is our job as a secondary. Just making sure we defend the deep part of the field. Don’t allow big plays, don’t allow big touchdowns. It depends on what coverage we’re playing. I can’t tell you what coverage we’ll be in or if we’ll be single high or whatever; but just defending the deep part of the field is our job as a secondary.”

(One of the things that has happened since Head Coach Brian Flores has taken over is penalties have gone down. I’m curious from your perspective, in terms of like pass interference, defensive holding, how did the coaches help you guys figure out, ‘hey I can do this but I can’t do this to this player, or this game, or this official.’ What’s going on behind the scenes that’s helping you guys?) – “Just making sure we’re disciplined at practice. Making sure at practice that we understand the rules, and you can’t get too handsy on guys, especially at the top of the route, because they will call it in this league. You have a five-yard access to put your hands on guys but you can’t hold them. Just explaining the rules to everyone each and every week. We would go over the rules, and having the refs here during training camp, having the refs here was huge. They explained to us what we could and could not do. That helped a lot.”

(I’m sure you’ve been made aware of what’s been going on with the Titans. What’s your reaction to them not playing a game this week? Their game is going to be delayed. What has Head Coach Brian Flores’ message been to you guys internally? Is this kind of a wake up call do you think?) – “We have to keep being accountable to one another, keep being accountable to yourself. You have to understand that you have to hold yourself to a high standard, especially when you’re outside of the building. When you’re inside of the building, it’s probably one of the cleanest places you can be in America. So when you’re outside of the building, making sure you are accountable and taking precautions and doing the things necessary to not come down with anything or catch COVID, or to not feel well coming in here because you never know. It’s not something you can choose or you can pick. It is something that can happen. So you have to hold yourself accountable.”

(How would you describe the progress the secondary has made after this Jacksonville game? And how eager must you be to see the secondary attack with both CB Byron Jones and CB Xavien Howard in there at the same time? I’m sure you must be itching to see that. Can you just describe your feelings on that?) – “Just getting better each and every week. We have a lot of guys that can play a lot of different spots. Just getting better each and every week, coming together because we didn’t have a preseason. These first three games were vital to us to understand that where we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to be doing, our roles. Really, you’re just trying to get better each and every week. You don’t want to put a stamp on it and say we made it, because we haven’t. We won one game. Now you have to keep playing well and keep stacking on top because it’s going to take a better effort this week than it did, and we’re excited to get the opportunity for them to come and play at home.”

(A lot of us I guess here in this group, we don’t play football. We don’t have the vantage view of seeing all of the players kind of in front of you when you’re on defense. What is that experience like? What’s it like when you are kind of looking at everything and watching plays unfold? Can you take us a little bit inside your helmet of what you see and what that experience is like for you?) – “Yeah, it’s just making sure that guys are lined up, making sure we’re in the right play call, making sure we know what we’re doing. That’s one of the biggest things, especially playing safety, playing free safety. You have to understand that a lot of the guys are going to look to you and some of the other captains and leaders on the defense to get us lined up. So just making sure we’re communicating, making sure the plays are going to be made; but it all starts with communication pre-snap because if you’re not lined up right, then you’re all wrong.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

(The quarterback on the other team is MVP caliber, is leading the league in touchdowns and leading the league in passer rating. Does that affect your mindset at all? Does that affect what you feel you have to accomplish at all?) – “Yeah, I think it does, especially as you get into the second half of games. Every possession matters that much more. And when you have a lead, no lead is safe with a guy like this. They’ve had a really great start to the season. Obviously they’re putting up a ton of points. I think in a game like this, it does matter. In that second half, your mindset can’t be if you have a lead, okay we’re going to sit on this thing and just hope that things work out. You’ve got to keep going the whole game and every possession, you’ve got to make it count. It’s not one of those games where you’re going to be sitting there watching the clock in the fourth quarter.”

