Miami Dolphins Pressconference 11-5-20, Flores, Roberts, Perry, and Grant

Thursday, November 5, 2020

WR Jakeem Grant

(With WR Isaiah Ford traded, have you done any more work in the slot this week than you typically have for the first six weeks of the season?) – “I’ve been working at receiver and just doing exactly what the coaches have planned for me. That’s about it.”

(We had a chance to talk to Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury the other day. He talked about how you’re the most dynamic player he’s seen with the ball in his hands. He also talked about how at the end of your time at Texas Tech you had a little bit of a falling out, maybe a suspension or something. Can you just talk about what you know about Kliff Kingsbury and sort of the course of your relationship?) – “He’s a great guy on and off the field. Yeah, I did go through a little suspension or whatever, but he was there with me every step of the way, just telling me, ‘hey, we need you back, we need you to do this and do whatever you can to get back.’ And that just speaks volumes about what type of guy he is. I still talk to him to this day. We have a great relationship and he always asks me how my family is doing and I ask him how he’s doing and everything – what’s going on in his life. So like I said, he’s an all-around great guy.”

(I have another question I’d like to ask you about WR Preston Williams after this, but Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury was also complimentary about how you were able to handle school, football, your family life all in college as well. Just what was that experience like for you?) – “It was great actually. It was tough at the beginning, I’m not going to lie. That’s what caused the suspension – the birth of my twins. When you’re a college student and you find out you’re having twins, it’s going to be hard for anybody, especially as a college student. But like I said, I worked my butt off and I was going through and I was the type of guy that didn’t ask for help and ‘Coach King’ (Kliff Kingsbury) was like, ‘hey man, you can ask for help and go get tutoring, do this and do that; we’ve got people in the academics part that’ll help you out.’ So what I did is I went and did that and passed all my classes so I could get back on the field.”

(I wanted to ask you about WR Preston Williams. We kind of – and I know fans out there, too – we ride the highs when he makes good catches and ride the lows when he has a couple drops there. What can you say about a player like him who’s still developing, still really young, has a lot to improve but also seems to have a bright future?) – “The ‘Unicorn’ (Preston Williams) – he’s good. He’s all-around a great receiver. It’s the NFL. You’re going to drop balls, you’re going to do this; it’s about making the next one and you might have two drops in there. If he went and had 150 yards, nobody would have looked at those drops. So like I said, if you’re a receiver, receivers are going to drop balls from time to time. You’ve just got to make sure it’s not all the time that you’re dropping balls so all it is is focus. Like I said, he’s a young receiver and he’s doing good. He’s got a great chance in the future to be a dominant – one of the best receivers in this league.”

(First, congrats on the Player of the Week Award. I wanted to ask you about the offense in general. Given that you’re going against a high-powered offense in the Cardinals and you know what’s happening with your running back position having lost RB Myles Gaskin, how important is it for you and QB Tua Tagovailoa to get the passing game in gear this week?) – “We know it’s going to be – the Cardinals put up numbers and we know that we’ve got to go out there and execute to the tee. We stayed after practice. We got our timing right. All of us as receivers, we stayed after practice with Tua (Tagovailoa) just to get our timing right, so we know that we’ve got to go out there and dominate. We can’t have a game like we had last week.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

LB Elandon Roberts

(You were on some great New England defenses. Is this one reminding you at all in terms of how many things you all can do, the talent you have in the back end and emerging front seven?) – “Our defense has a lot of talent. It’s not a secret and stuff like that; but every week, one thing about our defense is we play for each other and we play excited out there and have fun, and play with a lot of speed. So that’s been a great thing about this defense. We do have a lot to work on and stuff like that, so we try to get better there each week. It’s another week, another opportunity to get better at it. As a defense, we’re just still trying to put it together.”

