Here’s what Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin said at the NFL Combine Thursday. We’ll have a full story posted later.
Ireland cannot discuss Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn because they’re under contract elsewhere, but made clear he would be happy with a stopgap option, which Manning certainly would be because of his age. (He will be 36 in March.)
“I don’t think it has to be a longterm solution,” Ireland said of the quarterback position. “I think you can look at a short-term solution. Obviously, you’d like a longterm solution. Or you can try to get both. You’ve got to try to help this team win today and look to the future. It’s my job to try to build a team for today and the future. Joe’s responsibility is to try to win right now with a mind on the future as well.”
Ireland said he and Philbin have talked about quarterbacks “almost on a daily basis, especially the last couple of days, we’ve spent a lot of time doing that. It’s an ongoing process. A lot of things have to be figured out. And we need to go day by day with that search.”
On fans putting up a Manning-to-Miami billboard on I-595 in South Florida: “First I’ve heard of that is five minutes ago. Fans were flying a banner the last [home] game [saying Ireland should be fired]. They can do what they want to do.”
If the Packers place a franchise tag on Matt Flynn, would the Dolphins be willing to trade for him? Ireland, not addressing Flynn specifically, was asked if he would trade for a QB if needed: “We’ll use every avenue available to try to get the best player available for every position.”
With Flynn, the sample size is small. So how does Ireland assess a quarterback without much tape? If you don’t have much tape to watch, you keep watching it over and over again and try to find answers that way. There’s not much you can do. If you like him, you go get him. If you don’t, you don’t.”
On his team: “As I told Joe in the interview process, there are some pieces here. There’s a foundation built. I’m not naive to the fact we’ve been 7-9, 7-9, 6-10 the last three years. We’ve got to keep building the process. Some of our players are getting some years on them. We’ve got to do a pretty good job this year of retaining some of those guys or replacing some of those guys.”
On the state of the league: "It has been offensive minded. We’re trying to have balance on offense and defense. I’m not worrying about the other teams are doing. We have to stop our division. Our dvision has been offensive minded for the most part. We’re trying to build a defense to stop the offenses in our division most of all."
On he and Philbin: "We have the same vision of what we want to accomplish for the football team. Joe and I are going to sit together the entire week. We will be together for all the interviews. It’s bringing him up to speed on the college players. He hasn’t been as involved in the process because he’s a first time head coach. Getting him involved with every aspect of the team is a process we go through this week.
"We spent a lot of time during the interview process and once we hired him, he’s been full go trying to put a staff together. Probably spent more time with coordinators in the last couple weeks getting to know what they’re looking for, different details about certain positions. I know his vision of the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. Haven’t spent as much time with Joe as I’d like to but a lot of time with coordinators and the assistant coaches.
On how big a priority finding pass rushers is: “Never have enough of them. I’d like to have 3 or 4 more of them if you can find them. It’s like the quarterback position. They’re hard to find, too. Pressure players on defense are the hardest guys to find. It’s a core position for this team. We’ve got to try to find some more.”
More on his team: “The balance of youth and age – it’s a fairly young team. There’s not a lot of old players; pretty good balance of youth. My job is to introduce young players to the roster every year.”
On the draft: “It’s a good depth draft. There are players at every position that we’re going to look at. Strong first round. Just looking at it with Joe, it’s a good class of kids. Good class of character. Offensive line is one position that’s pretty good. The offensive line is a pretty good group.
A coin flip at 7 a.m. Friday will determine whether Miami or Carolina picks 8th or 9th: “It makes a big difference,” Ireland said. “I’ve never been in a draft where I felt if you were 10th, usually there are 9 players. The higher up the board, as long as it’s a flip of the coin, I’ll take it.”
On Philbin: “I was just kidding with Joe. He introduced me to someone. I’ve introduced myself to 100 people since I’ve been here and everyone keeps saying how good a guy he is. No doubt he’s a high integrity guy. I was kidding with him, I hope he can coach. Everyone has a high regard for him. Easy to work with. Has hired a great staff. I’m excited to have to continue working with him.
On Matt Moore: “I talked to him the other day, asked him where he’s at. He’s doing good. He’s out in California. Just wanted to say hello. He fits here. We’re glad to have Matt Moore on our roster. Last nine games we went 6-3, that’s pretty good. We’ve got to utilize his strengths. He needs to clean up his footwork and clean up his reads. That’s what the staff is going to do – he’s going to be a big part of our team.”
More on pass rushers: “They’re hard to find. If you can find one at the inside rush position, or linebacker to come off the edge, or defensive end – you take pressure players wherever you could get them.”
