Dolphins Post-Game Quotes (Week 15)
Head Coach Brian Flores
Q. I just wanted to ask you about Duke Johnson and the performance that he had. Just to be able to do that in front of his hometown on the field that he played college football on and the “Duke” chants. Just that kind of performance, how cool was that for you to see?
BRIAN FLORES: He played well. Definitely gave us a spark. Ran it well. Ran hard. Picked up first down. Picked up tough yardage and in a lot of instances where they knew we were running. I thought the o-line blocked it up well. George (Godsey) called a good game for us, and we were able to execute and thought he definitely gave us a spark.
Q. One housekeeping question first. Jevon Holland was activated off of COVID-19. Did it come down to him just not practicing all week to decide not to play him?
BRIAN FLORES: We activated him on a chance that we might be able to get him back off the COVID list. We weren’t able to do that, so that’s why he wasn’t active today.
Q. And what do you think of where this team stands now a six-game win streak, back at .500 with playoff hopes alive and three key games remaining.
BRIAN FLORES: We’re just trying to take it one day at a time. Get better. That’s the approach we’ve taken the entire season. These guys, they play hard for one another. They work hard. There’s a lot of – they support one another. It’s a great group to coach. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and try to improve, get better, but they compete and they fight. I was proud of the effort they gave today against – the Jets played us well. It’s the game we thought it was going to be, 60-minute battle against a division opponent. They were ready. They threw the kitchen sink at us. A lot of it was well-designed, and a lot of instances there you have to tip your cap. They executed and did a lot of good things. Thought they played well.
Q. Coach, congratulations on the win again. This is a six-game win streak for you all. Longest win streak for you during your tenure as coach. What is it going to take to keep this team focused on a Monday night match-up against the New Orleans Saints next week.
BRIAN FLORES: We’re going to enjoy this win tonight. It was a tough one today, but our approach is the same. Take it one day at a time. Let’s prepare the right way. Let’s go through our process, our weekly process. There’s a lot of changes that are happening right now. Going to Zoom like we’re doing here. We’re doing that in the best interest of our team, but also everyone. You guys as well. We’re going to try to take the one-day-at-a-time approach.
Q. Obviously, there’s been a commitment to the run game since you guys started winning and probably previously before that, but how beneficial is it to the offense and the RPO when that run game is effective and successful?
BRIAN FLORES: I think it just helps really every facet of the offensive football. That balance, that ability to churn out yards on the ground opens up the RPOs, opens up the play actions and it wears the opponent down. I thought our guys played hard. Obviously, the run game is something that we’ve placed an emphasis on, and we had some success with it today.
Q. And if I can get you to assess Tua’s performance. I know he had the pick-six and the early interception. Overall, how did you see him playing?
BRIAN FLORES: I think as a team, we were rusty in a lot of areas. Some penalties, some missed tackles, so not going to put it on Tua (Tagovailoa). Obviously he had some plays he wants back, but he battled back and took us right back down the field after the turnover and punched it in at the end and gave us the winning score, the winning points. We’ll make the corrections. It’s always good to make those mistakes and win the ball game as well. He will work hard to learn from them.
Q. Coach, during this win streak you guys hadn’t been down more than three points. Was there any angst being down 10-0 where you could almost say, “Hey, today is not our day.” How were you able to rally through the rough start?
BRIAN FLORES: I think it’s something that our players on the field for a 60-minute ball game, we just keep playing. We keep playing and try to string good plays together. Yeah, we got off to a bad start, tough start. We were down quick. No panic offensively, defensively, or in the kicking game. We know it’s a long game. If we play for 60 minutes and string plays together and do it in a complementary way that we would be able to battle back, I think offensively our guys moved the ball efficiently, effectively, brought us back into the game and then we started to play the complementary game, especially in the second half.
Q. Brian, 17 points allowed in the first half, and then you came back in the second half and did a good job stopping their offense. I believe you had five sacks in that second half. What changed from one-half to the other, and was in any of the first half performance attributable to rust from the bye?
