Head Coach Tom Coughlin
December 10, 2015
We prepare for the Miami Dolphins. They’re 5-7, 2-1 in the AFC East. They’re 4-4 under new coach Dan Campbell. They have outstanding team speed. They’re minus-three in turnover ratio. They have a talented group of offensive players, led by the left tackle (Branden) Albert, the center (Mike) Pouncey, the quarterback (Ryan) Tannehill, the running back Lamar Miller, outstanding size and speed at their receiver corps led by Jarvis Landry. Their defensive team is led by Ndamukong Suh, Olivier Vernon, Kelvin Sheppard, safety Reshad Jones, and corner Brent Grimes. Their special teams, which is eighth in the NFL on punt return at 10.0 per, does an outstanding job, and Jarvis Landry is the punt returner. They’re 12th in kickoff coverage, allowing at 22.5 yards per kickoff return. (Zach) Vigil, number 49, their outstanding special teamer, has blocked one punt. And this group, in 2014, had five blocked kicks—three punts and two field goals.
We have two players today that will not practice in (Ereck) Flowers and (Devon) Kennard. And as you know, Zak DeOssie and Larry Donnell were both placed on IR earlier this week.
Q: With Kennard, is it the hamstring that’s really the problem here as opposed to the foot?
Q: What did happen to Zak?
A: Zak had a ligament in the wrist that had been bothering him and it was determined by the specialist that they thought it should be fixed at this time.
Q: Does Larry need surgery, too?
A: I don’t think so. Larry is a question of continuously looking at the MRI and there’s no timetable on the other end of when in fact he would be healthy, so therefore, the move was made.
Q: Is there any long-term concern there?
A: At this point in time, I couldn’t answer that. I think they are very optimistic about the healing process, but it does take time.
Q: Long snapper is one of those positions where it’s probably nice not to have to worry about it the last eight years with Zak. Now that you’re in this situation, what is your comfort level like with the new guy?
A: Well, we’ve had Dan Aiken for a couple of days and he’s worked in pads and snapped the ball and done those types of things on Wednesday. He’s a veteran, he’s played in 63 games, and obviously it’ll be something that the opponent will be most interested in, but he’s a big guy and hopefully he’ll be able to hold up in there.
Q: When you go through an emotional loss like you did and then you get the Cowboys-Redskins result, how did that change the emotions of this building?
A: (Starts doing jumping jacks) Jumping jacks for every meeting like that, that’s for sure. No, it’s exciting. Let’s face it, it is exciting. I’ve said it many times before, we have to take care of our own business, but to be in a circumstance where we’re in the hunt is a good and exciting thing. And I think the players realize that.
Q: Do you view it as a reset? Do you try and put everything behind you at this point?
A: Rearview mirror. I’ve talked an awful lot about improvement on the individual basis. I’ve talked about deserving the right to win and that every one of us has to improve in order to raise that level and be deserving of a win. But I’ve also mentioned that what’s in the past is in the past and we really do have to go forward.
Q: What is your message to the team now with four games to go?
A: Just what I said, four games to go, we are tied for the division lead, we will win as soon as we deserve to win. And the deserving to win part of it, obviously it comes from being able to finish on a stronger basis than we have. And as you look around, you can find a million reasons why one play has cost us games, and if that’s the case, then each one of us—coaches, players—examine your own conscience, come up with those things that are necessary for us to make improvement, and let’s get it done now.
Q: The Dolphins have not been great against the run. I’m sure you’re scratching your head in there for weeks, but what can you do to get your running game going?
A: Keep working at it, keep running the ball. I thought the other day we rushed it 24 times, you’d like it to be in that 25-30 (range), quite frankly, even higher in the days when we thought we could run it better. But all we can do is keep working at it and working at it and not lose patience with it, understand why it’s there in the first place, why it’s important for our team for the way in which we’d like to play. I thought that the other day we had a very humble amount of yardage but there were a couple runs that could have been even better than they were. Instead of five, they could have been 10 or 12 or whatever. And that’s what we’ve got to keep hoping for and working towards.
