Kevin Coyle is running (to lose weight) while he's running the Dolphins defense these days.
After every practice or whenever defensive players run wind sprints, their new coordinator joins them. It no doubt sends a message to the players that their coach is in it to win it right along with them. As fraternal moves go, this is a good one.
But Coyle has bigger things on his mind than simply getting in shape and bonding with players. He's got to find a safety to play alongside Reshad Jones. He needs to get Koa Misi adjusted to the 4-3. He has to manage the competition along the defensive line.
He spoke to the media for the first time Monday. This is everything he said:
(On why he runs wind sprints with the defensive players after practice) – “Because I’m overweight (laughing). My daughter keeps telling me that I put on some pounds, so I like to try to stay in shape. During the season it is a grind on you physically as a coach as (much as) it is, much more, on players. The better shape you are in, the better you can keep your stamina up, so it’s something that I try to do. It’s a little harder as you get up in years as I have over the years now, but I like to try and do that and I like to run with the guys whenever I can to show them that I can still do it a bit.”
(On where he sees the most growth on the defense thus far) – “Well, it’s a work in progress. I felt coming out of the spring one of the goals we had was to be better communicators in the back, and there was considerable improvement in that area. Our technique is getting better and better every day. It’s not close to what it has to be, but this group of guys has really bought into what we are trying to do and every day we see glimpses of how good they can be if they continue to work the technique we are encouraging and coaching them to do each and every day. The entire group, not just the secondary, has really impressed me is when these guys come in the building, they come in serious, workers. It’s a great attitude in there. We have fun in the meetings but yet there is a great focus and attention to detail. This is a hungry group; they’re hungry to win, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there. It’s been a pleasure to get the opportunity to work with this entire group.”
(On what he told his players to expect from Hard Knocks having experienced it with the Bengals) – “You can’t allow anything to be a distraction. In this league, there are going to be cameras on you each and every place you go. We have a job to do. You have to focus on that job and you have to that singleness of purpose and focus of mind to go out there and not let anything get in your way. We talked about the fact that the guys in Hard Knocks crew do a phenomenal job. They say that after a couple of days you won’t notice that they (crew) are in anything, that they kind of blend in. I didn’t really agree with that, prior to it happening, but honestly, it’s that way. They were in the meetings the first day or so I think that players were conscience of it, the coaches were conscience of it, but now you just go about your business. I think our guys are feeling that way and the funny thing is, we feel like we’ve been in camp for four weeks when it’s only been four days, and the crew is going to be with us for another four or five weeks, so I think it will just get better and better as we progress.”
(On his impressions of the defenses ability to create turnovers) – “We would like it to be better than it is, although I think we have got off to a decent start. We got to get more interceptions, we left a couple out there today, but we got our hands on the ball. We are constantly trying to work on the strip aspect of things in the fact that we are not taking the ball carriers to the ground. So the first guys will go in there and hold him up and the next two, three or four, we want those guys working on one thing, and that’s locating the ball. Coach Philbin, the way he’s structuring practice each and every day, we’re doing some sort of ball security on both sides of the ball. So I think it’s a tremendous thing that our defensive players are learning how to carry the ball and learning how difficult it is in how you can get the ball away if you are not protecting it correctly. So those periods that we do in the very beginning of practice, those fundamental periods that some people give lip service to, we are hammering it away each and every day. I think it’s a great credit to Coach (Philbin) and how he structures the practices.”
(On there being only one available starting spot on defense (SS)) – “Well your count doesn’t matter, no offense. But there is a lot of competition out here, and there is a lot of competition throughout, and actually you’re wrong on that account (number of starting spots available), but I won’t get into any specifics. There is more than one job that we are out here competing (for), and we will keep competing for backups. Really from defensive standpoint, there are more than 11 starters in my mind. Sometimes, depending on the schemes you are going to play and the substitution defenses you have, you can have 13, 14, 15 guys which are, in my mind, starters in a respective group. As a result, they are going to be in game situations where they have to perform as a starter, so we have competition at safety, we have competition at corner, we have competition at the linebacker position right now. With our guys up front, we are competing not only for starting jobs, but we have a crew of guys up front and we are going to have some tremendous battles for the spots with the defensive line. We have a good crew of young players that are competing out here, so we got a long way to go. We haven’t had an exhibition game yet and there are still a lot of positions to be determined as we progress.”
(On his thoughts on being named defensive coordinator for the Dolphins) – “I was thrilled for a couple of reasons. Number one, when we started to discuss it and started to talk about the potential for the staff, I’m really excited about the staff we have. We have great chemistry in the room defensively. With the guys that we have been fortunate enough to add to the defensive staff, (we have) great quality coaches. There’s some veteran NFL coaches, some younger coaches coming from the college ranks, I think we have a really good blend. On top of that, offensively and defensively, when you sit in the meetings as a total staff, I think there’s a great vibe and a great chemistry there. Sherm (Mike Sherman) and I have worked together in the past; we’ve known each other for 25 years. Some staffs you’re on, every staff is different so I think our staff, we are fortunate in that we got a group of guys who are excellent teachers, excellent coaches and a great group of people. So it can’t get better than that.”
(On how the front seven on defense are handling the change from a 3-4 to 4-3) – “Excellent, excellent. I think that they are embracing it, and for some of them, it lends to their skill sets, maybe a little better, but not necessarily. They played darn good defense a year ago in the 3-4, and as I told you guys in the beginning, there weren’t that many true 3-4 snaps. There was a lot of under defense, a lot of substitution defense, so there are elements of what we did here a year ago that we are incorporating and some that we will continue to incorporate as the year goes on. But I think the transition has been great.”
(On who has had to make the biggest adjustment in the new defensive scheme) – “Probably Koa Misi playing off the ball at the Sam linebacker spot when he is out, off the line of scrimmage. But he is improving every day and we are excited about his progress.”