BRIAN FLORES: Yeah, look, give them a lot of credit. I thought they had a very good game plan. I thought there were those — I don’t know what you call them – exotic-type plays, throwbacks, first passes, and we missed some tackles and they made some plays. So give them a lot of credit. We definitely needed to play better. I think the guys kind of turned it on in the second half. Especially from a pass rush standpoint. That really started by our ability to get some stops on early downs in the second half, which we weren’t getting in the first half. I think our guys made the adjustments.
Credit Josh (Boyer), our defensive staff for making those adjustments at halftime. We did a couple of things differently. I thought from a pass rush standpoint we did some good things, but we missed a number of sacks as well.
Q. In the sense you were talking on Friday about how the team have to compartmentalize. Do you think this game was kind of a microcosm of the entire week and guys being on the Covid list? You have to make changes maybe kind of in this game where you have ups and downs, do you think this game was kind of emblematic of the entire week?
BRIAN FLORES: No, not really. Look, we expected a tough physical game against a division opponent. We expected their best shot. You’ve got to give them credit. They made a lot of plays. They play hard for Coach Saleh. They really do. That team competes. I think the quarterback made a lot of plays. They’ve got guys out. We’ve got guys out. They competed. We expected that, so I think we got to give them credit.
Q. How hard are those kind of exotic or trick plays you were talking about earlier? How hard is it to game plan or prepare for those?
BRIAN FLORES: If you have never seen them, you really can’t prepare for them. That really boils down to reading the keys, being in your right spot. If you are a pass player or pass rusher or run defender or you are an edge player, if you are a contain player, which means if the ball runs away from you, you’ve got to stay back and kind of stay home, but it’s hard to do that when you are trying to play hard, play aggressively and get everybody get to the ball. That was a little bit of what happened there. That, plus some missed tackles, and again, you got to give them credit. They did a nice job from that standpoint. Our guys battled back and it’s good to get a win.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Before we start, just want to express that my heart goes out to Elijah (Riley). You know the player that got hurt, Elijah Riley. It’s tough playing in this league, and I would say I care more about the guys, who they are as people out there on the field whereas they are as football players, but I just wanted to say that before we get started.
Q. Hey, Tua, thanks for that. That was a thoughtful statement statement. First off, what was working on the ground game for you guys? What did you feel that you guys were able to find against the Jets and Duke Johnson having…?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I think the o-line did a great job today up front. With creating those opportunities for Duke to find the hole and hit it and find ways to bounce the ball and have Duke be himself running the ball. That’s how he was his entire career playing in the NFL and I’m glad that we were able to witness that today.
Q. I wanted to ask you your satisfaction of the disappointment of throwing the pick-six, and yet, you were able to help the team come back right away and get the winning touchdown to DeVante. Can you describe that ride of emotions you went through?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah. I mean, terrible decision on my part, obviously, with the pick-six, but got to move on. The game is not over. We got to go down and we got to put some points on the board, and that’s what we did. You never want that to happen, but it does happen, and so just got to move on from it, and I’m glad we were able to overcome it. Not just offensively, but as a team. It started the first half, and it really trickled all the way into the second half.
Q. Tua, looks like you channeled your inner Duke Johnson on one play on a run up the middle. Can you walk us through that play where you ran over a defender?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, just remind me not to ever do that again. (laughter) Much respect to number 30, (Michael) Carter. He is a hell of a player. I obviously don’t think that he was expecting me to lower my shoulder and try to run him over. Just from the previous runs I had, I either slid or tried to get out of bounds, but yeah, I mean, it was just an in the moment thing for me, and that’s really all that was.
