Lots of stuff from Monday’s press conferences with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and his coordinators.
First, though a quick local radio update:
WQAM-560 has fired host John Renshaw after concluding he wouldn't be part of the station's longterm lineup. Curtis Stevenson or Brandon Guzio or Alex Donno --- or possibly some combination of the three --- likely will take over Renshaw's 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot in January. (Donno handled the show today.)
Also, Channing Crowder is moving back to WQAM's 1 to 3 p.m. slot, with Adam Kuperstein, on Jan. 1 --- three months earlier than expected. Former 790 The Ticket host Marc Hochman will take over WQAM's 3 to 7 p.m. slot on April 1; he cannot start sooner because of a non-compete clause.
The station would have been happy with Crowder continuing to handle the 3 to 7 p.m. slot (with Guzio) until Hochman took over in April 1, but Crowder liked the idea of moving back to the 1 p.m. slot three months sooner than that because it was inevitable anyway.
WQAM is still considering how to fill the 3 to 7 p.m. slot from January 1 through March 30, before Hochman arrives. The Sports Brothers --- Ed Freeman and Jeff Fox --- are a strong possibility to end up with that three-month gig.
COMMENTS FROM DOLPHINS COACHES
There was plenty of discussion of Pittsburgh's heart-stopping final play.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle asserted “the play should never have been allowed” because Pittsburgh’s offense “was not set” when the ball was snapped.
And even before Antonio Brown stepped out of bounds, it looked like Ben Roethlisberger threw a forward pass, which would/should have ended the play. (A review of multiple replays shows Antonio Brown caught it slightly beyond the point that Roethlisberger threw it.)
Was it a forward pass? Coyle said it was. “But not my much. Looking at the TV copy, it looked like the ball was a little bit ahead.”
Philbin would not say whether it was a forward pass, saying only: “It’s close, very close.”
### I asked Coyle: When you review that play with your players, what will you point out about what to do differently in the future?
“You have to tackle the first guy that catches the ball,” he said. “That usually helps. We have to tackle and get them on the ground sooner. We had chances. The footing didn’t help. But that’s not an excuse. At one point, it looked like we were kids in the school yard playing keep away. Guys were looking around looking at who the ball might be going to next as opposed to who actually had the ball. It looked like a rugby game. It’s a game of inches – we found that out for sure yesterday. The only thing missing was the marching band [from the 1982 Cal-Stanford game that ended in similar fashion].”
Philbin said “there are things we can learn” on that last play, including the need to take “better angles.”
### Coyle said “the question has come up about whether it’s best to take a time out” in that situation. He chose not to (which was understandable) because “it’s very shaky you can get a play off.”
One problem on that play from a Dolphins perspective is “we had guys still running to get back in position. The issue was the play before as much as that play. There were two laterals on the play before so guys were dispersed all over the field.”
### Philbin said officials could have reviewed the issue of whether Roethlisberger threw a forward pass and “all reviewable aspects of the play.” In other words, they weren’t just limited to reviewing one questionable aspect. But because it was clear Brown stepped out of bounds, it wasn’t necessary to review the forward pass issue.
### What was Philbin thinking during that play? “I might have been saying a couple of Hail Marys. I know my mother probably was, wherever she was.”
What was Coyle thinking? “I was trying to be calm. I was standing there, watching. As the banter was going on, I was saying, ‘We got him! We got him! I don’t know if we got him!” When he accelerated, he was flying. It was definitely scary.”
MORE FROM PHILBIN
### Daniel Thomas, who finished with 105 yards on a 6.6 per carry average, “played a good me, really stepped up, made some big plays. Did a good job blocking as well.”
### Did Philbin need to be talked into challenging the no-TD call on the Brian Hartline catch in the end zone, which was ruled a touchdown on review. It seemed that way.
“I never met a receiver who didn’t have both feet down,” Philbin said. “You have to take it with a grain of salt. He was very confident he got both feet down. People upstairs thought he did.”
### Of the offensive improvement: “You have to credit the offensive staff and players for executing those plays. There’s not a whole lot of new stuff.”
