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4 posts from May 27, 2014

May 27, 2014

Lazor: Tannehill has to practice at game speed

You've heard a lot about temp with this new Dolphins offense.

Players talked about today at the OTA. Get in the huddle. Get out of the huddle. That's what tempo meant today.

Eventually, the Dolphins will go no-huddle and then up-tempo will mean something -- as in trying to throw so much at the defense as to get that unit tired and into retreat mode.

The designer of this attack is offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The player most responsible implementing it?

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill. And that is why Lazor believes Tannehill has to speed up in practice. He needs to practice at game tempo.

Eventually the other players will catch up.

Here's more from the Dolphins new offensive coordinator:

(On progression of offense) – “I feel better about it than the last time you or someone in this group asked me the question because we’ve had the chance to be on the field a little bit. The thing that was a lot different today was the fact we were able to go against the defense. A couple of things changed I think from what we were doing the last couple two or three weeks. The intensity level rose a little bit. I think what you saw was the guys struggling a little bit early on to be poised with some new coaches coming in and some new terminology, I think there was probably a little stress level and it was kind of interesting to watch them work their way through that and settle down a little bit as we went. Each guy handles that a little differently. These guys are pros, and I think most of them were really excited to get out today. All of them to me seemed really excited to get out there. There was a little excitement in their play. Now you get to see guys compete more. We did it on air the last few weeks. We are really trying to teach them the basic fundamentals. Now they’ve got to apply it to having a defender there. I thought it was a great first day. I thought the guys tried to play with great tempo. Just walking off the field, I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of the video yet, but I think some of the basic things that need to get corrected, number one, would be communication offensively. If we are not all on the same page, we’ve got a very low chance of being successful. Some of the times you saw some mistakes where we saw mistakes, we weren’t together. Who did the center call? What protection did he set? Was the quarterback together with him? Some of the calls are new for these guys. Some of the guys are new. Some people have been at it, (but) they haven’t played together before. I think we’ll get that point made real fast to them that they’ve got to get the communication ironed out right away so we are all together. But I thought the effort was great, and I was really happy with that.”

(On how he would describe the tempo of his offense) – “When you hear the word tempo being spoke about, there are probably a couple of different meanings. One of the meanings when we say tempo to our guys, we talk about from the break of the huddle until the snap of the ball. I think what you saw today, I believe you were there at practice, most of the day we were in huddle. Even when we are in a huddle, we talk about playing with a certain tempo when we break the huddle until we snap the ball. As we go forward, there will be some other times we will choose to operate a different way, and tempo will take on some other meanings. As far as the plays you saw and how fast the ball was out today, some of it is a nature of what we installed today. Day one teaching we always start by getting the hitch in. There were a couple of quick throws out to the receivers. Part of that was the nature of it, but in general our passing game the ball is going to come out on time. When number one is open, the quarterback is going to take whatever his set-drop is when the ball is coming out. If number one is one-on-one, we expect him to win so we expect to throw the football. Hopefully you see that a lot."

(On how long it takes for the talent to fit within his offense) – “How long it takes is a work in progress. It’s day-to-day. What we did today isn’t going to be good enough tomorrow. We made that clear to the players afterward. They’ve got to get better, and there is no ending point. When you ask how long does something take, that means at some point you will arrive. The mindset for them is that there is no end. We aren’t going to arrive. We are just going to keep going and keep getting better and growing. Talent-wise, I think we have what we need to be where we want to be. I feel excellent about how fast the receivers played today. There were a lot of good examples of the running backs running the ball decisively, not 100 percent. We’ll address that, but for the most part I thought we were pretty decisive with the football. I thought the quarterbacks were pretty decisive in getting the ball out. It was mentioned it seemed the ball was coming out on time. If you see them back there holding the ball or patting the ball, you will know that I’m not happy."

