Press Conference 10-26-20 Brian Flores

Monday, October 26, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(I’m going to be the one non-Tua question again just like last Thursday. At defensive tackle do you have any more of a sense whether you’ll have DT Raekwon Davis available this week and since General Manager Chris Grier is not really available to us, just give us what your thoughts were on if you have enough moving forward at that position with DT Zach Sieler, DT Christian Wilkins obviously at end and tackle, DT Benito Jones and DT Raekwon Davis?)

 “Raekwon (Davis) is working just like all the other guys who are a little banged up from last week. He’s working to get back, doing everything we can. I know we had a lot of guys in over the weekend getting treatment, rehab. So he’s doing everything he can to get back as well as that other group of players. We feel good about our depth on the d-line. We also have some on the practice squad; but sometimes you’ve got to play with a short hand. If that’s the case, then we’ll do our best, but I think guys are trying to get out there as soon as they can.”

(I wanted to ask you about QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. There was a lot of chatter about the trade deadline and potentially his name coming up among some teams that need quarterback help. A, have you been contacted by anyone and B, can you say definitively that you’re not going to trade Ryan Fitzpatrick next week?) –

 “Again, those questions really go to (General Manager) Chris (Grier). They should go to Chris. My focus is on the Rams and getting ready for the Rams, getting our players – this team – ready to play the Rams. It’s a good opponent. They’re tough. They’re physical. They’re talented. They play tonight so we’ll be watching that and again, that’s really a Chris question. He’s the one who handles all the calls from different teams. My focus is on this team, this week and getting our guys ready to play.”

(What are realistic expectations to have for QB Tua Tagovailoa in his first start?) – 

“I think he’s just got to do a good job of preparing throughout the week. I don’t like to put expectations on anyone. I think we just need to go out there, really – not even go out there – but have a good day today, have good meetings, have a good walkthrough, have a good practice, put together a good week and just try to play a good football game come Sunday afternoon against a good opponent. It’s a team effort. Again, it won’t be just Tua, but he’s going to have to do his part as far as communication, getting us lined up, making good decisions. We’re saying specific to Tua, but this is anyone who steps on the field. We need them to do a good job with our communication and to play with good fundamentals, technique and we need them to execute. We’re asking of him what we would ask anyone that steps on the field. But again, he’s young. But yeah, we expect him to go out there, play with good fundamentals, technique and execute.”

(Coming with another non-Tua question. I wanted to check on your edge players – LB Kyle Van Noy and LB Andrew Van Ginkel. Is Van Ginkel out of the concussion protocol and with Van Noy, was that more of a precautionary thing or you felt like he couldn’t play last game?) – 

“Just talking about (Kyle) Van Noy – there’s only 16 games – so ‘precautionary,’ I don’t know if that’s the word I would use. He couldn’t go. We just felt like that was the best decision for him and he’s doing everything he can to get back out there. ‘Ginkel’ (Andrew Van Ginkel) is not quite out of the protocol yet, but getting closer, it looks like. He’s doing everything he can, but not officially out of the protocol yet. He was in all weekend trying to do everything to get back.”

(Conventional thinking at least says that the bye week is an advantageous time to change quarterbacks if you’re going to do so. So with that in mind, what was QB Tua Tagovailoa possibly able to accomplish with the bye that may not have happened had you had a game? How did he capitalize on his time?) – 

“He, along with all the players, I think it’s a time to rest, it’s a time to self-reflect on the first six weeks of the season. I think he had a – again, we only had the one practice, so as far as getting out there and practicing, that was limited. I’m not really sure what else – what you’re asking me there. You can kind of re-ask that if you’re looking for more there.”

(I was just trying to find out if there were other ways – anything hidden that we may not think of – where he might have been able to capitalize on the time and get better prepared or just mentally prepared and focused on the idea that he’s No. 1 now.) –

 “I think that’s probably more of a question for Tua (Tagovailoa), but just mentally getting in the right frame of mind of being the guy, being the starter and look, his preparation’s always been good, so I don’t really see that changing all that much. As far as kind of going through his progressions – weekly progression – (Quarterbacks Coach) Robby (Brown) and (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) have done a good job as far as teaching him what that progression should be like as a starter. I could see it being ramped up a little bit because obviously knowing that he’s going to be out there, but he’s prepared that way really throughout the season and we’ve tried to talk to him to prepare that way. So maybe it just gives him a little bit more time to prepare that way for an opponent, which is probably a good thing; but yeah, I don’t really have much more insight than that.”

(I know you’re not worried about outside narratives. But I’m curious how after the change, have you at all talked to the team to make sure there aren’t any unanswered questions in the locker room with why you made the decision, and why as a staff you made the decision to go with Tua Tagavailoa? And what was said, if anything?) 

“I mentioned that I was going to talk to the team last week. At the end of the day, we make decisions that we feel are best for the team. That’s what we said to the team, and that’s where we left it.”

(Communication is a big staple of your program. I wanted to ask you if there is anything specific you could tell us about S Bobby McCain that makes him a good communicator both on the field, but also with the guys in the locker room. Would you say it’s fair to say he’s the quarterback of the defense?) – “Yeah, I’d say it’s fair to say he’s the quarterback of the defense. He’s a good communicator. I think a lot of that is tied to the relationships he has with other players on the team. His willingness – I would say his production on the field and his overall wanting to communicate and make sure we’re all on the same page, I think he’s taken that role on and been successful in it. You need someone to kind of remind guys to watch this or watch that. If it’s third down, watch the sticks. I think we all kind of need reminders, and he’s taken on that role and really embraced it I would say.”

(We heard from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick last week and he was obviously emotional, discussing the move and how he thought of it. Obviously you guys have been playing really well with ‘Fitz.’ How do you prevent there from being any division or anything involving that if QB Tua Tagovailo doesn’t play well coming in initially?) 

 “We go out there, we prepare, we practice. I think the guys rally around each other. I think they support one another. To think there would be division because a guy doesn’t play well, I don’t think we have that on this team. I don’t think we have that one this team. I think when guys make mistakes, this team rallies around each other and pick each other up. To say there will be division, I don’t see that. It hasn’t been that way, and I don’t foresee that. We will coach it the way we’ve always coached it. We’ll pick each other up, we’ll rally around each other, we’ll bring energy to the team. I think to even bring that type of energy or speak about it, I think it’s unfortunate that anyone would go that route. But obviously that’s out there and people are thinking about it. I don’t see that on this team.”

(QB Tua Tagavailoa mentioned in his press conference last week that he would meet with you every Tuesday and go over film. I’m assuming that’s practice film, or would that be a game film situation? Can you just walk us through what those meeting would be like with him?) 

“It’s game film, it’s practice film, it’s situations. He’s a young player. He’s got a lot to learn. He tries to be a sponge. I think everyone can see that – players, coaches, this team. I think it’s – he wants to learn, and he wants to see it from all different aspects. I give him a defensive aspect, he gets it from (Offensive Coordinator) Chan (Gailey) obviously from the offensive side of the ball. He asks defensive players things that they saw. That’s just the type of kid he is, and it’s a good thing. He tries to learn as much as he can, and I think as a teacher, and as a coach, I think that’s what you are looking for. I try to watch as many different things as possible; but obviously you don’t want to overload the kid. I know he’s getting a lot of information from a lot of different places. Our meetings are more, I would say, me giving him the defensive perspective, and I think as an offensive player, if you understand the thought process from the other side of the ball, it can make you a better player. I know that’s the case defensively, when you think of how they are trying to attack us offensively. That’s what those conversations are like.”