The Dolphins' two coordinators held their weekly news conferences Monday, and two points were made very clear:
Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is still concerned about the receiver situation, even after adding Anthony Armstrong. (Jabar Gaffney worked out Monday, and the Dolphins continue to explore adding another veteran.)
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle isn't happy with Miami's inability to force turnovers. The Dolphins were 27th and 29th in turnovers the past two seasons.
Here are highlights of what each coordinator had to say Monday: (FYI: For a Monday report on the Dolphins' four waiver wire pickups, see our last post.)
(On if there was a conscious effort to get younger this season with 11 rookies on the roster) – “I think we took the prospects that were available to us and evaluated them and ended up with what we ended up with. There was never any talk or mention of a youth movement. We’re always looking for the best possible prospects and the ones that we dealt with are the ones that we kept that were the better prospects. So no, there wasn’t any youth movement or any direction that way. It was, who was the best player? Let’s go forward.”
(On where the team is now with the wide receiver position) – “Well, we’re still working. It’s a work in progress and it will continue to be until we have solved that problem. I wouldn’t say it’s been solved. We’re working towards it. We had an addition here as of late with (Anthony) Armstrong. We’re going to see what he can do. He’s returning back to Miami Dolphins from a previous stint. It’s tougher to evaluate him at this point because he’s just learning things. Brian Hartline was out there running around a little bit today. We’re throwing him into the mix a little bit and he’s still got a ways to go because of the fact that he has not had OTAs and mini camps or preseason. We’re still working with him quite a bit. It’s just a work in progress. We’ll continue to work with it. It’s got to get better for us to be successful.”
(On his quotes from Hard Knocks) – “Please don’t say that (laughing). I have not had the opportunity to watch it, but my dad, my 85-year-old dad cautioned me about my language. I used the word a- - one time and he didn’t like that. He reminded me, ‘I don’t think that’s a good word to be using on TV, a - -.’ So I’ve got to watch that.”
(On if it will be nice to going back to coaching players without the extra cameras from Hard Knocks) – “I’ll say this – NFL Films did a phenomenal job. The people that were here did a phenomenal job. They were very gracious and tried to be as unassuming as possible and that’s still a little bit of a challenge, no question. You always know that you have to be careful. There’s a certain cautiousness that permeates a little bit when the cameras are on a little bit, but then you lose sight of it and you move on. I thought they did a great job. I thought that what I heard from the episodes it came off well and I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They try to be as unassuming as you possibly could and that’s almost impossible, but they tried to be and they did a very professional job. To get back to normalcy, that might be a nice little change for us.”
(On wide receiver Anthony Armstrong’s speed being a benefit to this offense) – “There’s no question. I think that’s the attraction as much of anything. We heard a lot of positive things about Armstrong. (Redskins offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan and I worked in Houston together.
(Redskins receivers coach Ike) Hilliard, who was here last year, talked about this young man in a very positive fashion and said he has a great work ethic, smart kid and very explosive. It’s evident that he’s explosive. He studied yesterday for about seven hours to get ready for practice, so he has a great work ethic. But the talents that he brings, the speed, he’s much like (Clyde) Gates as far as his speed goes, but I think the skill level, the ability to catch the ball I’m hoping will be at a high level.”
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(On rookies Kheeston Randall and defensive end Derrick Shelby making the team) – “Both of those guys came in and just constantly kept improving and played with…as you watch the young players progress through training camp, there’s a tendency for them to start to separate themselves even though they, I think we had a very good group overall when we first began. But then as you get into the padded practices, you get into the competition against guys that have been in the league and in preseason games, you start to see that some may be a little bit behind in terms of strength or quickness or just tenacity, staying after it. And others tend to show you that it doesn’t look like it’s too big for them and both of those guys seem to have those qualities. They play extremely hard, play smart and their motors are running all the time and that’s what you like in a young player. You know they’re going to get bigger and stronger and learn the scheme better, but they both have the real right mental makeup. Really, from very early on, they showed that and it just kept getting better and better and that’s why they’re with the club.”
