For the second time this month, the Dolphins offensive assistants were made available for a media question-and-answer session. With three practices in the rear view, and another three-and-a-half weeks until the season kicks off in New England, the coaches were asked a variety of questions. Individual evaluations were the focus, but each coach imparted plenty of football knowledge, expanded on what they've seen in practice collectively and how their respective rooms stack up.
Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey, Running Backs Coach Eric Studesville, Quarterbacks Coach Robby Brown, Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard, Tight Ends Coach George Godsey and Offensive Line Coach Steve Marshall took time out of their busy day to give us detailed information. Here are the highlights.
Students of the game
Gailey on quarterbacks who've played with multiple coordinators: "There's really only X-amount of plays in football, so what you're trying to do is teach him a new language. How quickly can he learn a new language and get to where he can speak it fluently rather than he's memorizing what something means. So the biggest thing is to try to get him to put things in the past – terminology in the past – put it away, put it over to the side and grasp the new terminology."
Grizzard on receivers being good teammates: "(DeVante Parker) now understands I think more than ever that not only is your job to get open and catch the ball, but if it's a concept that you need to go get doubled or you need to be in this spot to open it up for the next guy, he understands that side of it, too. I think he understands defenses more than ever; so just seeing him take those strides has been good."
Brown on the teaching and learning atmosphere of the QB room: "The room does have a lot of personality. It's fun to be in. Most quarterback rooms you go into, you've got to be on your toes because they're witty. You've got to know what you're saying, be ready for all kinds of comments and things like that. It's fun watching them interact together, learn from each other and yeah, obviously you're going to learn something from every single guy – how they see things, how they process things; so it has been a good time learning, seeing, teaching all three of those guys."
Grizzard on Isaiah Ford: "Isaiah is a very, very smart football player. He completely understands not only his job, but the guy beside him. He might even be able to tell you what the o-line is doing. He might tell you what the protection is. He knows that because he studies it. He loves the game. I could see this guy coaching one day down the line, and he does have elite knowledge of what we're doing, what his role is and he's just a joy to be around because he understands it from our level."
Studesville on Jordan Howard and Matt Breida: "You see Matt's bursting speed. We've seen it a couple times in the open. You see Jordan's got really good feet in-line, vision in-line – all of the things that you expect. I think they both will be able to contribute as pass protectors. They're smart, they understand football, they're passionate about it, they want to be good, they want to work."
Studesville on Myles Gaskin: "I think he's head and shoulders above where he was at this time last year. The work and the effort that he puts into the game and the passion that he has to want to work and to want to be good at this and to get everything, has started to really show; and he invested in himself last year, and it's paying off for him now. He's playing more confident, he's playing faster, and we're seeing some of the skillset that he's had in the past."
Godsey on Adam Shaheen: "He's gradually grasping the offense. He's been working hard in the training room and to get out there, continue to improve his reps and then continue to show some production from especially a blocking standpoint."
Godsey on Durham Smythe: "He understands technique. When you're blocking all those different angles, inserting as a fullback, on the point of attack as a tight end – that's not like a one-stop shop. To process that and understand what exactly what those players are doing, I tip my hat to Durham because sometimes it's a thankless job because it doesn't show up in the stat book."
Marshall on Solomon Kindley: "He's a big man. He's smart. He loves to play the game and that's the one thing I think that for a 21-year-old kid that left college early to come to the NFL, he's got to want to be a very good player; but obviously he has physical attributes and a skillset that – my grandmother can see that he's a big man."
Gailey on Malcolm Perry: "He's got some good quickness. He's got a feel for the game. He's played tag growing up. He knows how to make people miss and make them get out of the way. He learned early on how to do that – how to look at a guy and know when he's off-balance or he's got his foot in the wrong place and he can make a move the other way; so he's got a little unique talent there and that's one thing that gives me hope that he can play receiver for us because he does have a feel for getting people off-balance, finding holes, he understands the game pretty well. Probably playing quarterback helped him understand the game fairly well."
Maximizing the talent on the roster
Gailey on focusing on where players excel: "As a coordinator, you get excited about what guys can do. You don't fret about what they can't do; so you take the guys and you take their skillset and the things that you're excited about, and you try to put them in position to be successful. I think we have a set of guys on our football team that give me some excitement about what we might be able to do with this group."
Talking shop (X's and O's)
Godsey on finding balance across his tight ends room: "It's extremely important. You don't want a loaded box when everybody just comes down there and plays the run, and if you're facing a defense that wants to respect your ability to threaten them vertically essentially in the passing game, then we need to have hands on hands or hats on hats from a blocking standpoint to be able to allow us to run for some yards; so the tight end position, it's a threat initially because we're on the line of scrimmage for the most part and we're able to get into the defense."
Brown on quarterbacks' situational awareness: "You're always talking about pocket presence, knowing when to throw it away, when to give up, when to get down, and it's a feel thing. You've got a guy that's a however-many-year vet 'Fitz' is. He talks through that. Josh talks through it. Tua talks through what he sees. Chan Gailey talks through what he sees in the meeting. But that's always a process and it's more about when to give up, when to throw it away. It's not just Tua. Every quarterback lives through that. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are in the process."
Studesville on running back vision: "A lot of it is reactions and what they do, but certainly we have things that we're looking at as to how a play is designed. We talk about that a lot of times in meetings. 'Hey, what are our eyes doing? What are we thinking here?' There's a lot of people that can know what the play should do and then there's a difference in the guys that can make the play do what it's supposed to do."
Marshall on how he evaluates offensive line play: "It goes to skillset. It goes to smarts. It goes to toughness. Is he a team guy? And those guys usually are team guys because obviously as you know, there's no stats involved with offensive line. It's bigger, faster, stronger; but there's a lot more that goes into it. O-line is all about intelligent, being able to work on your feet, being able to change – doing things quickly (both) mentally and physically."
Marshall on the benefits of facing a multiple defense daily in practice: "Part of offensive line play is more of the pre-snap stuff than the post-snap stuff. You come out of the huddle. They give you a specific look. We have to make a specific call based on that look and especially in pass protection, but also in the run game; so yes, there's a huge communication factor that we go through making sure that it goes from the guard to the tackle to the center to the guard to the tackle, and making sure when we get different looks like our defense does – they're very multiple; they give you a lot of different problems – and it's really part of the whole maturation process and learning process to get the line to come together. A lot of it is just time on the job.