On the team's incumbent free agents, including Kendall Langford, Vernon Carey and others: “We’re going to talk to all our guys in the next week and discuss what our plan is with those guys and see where they fit. We have a plan for that. We’re going to start that process this week.”
Ireland said Cameron Wake’s role “is going to be a pressure player. But we’re not going to talk where we’re playing players” – meaning outside linebacker or moving to a 4-3 defense end.
Ireland reiterated, “We’re going to play multiple fronts. We’re not going to get into what our base fronts will be. Last year, we were in a sub front 70 percent of the time. We’re looking for good players with a great passion for the game and are disciplined. We’re not looking for small players. I’m not changing that too much. I like big, strong fast guys. Where lined up… I’m not worried about – if they’re good players, we’ll find a place for them to play.”
With Philbin here, “there are certain positions you look at differently. I have a high regard for what he’s looking for in an offensive lineman. We’ll tweak that a little bit."
"The receiver and running back may be a little bit different than what we’ve looked at in the past. I’m listening to the head coach to find the right type of player to be the most productive in this offense. I’m following his lead on that.”
On Reggie Bush: “He’s what we thought we would be. I thought he had a good year – I’m excited to have him back on the team. I’m not sure if [how he will be used] will be different or not.”
Ireland refused to say if the team would restructure contracts to create more than the team’s current $15 million cap space: “It seems like you never have enough money. That’s life. We’ll take a look at some of those things. In terms of restructuring, that’s an in house business deal. I’m not to going to discuss that. We got to do a lot of discussing [that].”
Asked about Matt Flynn, Philbin declined to assess whether he’s ready to be an NFL starter. He wouldn't discuss anything about Flynn, in fact.
With a quarterback, he said he’s “looking for a great decision maker, a leader, an accurate passer, a guy that has excellent game management skills, excellent pocket presence and awareness. We’re looking for a guy that can manage a team, lead a team, make good decisions at critical times.”
On quarterback: “We've talked a lot to evaluate every position. It will be a collaborative effort. No one person has all the answers. The dialogue has been excellent. We’re going to work fine together.”
On quarterbacks in the draft: “It looks like there’s some excellent prospects. On tape, there’s some very intriguing guys. The quarterback is an important position – we have to have a player perform with success at that position. But we don’t have a mandate the player has to be a [certain age].”
He declined to say whether the offense would more resemble his or Mike Sherman’s at Texas A&M. (There were a lot of similarities). “We’re going to run the Miami Dolphins offense. It’s going to be a collaborative effort. Mike Sherman has great experience in the league. His offense at Texas A&M was extremely productive. We’ve got a good staff. They may let me have one idea or two. It’s important we all share a vision of how a player is going to function in the offense.”
On the division: “Obviously, there are some excellent teams in the AFC East. We’ve been more focused on our own team, our own players. I have great respect for what they’ve accomplished in New England.”
On Ireland and the front office: “The biggest thing that’s comforting to me is he and his staff obviously have done their homework. They’re very detailed, very thorough. When your main function is coaching the team, knowing this staff is prepared. I feel very confident these guys are going to put us in a good position.
On Ireland, specifically: "You put your head down at night saying, 'Jesus, this guy is prepared.'”
On what he wants in an offensive lineman: “A guy who can stay on his feet, not be on the ground a whole lot. A guy with some quickness. A guy who can adjust a little.” He wants athletic offensive linemen; that much is clear.
On his receiver unit: “It’s a good group; they’re productive players; they all have a little different skill set; it’s good to have guys who can do different things. I’m excited about [that group].”
He briefly met Jake Long, Brandon Marshall and others: “Very constructive, very positive. The thing I’m impressed with most is the character, desire. They seem willing to sacrifice to get to the accomplishment of the team goals first."
On his incumbent tight ends: “I thought those guys performed well. In a perfect well, your tight end shows great versatility. Can block people, a defensive end, particularly in a one on one match. In a perfect world, he can attack the middle of the field vertically. And a guy that can lead on a linebacker or safety and create some separation. And he has to catch the ball. Somebody that can block and attack the middle of the field."
On what this team needs: “One of the big things we want to do defensively is create takeaways, disrupt the quarterback. Sometimes it’s real tight coverage in the secondary. Sometimes it’s exotic pressures. Sometimes it’s having a great rusher.”
On Reggie Bush: “The previous staff did a very good job with him. He did a lot of good things. You want the football in that guy’s hands. He can make guys miss and that’s a valuable commodity.”