DOLPHINS HEAD COACH BRIAN FLORES
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 20, 2020
(Fantastic day on the ground today. What was the key to rushing for over 200 yards for the first time since 2016?) – *"I think (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) did great job, really, throughout the week, really the entire offensive staff – Chan, 'Marsh' (Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall), (Running Backs Coach) Eric Studesville (Tight Ends Coach) George (Godsey), the entire staff, (Quarterbacks Coach) Robby Brown. I thought the players executed. I thought (Salvon) Ahmed ran hard, (Matt) Breida ran hard, Patrick Laird ran hard. Offensive lined blocked well. We had receivers blocking down field. I think we executed. They should be proud of themselves. It's a well-coached team over there, and we played well today."
(Just want to see what it means to you to secure a winning season in just your second year as head coach. What does this all mean?) – "It's always good to win. That's what we're … That's why these guys put all the blood, sweat, and tears in. That's why they prepare so hard and practice so hard and lift the weights, and not so much for me, but for this team and these players and what they put into, the effort they put into trying to go out there and execute. I'm just happy for these guys. We're just going to take this one game at a time and continue to prepare the right way, continue to try to improve every day. But honestly, for the Dolphins fans, I'm very … I think we got great fans, people who are lifers, man. They love this team, so it's happy to, I mean, … I'm happy to bring some joy into their – or we're happy, I should say – to bring some joy to these, to our fans because they deserve it."
(How important was the conversation at halftime, and then for the offense to come out first drive in the third quarter to score. You scored all 22 of your points there in the second half.) – "I think we overcame a tough first half. That just speaks to the resiliency and the mental toughness of this team. Didn't play great in the first half, got down into the red zone, turned it over. This team, we don't go in the tank. We just keep playing. We just battle through. And that's what they did. Came in at halftime, made some adjustments. I think (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) made some adjustments. (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer) made some adjustments. (Special Teams Coordinator) Danny (Crossman) made adjustments. They went out there and executed. I'm excited for our players and we're going to enjoy this one."
(I want to ask you about the effectiveness of, I don't know if it was the RPO game or QB Tua Tagovailoa in shotgun, how much better does it, does the run game, an effective run game help this offense?) – "I think we have talked about this. Moving the ball down the field with efficiency, getting first downs, putting pressure on the defense, however you do it, run game, pass game, but you want balance. I think we were able to have that today. I want to say we probably maybe ran the ball more than we threw it. But you want balance, and I think in order to keep a defense, you want to keep a defense off balance, you need balance offensively. We have had these conversations as far as running it, passing it, RPO'ing it, screening it, drop back. I think you just, we just got to try to keep mixing it offensively but keep the run-pass balance, which we tried to do all year. Today we ran it effectively, so we just kept running it. I think our guys executed. I think (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) did great job, our offensive staff did a good job, our defensive staff did a great job keeping them out of the end zone. Did a good job in the kicking game. They got a really good special teams unit, neutralized that a little to a degree and we played well. Well enough to win."
(I thought it was interesting what you were talking about earlier as far as how important it was to the fans and the team to be winning again. For you guys, all you guys had to overcome, including injuries today, have you been surprised by anything that your team has showed you in some of these tough moments? I know they're resilient, but is there anything at all that impressed you?) – "I think we got tough, mentally tough, physically tough, resilient group that knows how to deal with adversity, doesn't go in the tank, keeps fighting, keeps working, keeps coming to work, good, bad, hot, raining, whatever, whatever the situation, whatever the situation is, these guys just work. Our coaches are the same way. Really everyone in our building is that way. I talked about that, but from our nutritionists to our equipment to strength and conditioning, to our medical staff, to ownership. Everyone in the building is kind of wired that way. We battle for each other, players, coaches, support staff. And we'll continue to do that. That's one thing I know, every day that everyone's going to work hard. I don't take it for granted, but I know that that's the case."
(Today obviously you were without WR DeVante Parker, TE Mike Gesicki, WR Jakeem Grant, G Ereck Flowers. How many of those went down to the wire and how did that change your approach going into this game?) – "They really all went down to the wire, so we had multiple plans if such-and-such plays, if such-and-such plays, we'll do this, we'll do that. I think, again, (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) and the offensive staff did a great job. They were ready to go with whoever was up as far as how we were going to try to attack these guys. I think they were all pretty much … They were all close. These guys are fighting to play. Whether it's Mike (Gesicki), DeVante (Parker), Jakeem (Grant), 'E-Flo' (Ereck Flowers). Everyone's fighting to play and get out there and they just want to help this team. Again, it just speaks to the type of guys we have."
