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09/20/00 - Dolphins Head Coach Dave Wannstedt Press Conference

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            **Q: It seems like your are off to a very nice start at 2-1, but perhaps you could be 3-0 the way you had Minnesota bottled up.**  

W: Our guys are playing hard, we have a long ways to go. There are a lot of changes here to fill the changes on defense and offense from players to coordinators to coaches to assistants. We are trying to make some headway on offense and catch up a little bit. You look at New England and they could easily be 3-0. It's way too early in the season.

Q: We spent a lot of time asking Bill Belichick what he learned from the Browns. What did you learn with the experience with the Bears, which has helped you with the Dolphins?

W: Everybody would love for me to respond to that with we've practiced too hard, we've had too long of meetings with the players, too physical during training camp. That's the easy thing to say. The philosophy to win in Chicago, that was no different then this is going now. Some of the experiences I have learned from are probably dealing with the players. I think Chicago the guys were young, I have a soft spot for a player who works hard. When a player wasn't good enough to play, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and stuck with him. The loyalty was real critical, but as far players go here, I'm close to my players, but I'm a little bit more forward with them as far as where they are at, and what they have to do to get better, and also, where they stand in relationship with the football team. The second thing is managing my time. I think in Chicago I got caught up in fighting too many battles that really didn't have anything to do with winning on Sunday and that's easy to do.

Q: What would be an example of that?

W: Something that had to do with hotel and travel arrangements. Are we staying too far, or staying too close? Or is the meeting room close enough? Stuff like that, sitting down for half an hour, meeting with football operations people. I mean, hey, it's gonna work out. We are going to do things the right way, watching another film, or zeroing on what we need to do on offense, defense, and special teams.

Q: You are taking over a team in which legends have said goodbye, even in the terms of your former boss Jimmy Johnson. The expectations on the national level will be, how will they be? What kind of team will it be with that kind of transition? I think in your business it's a pretty good situation because you have a great defense.

W: So far, our guys have played well, but we are rebuilding. We've got seven new starters out of the eleven on offense from opening day a year ago, so we've made a lot of changes. Anytime you change head coaches there is going to be a transition period, there is no question about that. The tough thing about today as compared to five or ten years ago is that everybody expects things to happen a lot faster. There's an awful lot of pressure real quick on coaches. You try to rebuild and bring in a group of young guys, but at the same time you have to win. There's a conflict between the two which makes it very difficult.

Q: And no grace periods anymore.

W: No, it is tough.

Q: You played in the NFC which had a reputation of being tough. The AFC has a reputation of being more finesse. Have you noticed the difference?

W: I think it has drastically changed. Bill's (Belichick) background with the (NY) Giants and mine with Dallas, we were both coordinators at the same time. With those two respective teams. Wade Phillips is a defensive, physical guy. We all know what Jim Mora did with Indianapolis, he was criticized for being too conservative playing defense. I think the head coaches in our division, not just now, not just with myself and Bill, but going back to last year and the year before with Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson and Jim Mora, they are all from that school of football and I that is influencing each individual team and as a result I think it is influencing our division.

Q: Why did you decide to use Jay Fiedler as your starter?

W: We felt going into, and this is the truth, we felt that we could win with Damon Huard or Jay Fiedler. Obviously both guys were going to be first time starting quarterbacks in this league so there was going to be that transition period. Jay coming from Jacksonville, there is a lot of carry over from they were doing in Jacksonville to what we're doing here offensively. He just seemed to have a little better grasp, a little better feel for what we were trying to do over all. And that really came down to the final decision. We'd like to think that it was a decision that was analyzed and documented, but it probably came down to as much a gut decision on how I felt at that point as anything. Jay has been playing steady. Our three receivers, Tony Martin is hurt, OJ McDuffie isn't in there and Lamar (Smith) is playing great. So we're playing with our fourth, fifth and sixth receivers. So, that's not helping Jay either. You guys just played Minnesota as we did two weeks ago and Cris Carter and Randy Moss are just unbelievable. You say to yourself, 'I'd like to have a couple receivers like that around when you have a young quarterback you're trying to bring in.'

Q: You have two great cornerbacks in (Patrick) Surtain and (Sam) Madison. The Patriots are struggling to get anything going offensively.

W: Drew (Bledsoe) is a great player there is no question about that. We're not looking at last week or two weeks ago. We know what a great player he is and Terry Glenn and the receiving crew that they have up there is very explosive and our guys understand and respect that.

Q: The rap on the Dolphins has been the lack of a running game, seems like you have one now. Lamar Smith is playing very well.

W: He is and we're committed to it. I think by drafting Todd Wade, a big offensive lineman, and drafting Deon Dyer the fullback we've made some decisions personnel wise to compliment our running philosophy. We just have to stay after it and we have a long way to go on offense. We just have to take it one week at a time.

Q: Fiedler has been kicked around a lot before landing in Miami. What do you see in him?

W: He's smart, he's very mature. When I say smart, I'm not saying just academic smart, he's smart with the football. He's very mature and he's a little better athlete than people give him credit for.

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