Miami Dolphins Press Conference 10-29-20 Hunt, Gaskin, Davis, Jones, and Flores

Thursday, October 29, 2020

G/T Robert Hunt

(I was just watching an interview with Tim Tebow on Twitter. It was with USA Today where he was talking about being a left-handed quarterback. They asked him what changes, and he said that ‘everyone on the offensive line needs to be aware of what his blindside is.’ What sense of responsibility do you and G Solomon Kindley feel in protecting not just any quarterback, but QB Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside?) – “I don’t think we feel pressure. I think that everybody wants to be on the same page including the left side and the center. I think that everybody wants to be on the right page, and keep Tua up, and if Tua goes down, ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) or anybody that’s in to keep them up and keep those guys healthy. And keep them off the ground as much as possible.”

(Because he’s a left-handed quarterback, how does things change for you in terms of the fact that you are protecting QB Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside?) – “I don’t think anything changes. I just continue to try to be myself and continue to try to prepare, and keep preparing the way we have been preparing and get better each week, and each day, to do my job the best I can do it.”

(You just had your first bye week as a professional football player. How did you spend that time off, and if any of the veterans or the guys that have been around the block a few times have said ‘hey, here’s a good way you can get better on the bye week?’) – “I was here a lot. I was up at the complex – a lot of guys were up here getting workouts in, here and there. Getting treatment on your body, staying proactive on your body and stuff like that. Things I think I need to work on personally, for myself, I worked on. I just enjoyed some down time at home.”

(Obviously you guys have DT Aaron Donald as part of your assignment this week. I know he lines up mostly inside, but he does line up everywhere. Whenever you get that chance with him, whether it’s one-on-one or double teams, what do you think that’s going to be like, and what is sort of the key to naturalize a guy like him?) – “I don’t know what it will be like. I’m confident in all of us to do our job and do what we have to do to move him off the ball or – it’s the game of football. You win some, you lose some; but I think once we get our chance and get our hands on him, we’ll be fine. They have a lot of good guy. He’s the main piece, but they have a lot of good guys.”

(I was also going to ask about DT Aaron Donald and I do get it, overall they’re a good defense. I think the thing about Donald that is kind of unique is that he has both strength and quickness. What do you view as what he does best?) – “He does a lot of good things. He’s mostly inside. I’ve definitely watched him and everybody knows who he is. He does a lot of good things. He’s fast, he’s twitchy, he’s powerful, like you said. They work some finesse moves, but it’s not just him. All of those guys work the same. If you watch the tape, all of those guys have the same moves. You can definitely tell it’s been drilled and practiced and stuff like that. They all are pretty much the same type of guys – fast, strong guys, that can rush the passer.”

(I wanted to get your opinion in terms of they have the athleticism and physicality. Most people, including myself, believe this is the toughest defensive line that you guys have faced. Where do you see them stacking up in terms of what you guys have faced so far?) – “Me personally, I’m a rookie, so I think that everybody that we’ve played so far has been really good. This is the National Football League, so everybody is good. These guys – I haven’t seen them yet, I haven’t played against them yet; but on film, they are fast, they are strong and they do a lot of good things on defense.”

(Has QB Tua Tagovailoa popped his head into offensive line meetings this week and how would you describe him? Has he been loose?) – “He’s Tua. He’s always himself. He definitely has a good head on his shoulders. We do stuff weekly – offense, the o-line and QBs and stuff like that. We do stuff weekly, so we’ll get that done today.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

RB Myles Gaskin

(How familiar are you with RPO? Did you guys run it at Washington and what are the pros and cons for a running back about that style?) – “I am familiar with it. We ran it at Washington, yes. I don’t see any pros or cons about it. It’s just offense. There are pros and cons in every offense. I just try to do what I can when I get the ball and then just run out my fake when I don’t.”

