Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin met with the media following practice yesterday. Here is a transcript of his comments:
(On where he is in the quarterback evaluation process) - "I think it is very close. We're keeping our eye on it and monitoring reps, we're getting guys with different groups and we're, I'd say, probably 75% of the way through installing our offense. We certainly don't want to make any decisions before we have our offense in which is probably not going to be completed until early next week. We're going to add some more tomorrow but then won't add any more until after our scrimmage on Saturday, let the guys play a little bit so to speak. Probably cut back just a little bit of what we're doing schematically on Saturday just to get the execution that we're looking for. I'm not into trick ‘em schemes or anything like that. And then next week we have a little bit more install to do and then we have a game to get ready for. So I think that our guys are, and I've said it before, are an excellent room, and I believe that. They're professional, they love the game, they're supportive of one another, and they've had some moments that were better than others, for all of the candidates, but it's a good group. I think we're going to have good quarterback play."
(On how Ryan Tannehill looked practicing with the first team offense for the first time) - "I thought he was good. I told the players at the end of the practice that my gut tells me that none of the staff are going to be disappointed with the effort that the players put forth out there. I think it was very good. I think though, there were a lot of things from a fundamental standpoint, that we didn't translate from the meeting room to the practice field very well in a lot of areas today. One illustration; we did a fumble recovery presentation in one of our team meetings. That's not a huge play, but it's something that we are going to drill later on and it's something that we presented to the team how we are going to do that. But unfortunately, the ball was on the ground a number of times, and yet we didn't see a carryover from the meeting room to the practice field today. Obviously our center-quarterback (shotgun) snaps, a couple of those got messed up, which you guys know, you can't function effectively if those things are happening. I think there are a lot of detail things that need to get cleaned up, and Ryan I'm sure was part of that as well. But I thought that, I think it was the last play of practice, he was rolled out to the left and he gunned the ball in there. It looked like a pretty good ball from where I was standing outside the right hash, but I think he did some good things."
(On Ryan Tannehill's first team reps going forward) - "I think that it's kind of an as earned type of basis. Certainly he's throwing the ball well enough in the couple of days that he's been practicing that deserves some opportunities with those guys, to work with different receivers and different linemen. So it's definitely earned, and as we go forward, you know we have to take a look at the tape later today, and it's kind of a fluid process Izzy. It's not something that, while I said something to you in June that we had written down on a piece of paper all the snaps we foresaw these guys getting in the four preseason games, now that's a fluid process too. Again, we're going to evaluate everything and we probably won't make final decisions as to the play snaps until we get through next Wednesday's practice, so we can get an idea of whose, we may have injuries between now and then, but hopefully not, but it can change every day. I laid out all the practice schedules from the minute we got here until the training camp and through Dallas, but we've tweaked a couple. You know we need a little more one-on-one here; we don't need as much of that here. It was a good idea back then, but let's change this up. That's something that we just, that's why we meet so people can just chip in ideas and I take some of them and I don't take others, but it's been good."
(On whether he values practice reps or game reps more) - "Not necessarily, but again I don't know about the weighted scale, but as we said Ben, some of it is going to be from the gut I think, because there's not a huge statistical difference at this point in time. Again we'll add today's numbers, I don't think we had great numbers today because we put in the bear (4-6) defense, which is a unique scheme for the offense to deal with, and both sides of the ball need practice on it. So it's just kind of one of those days historically as I've been associated with it that the offense doesn't do as well as they would like, but we're going to take into every bit of information that we have; how they interact with teammates, what type of leadership traits do they have, how productive have they been, what's their completion percentage. I think we're going to look at everything and use the information that we have to make the best decision moving forward."
(On what he looks for in a rookie quarterback aside from performance) - "I think poise. Does it look natural for him (Tannehill) to be sitting back there and executing, and can he redirect a couple of things? Like I said that front that we played against today and the concept, sometimes defense forces adjustments in the protection. You know can he change a route? If he has two receivers outside and one guy's got press and one guy's got off (coverage), can he change the route and get us into a little better concept pass wise than what we had called? That's what we need to, again we're just installing the offense we're not playing games yet, but that's what we need to get to, common sense football. You're quarterback needs to be able to look at things and understand the offense well enough to say ‘hey, we can adjust this,' or ‘look they're coming over here with the blitz, let's move the back here and point the center over this way.' Those are all things that I think are in the realm of (his ability). He's a bright guy and even though he only had 19 starts, he knows football and he's a football player. He contributed to his team as a wide receiver, and the guy is a football player."
(On how Tannehill's familiarity with the offense puts him ahead of other rookie quarterbacks he has coached) - "I think it's helpful right now in the installation phase. I think because he's spitting out the formation, communicating the route concepts that are a little bit easier for him. Again, Matt and David have been in it for a little while now too, as well as Pat, but once you get into games, I'm not sure how much that is going to play into it. I think that with installation, which is what we're in right now, it's a benefit, but once that's over with, the field levels out so to speak."
