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Philbin talks QB battle, needs at receiver and o-line; draft order set

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin spoke to the media at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach on Tuesday morning, and here are the highlights of what he had to say about his offense and his overall impressions of his team:

### Though many Dolphins fans are angry with some of the personnel moves – and more than two dozen of them protested outside team headquarters last week – Philbin said, “I’m excited about the reception I’ve received. It’s phenomenal. I’m glad there are fans with passion who care about the direction of this team. We understand not everyone is going to like every single decision. I love the fact they’re passionate. They didn’t throw any eggs at my car when I drove by. We’ll see how long that lasts.”

### Asked what concerns him about his team, “I’m concerned about everything. We’ve watched a lot of tape, we’ve identified areas we need to get better. I told [Steve Ross and Jeff Ireland] when I interviewed there’s a ton of focus on the quarterback position. My position, when I watched the tape, was our offensive line needs to get better if our quarterback position is going to play better. That's going to be a priority.”

### So has Miami found its five starting offensive linemen? “Not at all. Hopefully we can provide a little more competition.” (Jake Long, Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito are obviously set as starters; more on below.)

### He said the quarterback battle will be an “open competition” between Matt Moore and David Garrard. “I told David my only obligation to Matt Moore is he played well last year and he deserves an opportunity to compete for the starting position, just as David does.”

### His impressions of Moore: “I thought he managed the games relatively well. He’s not a by-the-book quarterback. He was very productive. Good arm strength. Kind of has a knack, an ability to move a team. He and I had a great conversation on the team Friday and he sounds very excited, very optimistic. He’s anxious to compete for a job.”

### His impressions of Garrard: “Had very good productivity in 2010. He throws a real catchable ball, can spin it pretty good. He moved well, threw the ball well, has good velocity on his ball. Fundamentally, has nice mechanics. I like his personality. I did some research on guys with Jacksonville – all the reports were positive about the kind of person he is. He is very comfortable throwing the ball on the move. He can be a factor in the vertical game as well. The biggest part of the visit was making sure our medical staff was comfortable where he is” after last year’s back injury." The medical staff was comfortable with it.

### Philbin wanted to make clear that the Dolphins very much pursued Matt Flynn, who got a bigger offer from Seattle. “We made an aggressive push. We got him in here relatively quickly. We had a great meeting. Matt and I had a number of conversations prior to his arrival, some subsequent ones after. The visit was excellent. He got along well with the offensive staff. It always takes two people to get a marriage.” 

### Philbin declined to say why Brandon Marshall was traded, beyond saying, “We thought it was in the best interests of the team moving forward.”

Asked if there’s a so-called No. 1 receiver in his offense, he said, “Part of the philosophy is to have balance. We want our quarterbacks to have progression reads where they’re not necessarily isolated on one specific individual. We’re going to play to our hot hand and strive to create mismatches. When we install a passing game, it isn’t necessarily built on: ‘You’re the number one guy, you’re the number two guy, you’re the number three guy.’ It’s more multiple. We can have a variety of guys lined up in that spot. It’s not necessarily that there isn’t one, but not necessarily that there is one. We’re going to expose the weaknesses of the defenses with formations.

“You want to have someone big who can attack the middle the field. I don’t envision us being locked into Davone Bess always going to play in the slot or Brian Hartline is always going to play outside. You want to create more work for the defense. How are we going to match this up? We may line up a tight end as the widest receiver. We need flexibility formation wise. I don’t want to be locked in.”

### It’s clear he expects to find at least one receiver in the draft. “You’re talking to a guy who in nine years, we never had one guy [receiver] come in as a free agent and really contribute. Let’s get guys in our culture, and have faith in our ability to teach and develop.”

 ### On his receivers: “We have to look within the roster to get more production and more development out of younger guys. It’s our job to bring these guys along.” He said Hartline “runs real well. I had a couple good meetings with him. He’s ready to step up. I’m excited about it.”

