BB: Real good football player; certainly one of the best centers in the league, one of the best that we’ve faced. He’s very good at everything – good playing strength, real good quickness, can reach block guys that are offset, does a nice job on pass protection, when he’s uncovered cleaning the pocket and giving the quarterback room to step up in there and throw. We’ve seen him pull around on some plays. He can easily get out there in front of the runner on those toss sweeps, guys like [Reggie] Bush who are pretty fast getting out there but he easily gets out there and can lead plays around the corner. I think he’s really improved in some areas too, like his shotgun snaps and just his overall consistency. He’s always been a very talented player but I think his number of good plays is higher and his number of not so good plays is a lot lower. He’s really a good football player.
Q: Joe Philbin is a first-year head coach. What does a coach want to do in his first year? Are you trying to put your stamp on the team or evaluate talent? What are you trying to do, aside from win?
BB: I think that’s really a better question for you to ask Joe. I think each situation is different. What one coach on one team is doing and what another coach on another team is doing may or may not be the same thing.
Q: What did you try to do your first year in New England?
BB: I don’t think that has too much application right now. We’re just trying to get ready to play Miami. They’re a good football team, they’ve played well, they played us tough down there a few weeks ago. I think what happened a decade ago doesn’t have too much bearing on this game.
Q: What have you seen from Jared Odrick, particularly the pass rush he can create from the inside?
BB: Strong, physical guy. I think his technique has really improved too. Again, there’s another player that plays hard, he’s got good physical strength and has good quickness. But I think his technique and his overall anticipation in the game has gotten better and he’s become a more effective inside rusher. Not that he wasn’t, but I think it’s just become better through experience and quickness and I’m sure working with a player like [Randy] Starks who is very good as an inside pass rusher. That has helped Odrick too but I think he’s gotten better every year in the league and he’s certainly gotten better over the course of this season with his technique and just his understanding of using his pass rush moves and his ability because he’s always been big, strong, fast. He’s a tough kid, plays hard, has a real good motor. I think he’s been able to take those tools and become a little more technique savvy and utilize them well. And he has a lot of good guys working with him too – you know [Koa] Misi and [Cameron] Wake and Starks. Those guys are good rushers too. They all create problems from the offense and they help each other collectively.
Q: You have made several changes on defense since last year. How have those worked out and has it been a growing process for this group to come together as the season has gone on?
BB: I think it’s always a process. Each week it’s a process because every team we play has good players, good coaches, different challenges that we have to prepare for. It’s a big challenge for us every week and it’s no different his week. The Dolphins have a good offensive line, they have a good tight end – [Anthony] Fasano – they have good backs, good receivers, a good quarterback, a mobile quarterback, they’re well coached, they have a good scheme, they give you a lot of different things to prepare for. It’s a challenge for us every week, whether we change players or don’t change players over that period of time. It’s still a big challenge. I think Mike [Sherman] and Joe [Philbin] do a real good job of putting the defense in some tough and challenging spots. [There’s] a lot for us to get ready for.
Q: It has only been about four weeks but the Dolphins have had quite a few changes in personnel. How much does that affect your ability to game plan for them?
BB: Yeah, certainly we’re aware of those changes. I think some of the guys that have gotten an opportunity have done a good job with it. [Jason] Trusnik has played well, Lamar Miller got an opportunity and he certainly showed up last week. Their running game the last two weeks has been very good. Things like that, [Marcus] Thigpen getting to play some in the slot there, [Nate] Garner, [Jonathan] Martin slipped back to left tackle, those guys look they’ve gotten a little bit better each week. [Tyrone] Culver has helped them in the kicking game. We didn’t play against [Jonathon] Amaya, it wasn’t an injury thing but we didn’t play against him and he’s certainly a very good special teams player. He’s a guy that we didn’t see that I’m sure we’re going to see Sunday. Again, there are a lot of things that are the same and then there are some things that are different. That’s true for our team too. We have a couple guys that played in their game that won’t play in this one, like [Julian] Edelman, guys like that. They have a couple guys in that category too. I think it’s kind of normal, about what it usually is. It’s never the same but there are certainly things that carry over from another division game in the same year.