(On what he needs to get from Mike Pouncey with a young offensive line around him) – “Every once in a while I’ll walk through the locker room, but not that often. But I’ll see him all the time in the meeting room and I’ll see him all the time on the field. In all three of those cases, whether it is the locker room when I’m in there or on the field, I expect him to be a professional. I expect him to kind of live up to what the billing is, and the billing is a guy who was just in the Pro Bowl and a guy whose teammates, coaches and everyone in the organization looks to as a leader. So to me the bar has already been set. Mike and I walk into this professional relationship with a real clear picture. I’ve got real high standards as far as what I’m expecting from the center, and we are going to put a lot on the center on the practice field and on the game field as far as setting the tone for our offense, making calls, (and) getting everyone on the right page. One of the most exciting things for me is the day I first spoke with Mike. I spoke with him on the phone, and I laid out what I was looking for. He was very excited to do it. I think he’s taken that bull by the horns. He’s the right guy to get that done for us."

(On how the draft impacted what he wants to do with the offense) – “Well after one day on the field against the defense, I should go back (because) we had rookie camp also, a lot of time on air. I feel excellent about how we’ve addressed the offensive line. I think we’ve brought in talented guys both in free agency and the draft. It was no secret that was probably the number one most talked about issue when I got here as well as the personnel of the offense. All signs point to us having the pieces in place. How they work together, who is on the right, who is on the left, all of that stuff will get worked out. That’s why we practice. You walk onto the field today and you look at the bodies, and you all have been around. You’ve seen them. As you watch them move, you say, ‘OK these guys look the part. They move like they are supposed to move.’ Now we’ve got to get them doing it the right way.”

(On what the key was to helping Nick Foles in Philadelphia transform from a rookie to second-year Pro Bowl quarterback) – “If it was one key, it would be easy and we could bottle it and sell it, right? Each guy is different. I think that is important. I think it is important to set a standard for someone to make it very clear. I think as a coach, whether you are the position coach or directing the offense, you’ve got to do a couple of things. Number one you’ve got to be a great teacher. You’ve got to make it very clear for them, and I’ll answer specifically with the quarterback position, you have to make it very clear what you expect, not only what to do but how to do it. Number two, you have to be very demanding. Now if you are demanding but you didn’t do a good job explaining how you want it done, then you are just a jerk that kind of goes and yells all the time, right? But if you do a great job teaching it but you don’t hold them to a real high standard, then their play is only going to reach a certain level then it is going to stop. But if you can do a great job teaching what I want done, exactly how I want it done and then hold it to them every single day. There is no magic. It’s a formula, and every guy has different traits that need to be improved than others, but if the quarterback is accurate and decisive, you’ve got to feel like you can work with him, you can mold him, you can push him (and) you can take him. Sometimes it takes a pat on the back. Sometimes you have to hold his face to the fire. Every guy needs different things. You might need  different things on different days, but that’s what we are here for.”

(On where Ryan Tannehill needs to improve) – “I would say I put a lot more credence or a lot more emphasis right now on what we’ve seen on the field than studying tape. We’ve watched the tape, and we’ve watched the deep throws, the short throws, the good throws, the bad throws, and at some point we just couldn’t wait to get on the field. But as we are on the field, we started right from the very beginning with how we want them to play physically, and it’s no different than when we take my 9-year old son, and if he’s every going to be the quarterback, how we are going to start with him, playing with great fundamentals, the footwork, the pace, playing on a certain tempo. As I finished playing the practice video from today, I want to see the ball coming out on time, letting his football tell him when it’s time to throw it, and I want to see that he trusted us that this is how it all fits together. The quarterback has got to play at game speed every day in practice. The receivers will catch up to him. The quarterback has got to play at game speed, and that’s the first thing we are trying to do with Ryan from the very beginning, play at game speed every day and what does that feel like? The only way to learn it is to do it.”

