DOLPHINS HEAD COACH BRIAN FLORES
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Q. I know that asked you a lot about kind of how you would approach this final game and seeing the way your guys played and to cap off with the win the way it did, with Sam Eguavoen catching the interception in the end zone and the way the crowd was reacting, soaking in that moment, what was it like for you? What did that mean to you?
COACH FLORES: I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of their fight, their resiliency, their ability to deal and battle with adversity. We've had ups and downs, and it's a year I'll certainly remember. But yeah, very proud of this team.
Q. Fourth coach in franchise history with two winning seasons in their first three years with this team. Does that mean anything to you to add to your pride in this year's version of the team?
COACH FLORES: The credit goes to the players, coaches. I am always going to feel like and wish I could have done more. And our guys did work hard from the players and coaches, but obviously our support staff. It's a special group. I'm happy, I'm proud to be a part of it. And I'm excited for the way they played today. Proud of the way they played today and really the second half of the season.
Q. You mentioned about the fight and how proud you are of your guys. A win like this today, does it give you more of a sense of confidence as you go into the offseason to build for next season?
COACH FLORES: I think right now my thoughts are on kind of enjoying this. I think you've got to give credit to the Patriots and Bill (Belichick) and his staff, congratulate them on their season, what they did. They did a nice job and obviously played well today. And the offseason, those are things that we'll start to get into in the future. But right now just trying to enjoy this moment.
Q. Could you sum up this year? Was it a success as you see it? Was it what you expected?
COACH FLORES: Look, every year is different. I think every experience you learn from them, good or bad. That's kind of how I try to approach everything. I've learned a lot this year about myself, this team, players on our team, the people in our building. I think that's really what I take from it. I think that there will be time to reflect on it and see that there's certainly some things that I've learned. I'd like to think I've grown a little bit. Hopefully that's the case for everyone. That's the case for everyone every year — players, coaches. I'm sure that's the case for you in your profession. There's always good, there's always bad, and you try to learn from it all.
Q. What does it mean, this is the first time the franchise has swept the Patriots in 20 years in a series. Does that add any kind of significance to you considering you spent 15 years with the organization? You know the level of kind of dominance that they've had over this franchise.
COACH FLORES: They do a great job. They're well-coached. They battled for 60 minutes. We saw that tonight. They play well in all three phases. And like I said earlier, when you're away, I know certainly for me I've grown more of an appreciation for the things I've learned there and try to implement them here and really in every area of my life. But it's nice to always win. I'm glad — I'm happy for our players and our coaches and our support staff to go out with this win.
Q. If I could just go back to your last answer, you talked about how you've learned and grown over the course of the year. If I could just ask maybe in what ways, if you could just kind of elaborate on that a little bit?
COACH FLORES: I think look every year, every time I step out on the field, go into a meeting, do a walkthrough, I think those experiences; I think you're learning every time, every day. I try to improve every day. I try to preach that to our players. That's the goal really in all areas, not just football. But as husbands, as fathers, as sons, really in every way. So I try to take those experiences and try to be better in every area of my life. Specific to football, it's across the board. From a leadership standpoint, from a preparation standpoint, from a scheduling standpoint, from practice standpoint, from a walking standpoint, you can take all those things and say what's the right formula. But every year is different, different players, different situations. I think as I get time to reflect, kind of put it all together; so many variables, from offense, defense, special teams, scheduling. Just so many things. So many areas where you can learn. I try to be better in every one of those areas.
Q. How would you assess Tua's performance today?
COACH FLORES: I thought he played well. I thought he made some big runs in critical situations, picked up first downs when we needed them. Thought he made a lot of good throws. Thought he moved the ball well, ran the ball well. So he led us and gave us an opportunity to win the ball game, specifically at the end when we needed a drive. It's a good defense. Bill had all his timeouts and he was using them. That was a big drive — a great job. Nice job by George (Godsey) calling it and putting us in a position to get the win.
Q. Could you sum up Tua's season and considering at the trade deadline you guys were talking to Houston, his future with the franchise?