(On Karlos Dansby's transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense) - "I think he has a chance to play well in the scheme, no question about it. I think it fits his talents very well. We've played against him, when I was at another spot, a number of different times and he's a very productive player. We used to think he was kind of slippery, you know he's a hard guy to get your hands on at times, which is good because he slip off a block and get around a block and run well enough to make a play, so I think this defense is going to fit his talents well. He's done a good job communication wise as you know. We've talked about the strength of a team up the middle; center-quarterback play, mike linebacker safety play is all important. I think he has a chance to perform well."
(On how much he would like to use the fullback in this offense) - "Well part of it...why we've done it the past couple days is because we want to get a sense of, they're times where I've been a on a team where they've kept three fullbacks. I've seen teams in this league keep zero fullbacks. It's all about gathering information and seeing if we can figure out what these guys do well, who's the most physical blocker, who's the most instinctive blocker, who can stay on his feet and block, and also who can sneak out into the flat and catch the ball, make a guy miss or break a tackle, those type of things. So I think we have made a conscience effort to get a little bit of more two back in there, as much of an evaluation tool as anything else. The scheme is negotiable week in and week out. Some weeks it might be empty, other weeks it might be two tight ends and two backs, whatever we have to do to move the ball."
(On the meaning behind the rotation of cornerbacks in practice, in particular Vontae Davis) - "I thouthg he made a couple real nice plays on the ball today. He's locating the ball better when it's down the field, but again there is nothing locked in stone here. It's early, six practices in. We have heavy practices in the morning, we've had five walk thrus as well and we'll have another one today, but we're looking at guys who can execute what the coaches want done the best. It's not a reflection that he hasn't done well. We talked personnel after we practiced for four days. We're going to have a scrimmage over at Sun Life Stadium and the coaches will immediately watch the film and meet with the players to correct the scrimmage, and then we're going to meet again and talk about where everyone is at. Things can change quickly, but certainly we want to look at some other guys and create competition everywhere."
(On what he is looking for from Davone Bess) - "I've been really pleased with his camp. I think he's had an excellent camp and I think he has tremendous leadership qualities; that's important to us. There's that saying ‘you lead from where you are,' and I don't think you have to be a quarterback to be a good leader. I love the leadership example that he sets for the other guys. He just makes plays. The thing we really want to get a sense of is who can win those one-on-one matchups, who can beat press coverage, who can make a play on the ball down the field, who can separate, who can create space underneath, among other things? It's not all about a vertical shot down the field. And who can catch the ball consistently? It looked to me like we didn't catch the ball as consistently well today as we have in the past, but I love his leadership. I think he's having a good camp and I think he's being productive. We're looking forward to him contributing in a major way."
(On defensive end Olivier Vernon) - "The thing I like about him is the leverage that he is able to play with. He has very, very good pad level for a young player. I think, sometimes, young players tend to peak and get high and expose their numbers and their chest to the offense. I think he's a guy that's got very good leverage and appears that he's very competitive with a good motor. That's a good place to start. He needs some scheme work, some technique work obviously as does everybody else on the ball club, but those are the things that kind of jump out at me. I think he has strong hands. I think he has an ability to separate form blockers, but I would say his leverage is one thing that really, really you like about the guy. I think he's competitive. I think he's got that football, natural strength. I have no idea what he can bench press, couldn't tell you what he did at the, I don't even know if he went to the combine, but he's strong. He can come off the ball and stick his nose and keep his elbows in and find the football."
(On how daunting the learning curve is for tight end Les Brown) - "It's tough. It's a tough job. I think we sat in the room a couple of days ago and talked about the pictures of him looking like a football player and then the picture of him looking like a real novice at the profession. His challenge is to get the novice ones, cut those down so he can get rid of those. It's not easy. At times, I've stood up here and said, ‘The transition from right tackle to left tackle isn't that big of a deal. You're still blocking a defensive end. I know you've got the other hand down, but you're blocking a defensive end or right guard or left guard, same thing or if you're Inside receiver or outside receiver, they can play man-to-man whether you're inside or outside.' You've still got to beat a guy. Where he's coming from is a little bit different. It's a little bit different. It's tough. He's learning well. The nice thing about Les Brown is you've got to give him his credit. I'd come in in the summer, poke around my office and catch a workout, and it happens that Les would be around watching the tape or working out. You've got to feel good about guys like that that are giving a great effort and they're hungry. They want to do it, but, yeah, it's going to be a challenge."
(On if he has a timetable for seeing what guard Eric Steinbach can do physically after being injured last year) - "He hasn't had a whole lot of limitations. We talked to him earlier that look, ‘You're, you've got 120-something starts under your belt. I know you want to get in here and jump right in with both feet, learn the system, get as many reps, prove yourself, fight for a job, all that stuff.' And that's all good. We want the same things. However, you also have to realize that you haven't played in a year and you had a back issue, you had a knee issue in years past. I don't think he's really been limited a whole lot. He's kind of like anybody else on the club where we're going to give him an opportunity and see what he can make of it."
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