(On the three wide receivers that were injured last season and how they are doing in OTAs) – “I can’t talk about where they are in the rehab process and all of that. I can tell you that I’ve seen all three of them work. They are all doing it, I think the correct term is as able, go as able as they come back. As professional players, as receivers, they’ve got to be experts on their body. They’ve got to know. Now we have a lot of professionals working on them as when to push, when to pull back, when they rest, but when they come out and put the helmet on, when they go to run a route on these fields for the quarterbacks, they’ve got to do it full-speed. I trust them. I trust it when they go out there to do it full-speed it’s because they can, and when it is a time when they can’t that they pull back. I think you probably saw Armon (Binns) more than the others in the team period today, but I hope as we go we continue to see all of them more and more. I think they are focused. When I’ve seen them work, I see guys who are eager to get out there on the field with the quarterbacks, which is what we need. We’ll all get better when we are all out there together.”

Joe Philbin answers media questions at OTA

Joe Philbin hadn't spoken to the media since the first day of the draft.

Today he fielded questions about center Mike Pouncey, the offense, the chemistry between quarterback Ryan Tannehill and reciever Mike Wallace. Here are the answers:

(Opening Remarks) – “It was great to get back on the practice field today.  The one thing I would tell you that we’re very, very excited about is the participation that we’ve had throughout the offseason program.  This is the start of our sixth week, as you guys know the offseason is divided up into different phases.  We had phase one for two weeks.  Phase two for three weeks and then we started the OTA phase which is phase 3.  Our players (should) be commended.  I think they’re in good physical condition and I thought our energy, our effort on the field was very good today."

(On Mike Pouncey and his role on the team) – “The one thing without question about Mike Pouncey which is important is he wants to be a great football player.  He wants to make a valuable contribution to the Miami Dolphins and he’s not unlike any other player that we have in terms of there’s an educational process that every player goes through, but love the effort and energy that he brings and that he’s put forth into this offseason and today is day one, it’s a long, long process but he’s off to a good start."

(On Mike Pouncey saying he doesn’t feel he needs any medical clearance and if he’s correct)  --  “Well again we’re in communication with the National Football League and when we have additional information we’re in constant communication with them and when decisions are made we’ll certainly inform you guys when that occurs."

(On Brandon Gibson) – “I think you mentioned one thing.  We’re looking for progress on a daily basis  with Brandon.  He’s been very diligent in his preparation for the offseason.  Spent a lot of time here.  The training staff, the medical staff, (has) done an excellent job with him.  But it’s a process.  It’s going to take a little bit of time and you know there’s going to be steps forward and probably as people return from injury, not uncommon, steps backwards.  So we’ll take it one day at a time but his dedication has been exceptional.  He’s a bright, bright guy that keeps picking things up well.  So I think he’s off to a good start."

(On whether Koa Misi being at inside linebacker is a long term or short term move) – “Yes and yes.  You know we’re kind of looking at it.  We evaluate it as you know.  We went through a thorough evaluation of the off season.  Watched a lot of tape.  I think we played about eleven hundred snaps on defense last year.  And so this is a lineup for today that we wanted to take a look at that’s not written in stone.  We have to see have everybody…the pieces fit together but we certainly feel like he’s a guy that’s capable so we wanted to provide that opportunity."

(On Jason Taylor being at camp today) – “Well I told him at our seven o’clock staff meeting, I don’t think he really knew what he was signing up for (laughing).  So we hope he’s back tomorrow.  I think he’s going to be around a lot in the OTA’s.  He’s approached us about working with the defensive linemen.  I don’t know if there could be a better mentor for our young players than Jason Taylor.  He’s energetic and enthusiastic about helping out and contributing and so I’ll have to check with him after how he felt about his first practice.  Player hours and coaches hours, players on a six hour day.  Coaches aren’t.  So we’ll have to see how that goes."

