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Dolphins Head Coach Dave Wannstedt Press Conference

Phone ConferenceDolphins Head Coach Dave Wannstedt speaks to the press.



            **Q:  Are you happy with the situation the team is in?**  

W: There is no question about that. That is the mindset our team has, that is the mindset we should have. If we would have lost our opening two games and won our last two, everybody would do back flips. I think all you have to do, and you guys know better than anybody, is look around the league. Tampa has to win up in Green Bay to win the division. Minnesota has got to go to Indy to win it. Tennessee has to go beat Dallas. So, there's – we're in no different situation. Obviously we win a couple games on the road and got to 10, and people got fooled a little bit as far as how difficult it is in this league to win a game. Our quarterback got hurt against Tampa and that was a mess. Last week, we made more mistakes than Indy. And Indianapolis is an outstanding football team. If you make some mistakes and turn the ball over, you're not going to beat them. When we beat them up there earlier, we had no turnovers, we had three penalties total and zero penalties in the second half and we win. It's really pretty simple, but that's not any fun to talk about or write about, so it is not really discussed.

Q: Do you believe the notion that the Dolphins struggle in December?

W: Not at all. I can only speak for last year and this year because I was on the staff last year. The reason we got beat last year and we fell is we went from a plus-7 turnover ratio to I think a minus-six. We were turning it over and we weren't coming up with any. Our defense gave up 26 points a game the last four games of the season a year ago. We didn't play good enough to win and this year that's usually what it comes down to. We've played two very tough football teams, the two teams everybody was talking about being in the Super Bowl maybe, Tampa and Indy. We turned it over five times in one game and last week, gave up a big pass play and fumbled once and they didn't and they won by a touchdown. That's how it goes. But as far as being tired or being jinxed or any of that stuff, that's not true, all that stuff is an excuse in my mind.

Q: Trace Armstrong said in previous seasons, the team was tired. This year they are ready.

W: Sure. I've tried to adjust it with the contact and the pads. We've done what we had to do. The guys have been great. We haven't done things 'because that's what you're supposed to do.' We've kind of done what we had to do every week to get our team ready. If it means hitting with pads on, then we hit with pads on. If we wanted to give them a little break as the season went along, we did that too and our guys have responded in a positive way.

Q: Is the winner of the AFC East more battle-tested than other teams?

W: When we were in Dallas, in fact Bill (Belichick) was with the Giants at the time, we kind of went through the same thing. The Giants were defending Super Bowl champs at the time or the Redskins, I don't remember who it was. The Eagles with Buddy Ryan were a tough team. We were an up and coming team in Dallas. We kind of talked about that, if we could get through somehow, whether it was a factor I don't know, but we told ourselves that. We said, 'Hey, the competition is so tough.' Once we got into the playoffs, we went on the road and beat San Francisco, and beat Buffalo pretty handily in the Super Bowl. I don't know. It is not easy going through it, but I guess if you can get through it should give you a chance.

Q: Early in the season, teams may have looked past you. Maybe they'll continue through the playoffs.

W: I think that was a big part of our teams psyche early. When we got to about the eighth and ninth and tenth win, people started talking the other way and it probably hurt us. The best thing that happened to us is nobody talked about us until about two weeks ago. That was kind of nice. But now, we've got to win this game to get in the playoffs. That's what I told our players. We've got to assume Indianapolis is going to win and the Jets are going to win. The only we can get in because of tiebreakers is to win this game. That's where our focus is and we'll have to see what happens.

Q: Bill Belichick suspended Ty Law today. What does that do for your team?

W: I don't know. As far as the suspension stuff, I really can't comment on that. I don't know anything about it. (Antonio) Langham started against us last time we played them, so I would assume he'll be the next corner up. Anytime you lose a player like Ty Law, obviously it affects you. Langham will probably be the guy that steps in and he did play against us the first time we played them. I'm sure they're confident in what he can do.

Q: You were the coach in Chicago when Trace Armstrong was traded. How did that situation play out?

W: It all came down to, we had Alonzo Spellman and it was either his second or third year and he was making a lot money. We had just drafted John Thierry, and he was the number one pick, I think ninth pick in the draft and he was under contract for a long time. We had three defensive ends, Trace's contract was going to be up. As an organization, we just weren't going to pay three defensive ends top money. The only guy depth-wise, Spellman had really never done anything, Thierry didn't do anything at that point, he was just a rookie. The only guy that really was valuable, that had interest from the outside was Trace. Because of cap situations, and the interest that teams had in him, primarily the Dolphins, we went ahead and made the trade.

Q: Was Trace Armstrong happy about it?

W: Yeah, I think he was. The big thing is that players want to be with a winner. He was going to Miami and obviously, they were a playoff team. So, he was excited about it. He played at Florida, he lives in Gainesville. So, there was a heck of a lot more exciting things going on in Miami at that time than there were in Chicago.

Q: Can you talk about Jay Fiedler?

W: We really didn't have any idea what he would do, what he could do as we got into the off-season when we signed Jay. It was just a situation where we knew he was smart, he had enough ability was a pretty good athlete, bring him and compete with Damon Huard. Once we came to the conclusion he would be the starter, then it was a situation of giving him enough confidence. This was huge to anybody coming in here, to try and come in here, I mean it'll never happen and deservingly so, to fill in and try to take the place of Dan Marino. You talk about tough odds. I remember the first game, we opened up against Seattle, he threw an incomplete pass, the first pass the kid ever threw, and I think there were some boos. We ended up winning the game, he was making some progress. Two or three weeks ago against Buffalo he played his best game. Then he got hurt against Tampa the next week. Last week at this time, we were unsure if he would play or not. He went out there and we made a decision that he would play. Now that he has gone through the injury, feels good about it, he is in a good frame of mind, that he'll bounce back this week.

Q: Are there more off-field problems with losing teams than winning teams?

W: I think they're talked about more. When the team is losing, everything that is a negative is really magnified as a negative. I don't know if those instances happen anymore than when a team is losing as compared to winning, I couldn't say that. I think the focus is more on it when they're losing.

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