Q. With Jaylen being out, what changes, if any, did you guys have to make to the offense? Obviously you guys… (Inaudible)
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I couldn’t really hear your question, but I heard Jaylen. Even if Jaylen is out, I think the approach that we all took with him being out is next man up and we have to continue to prepare. Jaylen doesn’t win us the games. He obviously is a help with us to win games, but I think all the guys that were out there, they put in a lot of hard work, and I think they did a great job with primary blocking whether it’s in the run game or responsibilities in the pass game, I think they all did a great job.
Q. I’m not sure if you can hear me a little better now, but what was clicking later on that maybe wasn’t working in the first couple of drives?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I think it was just adjustments in the second half for us. We just started to look at our matchups more, and then, obviously, with their coverages, they mixed in some man coverages on second-and-long, so we were kind of prepared for that if that ever occurred, but more often than not, they played quarters. Sometimes they play six and really we just try to run the ball and block primary and have their secondary guys make tackles.
Q. Hey, Tua, with the team having climbed from a 1-7 start to now a 7-7 record, what do you think are some of the biggest factors that have enabled that dramatic change to occur?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Just being around the guys, I really think it’s just the communication, just guys being in the building when we have off days. Guys wanting to work, stay back extra. I think all those play factors into our success on the field.
Q. How effective can this RPO offense be when that run game is working? Do you feel like this is something that you guys can build off?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I definitely think it’s very effective, and I think it’s something that we can build off. It has been something we’ve been trying to build off from the Ravens game to the time we played the Jets the first time and so on, so I do think that this is something that we can build on, but I think there’s also areas within our RPO game that we can get better with – more so with me and the decision-making.
Q. Christian Wilkins probably did everything imaginable after his touchdown. I mean, jumped into the stands, hit the worm, even did some break dancing. Just talk about getting that guy more into the end zone more often so we can see more of that stuff because that was a lot of fun, I guess, for fans and you guys as well.
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I would say I’m not the offensive coordinator, and I don’t have a say in it. I think now that we put that on tape, guys are going to start to kind of game plan that maybe. I don’t know.
I think it’s tough to run a lineman out again after him scoring once, so maybe next time we punch the ball in or we’ll game plan a gadget, but I think that was awesome. That was cool to see him score. I think that was the first time I threw a defensive lineman or a lineman a touchdown in my career.
Q. Can you talk about his celebration?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: Yeah, I only seen when he was trying to do the spin-a-roony on the ground. After that I turned around and went back to the sideline. (laughter)
Q. I was going to ask you about Christian, but instead I’ll ask you about Duke Johnson specifically. To have that performance in front of his hometown on the field that he played college football on, how cool is that as his teammate to see that kind of performance?
TUA TAGOVAILOA: I mean, it’s very cool. Me and Duke actually live in the same estate, which is even cooler, and I didn’t even know that until he brought it up for Thanksgiving. But yeah, I think it’s super cool especially with the crowd. I think I heard the crowd saying ‘Duke,’ you know with a loud ‘Duuuuuuuke.’ I thought that was pretty cool. I know he enjoyed it. Just knowing the person that he is, he is very grateful for the guys out there as far as the linemen and what not. I’m happy for him.
Q. Just talking about Jaylen Waddle, how this receiving corps reacted to that and how you feel you guys did out there?
ISAIAH FORD: We knew that without Jaylen (Waddle) we were going to need some guys to step up. We knew it was going to have to be a collective group. As you can see, he’s played so well. He has been such an instrumental part of our offense, so we knew it was going to have to be a collective group from us as a whole to kind of step up and make plays, and I think that we made enough plays to win the game today.
Q. I wanted to ask you about your reaction to Duke’s performance today and to be able to do that in front of his hometown and on the field that he played college football on. How cool was that just as a teammate?
ISAIAH FORD: It was awesome to watch. I remember him playing that well vividly when I was at Virginia Tech when we played him. I think it was a Thursday night he ran for about 240 yards, 250 yards, something like that. I’ve seen that a few times, but it was good to be on the same team as him this time, and he had an amazing performance. We needed it.
