DOLPHINS HEAD COACH BRIAN FLORES
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
September 12, 2021
BF: Feels good to win. Credit to the players, our coaching staff, offensively, defensively, in the kicking game. Tough game. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming up here in this environment against a good, well-coached team. We just battled, and we knew we were going to have to battle. I think our guys did that and we were able to come out with a win, so it always feels good. A lot of corrections we have to make obviously, but it's good to get a win.
Q: What is it about Xavian Howard that at the most important part of the game he made a play for you guys?
BF: I mean, look, he's a great player, and we needed a play there and he was able to knock it off of him, recovered it. Obviously a huge play in the game and allowed us to get the ball back. But then we turn around and that's the complementary football that we talked about. Offense goes in there, gets a first down against a good defense, we're able to run it out and end the game with the ball.
Q: What went into the decision to start Liam Eichenberg at left tackle with Austin Jackson?
BF: Just playing – trying to play the best five guys. You know, Liam has done a good job throughout camp, played multiple positions. We just wanted to start the best five guys.
Q: How would you assess his performance?
BF: I mean, without watching the film it's hard to say whether he played well or didn't. Look, there's a lot of corrections to make from the game I'm sure, but I think Liam fought – actually I know that. I didn't watch the film but I know he fought his butt off, and I'm sure there are some corrections to make really for him and everyone on our team. It's good to make those corrections with a win.
Q: Can you talk about the defense's resilience today?
BF: We tried to take it one play at a time. That's the mentality our team has. Good play, bad play, just move on to the next play. A lot of corrections to make defensively. They were able to kind of make some plays, keep drives going, pick up third downs. We would have them in some second and longer situations, a penalty or, man, there is one where we get a sack but there was a penalty on it. Felt like every time we got a chance to get off the field they made a play or we had a mistake. That's what happens in a division game against good teams. They make plays, too. We knew that. We talked about this being a 60-minute ballgame, and that's exactly what it was. We talked about playing one play at a time, and we were able to do that and find success at the end.
Q: You guys tried a lot of pressure up the middle on Mac Jones and he hung in there.
BF: I thought he did a really nice job. I thought he did a really nice job. Got the ball out, was able to kind of move their offense, pick up first downs, drive them down field. Yeah, I thought he did a very nice job.
Q: What about Tua, how do you assess his play?
BF: Again, like everybody, there are some corrections we got to make. Thought he threw the ball well. Made some big throws and was a good run to get us started, and a fast start to start his first series. Ran it in. I thought he made a lot of good plays, a lot of big throws that we needed. That third down to start the second half was a big throw. We needed it. Good throw, good catch by DeVante [Parker]. So like everybody, players, coaches, I know we'll make corrections and try to improve and get better like we talk about every day.
Q: What did you see on the interception Tua threw? He was obviously under a lot of pressure there.
BF: Yeah, I mean, look, like everyone on our team, there are corrections to make. There are corrections for me to make as well. But as a team we're going to stick together. We're going to support one another. We're not going to point fingers or do anything like that. Tua has done a lot of good things for us in the preseason and he did a lot of good things today.
Q: How did you prepare for Mac Jones in his first pro game? I know you said he said some nice things, but what was it like going against him?
BF: Yeah, I mean, he played well. He moved the ball. Made the throws he needed to make. Made good decisions. I thought he played well. I thought we could have done some better things defensively. We'll make those corrections. But he played well.
Q: Hunter Long was in on the first play and the last play. What do you think of him so far as a rookie?
BF: Tough, smart, competitive, works hard. It's important to him. He's made a lot of improvement over the course of training camp. Good to get in a game and get a feel for a regular season game. Obviously played in the preseason. Good young player, somebody that we're excited to help develop. Again, like everybody, we just got to try and continue to make improvements on a daily basis and just try to get better.
Q: Was the Jacoby Brissett offensive package you ran today something you had in mind when you signed him or something you developed over the course of the last few months?
BF: I mean, look, if we want to get one yard we try to put our best players in there. It showed up in the game. You know, when we needed a yard, we put him in there. Got two short-yardage plays, and we just try to put our players in position to have success and our team to have success. He's done it before in the past, so we used him today and it helped us.
Q: What does today's game mean about your team that you were able to find a way to win?
BF: I mean, that's every team in the league. There is never been a perfect game played. That's just never happened. So there is always corrections to make, always things you can improve on, especially early in the year trying to find the things you do well. I mean, there is a little bit of trial and error at this point in the year. I think that's every team. I think every coach is going to get up there and say there is a lot of corrections we need to make. We're no different. Our guys work hard and have throughout the preseason. It's important to them to make the corrections, and we're going to have to do that this week starting tomorrow when we review the game. You know, look, our guys, we got a good group. They work hard. They'll trying to make the corrections and then next week we'll play and there will be more corrections to make.
