Miami Dolphins Press Conference 12-4-20 Haack, Jones, Shaheen, and Flores

Friday, December 4, 2020

P Matt Haack

(Wanted to get your thoughts on leading the fan voting for the Pro Bowl and what would making the Pro Bowl mean to you?) – “I don’t have Twitter on nothing, so I never saw any of that until our media people here told me. Honestly for me, the Pro Bowl is a cool thing and all, but I’m just focused on winning games and right now it’s beating the Bengals and putting our team in the best position I can to help us win. The Pro Bowl to me is kind of a bonus, but what you do on the field during the season is what matters.”

(I’m going to give you a chance to brag here. Are you and K Jason Sanders the best kicking combo in the NFL?) – “I feel like you have to have some sort of confidence in your unit, right? Jason is having a damn good season. His numbers prove it in and of themselves. I think when all things are  clicking – everybody on the unit, when we are clicking, it’s a good one.”

(I need to know what the secret sauce is on how to get so popular in such a short time span. I didn’t know you were such a big fan favorite. How are you leading the voting?) – “I have no idea. I’m probably the most quiet guy  and to myself and stuff. I’m just as shocked as you guys are.”

(A second ago, you were talking about you and K Jason Sanders as a tandem. I don’t know if you’ve seen but in the Pro Bowl voting, Jason is not leading in the AFC. Does that surprise you?) – “To me, I don’t even know how all of that stuff works, if it’s just the fan voting and stuff or not. All of our focus right now is on Cincinnati and winning games. The Pro Bowl is definitely not what we are thinking about; but in my opinion, I think that numbers speak for themselves. He’s having a good year. I’m sure a bunch of guys are around the league, but you can’t take away from Jason what he’s done on the field. He’s just as focused as I am about beating the Bengals and winning one game at a time.”

(You mentioned the entire unit getting the job done and I was curious because every time we talk to LS Blake Ferguson, he’s always got this high energy, fun loving guy type of mentality. Since you, Jason and Blake spend so much time together, how has he kind of molded into that relationship with you guys and molded into that room and how he has integrated into the specialist room with you guys?) – “He’s done very well. He’s doing a great job on the field as well. I think when things are going well, it’s easy for all of us to click. Just him being able to get out here in the offseason and train with us a little bit before we even got in the building helped out a lot. We were able to get out before the COVID stuff was real bad and before all of the restrictions and kind hang out outside of football and get to know him. He came in confident and doing a good job, so I think that helps a bunch.”

(Going back to K Jason Sanders real quickly you’ve been here for three years now. What have you noticed from him in terms of differences in maybe his approach, confidence level, anything that might lead or explain the amazing season he’s having?) – “I mean credit to him. He puts in a bunch of work. Even in the offseason when we’re training, he’s a guy that has a great mentality mentally, and he expects to make every kick. He puts a lot of work into it. He’s very detailed oriented. He pays very close attention to detail. He’s one of those guys that when he’s locked in, he’s locked in and nothing is going to distract him from what he’s trying to do. I don’t think he’s changed anything.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

S Brandon Jones

(It’s My Cause My Cleats this week in the NFL. I wanted to ask you what you’re wearing, what your cause is, who the designer is for all that stuff and how much you’re looking forward to playing with the cleats this weekend.) – “My designer is Soles By Sir. I’ve worked with him before. He does a really good job with cleats. My cause is going to be osteosarcoma, which deals with – I’ve got a story. I made a relationship with Jayden Morton, a kid that I met at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, Texas during my time at Texas in college. He suffers from that cancer and overall, I just wanted to be able to represent not only him, but it’s a cancer that only kind of shows in kids that range from ages 10-20, so they’re younger than me obviously, and I’ve got younger brothers. So I always put Jayden, for example, in my brothers’ shoes and I just couldn’t imagine how hard life at that age, how hard life could be with having to deal with that stuff. I’m representing for him and everybody else – all the other kids – that suffer with osteosarcoma and I’m actually going to wear them during pregame; I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to wear them during the game because I’m going to give it to him for Christmas as a Christmas gift and I really don’t want to mess them up too bad, so we’ll just kind of see how the grass holds up and stuff during pregame.”

