THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: DOLPHINS – WEEK 14
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
One of the big things that stood out about Miami's special teams is their ability to block kicks. It has been a big part of what they've done. What have you seen from them that stands out for them to have that success? (Luke Jones)"What stands out to me is that they have some outstanding kick blockers. They're long, they're explosive, and they know how to do it. You watch the blocks that they've had, and they do a really good job of extending, getting to the ball. They get off the ball really well, and they're really good, long athletes. It takes that kind of guy. It's hard to block kicks in this league, and it takes a special kind of player, and they have some guys that are really good at it."
Is there anything special you guys can do during the week to prepare for that? (Jon Meoli) "It's something that we've really practiced every week. Now the difference this week is we've put our guys that are the best replicas of those guys against us. So, guys like Steven Means have done a really good job this week trying to show us that same kind of athlete at those positions. Every team's composition is a little bit different. This team happens to have some 6-5 pass rushers that rush punts. We don't have that many of those guys, so we do the best we can with it."
K Justin Tucker won Special Teams Player of the Month for November. Is there anything about him now year three that surprises you as far as just the success he has had, or do you just come to expect it because he prepares the way he does? (Luke Jones) "You certainly don't take it for granted. I value [Justin Tucker's] skill and his professionalism every day, because we see him in here working every day. And I'm really happy for him. It's a great reward both for him and his mates that make up the battery and his guys that are covering kicks for him. I know he recognizes that as well. He's a pro. He has now been in the league three years, and you can see that his preparation improves yearly, and I think it's going to be good for his longevity. That's also my belief that's why he's a consistent player, because he prepares well."
Do you think it's just preparation that K Justin Tucker is constantly trying to improve even though it's such a small margin for improving? (Jon Meoli) "It's that, but it's also my view that [Justin Tucker] takes care of himself. He studies his own kicks. We have a great video crew here that gives him feedback every day on his iPad. He studies it. He studies it with [kicking consultant] Randy [Brown]. He studies it with Sam [Koch]. He studies it with Kevin [McDermott] and Morgan [Cox]. So, he pays attention to all the details and makes sure that he is vigilant on his own technique and the operation. And that, to me, is something that … This is a long season, and it can wear on, and some guys may take things for granted. He certainly doesn't. He's in here every day trying to make sure that he's kicking the ball properly and the operation is good, and he's kicking the ball the way he wants to kick the ball. And I guess that's why – again that's why in my view – that's why he's consistent, because he is that kind of player."
WR/RS Jacoby Jones, it seemed like he got the fumble problems under control then he had the muffed kickoff Sunday. Is he still going to be the guy back there going forward? (Jon Meoli) "Jacoby [Jones] made some really good plays for us on Sunday. He's a guy that can explode through a hole, and we almost got two of them, and we needed another one. That last play was certainly unfortunate, and it was one of those situations where, on a kickoff, it's not as big a deal because, it's not magnified by the opponents being down by there underneath it. But it's still very, very important to catch the ball, because that play had a chance of getting us better field position than we had, and it would have made a difference in the game. So, all of that is important, and he knows it, and it was a situation there where he was trying to run into the ball and make it that much better. Fundamentals are really important in our game, and that's a fundamental that he needs to work on daily, and has been."
*I know DT Haloti Ngata was the backup long snapper before his suspension. Have you given any thought to who that is now? *(Jon Meoli) *"I have given a lot of thought to it." *(Reporter: "Do you know? Do you mind saying?") *"Oh, I know. Yes. I'm not sure the rest of the world knows." *(laughter) I'm not inclined to do so, but it's a very good question."
How is the Ravens family dealing with DT Haloti Ngata's situation? (reporter) "The Ravens family is tight."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
Miami, prior to the last couple weeks, the run defense numbers were pretty good, but really had some struggles lately. What have you seen from that group that maybe they're not doing now that they were doing, and just your overall thoughts on their run defense? (Luke Jones) "The first half last week, the Jets ran the ball extremely well, but that's kind of all the Jets did in the game is run the ball; they threw it about 12 or 13 times. So no, this is a good group. They're a Top 5 defense in the league – I think they're ranked fifth or sixth – and have a lot of ability. [It's] a big challenge for us, and we have to bounce back and go do it on the road. But for us, playing well usually starts with us running the ball somewhat effectively, so I don't see that being any different."