(On whose idea it was to bring in Jason Taylor and if it’s salary job)  --  “Well it’s the one day, kind of a one day at a time on a volunteer basis right now.  We’ve reached out to a lot guys.  We anticipate other former players getting a little bit more involved.  We love to have them come back.  We were fortunate last week in Phase 2 that Nick Buoniconti came by.  Hometown boy from Springfield, Massachusetts and he had a chance to talk to the team.  So we’re going to encourage that.  Get as many former players out here as possible.  How many want to put the whistle on that’s another story.  But as you guys know we have a tremendous alumni group.  These guys have been very, very supportive of our staff and certainly want to involve them whenever we can."

(On finding more playing time Dion Jordan)  --  “We consider every single option.  There’s absolutely truth in that statement.  The thing that at the end of the day, the thing that we look for with him when we drafted him was it a guy that was going to be able to put pressure on the quarterback.  You know one of the big things we feel that’s important to for our defense is to continually pressure opposing quarterbacks.  And that was really the mind set when we took him.  And we feel like to develop him in those skills requires a time commitment and if you’re always wondering about pass drops and who you have in zone and who you have in man, not that we haven’t used him in there and not that we won’t.  Third downs its own kind of animal.  We’ll do whatever we have to do on third down to get off the field.  That was kind of the thought process behind, how can we develop this player the best and that was the decision we came to."

(On Marcus Thigpen) – “I’ll be glad to talk about anybody that was out there at practicing today."

(On Bill Lazor’s offense) – “I would describe it as the Miami Dolphins offense first and foremost.  It’s not one individual.  I’m sure if Bill were here and you asked him that question, my reaction would be that he would say everybody’s contributing. We’ve got a talented offensive staff.  We’ve got guys that have worked very hard.  They work well together.  I’m really pleased about where the staff is at this particular point in time.  But you know we talked to Bill, the same things that Bill and I talked about in January are things we want to see.  We want to see an offense that plays fast with tempo.  We want to see an offense that does a great job taking care of the football and we want to see an offense that’s explosive.  So those are really the parameters.  That hasn’t changed and it’s not one individual.  It’s not mine, it’s not Bill’s, it’s not Dan Campbell’s or Ken O’Keefe’s, it’s the Miami Dolphins offense and in fairness to Bill this is day one of seeing eleven players on the opposite sides.  So we have to find out, he has to get a better sense of what exactly these players can and cannot do."

(On Ryan Tannehill’s and Mike Wallace’s chemistry developing) – “Well I think Mike, if you ask, Mike’s, his attitudes been outstanding.  He’s been working hard every single day that he’s been here.  I think he feels a lot more comfortable just as we like to say, parking his car in the parking lot and coming to work.  I think he feel better about being a Miami Dolphin.  I think he understands the expectations that we have in the offseason and so forth.  So really like what he’s doing.  He’s getting extra jugs on his own.  He’s doing a lot of things on his own and I think it’s improved but certainly today’s day one and we expected that it will continue to develop."

(On Dion Jordan, Jamar Taylor, Will Davis, Dallas Thomas contributing from scrimmage) – “We’re going to provide a ton of opportunity out here on the practice field, in the preseason for these guys to earn playing time.  And so I think if you look at Dion who wasn’t healthy and wasn’t physically present here in the last off season, this has got to be a beneficial that he’s here.  If you look at Dallas Thomas who was able to participate only on limited basis last offseason, he’s been one of our hardest workers throughout the offseason program.  So those two guys in particular, we’re going to provide these guys a lot of opportunity and then it’s really, the films should be able to tell us what decisions to make and how much playing time that they earn."

(On what was said to new members of the Offensive Line) – “We didn’t really say an awful lot.  I mean we want them to make their own decisions when they walk into the building.   When they feel the energy, the excitement that the coaching staff has.  Working with these guys every day.  When they see the way these players are treated by our equipment staff, by our security staff, by our medical staff, by our food staff, by the fields, probably forgetting people, but I don’t really have to say a whole lot.  I mean the people that come to work here every single day create an outstanding atmosphere that’s, I think is outstanding and I think the players feel that.  Again if you have to talk about it a lot you probably don’t have it."

