Miami Dolphins Post Game Press Conference 11-29-20 Flores, Needham, Fitzpatrick, and Gesicki

Sunday, November 29, 2020
Postgame – N.Y. Jets

Head Coach Brian Flores (transcribed by N.Y. Jets)

(On grading the game defensively) – “I thought we played well defensively. We got some turnovers.  Josh (Boyer) called a great game really throughout. We had some sudden change situations with some turnovers. We were able to get ourselves off the field. We got a big stop on the fourth-and-one in the red zone. Obviously, keeping them out of the end zone is always a great accomplishment in this league. We had some turnovers, a big stop on fourth-and-one. I thought Josh called a great game. He’s done a great job really the entire year. I think often times you give me too much credit. Josh has done a great job the entire year.”

(On how he’d assess how Ryan Fitzpatrick played) – “I thought Ryan played well. He made enough plays to helps us win the game. He spread the ball around to a number of different receivers. Obviously, there are always things he can do better and we can do better as an offense, as a defense, as a special teams, as coaches, but he made enough plays to help us win.”

(On where their quarterback situation stands moving forward) – “Obviously, Tua (Tagovailoa) was downgraded to out. We’ll see how he does in practice over the course of the week. He’s a tough kid. It was very close to him being able to go, but we have to make good decisions for him as well. We’ll see how he does over the course of this week in practice.”

(On DeVante Parker) – “I think we had some matchups that we like out there. DeVante is a good player. We tried to give him some opportunities. There was a young corner out there. I thought he made some plays as well. I was pretty impressed with Bryce Hall. We gave DeVante some opportunities and he made some plays. But again, it’s not just a two-man show. We got some protection from our offensive line. They were giving us some different looks, some pretty difficult looks. Gregg (Williams) does a great job from that standpoint. They got some pressure on us, so we had to make some plays and Fitz hit DeVante multiple times who made a few plays for us.”

(On if Tua will start if he’s healthy) – “Yeah, if he’s healthy, he’s the guy. I don’t know how many different ways we have to continue to say that. You keep asking, I’ll keep answering the same way. Again, he’s dealing with something with the hand. We’ll take it day-to-day. He’s a tough kid. He wants to be out there. Thankfully, we have other guys who stepped up. We can talk about Tua, but we had 52 other guys who went out there and played their butts off today in all three phases. We were able to get a division win on the road. We’re excited to win. We’ll enjoy the win and then turn the page and move on to the next opponent, the Bengals.”

(On how Fitzpatrick approaches the game that allows him to create longer passing plays) – “He’s a very experienced player. He’s seen pretty much every coverage, every disguise, every defensive structure, every front.  I think he could see the matchups that he likes based on the coverage that they are giving us. When you can see all those things, it gives you the opportunity to make the right decisions. I thought he made some good ones today. We needed it. It’s good to have Fitz. He’s obviously a leader on this team. He’s been that throughout and he’ll continue to be that for this team.”

(On how he manages the attempt to make a playoff run and give Tua the rookie experience) – “You probably know the answer to this already. We’re going to take this one day at a time and try to improve and get better on a daily basis from meetings, to walkthrough, to practice. I just try to prepare and get better. Honestly, I’m actually saying that very sincerely. That’s about as authentic and genuine as I can be. To get into a playoff this or that, I’m not really into all that. I’m into let’s get better tomorrow. Let’s make the corrections from the game today. Let’s prepare for the next opponent. What are the things they do well? What are the things we think we can take advantage of? Let’s give the players that information and then try to prepare for the next opponent. We’ll go through our Monday routine and our Tuesday routine and our Wednesday routing and our Thursday routine and so on and so forth. Then, let the chips fall where they fall. If we prepare the right way, then you’re probably going to know the next thing I’m going to say. The results hopefully take care of themselves. I don’t know any other way of approaching it. I don’t think about weeks from now. I’m focused on hopping in the shower, getting on the bus, getting on the plane, getting home. I’ll watch the film on the plane and take it from there.”