(On the benefit of today being the last day with Hard Knocks) – “I don’t know if there’s a true benefit. I think those people they do such a professional job. They really did and I compliment them in the fact that they tell you prior to it happening that, after a few days, you’re not going to feel like they’re here and, other than seeing them around in the halls, you to tend to, just they blend in and you get used to it. There’s a little bit of distraction as you might suspect when they’re in the meetings and things like that, but I don’t think we’ve changed our style of doing things, whether it be in meetings or out in the field coaching, any different because they were here. I just think we move on here and hope that we can have a little less distraction, but I really don’t see it being a big difference.”
(On being through Hard Knocks before if that provided any insight for this experience) – “A little bit in the sense that, as coaches, the difficult time is that when there’s cameras everywhere 24-7 in some of the meeting rooms and you have to discuss delicate personnel issues, which is part of the job. You worry that something might be misconstrued or taken out of context, just a snippet of what you might say may show up on the show, but they didn’t give the other five minutes of what you were talking about and I talked to the people from Hard Knocks about that probably cause I had an experience with that and I talked to our own guys a little bit about it. I think you’re careful in those meetings, but you like to be careful anyway. You never want to show disrespect to anybody. These guys are out here doing everything they possibly can to try to make the ball club. So I think from that standpoint that, if there’s ever a really uncomfortable time, it’s when you’re in a meeting and you know that there’s personnel issues being discussed and you’re worried how it’s going to be construed or misconstrued.”
(On cornerback Nolan Carroll taking over for Vontae Davis and what he sees in him to think that he’s ready) – “First thing, there’s pressure on everybody in the secondary. That’s the nature of the position and we’ve spoken about that since we first arrived here that, for us to be good on defense, our play in the secondary has to improve. There’s been too many deep balls, big plays occur in the past and that’s been an Achilles heel as well as a lack of turnovers. That’s something that we’re constantly talking and working on, but we have to start getting more production form everybody back there. Nolan has shown a real consistency in his play and improved throughout training camp. It’s going to be a big challenge for him. He’s got to step up and he’s going to have to prove it in the games consistently. I think he’ll do that and he’s a strong-willed, competitive guy. He takes a lot of pride in his game, pride in being a professional and we’re looking forward to him fill that role and hopefully continue to grow throughout the season.”
(On the importance of improving in takeaways) – “It’s critical to change it. We haven’t changed it yet. I’m going to say that I’m disappointed. We talked about that in our meeting as a group this morning. We are emphasizing it I think in everything we do. If you guys are here at the beginning of practice at times, I don’t think there’s another team in the NFL that spends more time on ball security or takeaways than we do. I’d be hard-pressed to know if there is one. I hope and believe that, with that being said, there will be, that will translate into turnovers defensively and good ball security offensively as we progress through the season. We just have to get in the game and start to make it happen. We’ve talked about it, but talking is cheap as they say and we’ve got to go out there and do it in games. And I believe we will. I really do. I think the emphasis is there and it’s one of those things that really it’s like a snowball rolling downhill or wildfire that, once they start happening and the confidence grows, it seems that the team’s I’ve been with, you just expect it and good things happen. When you expect it to happen and everybody starts to feed off of that and hopefully we will as we begin the season.”
(On holding back some of his plays in training camp and how much linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett help with what plays he can call) – “Well, we’re fortunate to have two outstanding athletes there at linebacker. They need to knock the rust off right now and that’s what I was telling them there out on the field today. They’re very talented guys, but they haven’t gotten a lot of reps. Both mentally and physically this is a challenge to them this week to make sure that they come out here on Sunday and play at the level that I know they can. They are critical to our success, both of those guys and they will be. We have not run a lot of our defense. We’ve been very vanilla in what we’ve done and that was by design. Hopefully, we can have some things that people are not quite prepared for early in the year, but it’s not going to be trickery that’s going to win games for us and Joe (Philbin) has said that from the time he’s got here.