ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins during the Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The official transcript for Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano's Friday press conference, as provided by the team:
(On using John Jerry this week): "Obviously we have John, we have [Ryan] Cook and we have Nate [Garner] and all those guys play a bunch of different positions. If in fact Vernon [Carey] doesn't play, which he didn't practice again today, we'll see. But if that happens then maybe by committee maybe. We just can't lose the flexibility we have amongst that group. That's going to be important."
(On John Jerry's position in the future): "Honestly I like what he's done at tackle when we moved him out there. I think he's more of a guard than a tackle."
(On Yeremiah Bell's being a coach on the field(: "He has had a tremendous impact out there on the young secondary. He keeps those guys in line pretty good back there. Between he and Will [Allen] I think they've done a good job. YB is a captain and he is absolutely been a tremendous resource for me. He is a heck of a leader. He's alright. He is one of my guys."
(On how disappointing the red zone struggles were against Dallas): "We play Oakland this week. In fact we play Oakland in a very short time."
(On if the offense is indicative of their league rank): "I think they've been playing better than where we are ranked right now. I just think that first of all there is some people putting up massive amounts of yards. I don't think necessarily that's really a good indicator I think. I would say that when you look at us right now you look at the big plays, you look at the number of people that have been involved, you look at what you have really have done two quarterbacks at this particular time. I've been pleased with what we've done that way. We've moved the ball really pretty well against most teams particularly in the freewheeling zone. We had the early trouble in the red area and that hurt us. And then we got that thing fixed. I don't think ranking numbers anything of those things has anything to do with it. There was a team in the playoffs pretty deep that was 32nd in the league in offense. And there's a team right now that has won an awful lot of football games that I believe is 31st or 32nd in defense."
(On if he has been involved in coming up with the new formations): "That's been a little bit of a combination of everything. It gets late up there and sometimes we get a little punch drunk. [Brian Daboll] and the staff have done a good job of being creative, trying to keep it fun. Give the players a little something to think about that's outside the box. But more importantly give our opponents a little something to think about. I think every time you put something like that out there on film you go out and run it they got to work on that because it isn't just one play. You wouldn't do it for just one play. You're doing it because there is a series of two or three possibilities off of it. And I think when you put something like that out there they have to play the ‘what if' game. Well this is how so and so aligned to this jumbo unbalanced set. What are the possibilities? I think it forces a couple extra cards during the work week and somebody else having to look at something. It's maybe a rep or two that they don't get on something else. It keeps it good for our people. We've all had a hand out there and that's been about it."
(On what he has done to keep things fresh): "We've changed routines, we've changed everything. We've just changed a lot of the things that we've done. I don't know you change your approach. You change my approach with them sometimes. It's not all business like and I think that's created a good environment right now for the guys. They're coming in here. They're excited about coming in here. There really is a tremendous buzz in the building in the morning when these guys come in. That's a credit to them. That's a credit to the leadership on the team. I think the locker room is really good that way. Just routine; we've just changed routine. It's a deviation from really much that I know. In other words I'm kind of been a creature of habit and in the way that I've come up through this thing and we deviate it. We have a ten o'clock team meeting tomorrow. It's a ten o'clock team meeting. It's usually eight, seven-thirty. Ten o'clock team meeting the last couple weeks just to let them sleep. Just to give them the extra rest. It's a home game. We're not on a plane. We don't have to do any of that. Just to give them the opportunity to be off their feet. Well they like the change in schedules. They like eleven o'clock starts, two-thirty practices on Wednesday because it gives them a little more time to rest. They come in and we're getting good work out of it. That's different than anything I've been associated with before. It's usually let's get your work done in the morning and let's see you and let's get them out of the building and let's get on. Well that puts more of a stretch on us as coaches. In other words it forces us to do more work sometimes in the morning or later at night because you're here longer but that's okay as long as it's good for the players."
(On changing everything about the way he conducts practices): "It's pretty drastic. You guys have seen me now for a couple years. We haven't been in pads in eight weeks. I mean I have 14 of these. I haven't used five. I mean we've gone out there and gotten good work. The players have proved to me that we're able to do that and they work hard at it. We've trimmed reps, we've moved periods, we've made period competitive. We trim reps to the point where just really sometimes you can get overboard and do too many things out there. We're not asking them to do too many things. Had some periods that we just geared down in the walkthrough periods. But really just been more efficient, quicker on and off. Changed the way we lifted, changed when we lift, changed how we lift, how we stretch. We just changed a bunch of things around. It's seems to have worked. And some of it is even input from them. It's been good. I grab a veteran or two and say hey what you do you think of this and they say nah that ain't going to go or that's going to work pretty good."