(On DeAndre Washington) – “Those fourth quarter first downs, fourth quarter rushing yards, fourth quarter time of possession, those are all things we talk about and are very important. If we can get those done and finish all games like today, that’s always good. I though (Washington) ran the ball effectively. We need that. Especially when we’re trying to close out a game. He had a run there in the fourth quarter that sprung the final drive that put us up 17. We’ve had a lot of different guys back there, I thought (Matt) Breida ran the ball effectively. I thought (Patrick) Laird had a good run prior to fumbling. We’re getting there, we just have to keep working at it.”

Sunday, November 29, 2020
Postgame – N.Y. Jets

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

(On Xavien Howard’s impact on the game) – “Turnovers are such a big part of this game. It’s momentum, it’s field position, it’s just confidence overall. We don’t take that for granted on offense that they’re doing that, creating those turnovers, because we know it’s difficult to do, and they’ve been really good at it. It’s a great feeling to be sitting on the bench, looking at the tablet and somebody handing you your helmet and saying, “Hey, we’re back up. X got another interception.” It’s unbelievable. He’s always around the ball. He’s always got his hands on the ball. He’s a pretty special player in that regard.”

(On the rollercoaster of emotions that come with getting another chance to start) – “It’s kind of been the story of my career. It’s been so up and down and I’m in the lineup, and I’m out of the lineup, and I’m back in.  For me, just trying to stay steady, just trying to provide the team with leadership and going out there when my number’s called and playing well, and that’s what I had to try to do in this situation. I tell you guys the same thing every time I come off the field. I love playing, I love being out there. It was fun to be out there today.”

(On what his week was like and when he found out he was going to start) – “There was so much uncertainty throughout the week. We really had no idea. With a young guy and with an old guy, it’s easier for the old guy not to get any reps, so, it was just kind of up in the air all week. I didn’t know if I’d be out there or not. It was unfortunate for Tua (Tagovailoa) to have the thumb, but I was happy to be able to be out there with the guys today.”

(On running the option in the fourth quarter at his age) – “I think that one might have been in the game plan for Tua, not me, I don’t know. When it came in as the play call, I laughed to myself, called it, and was very surprised. Maybe 10 years ago, I score on that thing, but I was glad to get the first down.”

(On DeVante Parker) – “DeVante’s very special with the 50-50 ball and some of those tough catches. So, for us, and really for me as a quarterback, if teams are going to give us the opportunity to do that, then I’m going to give DeVante the opportunity to make that play more often than not. People can say sometimes that’s not the right move and whatever else, but if I’ve got a guy that I trust, that I’ve seen do it over and over and over again, then I’m going to give him every opportunity to make a play and he did a great job of making some of those today. It was just a lot of man coverage out there and a pretty classic DeVante Parker game when you play him in man coverage.”

(On whether this season has reignited his fire to keep playing) – “It has been such a strange season and really, when you throw COVID in there, that’s probably the most difficult. Not being able to see my family as much as (I’d like to) see them. Not being able to bring the kids in the locker room after the games. There’s a lot of stuff that I take a tremendous amount of pride in and so much joy in being able to provide for my family that I haven’t been able to do this year. So that’s made it really difficult for me. And everybody’s had sacrifices and things they’ve had to do in order to get this season played and these games played, but this season for me has been very difficult for that reason. But if we took everything else out of it and it was just me playing football, yeah, 100%. I think last year maybe reignited me more than this year. I’ve been ignited for a little while now, but yeah, I like being out there.”

(On his support of Tagovailoa and how important it is for everybody to be on the same page) – “I do think that’s important and I think just in the quarterback room in general having each other’s backs and supporting each other. I think that’s very important because it is such a tough position to play. I’ve now been put in a different role and when my number’s called, I’m going to go out there and win games for this team. So Flo (Brian Flores) is the head coach and we listen and respect what he says and we go from there.”

TE Mike Gesicki

(I think there were several times throughout the TV broadcast where we could hear your vintage scream and celebrating on big catches, the touchdown. How happy were you to be out there with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick again?) – “Honestly just a good team win – guys making plays, offense moving the ball, defense was getting it back for us. So overall, happy to come back to Jersey where I’m from, win and help this team get a win. Now we go back to Florida, get out of this cold weather.”