(What are your impressions of how it’s gone for QB Tua Tagovailoa – how he’s looked, etc.?) – “He’s looked great. He’s always looked great since Day 1. I think he’s getting more comfortable obviously with the role, now that it’s his right now. I think he’s stepping up. He’s communicating a lot so he’s doing everything you want to see out of an NFL quarterback. I think ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) has taught him a lot in the pass game. I think he’s still teaching him, so you kind of see the trickle-down effect. I’m real excited for him.”

(Do you and QB Tua Tagovailoa have to practice that running back-quarterback exchange more just cause of lack of time together this week?) – “I don’t think so. I think we worked on it. I think that’s what camp is for. We’ve done RVA (run vs. air) all the time, so it’s just like anything else at this point. Maybe during camp it was a little weird, but I don’t even remember it like that. I think it’s been no troubles at all.”

(I wanted to ask you just about general running back vision. I’ve seen a lot of folks out there that really compliment you for your vision. I’m curious if that’s something you can work on or is it just something more instinctive you have to react to when it comes to getting the ball and seeing the way blocks develop on game day?) – “I would say a lot of it is God-given. Thank God. And definitely throughout the week you see tendencies. ‘Coach E’ (Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville) has always been great about teaching us about fronts, about what this front may lead to, what a cut-back may be or where a cut may be or where a hole may be. So obviously pre-snap, you’ve got to diagnose what you want and what you want to do with it; but as soon as the ball is snapped, you’re playing football and things close fast. Games are ran on the front line, so you’ve got a good idea, but I would say a lot of it is just God-given and just kind of playing football all my life.”

(We talked a lot to the o-linemen about DT Aaron Donald and them facing them up front. As a back, do you have to be aware of where he is? I don’t know if you can run away from him. Is that something that’s in your thought process as you’re coming through the hole?) – “Obviously he’s, you know, a great player when he’s on the field. He’s going to have his plays. He’s going to do what he does and you’ve just got to keep playing. It’s onto the next play whatever may happen. So yeah, you know where he is; but that doesn’t stop nothing. You’re going to play the play. You’re going to do what the call says.”

(I’ve got one more question for you about the bye week. At a position that is so physically demanding, and I guess all of football is physically demanding, but as a running back that’s got the most touches and the most reps on the team what does a bye week do for you to kind of physically and mentally and get recharged?) – “Definitely physically, you get to rest your body. You get to get kind of some of the kinks out or whatever – get a massage or two, whatever anybody’s routine is – but I think it made me a little bit more hungry watching everybody else play personally. Just missing out – not missing out – obviously everybody gets a bye, but just watching other people do good is inspiring, motivating, however you want to call it. I’m just excited to be back in the building, back with the guys. It’s weird with COVID. You don’t really want to be around anybody, so the bye week was kind of – I’m kind of excited to be back here more than years in the past.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

G/T Jesse Davis

(Fun times facing Rams DT Aaron Donald. I’m trying to remember if you were part of – no, I don’t think you were a part of the 2016 team that played him, so this will be your first time. What’s it like preparing for a two-time Defensive Player of the Year?) – “We prepare the same way every week. Obviously we have our challenges, but we just go into a game trying to figure out what’s going to work best for us, what’s going to be productive for us. He’s a great player, no doubt about it, and we just try to do our job.”

(Obviously QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is a veteran. With the calls that you guys have upfront, does it change with responsibilities at all because QB Tua Tagovailoa is a rookie a little bit? Do you guys on the o-line have to take on more? How does that work?) – “It’s been the same. Tua has done a great job. We have good leadership in the room; we have good leadership in the quarterback room. I don’t think anything is going to be changed. I think everything is just going to be the same. It’s the same thing every week – we’ll try to go out there and win the game.”

(How would you describe how QB Tua Tagovailoa has comported himself this week? Prepared? Relaxed? What type of words come to mind?) – “Tua, he’s cool, he’s comfortable in the pocket. When he’s in the huddle, he’s confident. I walked in here on the bye week and he’s in the quarterback room watching tape, studying. That was very pleasing to see. He’s doing his job for sure. I think he’s going to be a good player. I can’t wait to see him play on Sunday.”