(I wanted to ask you – you talk about the issues and things that you guys need to correct. What is the next level for this defense? I get the sense that you guys feel like you have not played up to your capabilities yet, even though you had a shutout earlier in the season, which that’s kind of as good as it gets. What’s next for this defense?) – “I think that’s on us because the mistakes that we do have, it’s a lot of us. It’s not a lot of ‘them.’ If we can just keep on eliminating the mistakes by itself and start the stuff that we do do (well) and start being able to build on that, that’ll be great. The character on the defense is high expectation. Nobody is getting a feeling of what (you) tweet and stuff like that. (laughter) We just stay trying to get better and stuff like that. I’m not saying you’re Tweeting bad stuff. I’m on your side. I’m saying the good stuff you’re Tweeting. You feel me? (laughter)”

(Even if I wanted to tweet bad stuff about the Dolphins defense right now, it’s kind of all coming up roses; but in all seriousness, one of the phrases we use a lot is “identity.” We’re trying to figure out what’s the identity of the offensive line? What’s the identity of the defense? I thought it was really interesting the Cardinals Coach Kliff Kingsbury – he said he thinks that the Dolphins defense has taken on the identity of Head Coach Brian Flores. So I’ll pick up on the identity theme, what do you think almost halfway through the season is the identity of this defense?) – “Believe it or not, me just as a person like at the end of the week after games, I always kind of try to figure out like as one of the leaders on defense, I always try to think about the identity. Like what is our identity? It’s crazy because we’re playing good defense, but we’re playing good and still trying to get that identity, if you understand what I’m saying. So that’s what I’m saying – we have so much growth on the defense to still go before we even create or understand our identity, and that comes between playing good football on first, second and third down each week; and you’ll figure out your identity.”

(I wanted to ask you about a couple of the splash plays you’ve made lately, kind of blowing up plays in the backfield. I’m curious, what’s the key to really anticipating that and playing so fast and also what kind of challenges does a quarterback like Cardinals QB Kyler Murray present with you making those types of plays?) – “I just think (Defensive Coordinator) Josh Boyer and our linebacker coach – he does a great job, (Linebackers Coach Anthony) Campanile – does a great job of getting us prepared throughout the week and just film study, certain things like that and just as a defense, playing together and know when it’s time for you to make the play that you guys have been practicing all week or that you’ve seen in practice. Defense is about anticipation. If you watch enough film, you start anticipating certain things and stuff like that. As a defense, we’re just growing in that category and as for the Cardinals, they’ve got an elite offense. The quarterback – man, he does a great job with that offense and stuff like that. It’s going to be a big challenge this week. They’re a complete offense and it doesn’t get any better than that; so as a defense we’re just going to take this game one play at a time, not get ahead, not get ahead of the downs – play a 60-minute game because that’s what it’s going to be.”

(I wanted to ask you a little bit more about Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and stopping the run on Sunday. Kyler Murray is leading all the players in the NFL in yards per carry and I think the Dolphins are also top four in yards allowed per carry, so how do you guys have to work to get that area improved in the defense to be more well-rounded?) – “Just like I said – it’s a week-to-week thing. And this week, we have to take it one play at a time because of him, because of his capability of running, because of his capability of throwing the ball. It’s going to be a complete offensive game. They’ve got great receivers. They’ve got a good back in the running back and the quarterback, plus the quarterback can throw it. So it’s just that aspect of it and it’s not going to be on the d-line, it’s not going to be on the linebackers, it’s not going to be on the back end; it’s going to be on all of us as a complete defense because to stop this type of player, this type of offense, you’re just going to have to do your job as a complete defense play-in and play-out.”

(I wanted to ask you this question about scrambling quarterbacks and the shadowing ability linebackers like you – I’m not saying that you’re going to do it because I don’t know what you’re going to do – but what is the challenge and what is the downside when you have to shadow a scrambling quarterback? Like what does it take away?) – “It just kind of depends on the defensive call. You can shadow in man, you can shadow in zone, you can shadow in all different types of things; so it’s kind of the aspect of how you play in that role and whatnot. There’s just certain levels to that.”