(Do you think the rushing attack today was a good game plan against a defense you're familiar with or something that's probably, could be a sign of things to come for the future for you guys?) – "I think it's about execution. That's what it's about every week, execution, execution, execution, execution, execution. I think we did a good job from that standpoint in the run game, getting guys blocked, receivers, tight ends, backs. (Salvon) Ahmed ran hard. Backs made guys miss and created more yards than were probably there and by making a guy miss by breaking a tackle. And then down field, guys were blocking and trying to make a 12-yard gain a 22-yard gain, I don't know for sure. I would have to watch the film. But that's what you need to put up that kind of yardage in the run game. Our guys played hard. It's something we talked about and harped on all year. You mentioned a sign of things to come. I don't really look at it that way. I look at it as we got to prepare, we got to practice, we got to walk through and then we got to execute. To give ourselves a chance to execute, I should say. But I know these guys will do that. No game's ever been perfect. It surely wasn't perfect today, but these guys, I know they fight and they work hard and it's important to them."
QUARTERBACK TUA TAGOVAILOA
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, December 20, 2020
(Obviously 242 rushing yards is a pretty impressive number for any team. But when you have that kind of success on the ground, how much does that help the quarterback?) – "Well, I think when you have that kind of success in the run game, it doesn't just help the quarterback. I think it helps the entire team. I think the o-line did a great job today. I think our running backs did a great job as well finding the lanes that the o-line gave them and picking their spot in the hole and getting us yards that we needed. I think that was the big reason as to why we were successful offensively today and that helped us in our passing game as well."
(Obviously playing without WR DeVante Parker, TE Mike Gesicki, WR Jakeem Grant, WR Preston Williams for a couple weeks as well, how did you do it with the guys out there today? How did you feel about their performance?) – "I think all the guys did good, from the wideouts, the slots, the running backs. In every week, we go into preparing for a game, it's always next-guy-up mentality. Knowing that we weren't going to have Jakeem (Grant) and we weren't going to have 'D.P.' (DeVante Parker), I mean, that's tough; but you've got to get a good groove with the guys that you're given, and we went out there and did our best to make that work."
(You had a couple rushing touchdowns, but I want to ask you about the one where you were scrambling. It looked like you put a juke move on a guy and drug another guy in. Do you, does that, is that some moves, some more moves that your teammates didn't expect from you?) – "Yeah, well, I tried to do everything I could to get in the end zone. I just got to work a little bit more on some other dance moves I got going. (laughter)"
(Two quick questions for you: How important was it for the third quarter for you there to come out and direct a scoring drive right out of the bat? The second one is, as you look ahead to next week just what are your thoughts on the possibility of seeing Raiders QB Marcus Mariota back there in Vegas?) – "I think that would be awesome seeing Marcus (Mariota) because me and Kamu (Gurgier-Hill), we're from Hawaii. Marcus is from Hawaii. Me and Marcus went to the same high school. I think that will be something pretty cool, something special. But I think going into the third quarter, we wanted to start better than we did in the first half. I think the first half we did pretty well, but the decision I made down there in the red area kind of put us back a little bit and kind of kept the Patriots in the game. And that whole first half, I was drowning. That was my fault because we had points there and I tried to force that. So third quarter and fourth quarter, second half, we just wanted to come out and take what the defense gave us, and then you guys saw what the o-line and the running backs were doing."
(I'm wondering if you could speak to the resiliency of this team, not only given all the guys who were out today, but there were several plays that looked like they went very much in your favor and then upon a review, or what have you, it was overturned. How did you manage to overcome all of that?) – "Well, you've got to have that next-play mentality and then one-play-at-a-time mentality after that. So I think that's what we did as a team, both offense and defensively, and then you can include the special teams in there as well. Whatever opportunity we were given, we tried to make the best out that have opportunity and when all else fails, we try to revert back to our rules and what we have gone over in practice."
(I think today was your sixth start. How would you assess how you played, not just today, but throughout your first season?) – "I think there's a lot of things that I need to continue to work on. It's a continuing learning process for me as well. Going up against a Bill Belichick defense, that was a tough challenge for us offensively. But like I said, I think the offensive line did a tremendous job and, in both the run and the pass game, and then you also had the running backs doing their thing as well. But after this game, we're just going to enjoy it. We're moving on to the next game."