(I just wanted to ask you, isn’t that the point that the cleats could get a little bit scuffed up or that you would wear them in a game?) – “The only thing is I’ve got his name on the back of them and I’ve worn some cleats that were custom-made before and they sometimes get a little messed up, so I’m going to have to just stay light on my toes the whole game, I guess, and try not to mess it up for him. But I already took pictures and stuff just in case it does mess up, I’ll be able to send them and show him, ‘hey, this is what they looked like before I used them in the game.’” (laughter)

(Now I’m wondering did you just inadvertently ruin the surprise? Like was that a surprise gift for him or does he know already?) – “I mean, I texted his mom about it. I don’t think he has social media, so we should be good. (laughter) I texted his mom not to say anything, but that’s another reason why I was kind of debating if I should wear them in the game because I know he’s going to be watching the game. If he sees them, he’s going to be like, ‘oh, I like those cleats, what do those cleats say?’ He’s going to end up finding out. He doesn’t know that – well, I’m kind of throwing myself under the bus – he didn’t know he was getting them. (laughter) But if he doesn’t have social media, maybe it still could be a surprise for Christmas, so we’ll see. (laughter)”

(That just had me thinking, obviously that was one of the first stories I think when we learned that you were going to be on the Dolphins, that was one of the stories that we became familiar with. How cool is it for you to kind of have this platform now – even a bigger platform than when you were at UT, to kind of raise awareness about these issues that you care about?) – “It’s super important to me and I think just overall just based off of the relationship I made with Jayden. I didn’t realize how much it would impact my life and truly make me grateful for what we do have and always kind of finding the positive out of every situation. It’s definitely tough for him and like I said, just having younger brothers, I couldn’t image just having to go through that at that age and wonder ‘why me?’ Just overall, just really, it just changed my life and made me really appreciate what we do have and what we’re able to do because that could be taken from you at any minute, any time and you never know.”

Friday, December 4, 2020

Head Coach Brian Flores 

(Will QB Tua Tagovailoa play Sunday and can you please address the status of the four running backs who have either been injured, or in the case of RB Matt Breida, not spotted by reporters today?) – “Similar to last week, we’ll review the film and talk as a staff about the quarterback situation. As far as the backs, DeAndre Washington will be doubtful. He’ll be listed as doubtful. (Salvon) Ahmed will be listed as doubtful. We’ve got to talk as a staff and I’ll talk to (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and the personnel department – Chris, (Vice President of Football Administration) Brandon (Shore), (Assistant General Manager) Mavin (Allen) and talk about Myles (Gaskin) and whether he’s ready to come up or not. And then (Matt) Breida – Breida is dealing with an illness and we’ll try to update that one as soon as we can.”

(With QB Tua Tagovailoa, when you watched him this week, did you see the thumb impacting throws, velocity, accuracy, things of that nature? And will that be a factor in the decision that you make?) – “Again, any time you’re dealing with something that’s bothering you, there is some impact on all those things you mentioned – accuracy and velocity. Obviously any time you have an issue on the hand, there’s some impact. So yeah, obviously that’s part of the evaluation and we’ll go through it as a staff. We’ve gone through it really throughout the entire week and both guys were quarterbacks in practice, so we’ve got to make a decision and we’ll make a decision here pretty soon.”

(I’m wondering if I’m maybe just looking a little bit too much into this, but I noticed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick wearing a mask actually outside during practice this week. I was wondering if that by design you guys wanted to have at least one QB always in a mask just to avoid a situation like what happened in Denver where they weren’t wearing masks and then none of the QBs could play?) – “That’s part of the new intensive protocol, so if you don’t have a helmet on, you need to have a mask on. That’s really kind of the case with everyone and we try to encourage the mask wearing as much as possible and that’s at all positions, not necessarily just the quarterback position. Everyone’s health is important, I think you may have spotted Ryan (Fitzpatrick), but I’m not sure – you probably saw multiple guys wear masks or maybe you didn’t, but we try to encourage most everyone wearing them if they don’t have the helmet on. And obviously the helmet has a visor that protects them. We’ve encouraged all the players to, if they’re not wearing helmets, to try to wear a mask.”