(Sorry to bombard you with the QB Tua Tagovailoa questions; but how do you think his maturity, not just this week, but since he got here dating back to all of his experiences at Alabama. How do you think that’s helped him prepare for this moment?) – “He had a good scenario coming into this season with ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) being his mentor, showing him defenses, showing what to expect out there. Watching him progress from OTAs to training camp to now has been cool to see. He’s gotten a lot better. He’s throwing the ball really well. He looks good.”

(I wanted to ask you about the bye week. We just had G/T Robert Hunt on and he said that all of you guys were here for most of the bye week; but I’m just curious, you know the old adage says that you’re never 100 percent healthy in a football season. I’m curious how much better do you feel coming off of that long rest period and what it does for you in terms of just feeling better for game day coming up on Sunday?) – “Yeah, I think we had four days off or whatever it was. It helps the body actually relax and heal some old wounds, but just recharging the batteries is probably the best way I could put it. Getting away from the facility or football a little bit, and now we’re coming back and we’re more energized. Wednesday was probably one of the best practices we’ve had – the energy level with the scout team giving great looks to the quarterbacks putting the ball on the money. I think that bye week was a good spot for it.”

(G/T Robert Hunt basically just said that you guys get with the quarterbacks today. Is that just a film session or is that sort of a social thing?) – “I think Ted (Karras) has been doing it more than most of us; but just going over some blitzes, just normal stuff that you’d actually do throughout the week. We’re just going to get a little bit extra in with Tua.”

(I know you said that you haven’t faced Rams DT Aaron Donald before, but you’ve faced some star defenders, some big name guys. How do you balance having to send some extra attention at a guy like him versus worrying about the other guys who you’ll probably have to have a lot of one on one battles with?) – “I think we’ll all have to do our jobs and set at the same level, and kind of keep what we’ve been doing and don’t freak out when he’s over you, I guess is what I’m trying to say. Just play as a unit and not try to do too much or try to do too little. I think we’ve done a really good job of passing stuff of and talking, and that’s what will have to be heightened this game. It will be fun a fun matchup.”    

Thursday, October 29, 2020

CB Byron Jones

(Now that you’ve had several games here with CB Xavien Howard, just what does it feel like to be out there with what we see as one of the better corners in the league? Obviously he’s got four interceptions over his past four games, but to be out there with him on opposite sides for several games now?) – “It’s fun. We’re starting to build the chemistry as a secondary. The young guys are paying attention. They’re learning, they’re getting up to speed; but it’s nice to be out there with the vets. We’ve been out there for a while and we’re kind of building our chemistry and we understand each other. We’re communicating a lot better, so that’s a big plus of having everyone out there at the same time.”

(What’s it been like – we’re pretty much asking everyone – but what’s it like going against QB Tua Tagovailoa in practice now that he’s getting those first-team runs?) – “He looks good. He’s zipping the ball. You can tell he’s confident back there. It’s cool to see young guys do well in this league and I think he’s definitely going to be one of them. So for him, it’s learning as much as possible from ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and putting it to use. I think we’re in a good spot.”

(This is an offense that uses a lot of motions and shifts and throws a lot of bubble screens. What’s the challenge from a communication standpoint to be on top of what the assignments are?) – “One of the biggest components to an offense like this is communicating pre-snap, so understanding where the motions can come from and understanding how that changes our defense. So if you have a receiver in attack position and he’s looking in towards the quarterback, it’s communicating to the DBs to the other side like, ‘hey, this guy may go in motion, make sure you check this or check that.’ It’s just really about as a defense being on the same page and communicating because they have different snap counts, they have different motions and different shifts, so this is a game where we have to communicate and we have to do it pre-snap as opposed to when the ball is being snapped.”