ADDITIONAL DOLPHINS PLAYERS
RB Salvon Ahmed
(There was a report that you promised your teammates you would get 100 yards today in honor of your grandmother. Is any of that correct?) – "I don't know where that came from. But I just went out there and tried to do my best, and they were able to go out there and make things work, and I just followed behind them. The o-line was doing great things and the receivers were blocking down field and so it was fun to be a part of that."
(This has got to be a hugely trying year for you up and down with injuries and then when you're in the game, you've had an impact. How rewarding was it for you today? You're the first Dolphins running back in two years to go over a hundred yards.) – "It was just fun to be a part of, fun to be a part of a win. This is a big win for us and our team, and we work hard for this. I'm just happy to be a part of it, be a part of this organization."
(You go over 100 yards. Are you then rooting for RB Matt Breida to also get to a 100-yard mark? He almost hit it at 86.) – "The more the better. We want all the running backs to hit 100 yards if they can. We're all our biggest support in that room. We all want each other to go out there and do whatever we can. We all need help. We can't be in there every play. Guys like Matt, he stepped up and he did his thing, and I'm not surprised by it. We all know what Matt can do, so I was really happy for him as well."
(I wanted to give you an opportunity to shout out the offensive line and helping you with the run blocking.) – "Absolutely, man. I appreciate the o-line. Those guys, they keep me going. They make it easy on me. They get pushed down the field and all I got to do is follow behind some big dudes. Shout out to them. Getting a W is not possible without the o-line, so that's most important right there."
(What did you feel would have to happen today in order for you and the team to have a lot of success rushing the football and what did come true?) – "I think it just came down to executing. I think that's what it comes down to every week. You just got to execute what the plays is called and go out there and do that all week. We practice hard as a team and just kind of go out there and execute. That's what we expect."
(If I could just real quick confirm the thing about the grandma. You said that's not true? Is that not true at all?) – "My grandma, she's doing good now. But yeah, that's all I'll say about that. She's doing good now."
DT Raekwon Davis
(What do you think was the most important thing that the defense did today that contributed to holding the Patriots out of the end zone?) – "Just stopping the run, keeping Cam (Newton) out of the pocket, keeping him from running the ball, keeping him from throwing the ball, quarterback runs and stuff like that, just keeping him in the pocket basically. That's about it."
(This is the 20th straight week, I believe, that the Dolphins have forced a turnover. What is it about the scheme that you guys put out there that makes you so good at creating turnovers?) – "It's just playing hard, chasing after the ball, just all effort. It's not a secret, not a scheme, not a play. It's just chasing the ball down, getting to the ball and getting the ball."
(Head Coach Brian Flores' philosophy, what do you think it says about himself and what he's instilled around the locker room that, and it's only his second season, but he's going to have a winning season here now that you guys have nine wins?) – "It's just play every play, just dominate that one play at a time and just keep going, just stay focused, communicate and just playing our ball."
(Obviously stopping the run is a big point of emphasis for you guys. I was curious what it's like for you and the appreciation you might have for when the Dolphins are pounding the rock offensively like they did today for over 250 yards. Did you enjoy watching that when you were able to from the sideline?) – "I was like, 'That's crazy.' He was running hard. That was crazy. But congrats to the offense. That was a big, big, big step for them running the ball. That's something they wanted to keep working on and that was perfect today."
C/G Michael Deiter
(I want to go over what the Jaguars jersey situation is. I saw Jesse Davis wearing it today.) – "(Florida) Panthers."
(My bad. Wrong animal. What's that all about and what was it like to get out there and play and could be contribute to a win today?) – "We're both just hockey fans and it's late December. It's normally also hockey season, so we figured we would get a little festive and support our pro hockey team. And it felt good to get out there and play a little football. It's been awhile."
(What has the last 12 months been like for you? Last year obviously you had a much bigger role with the team and you needed to wait for your opportunity and today you took advantage of it.) – "It's been a process. It's just taking it day by day and wherever I am asked to play or whatever role I'm given, just making sure I'm doing it to the best of my ability and making sure it's helping this team be as good as it can be and whatever role that is, I got to be ready to do it at a good level."
(How critical was it for the line to establish both run and pass protection, but specifically with the run with RB Salvon Ahmed and RB Matt Breida getting over 200 yards combined?) – "It was crucial. That defense, it's a defense that you want to attack on the ground, which will only make throwing the ball easier, make it more effective. And to get those guys running like that. We didn't have to be perfect as an o-line and they didn't have to be perfect as backs, but they did a heck of a job and we just had to fit guys up and give them a chance to make plays and they did."