(We talked to Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey the other day and one of the funniest things he said in our conversation was that the offense realized on Thursday that it wasn’t against the rules to go out and begin the game with two straight scoring drives. What kind of confidence do you think last week gave to the rest of your offensive teammates that you’re capable of starting this thing off pretty hot?) – “I think the last few weeks, we’re just in a little bit better rhythm. That has to continue this week. You want to see it happen for the rest of the season but this week is definitely very important for us, not just to get to a fast start but to put together a full game. Last week we had a good first half, didn’t capitalize at the end of the 2-minute drill and then a slow second half. That’s something we won’t be able to get away with this week. We’ve got to put together a solid offensive game for all four quarters and that will be an emphasis for us this week.”

(I want to talk about your offensive line real quick. According to one website, you’ve been under pressure on 30 of 111 drop-backs this year, and 19 quarterbacks in the NFL have been under pressure more often. Last year, you were under pressure 230 times out of 580 drop-backs. That was the sixth-most in the NFL with 13 starts compared to 16 starts for some other guys. So my question is about the offensive line and with 80 percent turnover on the line from a year ago, from your perspective, how have they been able to jell and perform so well so quickly?) – “Well, I think Ted (Karras) gets a lot of the credit there. He’s the leader for those guys up front and has done a really nice job. I think just the talent that we brought in in the offseason, those guys have come in and meshed really well. It’s early too. They’ve got a lot of work to do and communication-wise, we have to continue to get better, whether that’s me and Ted or Ted with the rest of the guys. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it’s been a good start. It’s been a solid start for those guys and I’m proud of how quickly they’ve been able to come together. But as we know in this league, as soon as you show something that there may be a crack or there maybe something that guys can take advantage of, they’re going to. So they’ve got to come out and perform every week. We’ve just got to continue to get better and not be happy about the first three games.”

(Those shoulder pads look like you stole them from one of your linemen.) – “(laughter) They look like those shoulder pads – I don’t what this extra thing is – but those shoulder pads like my mom used to wear back in the 80s.”

(I wanted to ask you last week, two games in four days. You went from the Buffalo game with three touchdown drives that could have been four, and three straight drives to score in Jacksonville. Is that a hot week? Do you think you guys can sustain that coming up this week?) – “I do. I think we have a lot of confidence right now. I think the guys that I’m throwing the ball to are doing a really nice job and we’re getting better there. We’re getting a lot of different guys involved, which I think is really helpful. Myles (Gaskin) has really stepped it up these last few weeks. There’s a lot of stuff that we’re kind of jelling and figuring out who we are. I think as we do that and as we continue to spread the ball out a little bit, hopefully the success continues.”

(I wanted to ask you about QB Russell Wilson and what you expect most in him. Can you believe he’s never received an MVP vote?) – “I think the biggest thing about him is he’s consistently won every single year. He finds different ways to do it. But the last few have especially been very impressive. I think when he first got there, it was all about the Legion of Boom and Beast Mode and all of that, and he’s really embraced the culture and the competitiveness and the things that their coach preaches. He’s had an incredible career so far and he just gets better every year. I think he has an amazing record as a winner in the National Football League, which is most important, and just continues to get better every year. Whether it’s understanding the game or physically somehow, he finds a way to do it. It’s been really impressive to see the start of the season for him.”

(The team is among the best in the league in fewest penalties, and that’s been the case since Head Coach Brian Flores took over the program. What are some of the things that you’ve noticed that are contributing to that – including offensive line penalties and whatnot?) – “I think part of that is focus on fundamentals and the things that we do in practice to sort of eliminate some of those bad habits. I also just think that in terms of a clean operation and avoiding a lot of those pre-snap penalties, that’s been a big thing too. Whether it’s the false starts or the delay of games on offense – the illegal formations – that kind of stuff, those are all things that you can avoid. We’ll have penalties that pop up throughout a game just like anybody will, but preaching fundamentals and then just preaching those small things, the penalties that we can avoid, and making sure that we all understand that those aren’t acceptable. Those have been two things that have really helped us out in that area.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(What’s the biggest challenge? We know about the scrambling quarterbacks but QB Russell Wilson is one of those guys where it’s not necessarily about the scramble but the buying time, extending plays. What’s the biggest challenge when you have a quarterback like that who extends plays?) – “I mean there’s a lot of challenges with a quarterback who can extend plays – the coverage, the rush. You’ve got some guys who extend plays and they’re looking to scramble. There are some guys who extend plays who are looking to throw. With Russell Wilson, it can either or. He’s very good at both. You couple that with they’ve got good receivers, they’ve got good backs, they’ve got a good o-line. Those receivers, I would say on scramble situations, they know where they want to go. Once they see him scramble, they’ve kind of lived it for a number of years. There’s some rapport that’s been built. I know we want to say it’s just Russell, but they kind of work all together in concert, trying to create big plays or create positive plays when he does extend plays. It’s not like guys just stand around. They all work together and they do a good job of that. We need a good rush. We need to try to limit those opportunities where he does extend plays; but when he does get out – which he will, he’s a good player – we’ve got to do a good job on the back end of trying to plaster receivers when they try to uncover. It definitely will be a tough test.”