(On John Benton) – “Well John’s a professional.  He’s got very, very good experience.  He’s been in the league, I believe this is his eleventh season in the league.  He’s run the offensive line on his own.  He’s been an offensive line assistant.  He’s been in a number of different schemes.  Obviously he was with Coach (Gary) Kubiak for eight years.  They had a lot of success both running the ball, protecting the quarterback.  John’s a teacher first and foremost and I think when you watch his film the techniques and the fundamentals that he teaches show up on tape.  And often times I’ve told the players a lot, it’s not what I can tell you I know at the podium or on the chalk board or in the classroom but really my resume and John’s resume is the film.  When you turn the film on how do the offensive linemen play and I’m confident he’s going to do an excellent job." 

Quickie OTA practice reaction

Dion Jordan, the Dolphins first round draft pick, looked as if he took an air pump and plugged it into his arms and shoulders this offseason. That's how big he looks.

Jordan said he's "a little over 265" pounds now.

"I was definitely too light to go out there against some of those offensive tackles," Jordan conceded.

"This year I had the opportunity to have an offseason where I can take care of my body. I'm trying to move forward and continue to try to better myself in a few areas."

Jordan, who struggled with the rehabilitation folllowing shoulder surgery last year, said he mostly did strength work this offseason. "I'm 100 percent," he said.

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin admitted the team considered using Jordan as an OLB this year but decided against it. To hear the coach explain it, coaches don't want Jordan thinking about covering zone or man when he should be chasing the quarterback.

So he's a defensive end.

Interestingly, former Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor returned to the practice field today to work with the defensive line. Coach Joe Philbin said Taylor is working strictly on a volunteer basis for a while.

There were several players who are injured and did not work today: KR-PR Marcus Thigpen has a back issue and was not present. Defensive tackle Jared Odrick, rookie fifth-round pick Arthur Lynch and undrafted rookie Tariq Edwards did not work. It's unclear what issues they have.

Wide receiver Brandon Gibson, who tore a patellar last year, was on the field but limited in drills. He did not take part in team drills.

The starting offensive line?

RT Ja'Wuan James, RG, Shelley Smith, C Mike Pouncey, LG Dallas Thomas, and LT Branden Albert.

You should understand this is just a snapshot rather than Miami's Day One starting line. Rookie Billy Turner also got a couple of first-team snaps at left guard.

The starting defense?

Today we saw the Koa Misi middle linebacker experiment for the first time. Philbin said this is a permanent solution to Miami's linebacker problems for today. In other words, this is the way the team is going to roll for now but it isn't necessarily permanent.

We also saw Cortland Finnegan as the starting corner on the other side of Brent Grimes. And Louis Delmas worked at one starting safety along with Reshad Jones at the other starting safety.

Finnegan, by the way, had an interception in the team period against Ryan Tannehill.

DE Cameron Wake, DT Earl Mitchell, DT Randy Starks, DE Olivier Vernon. was the defensive line.

The linebackers were Misi in the middle, with Phillip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe outside.

The secondary is CB Brent Grimes, CB Finnegan, and Jones and Delmas at safety.


Open OTA workout today so tune in

The 2014 Dolphins squad, at least a vast majority of them, should be at training camp today for an Organizational Training Activity.

If you want play-by-play of the two hours of practice between 10 and noon you should follow me on twitter -- @ArmandoSalguero.

Otherwise come back here this afternoon for the quickie posts on what happened.

Things to look for today?

1. Brandon Gibson's progress from his knee injury (torn PCL) last year. Is he working? To what degree?

2. The offense. What are they running? How much is the classic Air Coryell descendent that you're likely to see as something of a departure from the West Coast offense offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has planned? How much read option will we see (the Dolphins will run some of it)?

3. Starters. Is Ja'Wuan James already inserted into the right tackle spot? How are the guards looking? How are the cornerbacks setting up?