(Can you put into words the magnitude of this game and what it means for this team going toward the playoff run?) – "It's another game when you think about it, but not really. It's a division game versus the Patriots and that's always a rival game and it's on our way to where we want to go postseason, so it's a big game. We had to go out there and make plays and take it one play at a time and we did, and that's what we have to do this week in practice and going forward."
DT Christian Wilkins
(What does it mean to be able to keep the Patriots out of the end zone today?) – "It's big. It was huge for our defense. They threw a lot at us and they had their backs against the wall. This was an elimination game for them. So it's big that we were able to keep them out of the end zone, get some stops, made some much needed plays at times. So that was good. It was good to see that out of the defense."
(You've been a part of this rebuild since the beginning. Obviously, you were the first draft pick that Head Coach Brian Flores brought in here since he got hired. How rewarding is it now to hit a winning season and to be in control of your destiny for the playoffs?) – "No, it's good to see. Since day one, there was never a doubt in my mind after I met Coach Flores and got around the organization that we could do some good things. But I just hope that good things can continue to keep happening for us, but it's all about putting the work in, putting the work in each and every week and just keeping moving. I'm just excited to be a part of it."
(I need to know and get to the root of the Hamilton obsession that you have. And also, are you the reason why they play Hamilton every Friday or is it every, every day? What do you have to do to get the Hamilton music played?) – "I've talked about it before. I'm just like a big, weird dude. I don't know. I just have a lot of … like. I'm passionate about the things I like. I cling on to things. I like my Hamilton, as you guys know. Still love my Power Rangers. I'm a very simple guy. I just like things. I hang onto them, just have fun with it. But as far as the Hamilton thing getting played, (Head) Coach 'Flo' (Brian Flores) is a fan too. Don't let him fool you. He knows Hamilton too. He kind of likes it and that's kind of been the thing and we have been rolling with it ever since."
(You guys gave up 100 fewer rushing yards in this game as opposed to week one against the Patriots. Is that something that's just an improvement over the season or something you guys recognized on the film from Week 1 and that first matchup with New England?) – "We obviously made some adjustments and it was good that we were able to do a lot better this time defending them because in some ways they had, they did what they wanted in Week 1, so it's just good to see the improvement and glad we were able to get the W today."
(My wife is a big Hamilton fan, so she loves every time she sees you.) – "Oh, awesome. This is my birthday suit for the day. This is my birthday suit in Hamilton. Your wife is awesome. Good for her."
(But piggybacking off one of the earlier questions about you guys having a winning season, what do you think this kind of progression has been, what does it say to the fan base about where you guys are as a team and what's next for you?) – "Really, we just got to stay in the moment. That's the biggest thing. Just keep worrying about each week, each game, and hopefully good things will continue to come for us, really. I'm not worried necessarily about, 'Oh, what's it going to look like next year, this year.' You know what I'm saying? I just try to take it day by day and we as a team try to take it day by day and then good things will come for us if we just put our head down and grind and just continue to do things the right way."
(How were you guys able to keep them out of the end zone there on those key drives forcing field goals? And also, did you feel a little bit for CB Xavien Howard? A couple weeks ago you had your touchdown overturned from a review and then it happened to him today too.) – "I definitely feel for him on that. I did my best. Just when you get 310 pounds running full speed in a direction, it's hard to stop, jump, and move out of the way. But I definitely felt for him on that. But I'm just glad were able, like you said, to keep him out of the end zone and make necessary plays on defense just to win the game."
(Why does it seem like you guys just always just find a way to win?) – "Really, I think the biggest thing is just love and care. We got a lot of guys who love football, who love each other, care for each other and just want to win. When you got that, it's easy to play for the guys next to you, the guys around you, and for the guys on the other side of the ball. That's really what we got. I feel like we just are a family, so that's what we try to do."
(Hamilton questions, I think everybody was expecting you to say, I'm not throwing away my shot. But just to follow up on that, I notice you're getting a lot of shots on the offensive side of the ball. What goes into that for you? Like, how do you prepare for that when you're so used to being part of this amazing defense?) – "Really just whatever the team needs of me, I'm willing to do it, whether it's offense, defense, special teams, it doesn't matter, I'll play quarterback. It doesn't matter. I just want to help the team win as much as possible, so if they ask me to go play some offensive snaps, I'm going to do that."