Coach Sherman: Our Backs Have To Create Their Own Identity

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman meets with the media to answer questions about the progress of Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace and other members of the Dolphins offensive unit. Don't miss Sherman's comments on the importance of having a fifth preseason game as well as his praise for rookie offensive lineman Dallas Thomas.

(On his thoughts on a young running back group) – “Well certainly last year, when you have a Reggie Bush in the fold, there’s a certain identity that goes to (Reggie). This year guys have to create their own identity. It is a young group, but I’m really, really pleased with how hard they work. They come out every day. I’m very excited about the physicality they are bringing to practice, so hopefully that will continue. They are catching the ball well. We can do a little better in our route running, but they are making good reads in the run game and they are trusting the line of scrimmage. We want to eliminate some negative yardage run that we had last year, so that’s important that there’s a trust factor, that the hole is going to be there and is going to open up. If it’s not, we are going to have to get the two yards, the one yard that the defense allows us, if not more. We are developing that trust factor with the offensive line right now, but the backs right now have come out every day and worked extremely hard.”

(On experimenting with the offensive line) – “One of the reasons why Coach Philbin opted to go for this ball game is just because (we) are such a young football team and try to get more experience at a lot of positions, not just quarterback or running back, but to try to find out which offensive line is going to best gel for us, so moving guys around and trying to get the best mix. The key to that whole position, is to stay healthy, in my mind, and try to play with the same guys from day one to Game 16 and beyond. So we are trying different combinations. I think the extra week gives us the opportunity to be a little more creative in that way.”

(On if he is a believer in a player having an offensive lineman playing a specific position or playing the five best players) –“Certainly some positions have a certain skill set that you have to have. You certainly aren’t going to make a right tackle who can’t snap the ball at center. But for the most part you try to play with your five best players. Every week we rank them not by position but by what we think they bring to the offensive line, their talent, their skill and their mental toughness. And we’ll play with those five guys whoever they are. Obviously there is a certain skillset at center we must be cognizant of.”

(On if he thinks Ryan Tannehill enjoys expectations) –“He responds to challenges. Whenever I’ve challenged him, he’s responded. I anticipate a great response this season for him. He’s tirelessly working. He’s comes out every day as the same. He’s consistent. The great thing about Ryan, if something good happens he doesn’t get too excited. If something bad happens, it doesn’t get to him. He’s very consistent. I think you saw that last year from game one to 16, no matter what. If he played well, he was the same guy. If he didn’t play so well, he was accountable, standup guy, took that and moved on. I think he has the qualities, not just talent wise but mentally and emotionally you look for in a quarterback.”

(On if the lack of big plays from the previous season has been addressed) – “That remains to be seen how we address it. I think it’s a combination of things. I certainly don’t ever blame it on personnel. I think our experience of another year will allow us to opportunity to more explosive plays. I think the knowledge of the offense and how we are advancing with more things this year trying to be a little more creative. In the second season, it seems like they are handling it quite well. I think we will have some more explosive plays, but the bottom line we have to prove those plays to make that true.”

(On how dangerous Wallace can be for an opposing defense) – “Mike is a unique talent in the sense he possess such great speed in a skill set that certainly is going to make people aware of his presence out there. But people can do what they can do. They can take people away, the opportunities. If in fact they did in fact take Mike away with a certain coverage by deploying two people, one over-the-top, one underneath, and we have enough other guys to step up and make plays. It can’t just be about Mike Wallace. Mike brings a lot to the table. Mike is going to make his plays, but at the same time everybody else has to respond if defenses defend him and allow other opportunities to exist. We have to take full advantage of those, so when those chances come other guys have to step up and be the playmakers.”

(On how important it is to find a guy who can move the chains on third down like former players did) – “I think Wes Welker is a unique player, obviously, in his own right. There aren’t many of those types of specific skill-set guys in the National Football League, just a couple, maybe. It is important to have guys who the quarterback can trust and depend on who are going to do the right thing at the right time in concert with one another as the play develops. I do think and I would hope we would have more than one. I do think that we have a couple of guys who will wise up and make plays for us on third down.”

(On if he is disappointed with the defense having success while blitzing during training camp so far) – “Our defense, obviously that is what they do, and they do a great job of it. I, probably next to Kevin Coyle and Coach Philbin, am the biggest fan of our defense and how they play. They certainly present challenges for us as they will for our opponents, but at the same time us going against them every day in practice puts us in a position to be better schooled in attacking pressure. And really, those are the defining moments of the ball game, whether a team pressures a lot or not a lot. It’s in those situations we have to make great decisions and make big plays. I would say the defense has had the upper hand, no question in regard to that. But as we are installing plays, we are not installing them for our defense. We are installing them for this season, so sometime they don’t match up. But I think our quarterbacks do a nice job of recognizing what is happening. We just have to respond a little better offensively.”

(On if there has been a change in Ryan Tannehill’s demeanor) – “I think his personality comes out even more. I think his leadership comes out even more. The character of the person comes out even more. I think the players see more of him. When we started a year ago, Ryan was not the starter. Now he comes into camp as the designated starter. With that comes huge responsibility and big shoes, and he’s wearing them quite well and I think he has a lot of respect from his teammates.”

(On how comfortable he feels Richie Incognito or Mike Pouncey need to be to change positions) – “It’s not how comfortable I’ll be. It will be how comfortable they will be in that situation, I guess. I think they are both very talented and flexible in that regard, if we have to go that way. If our guards don’t respond to their treatments, then we are going to have to make some adjustments. I do like the fact Dallas Thomas is out there getting a bunch of snaps. I thought he had a real good day today. I think he stepped up a notch in my book, anyways today. Hopefully he will continue to grow. Every (other team) just started, so we are a week ahead of everybody else. We got a week in with him, so I think a very fortuitous in coach’s decision to play in this ballgame. I think it gives the opportunity to give these young guys the reps they definitely need.”
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