Miami Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano met with the media on Sunday, following Miami's 18-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. The coach came in to the media availability, obviously heated from the loss, skipping the traditional opening comments, simply stating, "Somebody ask me a question"
He was immediately asked about the two-point conversion play, where the Dolphins defense vacated the middle of the field on a play everyone knew was going to be a Tim Tebow draw. "We were looking for Tebow to run it. I'm not going to get into what happened. We just knew that Tebow was going to run the ball."
He was then asked about what sort of message he gave to the team. "Honestly, the message was at that point in time was that I thought they played really hard today," Sparano answered. "Obviously, it wasn't hard enough. We've been in this situation before now, a couple, two, three times, where we're here at the end of the game with a chance to win a football game...and that was really about it. They need a cooling off period and we'll regroup and talk about it tomorrow. I told them we're going to regroup, we're going to get back to work tomorrow, we're going to correct it, and move forward."
The questioning then moved on to what happened during the final seven minutes of the game. "What happened? 7:39 left with a 15 point lead, they scored. They had a crossing route that I think was a big play. They had another one down there that took it down inside the five yard line, whatever it was. The kid made a nice play going to his right and threw a ball into the corner there for a touchdown. They recovered an onside kick and that took the ball down the field and scored and they got the two point play, that's what happened."
"I have not talked to Steve Ross," Sparano answered the next question when asked if he had seen the Dolphins' Owner and Chairman of the Board.
The questioning then turned to some of the specific decisions made, starting with the decision to run the ball three times, when the team needed a first down to run down the clock. "No, I don't regret it. At that point in time, obviously you believe that those guys were going to knock them off the football and we're going to gain some yards and we ended up gaining three yards in three carries for that deal. At some point, you have to put it behind them; you've got to be able to do that. Or you throw the ball and maybe it's incomplete and you stop the clock for them. You do all of those things...we put the ball behind them, run out their time outs, they had zero time outs to play with, took the ball down the field, scored, and recovered an onside kick. Converted a two point play. Those are all what-ifs. I mean, you go up 15 points in the game, it turns it into a three score game, really, and they ended up making the plays."
He was then asked about the two-point conversion attempt the Dolphins failed to convert. "It was the right decision, Sparano stated simply. "It was that time in the game. It was a fourth quarter decision. You don't go for one there. Every football equation tells you to go for two in that situation. We went for two, we did not convert at that point, and still got the ball back and ended going up three scores. We still got 15 points."
The conversation then turned to why the Dolphins were unable to close out the game. "I don't know what those guys had. Harvey [Greene - SVP, Media Relations] just told me something about not having a third down conversion for 58 minutes of the game or whatever it was. I thought our defense played really well for a long stretch during the course of the game. [We] got good pressure on the passer. They make big plays in big situations, and we kind of got there at the end...obviously the kid [Broncos QB Tim Tebow] made a few plays. He did a couple scramble plays, which he does. He hit the one crosser that ended up coming out the back end on their sideline and that ended up being a big play. And the ball the kid caught in the middle of the field there, the review that wasn't a review but was a review...that was a good catch by the kid I guess."
Sparano was then asked about the defensive line, responding. "We felt like he would come to us...that he would eventually come to us, and that happened. We had some opportunities early in the game, quite honestly, where he threw it up and could have-should have-would have but we didn't. We did have a few turnovers today, though, I don't know, one, two, whatever it was that we forced and we gave one up there at the end."
The next question drilled in on the team. Sparano was asked about if he has lost the team, given the 0-6 start. "All I can do is what I can do. I can go in there and every day we work hard. I've got a good group of veteran players in that locker room. It stings right now, obviously but this group's been pretty resilient. They've been tried. There's been a lot of, and this isn't us against you, but there's been a lot of you who've tried to pull them apart. It's not that easy in that locker room. They're pretty good.
"We were 0-5 before this game," he continued, when asked if this game, and this season, is a test of the team's confidence. "That was a test. Every single week that you lose in this league, there's a test. There's probably a bunch of other teams in this that lost today. I'm sure their confidence is going to be tested. But at this point in time, with where we are, you find out about the real mettle. You'll find out about the real mettle of the guys in that locker room. I firmly believe in the guys in that locker room. I just do. We've just got to get ourselves through one of these where we win it."
When asked about quarterback Matt Moore, Sparano replied, "I have to watch it on tape, but I thought he played pretty well. It sounds like he completed a good amount of passes out there. There was a couple of location issues, early on in the game we had a botched center-quarterback exchange in there, those types of things, but other than that, on the surface I thought Matt played well. To be quite honest with you, I thought we had about five drops today, three of them early in the game. When you're a young quarterback like Matt, that can't get you off to a good start,. Just hitting a check-down or something like that, that can get you going a bit. I thought he battled back. He threw some good balls in there. I thought he and Brandon [Marshall, WR] got going a little bit, made a few plays there."
The final question asked "I'm just discouraged for the players in the locker room, that's all. Obviously, I want to see those guys smile in the locker room. They work really hard, I'm not sure there are many teams in the league who work as hard as we work at it. We don't have anything to show for it right now, so nobody is going to buy that. I just really want to see the guys in the locker room smile, that's all. That's where my emotions are."