Q. How effective can this RPO offense be when that ground game is working the way it was today?
ISAIAH FORD: I think it will make our offense really hard to stop. Any time that you can run the ball the way that we did today, it opens up so many other things. Whether that’s run actions off of it or play action shots and then when we’re pulling it and Tua (Tagovailoa) is making those decisions, we’re all clicking on all cylinders, I think we can be a really good offense.
Q. Rob, I do believe before I ask my real question, I think you’re the only guy who can take DT Christian Wilkins in a dance battle. Do you like your chances?
ROBERT HUNT: I love my chances.
Q. With the run game, obviously, it was going today. What was the difference and what is it like blocking for RB Duke Johnson?
ROBERT HUNT: It’s the same-old same-old really, man. We just try to come out today and we know we made an emphasis like we’ve been making an emphasis all year to try to get the run game going. Today it was in our favor. It felt good, though. It felt good blocking really for anybody back there. Duke made a lot of good plays. Myles (Gaskin) came in, made plays. It was good to see the run game open up, man.
Q. You said you love your chances against DT Christian Wilkins and the dance-off, but what were your thoughts on the moves he busted out in the end zone? Give us a rundown of your analysis of it.
ROBERT HUNT: Christian, he went crazy, man. That was awesome. I’ve got to practice, man, because if I would have did something like that, I don’t know if I would have had moves like him, but I like my odds to win. I can dance, but, no, he definitely came with the juice today.
Q. I’ve got two questions for you. I’ll start with the fun one first. What’s better, DT Christian Wilkins’ hands or your run after catch?
ROBERT HUNT: Well, Christian’s hands because my run after catch was illegal, so I definitely got to go with Christian’s hands.
Q. Fair enough. Fair enough. I want to ask you, you guys are back to .500. Came all the way back from 1-7. Can you still enjoy this, or do you still feel there’s still a lot of work left to the do?
ROBERT HUNT: The goal is to keep working to be the best that we can be. We always come in each week to try to get better, so the goal is to, like you said, to continue to try to get better.
Q. I know you have scored plenty of touchdowns here in the past where the Hurricanes, but to go to school basically walking distance from here and now do it in the NFL, what did this all mean to you today?
DUKE JOHNSON: It meant a lot. Like you said, growing up in the area, just being able to play football and just play well here, it meant a lot but it meant even more because we got the win, so that helps.
Q. What was it like to hear those “Duke” chants from the hometown crowd within your first few carries at home with the Dolphins? This is the only franchise where that would be possible so soon in a career with the team.
DUKE JOHNSON: It just reminded me of college. It felt like my college days again. Definitely enjoyed it.
Q. I can’t help but wonder, given all that was going on with the COVID list and the uncertainty within your running back room, what was your mindset going into this game? I mean, how much were you thinking that the team really needed you to kind of carry the load today?
DUKE JOHNSON: I really prepare every week as I’m going to be the guy, regardless if I’m the guy or not, so it was just kind of sticking within my routine and just doing what I normally do and I let the cards fall where they may.
Q. It’s hard to believe that you’ve been in the league so long and this is your first game that you’ve had two rushing touchdowns in one game. I’m sure you can’t believe it either. Just talk about that and also cracking 100 yards. That’s something a Dolphin running back hasn’t done all year as well.
DUKE JOHNSON: As far as the two touchdowns in the game rushing, I don’t know. There’s not much to say for me because I know at certain times with certain teams my role was always different. My role was this today, but it could change tomorrow so for me, it’s just about not really looking at the stats and looking at the touchdowns or the yards but whatever it is to win and help my team win. That’s kind of what it would be for me.
Q. On one of the touchdown runs it looked like you were really kind of churning your legs. You could kind of smell the end zone. You were trying to power your way through. It’s funny. For a lot of your career people thought of you as like a third down receiving back. Can you talk about the approach you tried to bring into today’s game relative to power and that sort of thing?
