EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 30, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
"You guys can write this whatever way you want to write it, but that group in that locker room there have a lot of guts and a lot of courage. Okay, you write it whatever way you want to write it, okay, but that's the fact."
Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano came out angry after the Dolphins 20-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. In his post-game press conference, the coach finally let some of his frustration be seen.
After those opening comments, Sparano was asked about going toe-to-toe with a "good" football team in the Giants. Sparano started answering, even before the question was complete. "That's right they did. Yeah, they did. That's right. Okay. Absolutely. Good football team - well coached football team. Damn good football team. Okay. Went toe-to-toe with them, so, I mean, swung hard and we didn't win. It's not acceptable. We're still where we were before we started this thing, okay. But that group, in that locker room, they've got a lot of guts and a lot of courage."
While Sparano's frustration was clear after the game, he continues to defend his players.
When asked about quarterback Matt Moore, the coach replied, "I mean, the kid kept drives alive. He spun out of a few things. We knew the rush was going to be a good rush, I mean, they've got good people. I mean, that's a heck of a rush they're putting out, out there. At the end of the game out there, you know, that's hard doing. I thought Matt kept drives alive by running the football early on. I mean, the third down thing, I don't really know what we were at the end of this, but I do know what converted the first couple, two or three, which is what got us started. I mean, that ended up being a good problem for us, and, again, all of it was because he ran, he scrambled out of some things, made some throws on the run. I really thought the guy played a good game - I really did. There aren't any out there that, I think, Matt's going to tell you he wishes he had back."
The attention then turned to Giants' quarterback Eli Manning, who racked up 349 yards on 31-45 passing, and two touchdowns. Asked how hard it was to stop Manning, Sparano replied, "He's a good quarterback. He's got good weapons. You know, it's difficult. We had a couple of things there, coverage wise, obviously, okay. We got picked, we got rubbed, and I don't mean that in a foul way, I mean, we just, we got on different levels. And, they threw a couple of different underneath routes, and then they hit us in the middle of the field, obviously. You know, we had a bust in a coverage, towards the end. And, those are all things that we just got to, I mean, we got to get over. When it gets into that 55th minute, I mean, of the game, or whenever it is, you know, we got to find ways to make those kind of plays. Again, my hat's off to the group in that locker room."
When asked about the early play calling, Sparano pointed out, "Heavy play action, stuff. I thought we made some chunk plays off the play action game. You know, we started to keep that rush game off balance a little bit, had some of the bigger people out there. That's what we tried to do. We wanted to be able to run the ball, we felt like we could, we did. And, we could keep them off balance that way. What you don't want to get into with this group, is to just go out there with 11 personnel, and think you're going to throw it around like that. Not with that rush, I don't think that's a very good plan for anybody."
When asked if his timeout use was optimal, the coach admitted that things didn't go the way he wanted. "I didn't, obviously. I had to use two timeouts because of different scenarios. One, you know, we had a problem with the head deal, the play got in at a different time, and it just ran down. And, then the other, was an injury thing. We had one guy hurt, and another guy, actually, was dinged on the play and we had two different people going in the game. In other words, the guy that was hurt, didn't really come out, and the guy we didn't know was hurt came out, and then the clock got down, and you know, that happens. Sometimes, those things happen. Obviously, you know, I wish we would have done things a little differently, maybe had a little bit more time, but we had plenty of time at the end of the game to win the game, you know. Plenty of time."
The coach then spoke about the Dolphins pass rush on Manning, "The best, at that point, I thought the way that we were generating pressure was by bringing pressure. And, you know, you're playing, you've got to be careful there. They do a good job of scheming you up, and blocking you up, so, you know, for the most part, you've got to be careful there, pressure wise, with what you're doing. But, we, I don't know how many, I've got to watch the film to see how many one-on-ones we really won up there. I felt like, in the run game, they played really well. I think they wanted to run the football against us. That isn't their winning formula right now. Their winning formula has been to rush the ball for 150 plus in their last 10 wins. Usually, when they throw it in this number, that isn't the winning formula, and, you know, they won the game."
The questions turned back to Dolphins players, with Sparano being asked about running back Reggie Bush's contribution to the team. Bush tallied 103 yards rushing, only the second 100 yard day of his career. "Yeah, Reggie did a good job out there today. I thought one of the things Reggie was able to do was, he was able to make somebody miss in the hole, you know. When they had an extra guy down there, but you know, we did some things that we wound him back with, and Reggie was able to come out the back end, and, you know, kind of like in the Jet game, on the first carry, or any of those things. I thought he ran between the tackles well today, so I was pleased really, with the effort Reggie gave us. And that Steve Slayton gave us, you know, to coming in there, and you know, the kickoff at the end there."
Then, speaking of Nate Garner who played left guard, and filled in briefly for the injured Mike Pouncey at center in the middle of the game, the coach said, "He played well at times. I've got to watch the game film and take a peek, you know. But, obviously, [Richie Incognito] wasn't able to make it, and, you know, I kept him out. We went with Nate, and then there was a scenario there in the game where Nate had to go to center for a play, then we got [Ryan Cook] in the game. Cook went to center, Nate went back to guard, and, we were down in numbers a little but, not down in numbers, but playing with the numbers a little bit. I'll have to watch the film to see how Nate played, but, early in the game, first half, third-quarterish, he played pretty well."
When asked about the questionable foul calls, especially when wide receiver Brandon Marshall was called for offensive pass interference, Sparano simply stated, "I can't say too much, obviously, but you guys watched it. You probably know better than I do. They were critical calls, no doubt about it. One ends up being a touchdown, and one ends up, I don't really know what the gain on the play was, but it was a huge gain. You know, it was like a 20 yard gain down the middle of the field, and it changed field position, drastically. So, they were two penalties, or one penalty, and one that, obviously, ended up in a touchdown. We didn't have that many penalties today, we didn't, you know, we didn't really do those kind of things, that one part that hurt us."