Q: But just how the team found a way to win.
BF: Take it one play at a time. That's what we try to do. Pick each other up and support one another, and it feels good to get a win however you get it.
QUARTERBACK TUA TAGOVAILOA
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
September 12, 2021
Transcript was picked up in progress of press conference.
TT: But to an extent we didn't take advantage of a lot of the opportunities the defense gave us with a lot of the turnovers, but I thought overall there is a lot things we need to clean up offensively. I think the defense gave us a lot of opportunities and we just got to make use of those.
Q: How many of the plays on the opening drives were scripted?
TT: Well, I wouldn't say our opening plays are scripted, but it's more so we kind of know and understand how the game is going to be as far as our personnel being in there and what to expect as far as their defensive personnel being out there, and you can kind of gauge what plays are about to come into the headset.
Q: Was that the same to start the second half? Those were your two touchdown drives.
TT: Yeah, you know, it's all about making adjustments, and that's what we tried to do the second half. Obviously we got to execute a lot better, and for me, taking care of the ball. That's big, so...
Q: Were you trying to throw the ball away on that interception?
TT: Yeah, I was trying to throw the ball away. Unfortunately that's not what happened.
Q: What was it like going against Mac Jones?
TT: Well, I was happy for him. You know, it being his first real game with a crowd like this, I mean, I thought he made some really good throws. And their execution on third down I think was really good, and Mac looks like he fits perfectly into their offense and system. I was happy for him.
Q: How much did the play of the defense boost the offense with the defense being able to hold them to field goals after some long drives?
TT: Yeah, I mean, I think that's winning football on the defensive side. Like I said, I think we got to do a better job at making use of the opportunities that we get offensively. You know, and I would say kind of giving the defense some rest as well. You know, by either running the ball, getting RPOs, first downs, and kind of having long drives so they can get their rest. And to that point, playing complementary football.
Q: How did Jaylen Waddle affect today's game?
TT: I don't think it was just Jaylen. It was lots of the guys out there on the field like DeVante Parker and a lot of the things that you guys probably don't look at. You know, in Jaylen's first touchdown you have Durham Smythe and Mike Gesicki on one side and they're picking pretty much for Jaylen and that play wasn't possible without those guys. I think the line did pretty good, too, today, up front. Obviously there are some things we have to clean up, and that's what tomorrow is for us.
Q: What's the luxury of having Xavian Howard? When things aren't going well offensively he steps up and helps you out.
TT: Yeah, and I don't think it's just X, but having X is definitely really fun because you know something or anything can happen. But it's really everyone on the defense, you know, that helps with the turnovers. And that was just X. That was just X, so, yeah.
Q: Hunter Long is from up in this area. He comes back home, gets a win with you guys. What's your impression of him so far and was it a special moment to come home and get a win?
TT: Yeah, no I think Hunter has done a great job. Although he hasn't been getting catches, he does what he's asked. That's what you expect and that's what you want, especially for a rookie, someone that's just willing to go out there and do whatever he needs to do for the team.
Q: What's extra special about kind of doing it for these guys?
TT: I think these guys will be the first to tell that you it's not about them. You know, it's just about the collective work and effort that we've all put in as a team going against each other. Our defense kind of emulates the Patriots' defense, so we have the luxury of going against these guys, and them making it hard for us to move the ball, to run the ball, whatever it may be. But it is special for them because they've obviously come from this organization, so it's a good win.
Dolphins Player Quotes
Jason McCourty, DB
(On it being hard to win in New England)
"It's hard to win no matter where you're at. This is my 13th year and I've had years that I was 0-16, 2-14, and 3-13. It doesn't matter where you play in this league, it's hard to win in the NFL. Those are lessons that our young guys will learn. For the rookies coming from college, it's different and it doesn't matter who you're playing or what their record is. On any given Sunday you come out here, and it is going to be challenging and it is going to be a 60-minute ball game to come out victorious."
(On facing Mac Jones today)
"He didn't really make any mistakes, he was poised. Even watching him in the huddle getting guys in, yelling, commanding, and a lot of what he looked like in the preseason, is how he performed. He gave his team a chance to win. He didn't really make any mistakes, didn't throw any errant passes and he is a poised young guy. It was fun to see him and Tua [Tagovailoa] as college teammates being on opposite sidelines and it is obviously a lot more fun when you come out with a win."
