The Miami Dolphins are started their first organized team activity (OTA) yesterday. It marked the first time the entire team, veterans and rookies, were on the practice field together, as well as the first chance for rookie head coach Joe Philbin to see his entire team.
Here are his comments from after the practice:
(On the first OTA) - "I was really pleased with the effort out there today. I thought the execution was relatively good for the vast majority of practice, I think the last ‘team period' that we had, things got a little sloppy. My guess is, and I haven't seen the tape, but my guess is guys got a little bit tired and maybe the heat caught up with them, the ‘reps' caught up with them. We had a procedure penalty, offside penalties, those types of things that usually show themselves when guys lose focus and concentration. But overall, I was pleased."
(On the adjustments that need to be made by the team to the new system) - "The vets have been here since April 10th and they have been working extremely hard. They have usually been here for a half a day, four hours a day and we have been dividing that up between strength and conditioning, classroom work and field work that's permissible by the rules. So I think they have a pretty good handle on things, today was our first installation which is normal down and distance, as I told them in the team meeting, this is really their fourth time getting some of that information. They had it in Phase One, they had it in the voluntary mini-camp, they had it in Phase Two and now here we are in the OTA's, so you hope that there is a good bit of carry over and retention and part of the job of evaluating players is, how much they can take from the class room to the practice field."
(On if he can tell that the rookies need more time to adapt to the speed of things) - "I think a couple did, but again they got here last week, they had their orientation, last week was a good kind of buffer. We did a lot of walk-thru's with them at a slow paced, so this stuff they have probably been exposed to at least once and some of it twice already before today. Now I think that it will get even more challenging probably Thursday and next week, when it will be stuff they haven't even learned yet, that's when you may even see more."
(On what he is looking to see the most this time of year) - "You want to start building some chemistry, we have exposed the guys to a lot of information, now you want to see some leaders emerge. You want to see the units play together, you want to see good communication on both sides of the ball, if you have to adjust a particular route verses a specific coverage, defensively if you have to make a coverage check based on a formation, special teams if they have overloaded one side at personal protector you want to make sure we get the right people at the right spot. So I think you are looking for a lot of chemistry, communication and just again that consistency is the other thing that we are looking for as we move forward in these OTA's."
(On the rationale behind the fast paced the practices) - "You have X amount of time that you are allowed to be on the field and we want to maximize the time that we do have and we want to give every player an opportunity. I stood in front of the team and said to them in a team meeting, ‘Every guy is important to us', ‘Every guy is going to get coached', ‘Every guy is going to be provided opportunities to show what they are capable of doing and make the ball club'. Now that we have 87, 88, 89 guys, you have a number of guys out there, you might have the flexibility of providing some situations where you can get some guys some more reps. It's really just providing opportunity and getting exposure to the system really."
(On the physical shape of the team from a conditioning standpoint) - "Well I think that Darren (Krein) and Dave (Puloka) have done a nice job with the guys with this going into our sixth week, but we have got a little ways to go, some of them have a ways to go. But like I said, for the vast majority we were ahead of schedule. I think the veterans got off the field a little bit earlier than we anticipated, I think we were about four minutes ahead, so that's a good sign that weren't not dragging behind the plan schedule of practice."
(On why Vontae Davis didn't practice) - "I am not going to get into any of that."
(On what he is looking for from the quarterback position right now) - "We are looking for productivity, were looking for decision making, were looking for leadership, were looking for them to obviously throw the ball accurately and make good decisions back there and just see if we can get a feel for who has got the best command of the offense and the unit in particular. The other thing that we talked to the guys about this morning was our play speed, we want to be a team that plays decisively with little or no hesitation in all three phases of the game, not just offense or special teams or just defense, so our play clock has to get accelerated. We need to speed things up and that is just the quarterback sometimes, whether it's a three step drop we have to get that ball out. If it's a five step drop you have to plant and throw the ball we can't sit back there with the football. Those are some of the things that we are looking for."
(On what he has seen from Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller) - "They have some, in the coaching some of the terms we use, they have some natural snaps and some natural pop in their bodies some natural quickness or twitch, whatever word you want to use to describe their movement. I think they have that acceleration, that quickness off the football. Lamar is a very fluid player. I think he has multiple skills, I don't think that he is just a runner, I think he is a guy that can catch the football and move him around, although I think he dropped one when he was wide open here at the end. (Olivier) we liked his physical toughness coming out, we liked his energy, we liked his motor that he played with and he is a young guy that we think is going to get better. So they are off to a good start, both those guys."
