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The words from Tony Sparano's mouth

Tony Sparano talked to the media Monday following Miami's 14-10 victory over the Vikings. This is everything he said:

(On how much more it means to be 2-0 considering both games have been on the road) – “I think it adds quite a bit. I think that when you can go into those two kinds of environments with a young team and come away with two wins I think it helps in a lot of different areas. Obviously that’s not an unknown anymore out there; we’ve played in two hard places to play and have won two football games, been fortunate to win two football games. I think as we get on in this thing and we get on in the long haul, that’s going to help us. I think it’s been very helpful.”

(On Jason Allen’s progression) – “I mean Jason has been…early on in the process bounced around a little bit. We had to find a home for him, try to find the right place, the right fit. We tried him at safety; we tried him at corner then we moved him back to safety, moved him back to corner. I think that finally we just settled in on the fact that we really need to let this guy play in one position and not bounce him around and ask him, to put him in the slot in the nickel; didn’t want to ask him to do too many things from that standpoint because I think all those things require a different skill set and you can get caught up in the goodies that Jason brings to the table that way. He’s got outstanding athleticism and sometimes that can get you caught in trying to get him to do too many things. So from our end we needed to back off of that and we needed to say, okay this is what we’re going to ask this guy to do. It’s what we’ve done, and the kid has really grown I think as a player. To his credit, he’s done some things off the field to help him(self), spent a lot of extra time. I told you he and I had this visit; he’s told you that. At this end of this visit he was given information, and he went out and took the information and made the best of it.”

(On Vontae Davis’s progression) – “Yeah well I mean Vontae’s a guy that obviously we think highly of; we drafted him in the first round and he’s a guy that I think, I think Vontae’s got a pretty bright future ahead of him if he keeps working on some things to help his game. There’s some things fundamentally that Vontae can do better, and there’s some things that he did really well fundamentally in this game. We talked earlier in the week about our corners having to tackle and he did that pretty well in the game yesterday and made  some good breaks on the ball when he was challenged out there. Vontae’s just got to keep working; he’s just got to continue to keep working. I think this guy’s going to be a pretty good player.”

(On whether Vontae Davis needs to work on his celebrations a little more) – “(laughing) He’s done a pretty good job of that; that’s okay. I want them to be excited when they play well.”

(On the impact of Karlos Dansby) – “Karlos played pretty good yesterday, obviously made a bunch of tackles. Here’s what I like about Karlos; here’s the thing that I think of all the things he does well on the field, one of his greatest strengths is that when he comes to the sideline in the middle of a game he’s exactly like he’ll be in a little while when you’re talking to him in the locker room. He’s as level headed as they come. You can make the correction; you can make the adjustment. He’s the quarterback (of the defense) now, so this guy goes out there and after he hears it on the sideline, he can get everybody lined up. He can get everybody on the same page; he’s kind of this really, he’s this quiet leader that is pretty level headed in the course of the game. He isn’t out there in the course of the game where you can’t get to first base with this guy. I think it’s one of the greatest strengths that he brings. Never mind all the, the running and the hitting and the big guy. Yesterday he played downhill hard yesterday in this game. I mean that was the kind of game it was going to be, and he got downhill a few times really hard and got squared up in there, forced some plays to bounce. He’s going to tell you he missed a tackle or two, but he made nine of them somewhere in there. I really think the guy brings an awful lot to our defense and I think little by little is making us better.”

(On whether the new defensive personnel has something to do with the improvement in open field tackling) – “I would say that’s the cause of it. I think at the end of the day the people you have out there are good tacklers or at least, now they were good tacklers for most of the day yesterday, but we missed nine of them. We missed four of them on one play, which isn’t good. It’s not an excuse (but) that guy’s going to make a lot of people miss. We missed four of them on one play so it’s something we got to do a better job of, but I think for the most part we’ve done a pretty good job of open field tackling. I do think that the scheme puts you in some positions. Vontae (Davis) makes a play in the flat yesterday and it’s because of the scheme. It’s because of coverage; he’s in the right place, the disguise makes the ball go out there and then he breaks on the ball and has to finish the play. At the same time I just think that you got some better players out there, and when I say that I mean better tacklers out there. I think you look at (Karlos) Dansby and (Chris) Clemons and Vontae and Jason Allen and these people. They’re pretty good tacklers I think.”