### Besides Charles Clay’s terrific work as a receiver, Philbin said Clay had an excellent block on Ryan Tannehill’s 48-yard run.
### Sam Brenner played far more than Nate Garner at left guard because the staff was impressed by Brenner’s work in practice and games. Brenner “represented himself well,” Philbin said.
### On the upcoming New England game: “They’ve won five of their last six. You know you’re not going to get any gifts from this team. They don’t beat themselves.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE SHERMAN
### On Thomas: “It was a possibility he might not be able to come back [this season]. On Wednesday, we never envisioned him even playing this week. It’s a credit to our training staff and to him. He did some things Friday we thought we might have a chance. Certainly a critical part of the win on Sunday. Our training staff did an excellent job. I’m sure he wasn’t 100 percent but he played as if he was.”
### Sherman was asking why he’s tentative about making Tannehill a running quarterback in light of the fact that he has been mostly successful when he runs.
“Last year, there was a specific reason. I wanted to make sure we developed his skills as a quarterback. He’s going to be recognized as a pocket quarterback before he’s going to be recognized in this offense as a running quarterback.
"[Tannehill running] is a part of the offense. I don’t think it is THE offense.”
He said he uses Tannehill on running plays occasionally (including a read option that gained 48 yards Sunday) “just to keep people honest for the most part. Some weeks we use it. Some weeks we don’t. The element of surprise allows you to pull a run out like we did yesterday.”
### Sherman said he and Tannehill met Saturday night and “I said I just came from outside –-- it’s pretty cold out. He said: ‘It’s not going to be a problem for me.’”
Sherman then told him there could be rain and snow. To that, Tannehill said: “It won’t be a problem. Don’t worry about it.’”
Did Sherman believe him? “When he tells me stuff, I believe him. When he tells you he’s going to do something, he does it. He was confident on game day. He looked around at coaches all bundled up and he was in a short sleeve and throwing the ball around like he was in Miami.
“The only things that are going to affect him are only the things he allows to affect him. He’s very resilient, physically and mentally. He’s gone through a season where he has taken some shots [from sacks and hits] and here he is still standing at the end of the season. I’m not sure there are a lot of quarterbacks who could have been able to endure like he has. Mentally, he’s very resilient as well. He has a mindset that’s different from most people. He’s very resilient.”
## On Charles Clay breaking tackles: “The thing you’re seeing is an evolution of a younger player gaining confidence in himself and gaining feeling that we have confidence in him. I see him beaming with confidence. As long as he keeps the attitude he has currently –-- I just saw him go out to work in the weight room [even though] today is optional –-- and listens to his coach, he’ll keep getting better. He’ll have a chance to be real special, I believe.”
### On offensive line: “The group is coming together better now, but it’s still a work in progress, The guy that really impressed me in this ball game was Tyson Clabo. He has played very well. It says a lot about him and his resiliency to be able to lose his job, get it back. He’s done a nice job for us.
“Jimmy Turner is a phenomenal offensive line coach. The way he teaches is very simplistic. A lot of coaches will teach you what they know –-- he teaches what they need to know to do their job, not everything he knows.”
### Sherman ended his session with an unsolicited tribute to Philbin, saying Philbin “has done a phenomenal job to get us to this point. I’ve never had to endure what he has as a head coach [with the locker-room bullying investigation]. You have no idea what a task that is. To have the distractions we have, I have to give Philbin tremenedous credit. He demanded all of us to stay on task.”
MORE FROM COYLE, ASIDE FROM THE FINAL PLAY
He called Nolan Carroll “one of the most valuable players on the field” yesterday: “He has really stepped up his game of late.”… On playing the Patriots without Rob Gronkowski (who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury): “I don’t think there’s a team in the NFL that has done a better job utilizing personnel than they have from a week to week or year to year standpoint that the Patriots. I’m sure they’ll be some things we haven’t seen.”
PLEASE SEE THE LAST POST FOR A BREAKDOWN OF DOLPHINS PLAYOFF PERMUTATIONS, A LAMAR MILLER UPDATE AND OTHER NOTES.