Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Can you talk about rookie ILB Patrick Onwuasor and the fact that he is leading the team in special teams tackles? (Edward Lee)"We've seen from Patrick from early on that he has a nose for the ball. We use that cliché, but it's true. He hunts the ball well. He's a very athletic young man. As you probably know, he used to play wide receiver, so he has the ability to play in space, and he can run. He does have a nose for the ball. He finds the ball, and he gets guys on the ground. That's a real valuable skill.
Are you surprised to see that from a rookie? (Edward Lee)"I'm not surprised to see it from Patrick. The rookies are no longer rookies. We don't have any rookies anymore. At this point in the season, these guys are vets. They've played enough ball now. They know what they're doing. They have to go play, and Patrick has taken advantage of the opportunities that have been given."
How pleased were you with the execution on the final safety on Sunday? (Luke Jones) "The guys did a great job. Right down the line you, could watch it from the end zone copy and see each guy was really impressive and using different techniques with their hold – some around the neck, *(laughter) *some hanging on to a leg, some on a shoulder pad, but they all understood the concept really well. Anthony Levine did a great job. One of their guys bailed, so they only had nine guys rushing, so he was our extra guy, our free safety. He ran from one guy to the next to make sure guys were checking off. One guy yelled for help, and he ran over there and helped him. It was a really important execution. When the game is on the line like that, little things make such a big difference. The guys really paid attention to detail and did it well."
You know the rules, but when the officials are congregating for a long time after a play like that, are there nerves at all about the outcome? (Brett Hollander) "I was confident. Guys kept asking me on the sideline, but I was confident they'd get it right. With that many great minds together, I was sure they'd get it figured out."
*Miami's returner is a rookie, but he has been timed at 4.1 on the 40- [yard dash] and doesn't like to take fair catches, and I think he's about 5-7. Returners have given you a bit of trouble. What can be done to tighten that up against guys like that? (Joe Platania) *"The height of the returner is really less important to us than the skill, speed and change of direction, which this young man possesses. He's an electric returner when he has the ball in his hands. We play against a lot of good players. What we'll do is what we've always done, is we're going to try to limit the space that he has to operate in and play team coverage. That's what wins. It's going to be hard to send one guy down there and tell him to tackle him in space, because it's a difficult task. We have to play team coverage – good placement of the ball in kickoff and punt and play team coverage."
*Going back to that final play, do you think that rule will stay in effect, or do you think the NFL will change it? *(Garrett Downing) "Whatever they do is up to the NFL. We just followed our procedures. The rule is what it is now, and we just played it that way. It's up to them. If they change the rule, then we'll do something different."
It wasn't that long ago that K Justin Tucker struggled from 50 yards and beyond. (Pete Gilbert) "I don't even remember that." (laughter)
What has changed in his long-distance attempts?* (Pete Gilbert)* "I've answered this question before. We didn't work on anything different. We didn't change anything. He's making them, that's the difference. I mean that sincerely. He's kicking very well. The operation is spot on. Morgan [Cox] and Sam [Koch] are really good. We have a lot of confidence in him. We give him those opportunities, and he's been delivering. Those have been big points for us."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement: "A little review of last game: It looked like we had a pretty good first half – nothing to put in your diary or anything, but solid. [We had] some yards and some points. Then, [I am] displeased a little bit with the second half. Those first two drives, it looked like we were going pretty good, and then we missed around midfield – somewhere around the 48- or 49- [yard line], the minus 48- or 49- [yard line], I believe – we missed a third down, and the same with the second drive. We just never got it going. That is our focus and aim and point, is to put two halves together. Now, this ball game is a great opportunity, quite a challenge. They are very good up front, as you know. Our offensive line [is a] great focus in that part. They have some very good linebackers and cover guys as well. It is a really good challenge for us and a great opportunity for us at home."
Does Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake still get the credit he deserves? Even though his team has not made the playoffs, does he get the credit he deserves as a pass rusher? (Joe Platania)"I don't know [what other people say], but I know this: He sure does [get the credit he deserves] by us and by me. Fantastic player, a fantastic player. They have other pass rushers as well."