There's a lot of flex at wide receiver: WR Marlon Brown was back today, WR Torrey Smith hasn't been out there. How are you planning? Are you planning on having both of those guys, plus WR/RS Michael Campanaro? (Jon Meoli) "I don't know. We'll see. You always assume they're going to be there, but one of the things about our group this year [is] everybody has played, everybody has had a chance to pitch in. The other day, Marlon is out, Torrey is out at the end of the game, [and] Kamar [Aiken] was in there making plays, Jacoby [Jones] goes in and makes plays. So, I have confidence in all our guys. I don't know who it's going to take, but whoever is out there, they'll do the job. We have a lot of confidence in them."
**With regards to the red zone, is there a certain level of frustration with finishing off those long drives? *(Luke Jones) *"Yes, because you look back on every play you play in the game, and I can think of two possessions particularly where we could have really made a difference in the game. [We] had a big penalty, which usually hurts you in the red zone. But yes, there are a number of plays in a football game that can be difference-makers, so you need to focus on every one of them, and when you evaluate them, you need to evaluate every one you play, not just two or three that you think, 'Well, if we would have done this or that...' That's the easy way out. So, we'll try to fix everything we're doing and hopefully we're back in the red zone seven times this week. I know that's a nice problem to have. But we moved the ball good and need to finish off those drives better."
With scoring over 30 points in each of the past two games, do you guys feel like the self-assessment was helpful during the bye week? (Jon Meoli)"I think coming off the bye, the coaches did a really good job of studying ourselves and trying to concentrate from a player's standpoint what we thought we were doing best and also from a scheme standpoint. So, I think that's helped isolate a little bit. But, the guys are playing hard; we're playing well up front. If you're going to play good offensive football, you better play good up front. I think our five guys have really settled down and played a lot of football now together since the early injuries that we had. They've been leading the way, so it's going to take that type of effort again this week, but it will start up front. How they play usually gives us a chance to be what we want to be."
Miami has DE Cameron Wake, one of the best pass rushers, and it's going to be one of the bigger challenges T Rick Wagner has faced. Do you think he's up for the challenge? (Jon Meoli)"I know one thing: Rick will be ready to play. When you play these guys, it doesn't matter which side you're on. You're both going to get a chance to block him. He's a great player. He's a tremendous effort player. Their defense plays with great effort, rallying to the football. It will be a big challenge for us to keep them off of Joe [Flacco]. We understand that, but we believe in our guys, and we'll be ready to go."
Any concerns with C Jeremy Zuttah missing practice both of these days? (Jon Meoli)"No, I think John has done a great job – talking about coach Harbaugh – of really getting Jeremy to game day. Jeremy has played a lot of snaps, and I'm expecting him to be there. I think he's expecting to be there. But if not, John [Urschel] is working hard in practice and he's got to be ready to go here – [and] Gino [Gradkowski]. We'll get those guys ready to go."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, your thoughts on the absence now of DT Haloti Ngata and how you'll fill in for him with DT Timmy Jernigan and other guys? (Aaron Wilson) "It'll just be [that] the next guy has to step up, and we'll play somebody else there at nose, or at three technique and inside. We have some other candidates that are good players, and those guys have to step up and get the job done."
What has DT Timmy Jernigan shown you that you knew he could have a bigger role and do more? (Aaron Wilson) "I think [Timmy Jernigan] has gotten better every week. He has some quickness. He has some power. There are some things that he can do that other guys can't do. Everybody has their own set of physical tools; his are different than a Haloti [Ngata] or a Brandon Williams, or something like that. I really think all those guys. I think Lawrence Guy has done a good job. Guys have really stepped in, played hard. DeAngelo Tyson … We have plenty of guys in there to play."
**Do you think it's going to be more of a committee effort to replace a guy like DT Haloti Ngata? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I think it's going to be a committee effort this week down there anyhow in the 80-degree weather. Late in the season and stuff, we roll guys a lot the way it is, and this game wouldn't have been any different."
*Was still the news [about DT Haloti Ngata's suspension] shocking to you when you heard? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"Nothing is shocking anymore to me. It's disappointing and all that, but it would be the same thing if we lost anybody due to injury, or whatever the case might be. You never want to lose anybody for any reason at all, but that's the name of the game. Everybody goes through stuff at this time of year, whether it be injuries ... A couple years ago, we played 10 games without Ray Lewis, played eight games without [Terrell] Suggs. We're going to play four games without Haloti [Ngata]. Next guy up. Let's play."