(I wanted to ask you about Seattle’s vertical passing game. It seems like the bulk of their big plays have come on deep throws to WR DK Metcalf. You guys in Week 2 had some problems with some deep routes. Why do you feel like you’re in a better position now than you were then? And just your thoughts on the talent…) – “I think to your point, they’ve got a lot of vertical threats. Obviously the quarterback can get them the ball down the field. When you’re defending the run game, you’re defending the screen game, you’re defending the short passing game – the big plays, they’re definitely looking for them. Metcalf is obviously a big-play guy. Tyler Lockett is obviously a big-play guy. They’ve got multiple weapons. We have to do a good job of defending the deep part of the field also; but also defending the intermediate part of the field and the run game and the screen game. It’s a big challenge. Obviously those big plays are the ones – you need to limit those. If you don’t, they just lead to scoring drives or scores on the play. That’s something that we obviously know and understand that. We’ve got to try to limit as many of those big plays as we can.”

(Once again the team is doing well in the area of fewest penalties. I’m wondering if you could kind of dig in on that topic. I was thinking about technique, self-discipline and understanding rules and trends in the game. If you could bite on that in a little bit and explain some of the things that go into the fewest penalties.) – “Well, I think our coaches do a good job of talking through what a penalty is and how to avoid them. (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey), (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer), (Special Teams Coordinator) Danny (Crossman) in the kicking game, I think those guys do a good job of coaching our players from that standpoint – how to play with good fundamentals, or try to play with good fundamentals and good technique, good communication and penalty-free. We understand that penalties can only hurt us. We try to – as a team – limit those penalties when they happen. We understand it’s not like we have none. They happen. But we try to, as best we can, use the techniques, understand what’s going to get called, how it’s going to get called, and then try to play in a way that we can be competitive and give us an opportunity to play well but not commit penalties. We try to stress that; but we stress a lot of things. We tell these guys a lot – offensively, defensively and in the kicking game – whether it’s communication, whether it’s tackling, whether it’s a fundamental. I think they do a good job or we’re getting better at taking everything we tell them and trying to apply it in practice and then in the game. Our players work hard at it. Our coaches work hard at it from a penalty standpoint. Hopefully you didn’t just jinx us. (laughter)”

(Just because it’s Seattle, has the Malcolm Butler play come up any time, within your thoughts? And if the Seahawks get to the 1-yard line, are they going to run it or are they going to pass it?) – “Actually, no. I’m really focused on our team, our team this year and their team this year. There’s plenty to think about there. Offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, this is a good football team – a very good football team. They’re 3-0 for a reason. They play well in all phases. They play for 60 minutes. We’re going to need a 60-minute, well-played, high-execution game to pull out a victory against a very well coached and very talented team. No, that stuff is in the past. That’s where they are. They can’t help us now. My energy is on our team right now, this week and really today. Our meetings, our walkthrough, our practice, I’m trying to bring energy to that and prepare ourselves to put ourselves in a situation where we can hopefully play well on Sunday. They can do anything on the 1-yard line. They’ve got a lot of options. Russ(ell Wilson) can run. He can run it, they can run it with someone else – (Chris) Carson, (Carlos) Hyde – they can throw it to (Tyler) Lockett or (DK) Metcalf. They’ve got a lot of options.”