QB Joe Flacco has talked about his comfort level with the no-huddle offense, but John [Harbaugh] said it would be too difficult to do that all the time. Can you elaborate as to why that would be too difficult? (Ed Lee)"We go in and out of it. You can do it all the time, but we have chosen not to. There are some reasons for that." (Reporter: "Can you elaborate?") "Not really, because you get into too many … I would rather not."
You talked about starting fast and then bogging down. A similar thing happened in Dallas. Are teams adjusting to the initial script? (Luke Jones)"I think I got a little … Coming out of halftime, I wanted to dominate the line of scrimmage and ran the ball an awful lot on first down. We were gaining yards, but we were not quite running and gunning. That is me. I went through that game [on film], because it bothered me. That second half bothered me, even though we won the game. We won the game, and we did some really good things to win the game. But that second half bothered me, so I looked at myself quite a little bit there. I certainly could have done some things different to put a little more heat on them. On those first two drives, I thought we did. But yes, we certainly could do that just a little bit and try to keep your opponent off balance a little bit better then, I say, [from the] middle of the third quarter on."
QB Joe Flacco talked about keeping your foot on the gas. (Garrett Downing)"Yes, that is what I was talking about right there."
What does keeping your foot on the gas mean to you? (Garrett Downing)"Well, running and gunning a little bit and trying to keep people off balance. There was a couple series there where we were second-and-1 and second-and-2 or 3 and did not get the first down. We get those things done, now you can run and gun just a little bit better, and we all like to do that. Then, there comes a time where our defense is so good and our special teams and kicker … Jeez! At some point, you are going to do what you have to do to win the game."
Would you agree that the offense did get maybe a bit too conservative? (Ed Lee)"Well, yes. It depends on … I hate that word [conservative] by the way. (laughter) I do not get called that very often. It bothers me. *(laughter) *All that said, after probably too many words, I would say 'yes.'"
QB Joe Flacco mentioned that he had a funny little conversation with you afterwards. (Jamison Hensley)"I think I won that debate, by the way. He did not tell you that? He probably thinks he won the debate. You go back through the … I will say this: You have to go back through it a couple times, because you have to get down to what is real rather than what is on paper and things like that. I am comfortable that we did the things that we had to do to win the doggone game. That is the most important thing. I am a little disappointed; we certainly could be more aggressive – no question about that."
What do you see from the tandem of running backs that you have? (Ryan Mink)"Well, here is the deal: The O-line played really well with the exception of a couple plays there, really in that second half. The backs, they are doing a heck of a job, they are gaining an extra yard. All the great backs, they always seem to get two extra [yards], make that first guy miss about 40, 50 percent of the time. They are always gaining extra yards, and then every now and then, hit the big one. Our backs certainly look good. That last ball game – those backs and tight ends – I thought going in, [that] we needed production from them both in the running game and passing game. That was a good thing. That was really a positive thing there. Both backs rushed for just under 50 [yards] or something like that, and both backs caught three or four [passes] for some yards. That was a good thing"
You talk about being more aggressive with running and gunning. But generally when it turns cold, the running backs aren't getting as much work. Do you see yourself at the same time leaning on your running backs and run game? (Ryan Mink)"Yes. Every game is different; I will say that. Every game is different, and all of those situations come into play. That is why we talked about what is real. Yes, that is a good point, and I do believe in that."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
With OLB Terrell Suggs, since he's been injured, his statistics have actually gotten better. Is it possible for a guy to get injured and raise his level of play? (Jamison Hensley)"I think a couple of things happened. One, he did a great job of rehab to get himself back. I think the other thing, too, is he probably is not playing quite as many reps as what he has played sometimes in the past when he played an entire game and never came out. I think that's helped. We've had some guys that can go in and relieve him and it not be a big drop-off. I think it's a combination of those things. I think his attitude in coming back has just been tremendous and maybe a little more incentive to show everybody he's still here."