(We talked to a few of the guys this week about QB Tua Tagovailoa and how he looked at practice and one of them said that he looked great and sort of similar to what he did before. I’m curious, do you talk to the players about what they view in sort of the passes or is that just a strictly you and the medical staff and Tagovailoa who make that sort of decision?) – “It’s myself, obviously our medical team, the coaches. I don’t know what kind of evaluation eye these guys have, as you’re talking to these players. I wouldn’t put too much stock in it, in their scouting prowess. That’s just me, but we’ll go through it and we’ll make the best decision for the team like we always do.”

(How much concern is there, if any, that RB Matt Breida’s illness might be COVID-related?) – “Again, I don’t get into people’s medical situation. I never have. Again like I said, we’ll try to update you as soon as we can on status and things of that nature. But again, player, coach; I think I’ve been pretty consistent from that standpoint. It’s an illness and you’ll get that information as soon as we put it out.”

(I wanted to ask you about the offensive line. Obviously G Solomon Kindley came back and wanted to know what his status is for this game, but also are you beginning to gain a comfort level with what you’re seeing from the offensive line, or if not, what do you want to see?) – “There’s always things we can improve on at every position – o-line, d-line, running backs, linebackers, receivers, DBs. Specific to Solomon (Kindley), he’ll be – we’ve got him as, yeah, he was limited – I figured it would be questionable. So he’s questionable. He was limited this week and did some things. Definitely trending in the right direction, but as far as the group as a whole, like always, we’ll play the top five guys and the guys who we feel give us the best combination of players, I would say. But yeah, we can improve on the o-line, but we can improve in really all areas; so offense, defense, special teams, coaching. We’ll try to do that against a tough opponent in Cincinnati. They’re really good in the kicking game. They present some issues defensively, specifically on third down with their different looks and offensively, this is – I would say the strength of this team is these receivers. A.J. Green and Tee Higgins and (Tyler) Boyd. (Drew) Sample – the tight end – is a pretty good player, too. And Gio Bernard. He’s a problem, too.”

(Regarding the starting quarterback, is your plan to choose a starting quarterback later today or is there a chance you want to see this kid throw on Saturday or even Sunday before finalizing the decision?) – “We’ll make a decision probably here in the next hour, right when I’m done with media. (laughter) Right when I’m done with media. Next time you guys see me, it will be postgame and you’ll have the information by then. (laughter)”

Friday, December 4, 2020

TE Adam Shaheen

(I wanted to ask about the productivity that you guys have had in the tight ends room, particularly in the red zone. Did you expect that kind of utilization out of all three of you?) – “It’s been pretty – I think I’ve got three (touchdowns), Mike (Gesicki)’s got three or four (touchdowns) and Durham (Smythe) has two or three, so we’ve been very productive. It’s been good that it’s been spread around to everybody and it’s made for a lot of fun. It’s always good when our room can help contribute in any way we can to a win. It’s good.”

(Last we talked, you had mentioned a different approach last offseason about keeping your body in better shape and being able to deal with the rigors of an NFL season. I was just curious as we get into December here, how do you feel like that’s impacted you now that you’ve come down the stretch run of this 2020 season?) – “I think it’s been good. It also helps when it’s 80 degrees out here and you can walk out and start breaking a sweat. That’s definitely a big advantage. I feel good and ready to make our best push over the last five weeks of the season here.”

(Obviously everybody is curious about what the QBs have done this week. What have you seen from both guys in terms of their practice involvement?) – “For me, I’m not really watching too much of that as much as really watching our position group and what we’ve got to do. You’ve got to ask one of them or ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) for that.”

(I wanted to ask you about the Bengals’s linebacker corps. They made it a point of emphasis this offseason to get faster at that position. I’m curious what the difference is between a linebacker corps that can run versus one that’s maybe more of a physically imposing group.) – “We’ve played plenty of very fast, good linebackers. I think that speed side to side is huge for them, being able to cover, as well as really getting outside on some of these run plays. It’s always a challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”