COACH FLORES: I think as far as evaluating the entire season, I'd like to have a little process for that. It's a bit unfair for me to say the season went like this, but I know I can tell you he's grown a lot this year from a leadership standpoint, from a command of the offense standpoint, from a dealing with adversity standpoint, from dealing with adversity and coming right back and helping us move the ball and make throws. Proud of his effort, proud of the way he handled himself the entire year. He did a nice job from that standpoint. As far as reflecting on the whole year, not quite there just yet.
QUARTERBACK TUA TAGOVAILOA
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Q. Obviously you had the big run to kind of seal things late in the game. And as you kind of heard, I'm not sure you heard the Tua chants, but what was going through your mind I guess in that moment? How do you reflect on this season and how do you perceive this season just given everything that it was for you and having the home crowd kind of behind your back late in that game?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: For me, I don't think there's any reflection of the season as far as right now. We just beat a tough team. I mean, really all week that's what we've been harping on is really we want to end this season with a bang. So that's what we went out there and did. And those runs, they just happened, I guess.
Q. Zero interceptions and you were able to defeat Mac Jones. How did it feel knowing that you got a win against your former college teammate, and you guys play tomorrow night? How did it feel to get that win today?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I don't ever look at it as me versus another quarterback or me versus another running back or whatever. It's always our offense versus their defense. And whatever we've got to do put points on the board and give our team opportunities to put points on the board. So I don't really dive into all of the me versus Mac or any of that. I think Mac did a hell of a job towards the ending of this game. And really towards the beginning of the season he's grown a lot as a player, watching his game. I couldn't be more proud of him. I'm happy for him and wish them the best of luck as they go into the playoffs.
Q. Obviously not the season you guys envisioned, not going to the playoffs. But can you just talk about how this team continued to battle? And your teammates said this, how you continued to battle this season, 1-7, rattle off seven wins, then you come in today facing a Patriots team that's going to the playoffs, and basically pride was just on the line today?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think you look at the first half of our season, there were a lot of things that we knew we had to fix. And there were some things that we knew we couldn't win with as far as executing on all three phases. But just everyone sticking together and believing in one another, I think that's what's helped the second half of the season for us.
Q. If I could follow up real quick Jaylen Waddle said that he knew you had that speed and you kept the ball when you went for the first down. He said that shouldn't surprise anyone that Tua has this speed. On a light note he said that.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, that's great. I mean, at least Jaylen says one good thing about me. (laughter)
Q. Tua, you never addressed the chants. Did you hear them? What did you think? And what has this season been like for you mentally?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I personally haven't heard the chants. I don't know if they were after the runs or whatnot. I personally didn't hear the chants. Only after the game when I was going through the tunnel, that's when I heard the chants. But I mean the season has been up and down for me and for a lot of the guys, for our team in general. I'm just so happy that we could end this season off with a win. And we'll see what the offseason has in plan for us.
Q. You described the ride that this team has been on and how you were able to keep fighting and win once you hit the midseason point. I'm wondering if you could describe a little bit about Head Coach Brian Flores' role in keeping this team together and directing it the way he did toward the win streak and why you think he's the right man to help this team take the next step maybe next year.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think 'Flo' (Brian Flores) has done a great job helping us stay together and not really worry about the outside noise and focus on the outside noise, if you will. It's just really us being able to spend some time with each other, spend more time with each other and things like that. But I think he's done a great job helping us get to where we're at this year. Obviously the first half wasn't what we wanted or what we expected. But like I said, I'm very pleased with how we finished this season off.
Q. Obviously a historic day for your college teammate. What was it like being a part of that season for him?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: That was amazing. Pretty much the first three plays went to him. (laughter) So we got that out of the way quick. And then I was actually very happy that we ended that drive with a touchdown for him. So that was really cool.
ADDITIONAL DOLPHINS PLAYERS
LB Jaelan Phillips
Q. Jaelan I know it's still pretty fresh the end of your rookie season, but how much pride do you take in being able to close this out the way that you all did? Winning what is this eight of your last nine games after starting 1-7?