Can you talk about the relationship you have with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase? (Garrett Downing)"My relationship with Adam is … I was recruiting Marshall High School in Michigan when I was at Michigan State, and I signed their quarterback, a kid named Ryan Van Dyke, and Adam was his best friend. I had met Adam in the school a couple of times when I was in there recruiting, and Adam was going to come to Michigan State, too. He talked to me about how he always wanted to be a coach. He wasn't going to come out for football necessarily, but he wanted to be a coach and asked me if there was something he could do as a student assistant. So, I put him to work. He did my self-scout and a bunch of stuff like that. That's really how he got his start. He would sit in my office and give me my self-scout every Thursday, and he did a great job with it. Nick, Coach Saban, hired him as a GA. I think he went with him to LSU and just kind of moved on from there."
How would you quantify DT Brandon Williams' value to the defense? A lot of the time, we look at statistics to determine a player's value, but how would you go about that with Brandon? (Edward Lee) "Stats are stats, and some guys are put in positions to make more plays than other guys. Whenever you have a good nose tackle, especially in a defense that requires … It's not a big even defense. It's a defense that puts a nose tackle over the center most of the time in some fashion, whether it be an odd defense or an under defense, it starts there. There were a couple of years ago that I can remember Haloti [Ngata] didn't have a bunch of stats, and everybody wondered was his value diminishing. [It was] not to the coaches that were watching the film. If you can't single-block a nose tackle, you can make those linebackers look awfully good. Those guys are so valuable to us. Like I've said before, it's kind of like building a baseball team; it's right up the middle. It starts there, and then it goes out to the edges, and then you fill in from there. He's just been a great asset."
Dean, you have seen him a few times, but it seems like Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill recently is playing some of the best football of his career. What are you seeing from him that he's doing better than he did in the past? (Luke Jones) "I think Adam [Gase] made it a pretty quarterback-friendly offense. No. 1, anytime your offense is running the ball well, it's going to be better for the quarterback. If you're relying on the quarterback to always carry you through the passing game, generally, on defense, there are a lot of things you can do to take care of that, if it's a one dimensional team. When you're running the football, you're setting up everything else. You're setting up the play-action, the quick game, all of those kinds of things. The other thing is you're not in as many third-and-longs a lot of times as you are if you're a team that's just throwing the ball all the time. I think the offense, the scheme, Ryan kind of changed after the first five games a little bit and did some different things, and it plays to his strength. The guy is a very, very accurate thrower. In fact, I think he's one … When he gets out of the pocket and runs with the ball and scrambles with the ball, or even on a rollout or boot, he's one of the most accurate quarterbacks I've seen throwing on the run. He is really, really good. I think it's just all of those things."
The Miami offensive line has been banged up this year, but when healthy, how good are they? (Joe Platania)"They're a good offensive line. When you're running the ball as much as they're running the ball, even being banged up, obviously, they're pretty good. You're not going to run the ball and be … I don't know what they are in the league, running-wise, but I think it's pretty good. It's kind of like Dallas. Anytime you can run the ball, you obviously have a good offensive line, and obviously, you have a good running back, too."
You will probably get CB Jimmy Smith back for this game. How much easier does that make your game plan?* (Pete Gilbert)* "I don't know if it's easier. We're really at a point right now that we're going to do what we do. I think it is like most teams that are in a run right now, especially like on offense, you're going to do what you do best. Jimmy is certainly a big part of that, but even when he's out, it doesn't really … It changes some things slightly, but it's not this big, overwhelming change of game plan whether he's in or whether he's out."
With him being out the last few weeks, the depth has been able to get a lot more experience, like CB Tavon Young. Does that build your unit going forward? (Pete Gilbert) "It certainly doesn't hurt to get guy in there and play. It's not by design, but it certainly doesn't hurt to have guy get experience. Going back to your question on Jimmy, the biggest thing where that makes a difference is if you're going to play a team that you really have a certain receiver that you really want to match up against, like Dez Bryant, where he's a bigger receiver that you'd like to have a bigger corner on him. That's where it really makes a difference. If it's not going to be one of those types of games … Obviously, you want your best players in there, but it doesn't really make a dramatic change in the game plan."