 ### In the search for receivers, he wants precise route-runners and “somebody who can separate versus man coverage. You’re looking for a guy with body control that can get in and out of breaks quickly. You would like to see how competitive a guy is running across the middle.”

### On some of the young receivers on the roster: Clyde Gates “obviously has some great speed; you’re always looking for a vertical presence in the passing game.” He said Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace “are unknown quantities. There’s not a lot of game film. We’ve watched a little of the practice tape, relying on what Jeff and his staff have seen.”

### On his running backs: On Reggie Bush – “The one thing that’s exciting to us as a staff is he has a chance to line up in a couple different positions. You can have two tight ends with Reggie in the backfield. You might be able to go empty. Have a fullback with Reggie in the game and be a three-wideout [set]. He can do some things in the passing game for you. We’re excited about the flexibility he gives the offense.”

He said “we’re excited” about Daniel Thomas: “Big guy. Looks like he’s in good shape. He was a little hampered in his development last year, had a couple of nagging injuries. Those have been rectified. He’s a big, different size players. Steve Slaton has had some very good production in the league. We felt he was a good fit schematically. We need guys with a variety of skills in their toolbox.”

### On where the team stands at tight end: “I thought Anthony Fasano played well. He caught the ball well, made some difficult catches, made catches in traffic. We like what we saw there. Charles Clay is a young, emerging guy. I don’t know if you want to call him a hybrid. He can go a couple different places for you and looks comfortable doing it.”

### On his offensive line: “We like Pouncey’s athleticism, love his competitiveness. We thought he had a very, very good rookie year. That’s a critical position. He will have a lot of responsibility with blocking schemes. Incognito did some good things.  The rest of the interior (meaning right guard) isn’t quite as settled. Jake has come by the office a number of times. All the things you hear about him are true. He’s ready to take on a more active leadership role on the ballclub.”

### Asked if he has enough information to project Lydon Murtha as his starting right tackle, Philbin said he does not. As a coach at Iowa, Philbin recruited Murtha coming out of a high school in Minnesota. “Obviously showed a lot of promise.”

### He said he is not sure if John Jerry is a guard or tackle: “We have to find a home for him. He’s got to earn a spot. The good news is he has played a couple of them. The bad news is he has not anchored down one spot.”

### Philbin said “you can’t necessarily fix everything in free agency, nor do you want to do. When you’re doing it the right way, you’re developing your own guys, re-signing your own guys.”

### Does he need to tell fans this will take a while to get the team where he wants? “To say I have a great handle on where the 2012 Dolphins are at this minute is not accurate. It would be a disservice to players saying we’re in a rebuilding mode. I’m very confident we will have a well prepared team. We will have a team that will get better during the season.”

### On Ross, overall: “First day I interviewed for the job, he and I sat together for an hour and half. I thought we had a good match and good marriage. We’re different guys. I like his frankness, his honesty; he’s up front. I told him, ‘You’ve got to have faith.’ There’s something about me that prompted him to hire me. You’ve got to have faith in the people you hire. He’s a hard worker, which is one of the reasons he appealed to me.” 

### Though Buffalo signed two terrific pass rushers (Mario Williams and Mark Anderson), Philbin said: “Our last check was our left tackle [Long] is a pretty good."

 ### On whether his offense uses a fullback: “At certain times, it may be important. There may be times we may not be in a lot of fullback [sets]. It’s game plan specific. I don’t know if it’s an absolute must. [CFL import] Jerome Messam is an interesting prospect. Real big man. We’re interested to get our hands on him and see how he picks up the pass protection.”

Check back later for more of what Philbin had to say.

ONE MORE NEWS NOTE: The NFL announced the full seven-round draft order on Tuesday, and Miami will have eight picks: at 8, 42, 72, 73, 103, 145, 196 and 215. The 73rd pick comes from Chicago - via Carolina - from the Marshall trade. The Dolphins and Saints flip-flopped sixth round pick as part of the Reggie Bush trade.