(I want to have a little bit of fun going back to the defensive identity theme a minute ago. Some of the great defenses throughout history have always had nicknames. How do you feel about this defense getting a nickname or do you have one that you use amongst yourselves? Is it too early to give you a nickname? What do you think?) – “(laughter) We haven’t really been on that. I know the media, I know the fans love the nicknames; but at the same time, we’ve got a job to do each week. If we’re trying to be in here creating nicknames, (you guys) will be on my head. (You’ll) be like, ‘oh, E. Rob was talking about them nicknames in the meeting and look at the defense that week.’ (laughter) So week-to-week, we just take care of what we need to take care of and that’s playing for each other, play-in and play-out.”

(Not to go off of nicknames, but we were hearing S Eric Rowe talk last week and he said y’all were hearing about the Rams D this, Rams D that all week leading up to the last game. It’s another team with the Cardinals where people talk about Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and the offense. Do you guys view these as respect games – ways to kind of get people know that y’all have a good defense and it’s different than last year?) – “To be honest, through your play, it’ll come. So if people want to view it as respect games – everybody’s going to view it off what they want to view it off. We view it off of playing good defense play-in and play-out, and all that will come. For the last couple weeks, that’s what we’ve been doing and obviously it came; but at the same time, we’ve got to continue to do it because that’s how you build as a defense.”

Thursday, November 5, 2020

RB/WR Malcolm Perry

(How happy were you to play last week, and where would you say you are in your transition to receiver? Do you feel good about the progress you’ve made and how much progress do you have to make?) – “I was extremely happy. It was finally fun to get out there, get on the field and experience my first NFL game. It’s good to get that under my belt. As far as progressing as a receiver, I think I’ve come a long way from training at Navy to the pre-draft process and stuff like that. Like everybody else in the locker room would tell you, they have a long way to go. There is room for improvement. That’s my mindset going forward.”

(We all know you as a very prolific runner in college. Have you been taking some snaps in the backfield this week as a running back, and could you see yourself doing that, if asked to, on Sunday?) – “I come out to practice every day and do whatever the coaches tell me. Whatever the game plan is, that’s what we plan on doing this Sunday.”

(We spoke to WR Jakeem Grant just a few minutes ago and he said that the receivers worked after practice with QB Tua Tagovailoa working on some timing. From your perspective, what are some things you can take away from staying after practice and putting in the extra work like that?) – “You can’t get anything right unless you work at it. Especially with Tua coming in recently, we’ve been working with him since he’s gotten here. We’re not too far off, but there is some fine-tuning to do. The reps after practice are extremely important, just as important as the reps in practice. We’re etting with him and trying to get things right every day.”

(Last week the coaches said that it was your performance in practice that week that earned you the opportunity and earned you plays in the game. How much do you think it was your chemistry that you have from working with QB Tua Tagovailoa previously, and how much of that was just, ‘I was just balling last week?’) – “It’s always good to have that history with somebody, all the way back to camp, throwing and catching with Tua. It’s good to have that, and also coming out to practice every day with the mindset that you want to get better and take every rep like it’s your last rep. Just having that mindset mixed with the history of Tua is good to have.”

(How much, when you do those Wildcat snaps, is it similar to you playing quarterback back at Navy?) – “There are some similarities, but obviously it’s the NFL. It’s a lot different than playing a ECU or whoever we’d be playing at Navy. There are some similarities, but it’s a whole different league here.”

(Going back to the overtime you guys do after practice, roughly how much time do you guys spend out there and whose idea was it to put in that extra work?) – “It depends on the day. It depends on how practice is going and if we need to work on something. It can range from five to 30 minutes depending on what we need to work on. It wasn’t really anybody’s idea. It’s just I feel like we all kind of got together after practice knowing we need to work on something. It kind of became a trend and it’s day-by-day how long we stay out there.”

