Coach Philbin: We Got A Lot Of Quality Reps Today

Posted Jul 29, 2014

Dolphins Head coach Joe Philbin holds a press conference following the team's fourth practice of training camp and answers questions about the progress of Dion Jordan, Lamar Miller and other players.

(Opening remarks) - “I thought we had a good practice today. It was a long practice. We put in our red zone offense and defense and spent a lot of time there. Got a lot of quality reps. I thought it was a productive practice. It was a big stretch, but I told the team we’re practicing five days in a row. So this is a big, important part of training camp. We’ve changed it up from last year. We did three days and then took a day off. Now, we’ve got a five-day window here where we really have to get a lot accomplished.”

(On the snaps at center and his confidence that they can be cleaned up in a hurry) - “It’s definitely a concern, but I’m also confident that we will clean it up and we’ll get it addressed. But it is definitely a concern. Ball security is the number one thing we talk about every night in training camp. We pick one specific fundamental and talk about it. The first night, we did ball security. We talked about center-quarterback exchange. We talked about quarterback-running back exchange. We showed them pictures. The next night, we did creating turnovers. The next night, we did blocking. Last night, we did tackling. So we talk about it, it’s definitely a concern. We’ve got to get it cleaned up.”

(On G Nate Garner playing center today and how he did, and if he is a realistic option for center) – “Absolutely. As we’ve said, we’re looking at a number of different combinations. We don’t have a rock-solid, solidified, ‘These are our five starters at this position.’ And so that’s part of the process at training camp. We wanted to get him exposure at playing inside and outside. That will continue I would imagine for a while longer as well.”

(On the tight end position and if makes sense to carry four) - “We’re going to keep the best 53 guys. It’s certainly possible. It could be five, it could be three. I mean, we wouldn’t rule anything out. We want to keep the best 53 players that give us a chance to win. So I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.”

(On the music at practice as opposed to crowd noise) - “We talk about it as a staff. Everybody brought different ideas. We have some new guys and we kick around some ideas in the off-season of things that we can maybe do differently to hopefully improve the practice atmosphere. It’s not always going to be music. When we get closer to a game, we’ll do some crowd noise as well. But I think it’s been a good addition.”

(On if the music is something Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor suggested) – “Actually, it wasn’t him. No.”

(On if he picks the music) - “Absolutely (joking). Are you insinuating that I don’t have a wide range of expertise in that area?”

(On RB/WR Marcus Thigpen at receiver and how moving the kickoff up five yards affects his return game) - “Well, as you know, roughly half of the kickoffs are touchbacks. Roughly, give or take a few. And so that applies league wide, that’s not just to Marcus Thigpen. It happens to everybody. So he’s doing some good things at the receiver position. We’ve been featuring him primarily inside where he has a good feel for things. And he’s got good quickness, change of direction, that you like on some of those start-stop type of routes. But the competition there is pretty fierce.”

(On the tempo on offense and why this year will be different) - “Part of it I think is you have to get some first downs to generate (tempo). That certainly helps the tempo. I mean if you throw an incomplete pass or you’re third-and-long, you get sacked, it’s tough to generate the tempo that you’re looking to create. So I think part of it has been a function that we haven’t been super productive on offense. And let’s get that out on the table. That’s a fact. And so I think it’s hard to really generate the type of tempo you’re looking for when you’re not getting a lot of first downs.”

(On how he feels he’s improved as a coach this year compared to his first two seasons) – “I think I have a better rapport, chemistry, with the players on the ball club. I’ve spent more time communicating with them in a one-on-one manner and in team meetings. I’ve been doing the bed check every single night at the hotel and just knocking on their doors and making sure that they’re OK, busting their chops a little bit if they’re awake. Speaking of (Marcus) Thigpen, he has some wild parties, I mean this guy is asleep, he hasn’t even moved every time we knock on the door. I think we’re all more on the same page. I think I’ve done a better job outlining the expectations. Obviously, the proof is in the pudding, we’ll see.”

(On DE Dion Jordan and his performance in camp so far and how the coaching staff is managing his time compared to others at the position) – “It’s very early still in camp and he had some good production out there today I know. I noticed him a couple of times out there making plays. He had a big pick the other day. We showed the whole team. We were talking about the night before creating turnovers, talking about getting your eyes and your hands on the ball. There was a great, great picture of it in practice the other day. So I think he’s really been productive when he’s been out here. I’ve noticed him down in the individual. He’s getting more accustomed to the fundamentals and the techniques. But there will come a time where we’re going to have to balance the fact that, OK, he’s not going to be available for four weeks and other players will need certain reps. I don’t think we’re at that point yet, but it will come at some point.”