You guys have been playing such good run defense. How confident are you that you can still play at that high level without DT Haloti Ngata? (Ryan Mink) "I'm confident. That was the easiest question I've had." (laughter)
**With the quarterback situation what can be done, because obviously QB Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback and put you in some challenging situations? What do you think you can do going forward to try to shorten the passing game? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I think the biggest thing in that game, though, isn't so much the passing game. We had nine penalties on defense. I don't know if I've ever had nine penalties on defense. I know I've never had nine and won a game. To me, it was like third down … We were terrible on third down. I think they had three or four passed on penalties. So, we have to alleviate the problem. It wasn't just so much coverage than that. We gave up one big play on a coverage, and actually the other big plays were all based on penalties. And we were off the field on two-minute [drills] with a sack, but we had a penalty. To me, we shot ourselves in the foot. They did a great job. [Philip] Rivers is a great quarterback. But really, it wasn't so much about the coverage as we just shot ourselves."
**You mentioned stopping the run regardless. What kind of unique challenges does [Miami's] spread present? *(Jon Meoli) *"It's just a total different running game. It's option football. It's going back to my college days of coaching. You have to defend the quarterback. This guy runs it. It isn't just once a game he might keep it and run outside. This guy will keep it and run. So, you have to defend the quarterback, the dive. They don't really have a pitch, but basically they do, because their passes off of that is their pitch. It's really assignment football on defense."
**Is that the outside guys [like] OLB Terrell Suggs, OLB Elvis Dumervil and OLB Courtney Upshaw? *(Jon Meoli) *"It's everybody. It's the whole group, because everybody has to … When you play option-type football – which is what this is similar to, read-zone football – it's everybody on defense. Everybody has to have good eyes, have to play their assignment to the 'T.' It's not just the outside guys; it's everybody. Secondary is involved in it, too."
Looking forward to possibly having CB Asa Jackson back, and what did you see from him earlier in the year that could give you a boost down the stretch?* (Luke Jones)* "I think [Asa Jackson] is a quick little player. I think he's playing good. I think he was playing good before he got hurt. I think he's playing really, really well. Now, time will tell. You can't really tell out here in practice until the bullets start flying if he's back to where he was. But he seems to be moving well and doing fine. I think he'll really help us back there, at least basically in the slot."
On Sunday that was the sixth turnover you guys forced in the red zone. Is there a special skill to that? I'm sure you want turnovers all the time. (Jon Meoli) "No, I don't think so. I just think it's a matter of getting the ball off a guy, and maybe stepping it up just a little bit more because you're in the red zone. But I don't think … There's nothing really specific to that."
DT Timmy Jernigan
On DT Haloti Ngata's suspension: "At the end of the day, I don't know what the situation was. All I can do it pray for Haloti [Ngata]. It has been a great opportunity to learn from him over these 12 weeks, and I definitely feel like learning from him and [defensive line] coach 'C.B.' [Clarence Brooks] that I'm going to be ready for this opportunity."
On whether he is prepared to take more snaps: "I'm definitely prepared. That's all I've wanted ever since I've been here is a shot. Playing 15, 17 snaps a game, it's tough to get going, but now I kind of have an opportunity to show the world that I can actually [play]."
On whether his knee is feeling better: "Definitely. My knee is feeling great. It actually feels better than before I hurt it. I'm feeling healthy, feeling good. They've been doing a great job of just keeping me fresh throughout the year. So, I'm ready for the moment."
On his role increasing on the defense: "I know that my role is going to increase, whatever it is. I'm ready for whatever it is."
On how DT Haloti Ngata's suspension affects the team: "At the end of the day, I don't know the exact situation of what happened. I just kind of heard what was going on. I didn't get into details or anything, but all I can do is pray for Haloti [Ngata] and his situation. I had a situation similar coming out of college, so I know it's not a great feeling. But all I can do is pray for him and hope that everything works out for the best."
On what he brings to the defense: "I feel like the film doesn't lie. The snaps that I have been able to play, I feel like I've been productive. Right now, I'm going to have to step up in a bigger role. I'm going to have to be able to do it down-in and down-out for the whole game."