(On if the defense will be taking advantage of the pass rushing ability of the front four) - "I hope so, again I don't want to compare it to other schemes or what was here last year, but obviously applying pressure to the quarterback and disrupting the rhythm of a passing game is a huge part of defense in the NFL these days. Obviously the scheme is important but the fundamentals and the techniques and the get off, the determination are as important as the X's and O's. Everybody lines a guy up somewhere whether it's in the ‘A' gap or the ‘B' gap or on the center that stuff is semi irrelevant when the ball is snapped. We are looking forward to getting good production and the scheme should be flexible enough that it takes advantage of what our guys can do."
(On what interaction is he looking for between the quarterbacks) - "I can't say enough about the professionalism of Matt (Moore) and David Garrard and Pat Devlin, those guys have been exceptional. You watch them on the field and they are encouraging one another and they are doing the same when Ryan's (Tannehill) up, so it's impressive to watch. They are pros. They know what the deal is, they know what the stakes are, but they are helping one another out, they are eager. Matt asked me if he could stay out and watch what was going on during that last drill, ‘Do you mind if I stay out here' and I am like ‘Of course not'. They are an impressive group."
(On the owners comments that he thinks Matt Moore will be the starting quarterback and if affects the process) - "Anybody have Steve's number around here? (laughing) I have to check who the treasurer is, I know he is the owner but he might not sign my check, I think the treasurer does (laughing). Look, last time I checked, he is on board. I told him and we have been very upfront with him, we want a competitive situation at that position as well as the other positions. These guys work hard; they deserve the opportunity to compete for a job on this team, a starting position on this team. So the quarterback position in my mind is no different. I like the group of guys that we have, we have a long way to go I mean a million miles to go and so we will see how it shakes out."
(On how David Garrard looks after missing the 2011 season following back surgery) - "I think he is doing well. I tell you, he is impressive. When I walked over to the bubble the day that he came to work out, he has got some charisma he has got some leadership ability. He looks you in the eye, shakes your hand and you feel good about the guy. He still has got a very strong arm, he can still move well and I think that he is picking up the system relatively well. I like what he has done so far.
(On how vocal he wants a rookie quarterback to be at this stage) - "I really haven't thought about that, every player is different. Everybody kind of blossoms at different points in time, you want guys to get comfortable in the system, get comfortable in the working atmosphere that we have here. Be themselves. You have got to be yourself, myself as a coach and our staff as coaches and our players. I don't have any master plan for a first round quarterback to be this, that or the other thing. Obviously we have a vision on how we want the quarterback to play in this offense, we certainly want him to fulfill those obligations, but in terms of do I expect him to yell, do I expect him not to yell? I want these guys to be themselves I think that's when you are going to be most productive."
(On what he is looking for at the wide receiver position in order to see some separation between the players) - "It's going to take some time to figure that out. We haven't seen a lot of press man-to-man yet, one of the things that will be interesting to see will be how we do against man coverage, guys that can separate from man coverage that is going to be important. We are looking for guys who can potentially make a play on a vertical ball down the field to the degree that we can practice that, we aren't going to have all out wars for the ball, but that is something that is going to be very important. And probably third, a guy that is a consistent ball catcher, I know that it sounds simple, but it is sometimes overlooked, sometimes the importance isn't placed on just the ability to consistently catch the football well. Those are three things I know in my mind as I am watching these guys that I am looking for."
(On his conversations with the kickers on the field during practice and what is discussed with them) - "Let me think about that (laughing), seriously those guys are a good group, they are a professional group. John Denney is our player rep, so I have to clear everything through John, I am always very nice to John (laughing). Those guys, Darren (Rizzi) and Dave (Fipp) really are very organized special teams, the way they teach it, the way the drill it and instruct these guys and those three guys (Dan Carpenter, Brandon Fields and John Denney) you see them, they do a lot of things when they are not kicking the ball or snapping the ball they help a lot. They play running back, they play returner they do a bunch of stuff to help the special teams units improve, so I don't think that we were talking.