Philbin: I Like The Attitude Of The Defense

Posted Jun 12, 2013

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin meets with South Florida reporters to answer questions on wide receiver Mike Wallace, new Dolphin Evan Rodriguez, and other players as the team goes through the second of its 2013 Mini Camp.

(On whether he can answer any of the rumors about Vontae Leach) – “The only thing I would say is, as always we are looking for ways to….we evaluate a lot of players and I’m not confirming or denying. I’m just saying we always explore any avenue possible to improve our football team.”

(On how he would evaluate what he has seen from the fullback position thus far) – “It’s really hard in that position without pads on. You know a lot of the jobs that you are asking a fullback to do are related to blocking, and we’re not having that type of contact in this phase. I think assignment wise these guys have been good. I think they have caught the football relatively well, but again that’s not an easy position to evaluate right now.”

(On whether he is focusing on versatility or power at the fullback position) - “Again, as a coach you want to have it all. It all depends on the type of player you have. You’d love to be able to get a guy who can lead up on an inside zone play and take on a mike linebacker and get movement, push, get square and stay on their feet. We like that quality, but also we like a guy that can move and shift on some outside zone plays, so we are looking to get the best fit possible that we possibly can. We have both types of players, and we’re flexible enough in the scheme to adjust to the type of people that we have.”

(On whether he needs a fullback that can catch the ball out of the backfield) – “It’s helpful, absolutely.”

(On what he remembers about Leach from their time together in Green Bay) – “I remember on his first day I had to point him to the practice field and give him a ride to the practice field. That’s a true story; that’s what I remember about him (laughing). Lost. Totally lost.”

(On whether there will be any schematic changes on the defense) – “Again, the schemes evolve throughout. Now we are in our second year, we’ve got an opportunity to (adjust). There will be certain things that we did last that we aren’t going to do, and obviously we added some things this spring that we’ve tested out and experimented with. We will continually evaluate, but absolutely there will be some new things.”

(On whether Jared Odrick will be a defensive tackle, a defensive end, or a defensive lineman) – “Yes and yes. And yes. All three, absolutely.”

(On whether he has an idea of how many reps Odrick will get at each position) - “Not at this point in time.”

(On what he remembers about Vontae Leach as a player) – “Tough guy. Tough guy. That’s what I remember most.”

(On whether Evan Rodriguez’s history was discussed before bringing him in) – “Absolutely. Again, we expect the guy…when you remember the Miami Dolphins, nothing has changed. We expect guys to represent the organization the right way on and off the field, and that will be the requirement of him as it is for the other 89 guys on the roster.”

(On what he liked about Rodriguez’s skill set) – “He is a good athlete. I liked him coming out of college. I thought he was a good player coming out of college. He had 200 some snaps this year. Obviously we watched that and examined that. You know he is a young, developing player, and we’ll see. We need to get our hands on him and get a feel for what he can do.”

(On whether he has gotten this many questions about fullbacks before) – “Not that I recall.”

(On what he has seen in terms of leadership from Mike Wallace and what he brings to the table) – “It takes a while for any new player I think to get accustomed. Hopefully, we’ve been here for 16 months, and there is a culture established. There is a way of doing things on and off the field, in the meeting room, training room, weight room, practice field. Obviously he hasn’t gotten to the competition phase yet, so he’s kind of getting adjusted to all that. But we expect him to lead by example number one, be unselfish, care about his teammates, fit in the locker room. Leading by example is what we are really looking for, and we’re looking for him to bring his passion for the game of football. I think that’s the way, in my humble opinion, you inspire your teammates.”

(On how much of an open competition the kicking battle is) – “Whoever is kicking the ball through the upright the most consistently and out of the end zone the most consistently is going to be the kicker. It is that simple.”

(On what makes him confident that the defense can force more turnovers this season) – “I like the attitude of the defense. I think they have caught on to the system a little bit better. There seems to be less communication errors than we’ve had in the past. We seem to be on the same page more. I like the way they play the game; they like playing football. They like the game, I think they have confidence in the direction they are getting from the coaching staff. I think they have confidence in one another, and I think that’s going to lead to good things.”

(On what Armon Binns has done to allow for his progression) – “I think the biggest thing is play speed. I think that’s the one thing we’ve noticed as a staff, and I would echo that. I mean, I don’t want to jinx him. I’m usually the kiss of death, but he is playing faster. He is playing fast, and he is catching it when he gets an opportunity. We tell the guys, make the plays that are there. We’re not asking you to make the miraculous plays. Those occur on occasion, and we will certainly need some over the course of time, but do what you are supposed to do within in the scheme and you will have opportunities come your way. Then, catch the ball when it comes to you, and I think he has done a good job of that.”

(On whether he thinks Binns is a fit as a slot receiver or whether he is playing there out of need) – A little bit of both. I think there is always, again in a perfect world it doesn’t have to be every single snap, but we would love to attack the middle of the field in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s easier when you have a bigger body at times cruising through the middle. If guys have a little bit longer arms, they are a little bigger, and then the quarterback has a little extra room. Those types of things. So that’s one of the reasons we wanted to get him in there. And then part of it was need too as well.”

(On how Olivier Vernon has done with his opportunities this spring) – “He is a good football player. Again the temperament that he has for the game of football is excellent. There are a lot of clips of him last year playing physically. With a young player you always wonder in their adjustment to the National Football League, there is a strength element there, and can they hold up from that aspect. He certainly did that aspect of the job, and I think he understands the scheme better. His play speed has improved, and it’s hard to tell sometimes as a defensive lineman because they are in such close quarters, but I think he has done a good job of that too.”

(On how much of the team’s short yardage struggles form last year will weigh on his decision about who plays fullback this year) – “We definitely have to do that. Obviously one of the things we want to do is run more plays and create a high tempo, be a better third down team, and that’s one element of it. That will be part of the evaluation process, certainly.”

(On what goes through his mind as a former offensive coach when the practice ends with an interception) – “You’re disappointed. That was a disappointing first play of the drive because we had done some good things the prior drive. We hit a play against one of our empty blitzes and we call it that we haven’t converted a lot during camp. Those guys have kind of…the defensive guys have gotten the offense on that particular blitz more than once, so when you see a conversion on that type of play, obviously you’re happy. But, it’s tough. And on the other side, it’s great to see a guy like Presley make a play in a critical situation. From my seat, I get to be in a win-win.”
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