This is supposed to be a big year for the Miami Dolphins defense. Have you heard that?
They signed Ndamukong Suh. They put a lot of faith and trust in some players that the pundits have questioned. Coordinator Kevin Coyle is back to prove the collapse late last season was an anomaly.
Well, Coyle has a lot to discuss only three weeks removed from the regular-season opener. He met with the media Thursday and this is what he said:
(On Ndamukong Suh saying there’s more talent on this team than the Lions last year and if he agrees with it and what it says about the confidence of his players)– “First thing I’d say is that not being around the Lions I’m not, I can’t really make the comparison like Ndamukong possibly can. But what I think it says is that everybody on our defense, everybody on our team has high expectations. And we all want that and I think from a coaching perspective the talent that we have coupled with the way these guys have been working since back in the spring, that I think gives us the confidence going into the season that we have an opportunity to be a very good defense. We really do. If we come together like I think we can, we’ve shown small snippets, you might say of what we could be like here in the preseason. We haven’t really had enough of body of work to say one way or the other but we’ve been solid with the first group and there’s been a lot of bright spots with some of the other guys backing them up. So overall I think the expectation level is as high as it’s even been certainly since I’ve been here and now we have to go out there and prove it. And we’ll do that by putting our team in position to win games starting with September 13th.”
(On if he likes that confidence when a veteran like that says that) -- “Absolutely. Yes. I think it’s a symbol of not only did they appreciate the other guys around them. When someone’s been in the league for a long time they can get a sense of, players and or coaches, as to what your potential is. Again potential is one thing like we always say. And now we got to go out there and prove it each and every week as we get started. You have a good vibe. You got a great vibe in the building. The chemistry of this team is the best it’s been since I’ve been here and generally that reflects an attitude and a confidence and that’s good going into the season."
(On what he looks for in a 4-3 middle linebacker and if they have that on this roster) -- “Yeah. I think we’ve got multiple guys that have that, the qualities to do that. First and foremost you’re looking for an instinctive football player that likes to takes change and communicate and I think we’ve got a number of guys that have worked in there. Kelvin Sheppard has done a very good job here taking that role upon himself. Koa [Misi] has made great strides in that capacity as well. He’s been out as we all know here the last couple of weeks but yet he’s going to have opportunities to show that and we’ve got some young player too. Zach Vigil has really stepped up. The great thing, I think I’ve mentioned to you guys a little bit is that I don’t feel that the game for some of our young players is too fast or too big like sometimes people say. I think our young guys have gotten great reps, great work. I think Duff (Mark Duffner) has done a great job with the young linebackers so guys like Zach, and Jeff Luc has stepped up. There’s something special about the middle linebacker in every defense. Some obviously have more physical traits that you might like to see in terms of what you ask them to do but yet I think we’ve got guys that can fill that role.”
(On if he feels Sheppard should be enough in Koa Misi’s absence for him to be the guy) -- “I think the final decision has not been reached yet. Mostly because Koa hasn’t been practicing and playing in the preseason up until this point. But it’s not an issue where we lay awake at night worrying about it. It’s going to work its way out. We feel confident that we’ve got the right mix of guys that can get the job done so we’re gonna let it back and play its way out. This will be a good opportunity to access where we’re at when we come off the field Saturday night.”
(On what he’s seen from Chris McCain and what he still needs to work on) -- “Yeah, same thing. Chris is a guy who flashes tremendous athleticism. You love his height. You love his range, his length that he can do a lot of different things. But the consistency down in and down out is something that, I just talked to Chris on the way off the field and I just want to see him go out there Saturday night and just cut it loose and be the athlete that’s he’s capable of being. Don’t think too much, don’t worry. It shouldn’t been. Our game plans have been simple and they’ll continue to be that way. But I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Chris at this point. I think he knows that. We know that. But we know what he’s capable of doing. So again, we’ll see how it progresses here this week and over the next couple of weeks prior to the opening game. But he can play better. He can be more impacting both as a linebacker and as a rusher and I hope we start to see that.”
(On giving Brent (Grimes) the game off last week and what he saw from the guys who stepped in there for him) -- “Well there’s still a lot of competition at the corner spot. Unfortunately I thought Jamar [Taylor] started the game very well and there was outstanding interception he made. The technique on that play, you go right back and watch it - his footwork, his break. I mean it was text book. It was clinic. So between Jamar and Brice [McCain], I mention this all the time. Really there’s, in the NFL, when you say starting corners the people make a big deal of who are the two starting corners. Three of them are gonna play 65-70 percent, some days even more games, even more of the snaps. So you really have three starting players that you have to find in that group and I think we’ve got those kind of guys and then we had a guy like Zack Bowman getting good work. The young players, Bobby McCain has had an opportunity to show what he can do. Tony Lippett has done well on the outside. So we’re getting a lot of work for the young guys. I think we’re building up some depth there on the perimeter with those people and I think we kind of know what number 21 brings to the table and giving him a little bit of a rest I think was a smart thing.”
(On how much work he has done on the Washington Redskins) -- “We’ve done a lot of homework both last spring. We spend a lot of time, the way coach sets up the schedule, we allocate a lot of time in the spring towards our early opponents once we identify them. But even prior to that in the division opponents and then certainly the Redskins we’ve spent more time than anybody in the opener. So we’ve got a good book on what they did last year. Obviously we’ve got the preseason games. The amazing thing about technology now a days, we were in Carolina, they played the night before we did and we had that film in the hotel the morning when we got out of bed and we could go down and watch the quote coaches copy of the film there before we played Carolina. So we all saw that game just casually. You’re not studying it like you’re getting ready to play them the next day but you want to see who’s doing what, which players are performing well, how they’re rotating personnel. That type of thing. So we’ve done a lot of work and that will continue as we see them here this weekend. Preseason games often times don’t give you a great indication of schematics of what the team may end up opening the year with, but at the same time you do get a feel for a lot of things. So we’ll be busy at work here getting ready for that next week. The team that you honestly don’t spend as much time on is your fourth preseason game in terms of a lot of the films study and a lot of intense preparation.”
(On the situation at safety with Louis Delmas out) -- “First it’s a shame. It really is a shame that Lou (Louis Delmas) was injured because he’s a great player and he’s brought a tremendous amount to this team in the locker room, on the practice field. You know you love the guy for who he is and the enthusiasm he has for the game and all that type of thing. But at the end of the day we’re in the business of, it is the next man up. We got to find who’s going to be able to take that role and the guy, you know the leading candidate would be Walt [Aikens} and even prior to Louis’ injury, Walt had, I think been one of the most improved players on our team throughout the spring, throughout training camp. He’s a very, very good athlete. He needs experience and he’s getting that and hopefully will make an impact on the defense. Mike Thomas, his role has increased. Mike’s guy that you can rely on. He’s very, very capable and he’s very steady and confident back there. So we’ve got some guys that have jumped on the opportunity and hopefully they’ll continue to keep getting better.”