(I wanted to ask you about the secondary, not just in terms of who is going to be able to play and who is not on Sunday; but just the general idea that you haven’t been able to field what I would presume is your ideal secondary for very long this year. And going against the vertical passing game that we’ve talked about, what’s your level of concern right now?) – “We’re getting guys ready. We’re getting everyone ready. I think our guys are in today and they’ve been working to prepare against a really good opponent. They are working together, the group of guys that we have – corners, safeties, nickels. They are working together, trying to get a good grasp of what they do offensively, who their key players are and how they are getting them the ball. The guys who are out there are going to do everything they can to try to play a competitive ball game and try to limit what these guys do offensively, which they do a lot and they’ve got good players. It will be a tough challenge. I think they know and understand that. Specific to who is in and who is not, and injuries, we have the guys we have. It may not be what we had in Week 1, but it’s that way for every team. Everyone is dealing with something, and I think we are confident in the guys we’re going to play on Sunday. If we prepare the correct way and compete, we’ll give ourselves a chance; but we’ll have to play well against a very, very good team.”

(I guess what every coach is dreading this year is happening in Nashville right now. The commissioner has asked teams to look at what they are doing to limit contact, especially when traveling, and in position groups and tryouts. I’m wondering what your reaction is to the news from the Titans, and do you foresee any changes with your procedures?) – “It’s a reminder that we can’t let our guard down. We can’t get complacent. I know (Titans Head Coach) Mike (Vrabel) well. I’m sure he wasn’t, and they’re not (complacent). We know how quickly the virus can spread, I think everyone knows and understands that. We have to be vigilant in enforcing the masks and the protocols. We just have to be diligent in following the protocols. That’s the reminder that we talked about this morning as a team. When you have three, four, five, six weeks where things are going good, human nature takes over, and you let your guard down a little bit. We can’t do that. It’s just a reminder that we’ve got to continue to be diligent. I’ll do a better job at that. I think every coach around the league is probably having the exact same conversation. I think it’s probably the case in all 31 other meetings this morning. It’s unfortunate, and you don’t want to see that with any team. I know how hard the guys work and how much they put into this. You don’t want to see that from any team. It’s a situation that we all have to learn from.”

(I want to know do you study officials No. 1, and kind of come up with what they call and things of that nature? The second part is about if guys practice well, they get a role. What during the week are you looking for? Is it just on-field stuff or is it classroom stuff? What exactly is it that gives that magic recipe for a guy to be elevated and get reps like DT Zach Sieler?) – “To answer your first question, yes we study officials. I study everything or I try to, at least – whether it’s officials, whether it’s situations – anything that I think will help us win a ball game. I think our coaching staff and I, we try to study. Any way we can get an advantage, we try to take advantage of it. So yes, we study officials. I think every team does that. To your second question, I thinks it’s a combination of performance on the field in practice – whether it’s individuals to any kind of group work, 7-on-7 or 9-on-7 to the team periods. The performance in those areas of practice, if we feel like they are performing well and they have a good understanding of what we are trying to do this particular week, I think that may lend – every week is a little bit different as far as who we may be trying to attack or what we’re trying to do game plan wise. That’s offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. Some matchups are better than others. I can’t say there is one specific thing that will elevate someone. If we like a matchup or we feel like someone can handle the position that it’s going to entail them doing two, three, four or five different things versus one thing, that can elevate someone in a particular game plan. I don’t know if that totally answers your question, but I think there is a little bit more to it than one or two things that elevate a guy. There’s matchup, there’s game plan, there are a few different factors that goes into that. But yes, if you perform well in practice and we feel confident that you’re going to execute the game plan, then it’s very likely you will end up in the game.”

(Closing Statement) – “I’ve got one thing from an injury – not injury standpoint. So Tua (Tagovailoa) will be out today. He will be on the injury report with an illness. This is not COVID related. This is not a false positive. We’ve been through the protocols. We test every day. We’re confident saying it’s not COVID related. He won’t be on the COVID IR (list); but I just wanted to let you guys know so you weren’t blindsided at practice. Tua won’t be at practice today. Illness. Won’t be on the COVID IR, not COVID related.”   

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