(On RB Damien Williams and his ability to catch out of the backfield) – “He’s got good hands. The thing you notice about him, he has a little bit of a second gear. I think he’s got that explosiveness. He shuffled one or two times today on a draw, I know we corrected him one time where he kind of danced in the hole a little bit, but typically he’s been decisive. When he really makes up his mind, you kind of see him moving away from people. I think he catches the ball well, I like what he’s done so far.”

(On what he sees RB Lamar Miller doing different this camp as opposed to last season) – “I think he’s more consistent. I didn’t really like his first run today in the team run period. We kind of mentioned something to him in a nice manner and then I thought later on, a couple of runs today, he was really decisive, really quick and explosive. I think the extra weight, again, we haven’t seen him matched up a ton yet in pass protection in the blitz against the linebackers, but I think that’s going to bear fruit for him too. He’s stronger, he’s more physical. That should hopefully help (him) break a couple of tackles as well.”

(On any particular skill set he and the staff were looking for in the recent signings, especially the offensive linemen) – “We wanted to look at some tackles. It was more a positional thing more than I think anything else. Dennis (Hickey) and his staff identified some guys and we brought them in. Obviously, it’s tough for the guys that are here and have been with us for an offseason. That’s the nature of football. You have to take a look and explore different options of getting better, so that’s really what it was all about.”

(On the strengths of recent signing QB Seth Lobato) – “He looked natural throwing the football. I don’t want to over complicate the position, but when he worked out, he’s a big guy. I thought his arm strength was good and he looked pretty natural throwing the ball. Obviously, we’re going to coach him and we’re going to give him some fundamentals that we think are important. When he threw, it just looked effortless at times. I think he has a strong arm. We don’t know a ton about him, but he made a good first impression.”

(On why the roster lends itself to the offense using a lot of motions and having people move around) – “I think we’ve got some guys that can line up in a bunch of different spots and do different things. Obviously, Charles Clay’s a guy that kind of fits the offense very well because he’s versatile. He’s got good speed, good awareness, good instinct. Obviously, Mike Wallace, who we’ve featured in the past, last year primarily more outside. I think there’s a place where formationally we can maybe use him in the middle of field on occasion, not wholesale. I think some of those guys, Brian Hartline with his smarts, we can move around. I think the more you can pre-snap slow down the pace of the defense a little bit, that helps. But there’s also a flipside to that. I think that’s the primary reason so far.”

(On why there is a big change in player’s attitude to the offense this year) - “Well, I think players want to contribute, they want to get their hands, especially skill players, they want to get their hands on the football. With moving around a little bit more, potentially a little more disguise in what we’re doing. A little more help in the releases with motions and stacks, and those type of things. I think that gets them excited and the route concepts, they’re some new ones, but a lot of the routes are semi-universal in football. But I think they’re excited about, hopefully, getting a lot of first downs, playing fast, tempo, moving around a little bit. I think those are all the things that they’re upbeat about.”

(On if guys are starting to itch for games) – “I don’t think quite yet. We had three practices (and) we gave them a day off. I wouldn’t venture to guess that, today’s Tuesday, maybe by Friday or something like that, they may be ready to (play someone else). Things are still a little bit new. Tomorrow, we’re going to do two-minute. We’re going to do a lot of two-minute reps. So there’s still some install, most of it’s totally been put in in the spring, but there’s some little additions that we put in this summer that’s new to those guys. So I think when they’re still in the learning mode and some things are still fresh. At times, they don’t hit the doldrums of training camp yet.”

(On how to keep WR Damian Williams and RB Damien Williams straight because of their names) – “Parentheses running back, parentheses wide receiver. Well, I kind of know who they are in the team meeting room, so I’m if identifying them, I kind of impolitely, is that the right word? I have to point. On the offense, it’s parentheses receiver, parentheses running back.”

(On the flipside to the offense that he mentioned) – “I think I’ve mentioned it before. There’s two schools of thought sometimes. When you’re stationary as a football team or ahead of your emphasis on stationary, you might be able to make more adjustments offensively, check a play another direction, read direct things, signal things differently. If you’re snapping a ball and guys are moving and you don’t really have that option. And so you have to kind of go with the play. Your intent is that you’re going to create a little bit of indecision, limit the play speed of the defense with all the shifting and motioning and so forth. The flipside is you’re not always 100 percent sure of the adjustments and you may get stuck into a look that maybe is less than ideal.”
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