(Regarding QB Tua Tagovailoa, what have you noticed about his demeanor? How would you describe his approach or sense you get from him this week, especially having a game under his belt?) – “I don’t think it’s changed much. He’s always been the same guy. He’s always confident. He’s always hard-working and he has a great personality in the huddle, outside the huddle and in the locker room. Not much has changed. It’s good to have a game under his belt and kind of get the feel for things. He hasn’t changed much. He’s a pretty consistent guy.”

(Talk about what you did during the time you were not active in practice – being sharp, staying prepared – so when you were activated, you’d be ready?) – “Just taking the scout team reps. Like I said, taking every rep like it’s your last rep, going as hard as you can and giving the defense a good look. Then also in the meeting rooms, staying on top of my stuff, studying at home and then after practice, getting the extra reps in that I may have missed out on during team periods.”

(What veteran slot receivers did you study on your own or that Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard suggested you study? Did you know in your heart that you could be an affective NFL slot receiver or is that something you won’t know until you start getting a lot of game action?) – “I don’t think I went out of my way to idolize or look up to any other slot receivers in the league. I’ve been too busy focusing on what the Dolphins ask me to do. I think Isaiah Ford was a great role model. I looked up to him a lot and tried to model my preparation and practice after him. He worked hard. That would probably be the guy that I’d say I looked up to as a slot receiver in the league. And if I didn’t think I could play in the league, I don’t think I’d be here today. I definitely think I do (belong). It’s just a matter of time and a matter of reps that I get to my full potential.”   

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores

(T Austin Jackson was back out there yesterday doing something at practice. What were you able to see with him the first time out and does he have a chance for Sunday?) – “He was down for a few weeks, so we designated him to return. He was out at practice yesterday, went through a couple drills. Obviously like any player, when you’re out for some weeks, there’s a little bit of rust, so just trying to knock some of that off. So a couple of drills here and there and we’ll just take it day to day and see where it goes; but it was good to get him out there.”

(I wanted to ask you about your running back situation. We saw RB Matt Breida obviously with the hamstring on the injury list yesterday. Without RB Myles Gaskin and even RB Patrick Laird is a little dinged up, if it is RB Jordan Howard as your featured back, what has he shown you in the last month when he’s been unable to play – well he hasn’t been activated to play. What has he shown you that’s given you confidence that he can be the guy Sunday against the Cardinals?) – “Just so you guys know, Myles (Gaskin) will go on IR today. Myles Gaskin will go on IR; but yeah, we’ve got some guys banged up. Jordan Howard – he’s always practiced hard. I think he’s a good runner. That’s why we brought him here, so he’ll get an opportunity and Salvon Ahmed will get an opportunity as well and Patrick Laird. We like our depth at that position, so those guys will get an opportunity. They’ve got to practice well and hopefully they perform well in the game.”

(I wanted to ask you about WR Antonio Callaway. You said that you hadn’t seen him in cleats. You have now. How did he perform? And through this process he’s been through, why are you confident that he’s going to take advantage of this opportunity when he hasn’t in the past?) – “It was one practice, so yeah, I’ve seen him in cleats now. I’ve seen him in a helmet. He worked hard in practice yesterday. The opportunities I’ve had to spend with him, he’s excited about being here and being able to practice and play football. So when you have someone with that type of attitude, you hope the best for him and he’s got to do the work. It’s not really – what I think doesn’t matter; it’s about his work ethic and his ability to take advantage of this opportunity.”

(Obviously you just mentioned RB Jordan Howard, RB Salvon Ahmed and RB Patrick Laird. Does that mean RB Matt Breida is unlikely or does he still have a chance?) – “No, obviously he’s dealing with – it doesn’t mean (that). It really doesn’t. I just didn’t mention him. He’s still got a chance. Hamstrings are tough, so we’ll see how this goes throughout the week; but again, we like the depth at that position and we’ll see how it goes.”