JAELAN PHILLIPS: It's everything to us. That just shows who we are as men and who we are as a team. That's the story of our season. It's just perseverance. We had that run where seven in a row, that's not an easy thing to come back from. But we always stuck together, we always fought, we always played for each other. And ultimately, it's the best way that we could have ended off the season. Obviously we wanted to go to the playoffs, but I think we made the most with what we had.
Q. From a rookie year standpoint, eight and a half sacks. Do you look back and say this is what I was hoping for at least from an individual production standpoint?
JAELAN PHILLIPS: Frankly, I should have had more so never satisfied. Really not happy at all. But ultimately all that matters is that I feel like I grew as a player, as a player in the system. And ultimately coming into the season next year I'm just going to do everything I can to make sure I earn all the trust that I need to. Just come in and improve in all aspects of my game.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Q. That last play when you see the lateral going on and Sam (Eguavoen) intercepts it and you guys just kind of go crazy, what was that moment like to finish your season like that in front of the home crowd?
JAYLEN WADDLE: That was a crazy moment. Like just to finish the season that way, like on a high note, is important.
Q. I know you said you weren't focusing on the record, but you got it out of the way early on that first drive. What did that mean for you to do it in front of a home crowd and have it contribute to a win?
JAYLEN WADDLE: It meant a lot. A lot of credit shouldn't even go to me. Credit the OC, my quarterback, o-line, all the receivers in the group, the tight ends. It's definitely – I got the record, but it's all of us.
Q. Can you put into words what this season was like? I know ending on a high note was nice, but to have this NFL record? Could you put into words how your rookie season feels now that it's done?
JAYLEN WADDLE: It had its highs and it had its lows. It was just an experience, a new experience. I mean, you go into the league not knowing what to expect. So you just go out there and just try to compete. I don't even know. I don't really have words for it. It was just new.
Q. What was it like now that the season is over, what was it like for you taking on the heavy load with the offense? Obviously, you set an NFL record today. But now that it's over and looking back, what was it like for your in your first NFL season to have this heavy of a role?
JAYLEN WADDLE: It was a challenge. I think they challenged me every week to learn a new role. They put me in different spots, put me all over the place to learn that – it was challenging. But it shows they have trust in me and just that I go out there, I can learn it real fast and go out there and compete, try to put it in motion.
Q. You surpassed a guy like Anquan Boldin with the NFL record. Was that a player you looked up to when you were growing up?
JAYLEN WADDLE: Yeah, definitely. He definitely was a baller when I was growing up. Anquan (Boldin), definitely a Hall of Famer.
Q. Couple of big runs from Tua tonight. What was your reaction seeing him take off?
JAYLEN WADDLE: I said, hey, Tua (Tagovailoa) getting kind of loose out there. Seeing some speed. He showed off his speed a little bit. I always called him slow. (laughter)
DE Christian Wilkins
Q. For the Dolphins throwbacks, how often do you all want to play in them because it seems like this year when you wear those jerseys you all put a statement effort. Would you try to see those year-round or is it just certain games?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I think they're a special-occasion thing. It's cool just to throw them on. We all get excited. They're nice throwbacks. I think we've got some of the best uniforms and best retro uniforms in the league. It's always exciting to throw on the throwbacks and give a shoutout to our predecessors.
Q. What does it feel like to be the top tackle man in the NFL from the defensive line standpoint?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I'm not going to lie, it's a pretty cool honor. I wasn't trying to focus on it. Guys were talking about it. It was all week and stuff. I'm like, no, I'm just trying to play the game. Let me just get to the game. But just like any time you get a personal accolade, it never can be dealt without the guys around you. If I don't have the other guys on the d-line pushing me every day to be my best and coming every day to be the example, what it looks like, or try to be the example for those guys. And if I don't have guys setting edges – it's really a collective thing. I don't do it by myself. But I'm definitely honored to have the honor and that recognition. Hopefully I'll bring it next year.