(On the importance of getting off the field on third downs in the red zone)
"It is huge, red zone third downs are game-winning plays. When you are to able to get off the field on third down in the red zone, it's a four point play. It changes the chance of a touchdown to a field goal and it is huge just to keep us in the game and give our offense a chance. Obviously there are going to a lot of things we are going to need to correct on those long drives, but being able to bend but not break in the red zone is huge and continues to give us a chance as the game goes on."
(On the fumble recovery)
"It was seeing Xavien Howard being one of our best players and making a play. He gets paid a lot of money because he is that good. He was able to show up big for us, in that moment, and that is what we expect of him at practice and out here in the game. We expect him to make plays. It has been a lot of fun learning from him and being around him. He is a great, great guy and I am going to bring him to the stage next."
Xavien Howard, CB
(On the fumble recovery)
"Every game, I feel like I need to make something happen for the team and get the ball to the offense. My mindset was get the ball out, we needed it and it as crucial. So I made it happen."
(On your impression of Mac Jones)
"Like Jason [McCourty] said he was poised. He didn't make many mistakes and put his team in position to win."
(On the play of the defense)
"The coaches always put us in a position to make a play on the ball. All offseason we concentrated on getting the ball."
(On his mindset in the game when he's not being targeted)
"I try and be poised and take it one play at a time. I felt they may try to lull me to sleep and then make something happen. You know like I said, finding the ball and being around the ball is my main thing."
(On what it feels like to win in New England)
"It feels great and you just have to take it one game at a time and keep getting better."
(On if an interception or a fumble recovery are more fun)
Jaylen Waddle, WR
(On his touchdown)
"It was great. It was a great play call. I think my teammates did good, helping me get open. It was a play we drew up. I'm just happy being able to score, it was a good play. I gave it (the football) to my mom actually, after the game. Tua [Tagovailoa] did a good job of throwing to where the coverage was and it was just the right play."
(On the win)
"It's great. Every win is going to be kind of great. First one, big game, it was a great atmosphere and you're playing against guys that you know on the other side so it was great."
(On his pregame thought process)
"Just going over plays, going over the game plan. Just trying to do everything right. Get a routine and just go about it."
(On playing with and against college teammates)
"It was great. I think both of them (Tagovailoa and Mac Jones) did really good for their teams. It was great knowing guys on the other side. It was pretty cool."
Liam Eichenberg, OT
(On his performance)
"Obviously there were some mistakes. I had two penalties, I was on the ground a little bit. Overall there are a lot of things I need to clean up but we went out there and we got the win and that's the most important thing. It's great to be out there with the team, especially the first team offense. It's a good experience."
(On his position)
"I was kind of bouncing around, playing on the right side and the left side. There was part of me that thought maybe I would end up starting at left tackle for this game. It's where the team needs me. We have a lot of great players and a lot of guys that aren't selfish. For me it's just getting out there and just playing where they need me to be to help this team win."
(On when he found out what position he was starting at)
Elandon Roberts, LB
(On the magic of the defense this year)
"I don't feel like it's magic. Magic is you know up in the air. We just practice day in and day out, we talk about it day in and day out. We can just be joking in the locker room. Guys are like, "I'm going to punch one out today." It's just embedded in our defense and even our team. It's just a true testimony of taking it from the practice field, to the lunch room, the meeting room, because guys can walk around with a football and defensive guys will be trying to punch it out just trying to be funny. We can't help ourselves because when we see a ball, we just want to punch it out. I think it's just translating to the football field and we're just going to keep working hard on it and hopefully we can keep that same trend like we had last year."
(On the Patriots' three 14-play drives and if the defense was getting tired)
"That's how football is, in practice you try to simulate it but when the game time comes, it is what it is. This early in the season you can't say, "oh our team is in the best condition that we are." Every day after practice, we are going to condition, because you can't be at a point where you are in the best-conditioned team, you have to keep working on it."
(On the hard work coming back after an injury)
"Yeah it was a lot, when I got injured there was a lot of stuff that flashed in my mind. I tip my hat off to the Dolphins organization, Coach Flores. Because they trusted me and trusted that I would do everything, my trainers, my doctors wanted me to do to make sure I was ready to go week 1. I sacrificed a lot, but it was all worth it. It was worth it because I was able to be here for my team. The win is great, but being out there with the team, feeling that joy, being out on the field. That was the biggest thing to me."
(On being named captain)
"Captain is just a label. It's about going out there all 53 players – well 48 active including coaches – and being able to string one drive at a time together. I feel as a team we played a 60-minute game."