(On his evaluation of the offense after their first play of the game and was the deep pass available more often throughout the game) – “No, no, no it wasn’t there more often. For whatever reason on the first play of the game they came out, and they went to single high (coverage). Those are those green light specials I was talking about, and that just happened on that play. The play was called as a double go (route) play; it was called to get the ball down the field and really to get the ball to Brandon (Marshall) down the field. One way or another we were going to try to throw it down there. Coverage dictated that largely and they ended up going to single high. I mean we had a couple shots later in the game but the coverage didn’t dictate it. I think what happened there is eventually they kind of got back to doing what they do. Early in the game though I’m assuming that run game is what they were thinking and that’s where they kind of got that extra guy down in there a little bit and played some post high. That gave us a chance to throw it down the field. At the end of the day I mean offensively we’ve got to execute better; we’ve got to do a better job that way. We had, we had about 17 plays in the game yesterday that were either minus plays or no yard plays, no yards gained meaning incompleted passes or any of those kind of things. That’s not good; in a 49 play game you’ve got to do better than that from an efficiency standpoint. Now we’ve also had the first drive, the defense has an 11 play drive or somewhere around there in the first drive of the game. We defer, put them out there; now they make a stop on downs in that deal and then the offense takes the ball and goes 76 yards down the field and they score a touchdown. That was really good; then deferring we got the ball coming out in a tight game and the offense takes the ball 12 plays. Then we have a minus play, one minus play in 12 plays and it hurts you, and it hurts the drive. Now those are the things, defensively you could cover that up with effort sometimes. Effort, flying around, guys going all over; offensively, you can’t cover that up that much. We got to do a better job of just continuing to grind and be efficient. There was some really good things done at times in that game; you’re at the minus one yard line and you’re coming out and you punch one out like Ronnie (Brown) punched one out. That’s about as well blocked as, I mean it really was pretty well blocked. Now we get back on the minus one yard line and we turn it over and it ends up being a one yard drive for them. Those are some of the things we just got to be a little bit more efficient at right now from our standpoint.”

(On whether Jake Long’s performance yesterday against Jared Allen is a testament to his talent) – “I mean I could just tell during the week Jake was kind of getting ready for a little bit of a tussle there. I think that he prepared well for that game; that’s a heck of a player over there; there’s no way around it. I think every team would like to have one of those guys, but Jake’s a pretty good player. I’m glad we got him on our team.”

(On his not challenging a fourth and one in the fourth quarter) – “What was happening was really it was one of these muddle looks. I mean it was kind of, it was in the scrum and it kind of looked like that, and time outs were at a premium at that point. If you burned a timeout and they didn’t change it because it wasn’t one way or the other, and that’s kind of what we were all saying. We thought about it; it’s just it wasn’t clear. We had burned a timeout earlier or maybe two because of the noise and we got down on the clock, so we just didn’t do it. It wasn’t clear, and if it’s not clear I’m not going to do it.”

(On who graded the highest on defense yesterday) – “I would say that there was a lot of guys that played well, but I would say Jason Allen probably graded the best.”

(On whether he had a package of plays in place for Tyler Thigpen yesterday as the number two quarterback) – “I’m out of the loop in that information (laughing). Good try.”

(On the quarterback protection being better last week than against Buffalo) – “I think one thing that happened yesterday is a couple of our uncovered players, we really stressed that our uncovered guys had to find work in this game and had to be active. A lot of times the uncovered players were (Richie) Incognito and (Joe) Berger so they ended up finding some work there and kind of saving a hit here, saving a hit there. I just think the two tackles (Jake Long and Vernon Carey) really against those two players (Jared Allen and Ray Edwards) for the most part in the game played pretty well. Jared got a sack on a run where he (Chad Henne) put it down and ran and he (Jared Allen) retraced. I think on that play Jake had him blocked pretty good; it was a good hustle play by Jared which he’s going to make. Other than that, the two tackles being able to do what they did freed up some of those free players to help on the two big guys (Kevin and Pat Williams) in there occasionally, and then we did some things, sliding the protection where we put a little bit of pressure. I’ll tell you a guy that played good yesterday on offense and he didn’t catch a pass yesterday was Anthony Fasano. Anthony Fasano didn’t catch one ball yesterday and played a pretty good football game. This guy had nine protection reps yesterday and played pretty good in the protection. That’s hard to do because he’s got to block big people and then he played well in the run game yesterday which was one of the reasons why I think we ran the ball the way we did.”