DUKE JOHNSON: For me it’s just about doing what the team needed from me and whatever the situation asked from me. I was just doing it and doing it with everything I have and that’s just me churning my legs and doing whatever it is. On that particular play, coach put me in and the thing he tells me is just give great effort and I try to give great effort in whatever I do.
Q. You had some fans I think from Liberty City Optimist in the stands today and what were some lessons that you learned from your times at Hart Valley Park that got you prepared to be ready to play today?
DUKE JOHNSON: I think the biggest thing for me was at the time the Commissioner was coach Sam and he was a guy that believed in kids, he believed in people and he supported us. I think the biggest thing that I learned from Charles Hadley was support from top down because at the time no one really thought that those kids could make it to where we are now except for the Commissioner of the park and he pushed us and made sure that we was the best people as well as football players that we can be.
Q. I know we asked you this earlier in the week and you weren’t able to give us an exact number, but do you know about how many family and friends were here today to watch that performance?
DUKE JOHNSON: Still don’t know. I have no idea. I’m pretty sure it’s a lot. It would be very hard to give you an exact number, but I’m pretty sure it was a lot.
Q. Could you talk about, you grew up close to the stadium and seeing that all your life growing up, what it means to have a game like this here?
DUKE JOHNSON: It means a lot. I think for me it means a lot to do it, like you said, in the area I grew up, the college field I played on. I think the most important thing is that I did it and it led to a win because if it led to a loss, it wouldn’t matter as much as it do now.
Q. How far were you from the stadium growing up?
DUKE JOHNSON: My high school is maybe ten minutes up the road. I lived maybe 15, so this is kind of the area I grew up in in high school.
Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Excuse me. Before I answer any questions, before we answer any questions, we definitely want our thoughts and prayers and ask everybody for their thoughts and prayers to go out to Elijah Riley, number 33. Obviously, you know he got carted off the field today, and it’s bigger than the game. It’s bigger than competition. We’re all brothers in arms in this league, and so we definitely wish him the best.
Q. What’s up, Christian. How are you doing, bro?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Mighty fine. Mighty fine. Thank you.
Q. You’ve never shied away from letting us know how athletic you are over the course of the past few years, but your dance moves were on full display after your very athletic touchdown. You pretty much did everything but throw out the kitchen sink. Just talk about the dive into the crowd, the worm, the windmill…
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: You said on full display? I was holding back, honestly. You ain’t seen me at a wedding or at a bar mitzvah or nothing like that. That’s when the moves are on full display. But it was definitely exciting. It was cool. I was happy I was able to make a play for my team. But yeah, I don’t know how I squeezed all that into 40 seconds or into however long the play clock was because I felt like I was going for a while. I enjoyed it. It was fun. Glad I could make a play for my team.
Q. Christian, to stay on the celebration, how long have you been planning that choreograph out, and have you ever jumped into the stands like that before?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Nope, never did none of that. I just went with it. Just did whatever felt good in my soul. None of it was planned. I did mess up because the one thing I did have planned if I scored today, I wanted to do the “Waddle.” Obviously, Jaylen (Waddle) didn’t play today, so I wanted to give him some love, so sorry about that, ‘J’ (Jaylen Waddle). Yeah, I kind of went rogue with my celebrations. That was the only thing I had planned, but yeah.
Q. I do want to stick to the – what dances do you break out at bar mitzvahs and weddings?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Like I said, I don’t really like to talk about it. I’ll be about it. If I’m at a bar mitzvah, I’ll do my thing and have a good time with it.
Q. If there was a dance battle between you and Robert Hunt, who is taking that?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: I don’t know. I’m competitive, so I’m going to go – I’ve got to go with me. I’m never going to say anyone is better than me at anything, or at least I’m going to get an A for effort always.
Q. I’ve go two for Emmanuel. Can you rate your teammate’s dance moves for us, and then obviously rate the performance at defense. Six sacks today.
