Philbin: Hoping For A Big Home Field Advantage

Posted Sep 14, 2012

In this exclusive interview for with Dolphin Digest editor Andy Cohen, Coach Joe Philbin talks about Sunday’s game against the Raiders as well as what he’s hoping to see from rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Q. How much better do you expect your team to play in the second regular season game?

JP: The whole theme this week has been about improvement. We talked last week about playing a full NFL game to gauge where we are as a team, what our strengths and weaknesses are. After one game, we’ve identified the things we need to work on so I’m looking for definite improvement this week. It’s been the message we’ve been conveying to the team all week.

Q. How do you gauge Ryan Tannehill’s improvement from week to week?

JP: He has a starting point just like the team does. We feel like Ryan came back in the second half last week after a real rough five-minute stretch late in the first half. He kept his poise, made some good throws. Certainly there are plays that we showed him that he has to make on a consistent basis. This week what we’d like to see him do is make the throws that are there. If a guy is open, if we have good protection, then we expect the pass to be completed. This is what we are looking for. No quarterback is going to make every single throw, but we are looking for him to make the ones that are there. We need to cash in on the plays when they are there.

Q: Having a young quarterback with this type of athletic skills, is there any hesitation in using those athletic skills with roll-outs, maybe some QB draws and other running options?

JP: No, not really. We will do whatever we have to in order to get first downs and move the chains. We like Ryan’s athletic ability. We feel like he throws the ball well on the move. Last week, based on the Houston scheme, some of those movement type of plays were limited. But we don’t have any reservations at all moving him around to make plays.

Q. What concerns you most about the Oakland Raiders?

JP: They played a very good game in the opener. They had a couple of miscues that they could have or should have done differently. But they have some explosive playmakers and some very talented players. They can take plays to the house on offense. On defense, they played very well against San Diego and this is going to be a good challenge for our offense to move the ball on them.

Q. Talk about the importance of your team getting to experience all the positives that a victory brings?

JP: It will validate some of the things they have been working so hard on since way back on April 10th. We’ve made a lot of strides. We know once the regular season starts, this is an outcome league to validate everything you do. It would be great to get a win here in our first regular season game in our home stadium.

Q. How much do you think correct clock management by a head coach can have an affect on the outcome of a game?

JP: Very much so. The decisions you make in the last couple of minutes of a half are very important. The instant replay is important and the impact it has on time outs. It’s part of the job. Some weeks it is more important than others. We study for that. We have a game management meeting with the coordinators every Saturday to discuss every thing from the coin toss to who the officials are and what tendencies they have and a history of calls. You want to be as prepared as you can with things you can control. We simulated a game situation this week on something we saw in the Oakland-San Diego game. We’ll always look at things like that.

Q. After what happened to Oakland in the San Diego game with a costly injury to the Raiders’ long snapper, do you think every NFL head coach worked on their back-up snapper this week?

JP: (Laugh). Probably so. Probably so.

Q. Randy Starks had a nice start to his season. What types of things does Starks do that make him stand out?

JP: When you have two sacks in one game from the inside line position, that is a lot of production. Randy is physical at the point of attack in the run game, which means he’s not easy to move. He can get off the block and has good lateral movement to still be involved in the tackle. He had a heck of a day against Houston.

Q. Is the theory of halftime adjustments over-rated or can they truly make a game-deciding difference in the second half?

JP: I don’t think you can make wholesale adjustments. You can make minor adjustments because it all happens so fast at halftime. You want the players to go in and get some water and rest, so you can’t re-invent the wheel at halftime. We can, for instance, move to more zone coverage on defense instead of man to man. But we can’t change an entire game plan at halftime.

Q. You said after the Houston game that you saw Mike Pouncey on tape do some things that you don’t often see. What was that?

JP: He was finishing blocks, whether it was on their nose guard or linebackers, extremely well. He had a great block, for instance, on Daniel Thomas’ screen pass. He played a very physical game and his effort was outstanding -- not merely good, but outstanding.

Q. Finally, coach, what message to the fans do you have as you approach your first home game?

JP: We’re excited. We truly are. We told the team this week that since the NFL merger we have the fourth best home record here at Sun Life Stadium and part of that is because of the loyal fan support. We are looking forward to having a great relationship with the fans. It has to be a two-way effort to create the atmosphere we want to create. Our players have to perform in order to gain the fans’ support so it is teamwork in a way. I said to the players that everybody love to come to South Florida, but we have to make Sun Life Stadium a place where visiting teams don’t like to come.

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