(This is kind of a tough question, but I’m sure as much as you like to avoid any speculation that gets thrown out there, I’m guessing that you probably heard the other day for about two minutes there, there was speculation that CB Xavien Howard might be traded. And even for those two seconds, was there ever that moment when you said, “oh no” before you realized that the club had come out and said that it’s just not going to happen?) – “No. My first five years I played with the Cowboys and you get a lot of outside noise, and one of the things that I’ve learned there is just eliminating outside noise. Yeah, we see it; but we don’t really care for it and we don’t really bring it in the locker room because we’ve got more stuff going on that’s more important that we need to focus on. I think one thing football teams do generally is keep the noise outside and just focus on football on the inside to be honest, because we can’t control that at the end of the day.”

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(I’m going to start off with a couple of injuries, if I could. We haven’t heard in a few weeks about T Austin Jackson. One, I wanted to see how far along he is in his progression and if he’s getting close. Two, you had a handful of guys banged up going into the bye that we saw were limited out there on Wednesday. Is there anybody that’s further away than the others in terms of potentially playing Sunday?) – “Really, to include Austin, everybody is working to get back as quickly as they can. Obviously we can’t – Austin is on injured reserve, but he’s doing a good job in rehab and treatment, and doing everything he can to get back. We did have some guys who were banged up last week. Some practiced more than others yesterday as you saw on the injury report. But everyone has a shot to play, I would say, of that group. We’ll just see how the rest of the week goes – today’s practice, tomorrow’s practice, all the way up until Sunday.”

(I see you’ve been wearing the VOTE hat the last couple of days here when you’ve been meeting with us. Have you encouraged your players to vote early? I know Tuesday is an off day for everybody. I guess, where has the team kind of gone in the stance of making sure that the players get out and go to vote? And also, I wanted to ask are all of the players on the team, are all of them kind of registered? Have you guys kind of worked to help them do that?) – “I don’t – (Director of Player Engagement) Kaleb Thornhill handles a lot of that from that standpoint. I mean I’ve had conversations with some of the players about things of that nature. Those conversations will obviously stay private. I think there’s, just from the conversations I’ve had, there’s a lot of guys who either will or have voted, and I think that’s important. I think that’s something we should all do. I’m supportive of that. But those conversations, they’ve been had. I know Kaleb does a great job as far as – or has done a great job as far as helping guys get registered and giving them information on the different people in the election. I think a lot of people think it’s just the presidential election; there’s a lot of other people that we’re voting for. So just giving them that information and hopefully helping them make educated decisions.”

(You were asked about the injuries. Is LB Andrew Van Ginkel out of the protocol or is he still in it?) – “Yeah, he’s out of the protocol.”

(QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was really good at getting the ball out of his hands quickly. I think he was 2.41 seconds time to throw. Are you able to gauge in practice where QB Tua Tagovailoa is in his processing speed and helping the o-line out with getting the ball out quickly?) – “I think there’s a lot that goes into whether or not you want the ball out quickly. It’s really case by case, team by team, week by week. One week, you may want to hold it a little bit longer so you can get the ball downfield more. Some other weeks you may want to get it out quickly. I think in general, you want a mix of all of those things. ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) did a good job of that. I think in practice, Tua’s done a good job of that; but we’ll see how it shows up in the game.”

(QB Tua Tagovailoa mentioned yesterday that one of the reasons he’s able to just concentrate on football and not get too caught up in all of the narratives about his first start is because of the guys in the locker room and the coaching staff. How have you as a coach, and the guys in the locker room, been able to allow him to focus on that and not get too caught up in the local and national storylines of his first start?) – “I think a lot of that has to do with Tua. I think his focus is on this week and really not much else. I think he understands that it’s not Tua against the Rams. It’s the Dolphins against the Rams. He’s a team guy and I think his teammates are supportive of him. That’s kind of the approach we’ve all taken. I think he’s taken that approach also.”