Q: And you’re totally on board with mixing four guys in? Very often on the second series you’ve had four guys touch the ball, very unusual.
A: Well, I am, but again, the hot hand thing would come up. If that was to take place, it could be done differently. Again I point out to you we have four runners, all four of them are healthy at this time of the year. The running game has not been what we would like it to be. They contribute on special teams, they do a lot of things. At this point in time, this is what we’re blessed with. We had one young man that we give a suit to that was special teams and he’s done a decent job when he’s been called upon to run.
Q: You look at the Dolphins against the run, they’re giving up more than four yards a rush. Do you have to be more patient this week on the road with their offense and their ability?
A: Patience…I would hope there’s enough there when the game starts and we would be able to build on the runs that we had. I can be patient if we’re making some yards, yes, I’ll be more patient. But as the other day now, we decided regardless that we were going to stay with it. And we did. We ran the ball in all quarters in the game, ran the ball at the end of the game, got ourselves in what should have been a makeable four-minute third down and didn’t make it.
Q: We asked you the other day about why Rueben Randle’s production has dipped. He has since said that he’s been frustrated with his role and the amount of opportunities he’s gotten. Is it a little bit of a catch-22 for him, is he not maybe earning the additional opportunities that he seems to want?
A: Well, I mean I would take full advantage of the ones that I do have before I would talk about opportunities. From day one, there’s been opportunities here for everybody to fit in and be a part of—and we do need to have better balance, there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully we can accomplish that going forward.
Q: In your search for a reliable second option to Odell Beckham, is Randle, because of the talent that he has, kind of the guy you would look to fill that role?
A: Been that way, I don’t think you can argue with that. We’ve had big games out of (Dwayne) Harris. We’ve been expecting that Hakeem (Nicks) would come along. Myles White, when given a chance, came through for us the other day despite the penalty that took the ball from the four-yard line back to midfield.
Q: He wasn’t out there for the opening drive of the second half, Rueben. Was that performance related?
A: No, I don’t think so. Not at all.
Q: With Bobby Hart and what he showed you at right tackle, Marshall Newhouse will be back on a limited basis at practice today. Is that a consideration for you to keep Hart there?
A: Well, it is provided where we are—we have Bobby Hart, who can fortunately play guard, he can play tackle. So at this point in time of the year, when you seem to have an injury here and there along the way, it’s good to have a young guy that does have that kind of intelligence and can be used out there. If that’s the option, then we’ll take it.
Q: With the way your special teams has been playing and their special teams, is that almost the key matchup in this weekend’s game?
A: There are a lot of plusses on both sides, obviously. We need to see what we saw the other day from our team and we need to continue to have field position based on our special teams. It was good to see that.
Q: If Ereck Flowers can’t play, do you stick with Justin Pugh out there on the left side?
A: We’ll see depending on how this week goes, but that’s a good option for us.
Q: With respect to the running game, you’ve had instances in seasons where you’ve had a lot of success with three guys. I go back to 2007—Bradshaw, Jacobs, and Ward. This one just seems a little bit forced sometimes. Do you as a head coach sometimes feel the need to say, “It’s just not working like this, let’s just do it differently.”
A: You know what? That’s not the reason the run game is not going, okay? I’ll just tell you point blank. One guy is used in one capacity, the other three guys are used according to on all first down situations. Sometimes it comes down to who can pass block better than the other. Believe me, I’d love to stand here and tell you that, “Yeah, that’s the reason we’re not making any yards running.” But it’s not, it’s not. Now they’re not always doing the right thing or making the right cut, but that hasn’t been a major, major issue for us. And for a long time, it was only two plus (Shane) Vereen. (Orleans) Darkwa wasn’t a consideration until, I don’t know, four, fives games back when he did get an opportunity. And he showed well when he was given that opportunity.
Q: How much does your tight end blocking, in your estimation, figure into that?
A: We’ve got to get some work done there as well.
Q: Do you guys need to get Vereen more involved?
A: It’s game to game, to be honest with you. But when he has been involved, it’s been a good thing.