(On the team's health improve due to giving players more rest): "I think it is. Yeah, it's correlated with the improvement of the health. Now, don't get me wrong here I mean just because you're not out there. I don't know whatever week we're in here. What is this, Week 13? First of all, you can only practice once in pads and after week 11 you can only have three of them left or four of them left. So I don't think there's too many teams still out there smacking the heck out of each other right now. But that being said, I've done it both ways. I've been a part of it with Bill [Parcells]. I've been a part of it with Wade Phillips. I've been a part of it with Marty [Schottenheimer]. Just I knew something had to change at that point and that's why we did what we did. It's not about me, it's their team."
(On Jake Long playing to his standards as you expected): "Yes, and better in a large portion in the last six or seven games, there was a couple games ago where the guy had two minuses in 70 something plays. I've never been a part of that. I've coached it for a long time. He's my player. He's one of my captains. I'll get criticized for taking up for my player, okay. But I said this the other day and I'll say this again okay, I wouldn't miss what you're watching right now okay. I would watch it with your eyes wide open, okay. I've gone a long time in this league without having that piece. And if you don't have it, you're going to try hard to find it, okay and the guy's a darn, good football players that's getting better and better. At the end of the day, I'm sure his peers recognize that."
(On being tough to prepare for Oakland due to the large amount of players injured on Oakland's team): "It's been hard to follow Ben [Volin] to be honest, but hey that's their deal. I mean, we are preparing for all of them to play. And then we will see what happens when we get the list on game day, but we're preparing for them all to play. The moving parts, the biggest issues are the running backs and those types of things. I think just because you can have both of them out there and you got to prepare like both of them are going to play. That's the way we thought about it this week sounds like obviously at this point and time just like I was saying Andy [Kent] everybody has the same problems. We're fortunate we only had really one guy not practice today."
(On Dan Carpenter's status): "He's done good. Yeah, he's done a good job. So we'll see where he is, but he's doing well."
(On when did you decide to change everything): "It was pretty much after the seventh week, Dave (Hyde). It was definitely after the seventh week. That's when it was. It was the seventh game. I just knew coming into work that day I believe it was the Denver game, I think. Pretty sure it was the Denver game, correct? I remember that was a hard loss. And I knew that at that particular time we had to do something a little bit different. And I said all along, the confidence that I have in this football team and that we did have anything to show for it at that point. So I made no secret about that, I said that. And I just trust them and that's what we did. And we went out, we made some changes, they liked the changes, they're having a blast out there right now. They're having a good time at practice and they're playing with a lot of energy and as long as they play with energy I think we give ourselves a chance to win football games. We got to play smart, but we got to play with energy."
(On the story you tell players): "[laughing] I got a few of them, I told them a story about being shipwrecked the other day. I shared that with them. The guy gets on his boat kind of decides he's going to sail out to sea. And gets out there and next thing you know he's in a middle of a storm. The boat capsizes kind of like being 0-7. And he ends up drifting ashore. Deserted island has to fend for himself. Fending for himself, he built shelter on his own. Finds food on his own, but nobody can find him he's been out there for months, okay. Everybody thinks he's done. And one day he sets out and take a little walk around this island. Comes back, the place is burning up. The shelter is on fire, the food is gone, okay. Fights all night long to die the fire out, dies the fire out, but he passes out after working all night wakes up to somebody poking him on the shoulder. Said, how did you find me? Big boat sitting out there, rescue ship, coast guard came said we saw your smoke. So the last couple of weeks, it's been a little bit of smoke. We'll see."
(On the reason you're not yelling as much because guys are playing hard): "Yeah, I mean listen I tell him if they're not doing it right. I'm just me. I'll tell them when they're not doing it right. I tell them when they do. I got [Jared] Odrick trying to teach me this silly dance that's he's doing [laughing]. He makes a big sack in a great situation I'll do it with him. So we've been positive because they've been working hard. These guys put it on the line out there and I appreciate what they do. I appreciate what those coaches what they do up there. I think the best way to show the guys you appreciate what they're doing is to be positive with them at this point and time. I don't think you're going to get anything productive the other way right now. Not at this point and time."
(On Phillip Merling getting his career back on track): "I think you've seen him play quite a bit the last couple of weeks. And Phillip [Merling] has done I think a good job for not playing for a little while and being inactive in a few games. And I actually talked to him today. I told him that I was pleased with what he's done the last couple of weeks and just pulled him aside and he and I had a 30-second chat about something like that. But I wanted him to know that it's a hard situation and I understand that. Not popular all the time, but you just got to keep swinging. And to his credit, he's done that. The things he always had to get better at would be within more of the running game things than pass game things and he's been getting better at that. To his credit, he's done a much better job. His body weight is in really good spot right now. The pass rush stuff is starting to come around so hopefully what I like to see happen to him because we play these guys on a rotation thing and it keeps them fresh. He makes one of these plays like you seen Odrick makes in a couple games here. And then once he starts to feel that again, maybe some really good things happen here."