(NFL NextGen Stats has the Rams as the most condensed split offense in the NFL and you guys as the widest split pre-snap offense. I’m curious, what are some advantages of having that widespread offense pre-snap and what are some challenges of facing an offense that’s so condensed in their formations?) – “There’s challenges to facing a team that’s just defensively that lines up both wide and condensed. I think a lot of it is based on the personnel, so each team is different. You’ve got different players, different skillsets; I think in some cases, lining up condensed with the guys you have is – they have some more advantages than lining up wide. I think having a mix of both is always good, just so your opponent is not locked in on one or the other, and the Rams do a good job of that. It’s not all condensed. They definitely spread it out. I’m not sure if the NextGen Stats has the ability to line up quickly on the ball. I think a lot of that – they line up quickly – that’s why they’re condensed because they get the ball and snap it quickly. If you’ve got to go out wide, it takes a little bit more time. I’m not sure if the NextGen Stats use all that; but yeah, there’s advantages to lining up tight. I would say that one of them is that they can get to the ball quickly and snap it quickly. And there’s some advantages to lining up wide. So they do a good job of both.”

(Baseball has its share of left-handed pitchers. Why does the NFL have left-handed quarterbacks outside of yours?) – “I don’t know. I really don’t. I don’t have an answer for the left-handed folks of the world and why they do or don’t play quarterback. I’m sorry. I don’t have an answer for that one.”

(I had another question about the election. It’s obviously a pretty divisive time in our country. You are one that likes having open dialogue within your team, but also it can lead to some hard feelings on one side or the other. What’s that mix there of being open and honest and also respecting each other’s beliefs?) – “I think you just said. I think you’ve got to be respectful, have those open dialogues; but I think personally, those dialogues are easier in a team setting where guys know that they care for one another. That’s different than two people who don’t know each other having a discussion about some of those topics. I think when you care about somebody, you’re willing to listen – to hear their side of it and the background in which they came up with their feelings on this topic or that topic, their family situation, how they grew up. I think that’s a big part of the discussion that I’m not sure is had a lot of the time. So I think in a team setting like this – all those conversations are had. It’s not just let’s call it Democrats and Republicans. It goes a little bit deeper than that which is, I think good – very good.”

(I wanted to ask you about Rams DT Aaron Donald. Obviously so much attention has to be paid to a guy who’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. How much pressure does that put on the other guys who aren’t doubling, winning their one-on-ones or holding their own?) – “They have good players outside of Aaron Donald – a lot of good players – so I think it’s going to be a team effort. I think yeah, Aaron Donald is a great player. He’s very productive, high energy, high intensity, high effort; but you see that from a lot of their guys. So obviously we’ll pay close attention to him – Aaron Donald, I’m speaking of – but like I’ve said all week, I think Leonard Floyd is playing real good football right now. So is (Michael) Brockers, so is Jalen Ramsey. You’ve got (John) Johnson – a BC guy back there playing good ball as well, so it’s a tough test really across the board. They’ve got a good team.”

(You had to slide in the BC reference there.) – “(laughter) There’s only a few. There’s only a few.”

(I know over the last five years I guess we’ve heard more about the RPOs and obviously QB Tua Tagovailoa was really good at those in college. From a defensive perspective can you maybe explain what pressure – the RPO – does, puts on a defense?) – “It puts you in conflict. A run player – they’re reading basically the run player and if the run player plays run, they throw a pass. So if the run player plays a pass, they run it. So it puts you in immediate conflict, so I think defensively you have to just do a good job of recognizing those sets and adjusting the defense in order to play those schemes. We really haven’t done much of that this season, so I think it’s – a couple days of practice, it’s hard to put something in like that. If we see them, I know they’ve got a couple of them over there – not too many – but we have to be ready to defend them on a weekly basis. I think they show up every week in this league in some form or fashion.”