(I was trying to ask Rams DL Michael Brockers had talked about your Cover 0 blitzes that you guys were running against them. He said he had never seen it so frequently. What is it about your personnel this year that allows you to be comfortable in running that with that frequency?) – “I think (Defensive Coordinator) Josh (Boyer) has done a good job as far as game planning and trying to put guys in position to have some success, and we ran some (Cover) 0 blitzes a year ago and I think everybody has them. So I don’t think we’re doing anything that’s different than a lot of other teams. I think it’s about execution, it’s about preparation, it’s about getting comfortable doing things at practice, whether it’s a (Cover) 0 blitz or eight people in coverage. Any way you slice it, you’ve got to execute. That’s a week-to-week thing, so again, that was last week and really we’ve got a tough test this week against the Cardinals.”

(Can you talk a little bit about the challenges that come with facing a team that’s coming off a bye? Obviously they picked up some pretty big momentum before the bye, beating the Seahawks in overtime and just kind of how they will be rested and what that does for you guys?) – “It’s a good football team. That’s the biggest test. They are coming off a bye, so they’ve had a lot of time to watch us and study us, and come up with a game plan. They have good coaches, so more time is always a good thing as a coach. You can dissect what the opponent is doing – you just have a more time to dissect it and find something that you think will work. They are a good team. They’re talented and well coached. This will be a tough test. It would be a tough test if they played last week, and it’s an even tougher test that they had last week off. They will be fresh. They’ll be rearing to go.”

(We talked about the drops that WR Preston Williams had on Sunday. He also had two really good catches in that game as well. When a player like that is giving you good plays and maybe having some plays where it doesn’t go his way, I don’t think Preston probably needs it but how do you just make sure that he stays levelheaded and committed to coaching and doing the basics to make sure those plays happen for him in the future?) – “As a coach, you want to be encouraging; but at the same time, you have to let players know that it’s important that they execute. That’s part of the execution: throwing, catching, blocking, defeating blocks, tackling, breaking tackles, that’s all part of the execution. The things we work on on a daily basis, it’s important to execute. If we don’t and it doesn’t work out, he’s disappointed, we’re disappointed. With Preston, I can yell at him all I want and he’s probably going to be more upset than I am. I think part of it for him is helping him move forward and move onto the next play, because we need to do that also. Every player is a little bit different. If we just continue to work on catching the football, and route running, and route techniques and all of those things, and move on from any negative plays.”

(Even 10 to 15 years ago, there was a stigma that were quarterbacks six feet and under. You had to be 6-3, 6-4 and 220 pounds was the prototype. Obviously this weekend you’re going to have two top five quarterbacks that are six feet and under. Has thinking in your mind changed or have things just changed when identifying and thinking out quarterbacks in a different light?) – “I think good players come in all shapes and sizes. Some people have their prototypes, let’s call it, at each position. Some have them at quarterback and o-line and d-line. I think there are good players, good quarterbacks, who are short. There have been good quarterbacks that are tall. I think good players are good players are good players. Now that you mention the quarterback, there were a couple of things out there, let’s call it a source close to Dolphins thinking. They’ve been saying that we are auditioning Tua (Tagovailoa) and I’m just going to tell you about my thinking. We brought Tua here because we believe in him. The same as all of the other draft picks. We believe in developing players. I think you guys have heard me talk about improving players on a daily basis. That would be the opposite of giving somebody a 10-game audition. I guess that’s my thinking on that, just so everybody’s clear. What was the rest of your question? You just kind of piqued something that had been on my mind.”

(My question was about quarterbacks that aren’t 6-3, 240 pounds?) – “For me it’s about the talent level of the quarterback, the leadership, things of that nature. The intangibles. There is a lot more to playing that position than height, weight and speed, as well as every other position.”

(You started QB Tua Tagovailoa because you needed to see or wanted to develop him. So you’re comfortable with what comes out of these 10 games?) – “Yes. I’m comfortable with what comes out of these 10 games. I think since I’ve been here, I think everybody has heard me talk about the development of players, improvement on a daily basis. So I just don’t see how someone close to the Dolphins thinking could say that this would be a 10-game audition. I’m not sure where or who that came from. Just put that out there.”