(It’s a strange dynamic when you have an incumbent veteran quarterback and then a rookie first-rounder to take his place. How in the locker room have you handled this dynamic? QB Tua Tagovailoa’s ups, Tua’s downs, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick coming and going? What’s it been like trying to…?) – “Honestly you just got to roll with the punches and just keep going. You’ve just to follow whatever the coaches are putting the guys in position to be successful and no matter who’s in at quarterback – I think I said this – I don’t know if it was to you guys. This has kind of been – this is my third year – and every year I’ve played with several quarterbacks in a year. My rookie year, I played with a couple quarterbacks. Last year we rotated quarterbacks for a couple games. This year switching quarterbacks and a guy goes down, ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick) comes back in; it just is what it is, so you just got to be ready to make the most of your opportunities when they come.”

(I had a question for you on the touchdown catch. It looked like the safety there tried to re-route you and you just kind of blew right through him. I was curious to get your own evaluation on your ability to kind of deal with contact at the NFL level from where you were as a rookie in Year 1 all the way up to Year 3 now and just catching touchdowns like that.) – “I think I’ve learned more about releases and using my hands, making moves on guys and not just trying to beat them with my speed because at this level everybody can run. So I knew that ‘32’ (Jets S Ashtyn Davis) was going to come down, try to get hands on me. It was Cover 0, there was nobody back there; so I knew if I just got his hands off me and (laughter) when we broke the huddle ‘Fitz’ said, ‘Mike, it’s coming to you no matter what.’ I said ‘okay.’ So when you hear that, you go out and make a play. I had to get his hands off me, I had to get open. I ran back, ‘Fitz’ threw the ball as high as the stadium – that thing was up there for it felt like a minute – and I just jumped up, caught it and you would have thought I caught the game-winning touchdown of the Super Bowl because I was so excited.”

(That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you about. Every time you score a touchdown I don’t know if you’re more excited than the next time you’ve done, but this one was definitely far more exciting. Just what did that mean to you to score in your home state?) – “It was cool. I was actually thinking about it afterwards. We played – when I was at Penn State, we obviously played Rutgers twice a year in Jersey, never scored. Played here at the Jets twice now, never scored; and now today, came back, got a win and got a touchdown back here in New Jersey so it was cool. It was fun. I just love catching the ball. I love catching the ball. I do so many extra drills and extra catches and extra this and that throughout the course of the week to put myself in position to make a play and catching a touchdown was great, but the thing I’m going to be thinking about tonight is I ran probably a 3-yard in – like a quick slant – and ended up not making the catch. So that’s the kind of thing that I’m thinking about right now is, ‘man, I had him.’ It’s a 3-yard catch, it’s not going to change the outcome of the game or anything like that, but to me, I just like to prove and show that when the ball comes my way, I have to come down with it no matter what the distance.”

(QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has the ability to [complete] a lot of plays that are 15+, 20+, a lot of those plays to you and also today to WR DeVante Parker. What is it about his approach to the game that enables that to occur?) – “I think with ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick), he knows what’s going to happen before it happens. So that was like today on my touchdown, he said, ‘hey, it’s coming to you regardless,’ so he knows what’s going to happen before it happens and he’s going to take chances. And a lot of people want to talk about ‘oh, he takes chances and that’s why he throws interceptions, this, that and the other thing.’ He’s been pretty damn good when he’s been taking chances at least wearing the Dolphins uniform. When you’ve got guys like DeVante (Parker) and you’ve got guys on the team like we have and you give us some chances – DeVante today, how many times are you going to play in man coverage? Like why are you doing that? Play Cover 2 or something else because DeVante is, he’s going to run, he’s going to get on the guy’s hip, the ball’s going to be back-shoulder, he’s going to catch it and he’s not going to say anything when he celebrates. He’s just going to shake his dead and do his thing like he does and that’s it. So DeVante is going to have his 8 (receptions) for 120 (yards) and we’re just going to go about our day.”