Q: What has
BB: Aqib is a good player, very experienced and really can do a lot of things well. He’s a good run-force player, can cover, can play man and zone; smart guy that really has good football instincts and awareness and has a good level of confidence. I think our players really have…it’s been good to work with him, from a coaching standpoint but also from a playing standpoint because of his talent, awareness and commitment to learning and understanding the game plan and doing it right. He’s done a good job.
Q: We know what Reggie Bush can do as a runner. Last week, he caught two touchdown passes. What have you seen out of Reggie Bush the last couple years and how he’s changed as a running back?
BB: I think we knew that Reggie could do all those things and he’s certainly shown over the last couple years that he can be an every down back. He can carry the ball or catch it as much as you want to give it to him. Inside, outside, short passes, long passes, whatever you want – blitz pickup, he can do it all. He’s a tough guy to match up against. Again, I think that Joe and Mike do a good job of putting him in different positions, situations, moving him around, using their empty package and other things they do offensively that make it tough to key on or find him. They do enough things with him and he’s versatile enough that he can beat you in a lot of different ways and that’s definitely a problem for any defense and certainly a big challenge for us, a player of his caliber and the versatility that he has. Obviously he’s a smart guy and can handle a lot of different things – formations and assignments and plays and so forth. the versatility combined with his skill makes him a tough guy to defend and he’s tough to match up on, no matter who you put on him. Linebackers don’t usually stay with him in terms of his quickness and DBs, he’s strong and [they] have trouble staying with him too, then it becomes a size thing.
Q: A couple coaches have said that Reshad Jones jumps out on tape. What does he do well?
BB: He’s been involved in a lot of big plays lately. I think that’s one thing. Guys that have a nose or an instinct for the ball – the interception he had against us was really an outstanding play. He was running with his back to the ball on the wheel route there, turned around and found it, made a good run with it. The interception at the end of the game against Buffalo, just being there in the throwing lane – probably 90 percent of the guys that would have been involved in that play would have batted it down and he intercepted it. He recovers fumbles, he’s a tough kid in the box, he does a good job of tacking. He’s around the ball a lot. A part of that is that he’s the beneficiary of a very good front. Those guys, they’re hard to block up there, that front five or front seven of Miami, however you want to look at it. They’re hard to get too so a lot of times the linebackers and Jones are able to get in there and clean it up. He does a good job of tackling, he’s a physical kid and he’s shown up around the ball. I think that’s where he jumps out at you, is the plays that he makes.
Q: Brandon Fields has done a good job flipping field position. What makes a good punter and what do you consider a good punter?
BB: I think punting is a little bit like golf. It’s not just standing out there on the driving range and hitting drives. A lot of it is situational punting: punting relative to the rush, punting relative to the team’s return tendencies or to where to give your gunners better opportunity to make the play, backed up, plus-50, end of the game situations or end of the half type situations, with wind and field conditions and all that. Probably less than half the punts, for most teams, the punter can just punt it high and long – just stand out there on the driving range and bang it away. There’s another high percentage of plays, I would say over 50 percent that involve some type of situational punting, a different type of punt. It’s not just your long, high one, it’s something else. To be a good punter, you have to be good at all those things. You can’t just be a long driver, you have to be able to place the ball, to speed up your operation in rush situations, be able to directional it and handle all the different conditions and situations. Most punters in the league are holders as well, not all but most. That’s certainly an important part of that position too, is the holder on placements. It’s really a position that I think there’s a lot more variety to what they have to do than what people think, certainly more than a kicker. When you kick off, for the most part you’re just trying to get it high and deep or if you’re a directional team, then OK, you just have one direction to kick it deep in. Field goals are field goals, you have to kick the ball straight. The punting game, I think there are a lot more variables to it that affect the punter and specialists. Of course, handling the snap is another part of it as well. It’s not like baseball where you can just take the ball on the mound and grip it however you want to grip it and throw it. You have to kick it but you have to handle it and you have to deal with the guys that are coming after it trying to block it. I think he does a good job at all those things – directionally, he’s a good directional punter. He’s obviously got a good leg and been a very consistent player for them.