Q. What's it like when you have an effective running game for the defense?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: That's big. It's huge because you're wearing the other defense down. You're taking more time of possession when you can run the ball. It's always great when the offense can get the ball in the ground game going. It's huge. It keeps us fresh, keeps us off the field, keeps the clocking rolling and especially when we had to have it late in the game we were able to do those things and offense stepped up big today.
Q. You guys talked all year about sticking together and how you guys really fought till the bitter end because you stuck together. What role did "Flo" (Head Coach Brian Flores) play in keeping you guys together? If you could explain some of the things he did.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: That's the head man. We followed his lead. All year long, when it was at its worst and when things didn't look so great and all the outside world had this to say about us, that to say about us; he just brought us all back in. Even when we were doing great, he still brought us back in – we still have to get better. We've still got to stick together no matter what. Even when guys started to have some success, he's, like, no. He does a great job of leading us, setting the tone for us each week and creating the mindset for us, and we all love it as players and we can all get behind him.
CB Xavien Howard
Q. Can you walk me through that last play, where were you and how did it feel to kind of have the season end like that on a high note and have the entire crowd, have the entire team celebrate like that?
XAVIEN HOWARD: It was a great feeling. Been a rough season, I would say. We struggled at the beginning of the season, but I feel like we finished strong. I'm proud of everybody in that locker room.
Q. How much of it was a kind of point of emphasis to say although we don't necessarily have a postseason berth to play for, we still want go out there and put the best outing that we can? How much of that was an emphasis during the week with this team?
XAVIEN HOWARD: We heard that so much this week. We heard that so much this week, but we want to finish strong. Not in the playoffs, nothing like that so we wanted to end on a good note at home.
Q. Can you describe the energy on the field the first couple of series that the defense took today? It felt just a lot like the juice you guys that you all were bringing during that seven-game winning streak?
XAVIEN HOWARD: Right, I felt like the momentum changed when we started making plays, scoring a touchdown on defense, I feel like the momentum changed. Everybody was excited and everybody came to play like that.
Q. What has been the learning lesson that you take from this season as a team?
XAVIEN HOWARD: I feel like as a team, we stuck together the through the ups and downs during the season, was 1-7, something like that starting off. It was tough. We could have been quitters, stuff like that, but we kept it going. Everybody kept fighting. I feel like we overcame it. We ended up finishing on a good note.
G Robert Jones
Q. How did it feel to get that first NFL start? When did you find out you would be trotting out there with the starters?
ROBERT JONES: It was amazing, going out there playing against a good team. Finally being able to go out there and showcase, show myself, that I'm capable to play with these guys. During the week I knew there was a chance I could start, but I didn't know for sure. So going on through the week I took reps, and credit to Jesse (Davis). He stuck by my side. He just kept guiding me, like he has all season trying to help me be a better player. Game time came, it was my time to go.
Q. How do you feel you did?
ROBERT JONES: I feel like I did okay. I feel like a lot of things I still have to work on. But I just tried to go out there, play hard, be aggressive and just have fun.
Q. What's it like to see this offensive line go through their struggles all season and then get your opportunity late in the season in the season finale?
ROBERT JONES: As the season went on, I felt like we got better each game. I feel like we did a lot of good things throughout the whole season. Credit to Jesse (Davis) and him being a veteran and leader in the room, made sure we all stuck together and we don't feed into the outside noise. Him and Coach 'Lem' (Lemuel Jeanperre) kept putting it in our head, we just have to trust ourselves, believe in ourselves and keep trusting our technique, listen to what Coach Flo and everyone is saying we can do. We just kept doing that, kept staying down and kept working and it paid off.
Q. What the team has been able to do in the last nine games of the season, do you think it's possible to carry momentum over to the next one?
ROBERT JONES: Next season is a long time from now. I feel like we did a lot of good things the whole season. In the second half of the season, we picked a lot of things up and we got way better. We just kept playing together, staying together, just kept doing what we do. Going to next season we've just got to keep feeding on that. Just keep focusing on the little things to help us just get better.