(I want to go back onto your touchdown. It looked like you were on the basketball court again trying to get position. What is about those – maybe like you said – those 50-50 balls that got those chances that you guys can connect with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and just have that sort of chemistry when that’s called?) – “I think that kind of goes back to what I’m saying. He kind of sees it before it happens, so he knows, ‘all right, this is going to be 0, I’m going to take my matchup that I like and I’m going to give him a chance.’ So then in my mind it’s like, ‘this is my shot.’ You go through all week of practice, you go through watching the film, you go through all the preparation for a couple opportunities on Sunday so when you get your shot, you go make it. So on those where it’s a high ball or it’s back-shoulder or where it’s a 50-50 ball; those are the things that I pride myself in just coming down with them, so I was happy to make the play for him, happy to make the play for the team and get the win and heading back to South Florida.”

DB Nik Needham

(Throughout the game as the offense kind of took a while to get going, they had a couple turnovers. It just seemed like you guys never felt this thing was in jeopardy the way the defense played. Just talk about that as in control as you guys seemed the entire game.) – “Before the game ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) always preaches ‘let’s play complementary football.’ If the defense is slacking, the offense needs to pick them up; if the offense is struggling a little bit, defense has to pick them up. We got to play as a team, and I think that’s just what we went out there and did today.”

(Congrats on the interception. I was wondering when you have a teammates who is the NFL leader in that category, does it kind of bring the fire to the rest of the guys that you want to keep up with him like that?) – “For sure. It’s inspiring. The way he just gets his hands on the ball, we always talk about, he really should have like, 12 or something. He’ll drop one and pick one. So it’s like, man you’re trying to keep up and make as many plays as that man. It just pushes me every day, definitely. He’s a great player.”

(I’m curious, this defense when I look up the stats, is at least top five or top two or three in turnovers. Such a turnaround from last year even though a lot of the players are the same. What is the reason you guys are really good at forcing turnovers?) – “I think we’re just growing as a unit, trusting in each other, trusting where we are going to be on the field and holding each other accountable to make those plays because sometimes if we don’t make them in practice we’ll get on each other’s ass just so we can execute in the game, and I think that’s what has helped us a lot.”

(I’ve got a cool stat for you here. Of the Jets 23 running plays, 15 of them gained 3 yards or less and that creates a lot of third-and-long situations. I’m curious from a defensive back’s perspective how does that kind of change your approach or maybe help what you guys do on the back end?) – “That’s definitely big because when you stop them on first down it puts them in an awkward situation – second-and-long. They’ll try to get to some random players, something that they need to get back on track. And if they don’t get that, then it’s third-and-long and they’re really stuck. So it definitely puts us at an advantage if we can get out there and get it done – good run stops on first down and second down.”

(How big did that fourth-and-1 stop seem at the time?) – “That was huge. That was a big play in the game. It might have even been the biggest play in the game. ‘E. Rob’ (Elandon Roberts) – he’s  been doing that a lot this year and I knew he was going to go in there and blow it up again. When he did that we all got hyped for him and celebrated for him. That was huge. You could hear it from the sideline.”

(I don’t think we specifically asked you about your interception and how you felt after that play.  What were some of the things that you saw and how does it feel to kind of bring one down, your  third of your career?) – “It felt good. Been talking about it these past couple of weeks, ‘I need to get one, like ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) is the only one with a pick…’ It definitely felt good to get out there and get my hands on the ball. We know ‘82’ (Jets WR Jamison Crowder) is one of their main go-to targets so Sam (Darnold) ended up throwing the ball trying to force it so I ended up with the pick.”

(Could you describe the mindset for your defense? After the offense turns the ball over, it seemed like you really picked up the offense and got them out of a jam.) – “Like I said, we try and play complementary football. We got to pick each other up when the other one is down. When we saw that play happen, the defense was up. We all got rallied around each other. ‘Let’s go, let’s get a three-and-out. Let’s get a stop right here so we can get the offense the ball again.’ That ended up working out for us.”