(On whether John Jerry ever seemed phased yesterday) – “No, but John had some fundamental things that he didn’t do well at times out there, but he kind of stepped in there (and competed). What I like about John is his look is really good at the games and he’s playing against obviously two of the best players that you’re going to be able to play against at this position, and I thought he competed hard in there. It’s just the fundamental things he’s got to get cleaned up a little bit here to help him. I think that just gives him, by cleaning those things up gives him a few more tools in his toolbox. He competed hard.”

(On how pleased he is with Koa Misi) – “Another guy, and again this is just going back to this John Jerry question, another guy that on the surface when you look, this goes back to my point where sometimes effort can cover a few things up. Where if John Jerry blows something out there, it’s blown; I mean you’re not going to (cover it up), the quarterback’s going to get hit. That happened one time yesterday; he didn’t blow it mentally, he just, the guy on the other side who’s a heck of a player ends up beating him on a play. With Koa his motor, his tenacity is what really has covered up a few of these things. Fundamentally I want him to get better; I want him to keep getting better. He did some things better in this game than he did in the last game fundamentally. Those are all positives, but the pass rush, the quarterback pressures, the hits on the quarterback, being around the football, all those things I think got a little bit better in this game. That’s the production that you get when you put the guy out there like that, and I think, I just think the guy’s going to get better here as we go on. He’s got to be conscious of what’s going on out there at practice to help him get better.”

(On his level of concern with the offense only scoring two touchdowns in two games) – “I’m concerned; yeah, hey I want to score more points than that, no question about it, and I think we have to. I think that, I have great confidence that this group will continue to get better. I just don’t have a crystal ball in front of me here, and they have to understand the urgency right now in that we are really close in a lot of situations, really close. We’ve got to get over the hump in some of those situations, and I think we will. Right now this team has proven to me that in a lot of these hurdles, they work their way through them. This group will its their way through them.”

(On how an experienced wide receiver like Brandon Marshall can help a lesser experienced quarterback like Chad Henne) – “Yeah I think that, I mean Brandon in his conversations with Chad it’s kind of, and it’s good ball talk, it’s this is how they’re playing me; this is how I’m seeing and sometimes the receiver sees it one way and the quarterback sees it another way. For the two of those guys to get on the same page in that situation, I think helps and then having (Wide Receivers Coach) Karl Dorrell down on the field has really helped this process because Karl’s kind of the mediator there. He can kind of say, ‘Here’s the pictures fellas; this is really what’s going on,’ because I think at that point there it brings the whole group together: the receivers, the quarterbacks; it really brings them both together. I think that that’s been really helpful. I mean I think the conversation that Brandon and Chad have down there are usually the enthusiastic, hey I’m doing this, this guy can do this to me, this is how they’re playing me. I think that’s, that’s good communication; I’d rather have that than the guy sitting over there in the corner not talking.”

(On there being no worries with Brandon Marshall being experienced talking to Chad Henne who is not as experienced) – “No, no, no, I don’t think so. I think Chad needs, Chad likes that kind of conversation. He wants to know what those guys are seeing. I mean it isn’t any different than Chad Pennington doing it; Chad Pennington’s not, you’re not going to come off the field and Chad Pennington’s not going to not be saying something to you.”

(On whether he got off the field yesterday in Minnesota before he started thinking about the New York Jets) – “I just, I mean yeah I did. It was shortly thereafter, that’s for sure.”

(On his early thoughts about facing the Jets this weekend) – “Obviously they’re a good football team; this is another playoff team that we’re playing, another team in our division that we’re chasing. This is a good team, a well coached team. It will be a good football game, another physical football game.”

(On what it would take for him to be on Hard Knocks) – “I’m staying away from that one.”

(On whether he wants his defense to take it personally when Minnesota decides to go for in on fourth and two in the first quarter) – “No, I don’t want them to take it personally because I think that’s where you can lose your, maybe lose sight of what’s going on a little bit out there. I mean in that situation in a fourth and two there’s about 15 things they could have did, especially with Brett (Favre). I think all those things we had to make sure we had contingencies for in some of those situations. Taking it personally at that point maybe gets you caught up in some of that and you may get burnt. I think from our end it was (a) more businesslike approach in that we knew that if we had a stop there, for us we look at those things like turnovers. When you stop them on fourth down, and we did it twice yesterday, I mean it’s not going to show in the stat sheet that you had six turnovers yesterday, but that’s the way we look at it.”

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