EMMANUEL OGBAH: I was pretty excited for him. I didn’t know what he was going to do, so I kind of just ran out there and waited for him to do something. I’ll rate him a 10 out of 10.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: My dawg. (laughter)
EMMANUEL OGBAH: He put something together, but as a defense, getting six sacks, I’m proud of how the defense fought back. We started off a little slow, but we got better during the second half. I’m just glad we finished off strong.
Q. Emmanuel, I wanted to ask you and Christian, too, if you want to chime in, what was the difference between the first half and the second half defensively because it looked like two different defenses out there from one half to the next.
EMMANUEL OGBAH: I’ll start off. I feel like we started a little slow coming off the bye week. We were a little sluggish. We can’t start off slow like that anymore. We’ve just got to start off fast every game, and we’ve just got to keep getting better together and keep striving for the best.
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Yeah, Ogbah hit on it. Bye week is obviously good to get off your feet and things like that, but we definitely started off – we were just shaking off the rust, I guess, and we did a good job of making adjustments and everybody just stuck with it. We dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole, but that’s what’s good about this team. We always just stick together and just try to get better.
Q. You guys’ defense had a couple of situations where kind of late in the game you guys are asked to make a big stop. At this point of the season is that a position you kind of relish to be on the field last and get that last stop, and what’s kind of the message in the huddle when you guys are going out for that last drive?
EMMANUEL OGBAH: It’s complementary football. When we’re given a chance to stop the offense, we do a good job in stopping them, and also, when the offense is given a chance to make some big plays and create a big play for us, we’ve just got to rally together and just play together, so that’s what we’ve got to keep doing.
Q. Christian, I wanted to get this opportunity. I’ve been asking some teammates about the one thing that they would want to take from Emmanuel Ogbah’s game. What would you want from his game?
CHRISTIAN WILKINS: Definitely Ogbah has elite get-off, and that gives him the ability to make so many plays in the pass game and really just the run game. He is explosive and things like that. I would take definitely his get-off. That’s where it starts. I got a lot more behind me. I got a lot bigger legs and things like that, so it’s a little harder to get that good explosion, but Ogbah has a great get-off, so I would take that.
Andrew Van Ginkel
Q. I think you guys held them to about 54 total yards, something around that, in the second half. What was working so well for you in the second half that maybe wasn’t working so well in the first half?
ANDREW VAN GINKEL: I think it’s just we’re a competitive team, and everybody is going to bust their balls, so just knowing that we didn’t do well enough in the first half and that we got to come out and play better, and you just saw everybody buying in, and obviously everybody with the energy and everybody playing and feeding off each other really helped us.
Q. Just a quick follow-up. How much of their trick plays early on kind of caught you by surprise, and did it seem like maybe as the game wore down and they weren’t able to kind of go into that bag more, things kind of got a little more simpler for you guys?
ANDREW VAN GINKEL: Yeah. They put a few of those plays on film, so we obviously knew a couple of them were going to come, and just be prepared. And I feel like we did a good job with that.
Q. You guys are 7-7. I don’t think I have to tell you that, but at one point you were 1-7, so when you take a step back and you go 1-7 to 7-7, what’s that like? How does it make you feel?
ANDREW VAN GINKEL: Like I said earlier, we have a team that’s competitive and a bunch of fighters. No matter where we’re at, everybody is going to come out and play hard and play for one another. It doesn’t matter what your record is or who you are playing. You just have to go out there, have fun and play off one another.
Q. Hey, Andrew. Because we’re asking everyone, what were your thoughts on Christian Wilkins’ dance moves in the end zone, and what was it like to watch a fellow defensive front seven guy score a touchdown on offense?
ANDREW VAN GINKEL: I love it. That’s what I love about Christian (Wilkins). He brings that same energy every day, and just to see him go out there and play well, the flashy plays, like the touchdown, he does so much more than that that people don’t see, so when you see him score a touchdown, hats off to him because he is just a great player and brings that same energy every play.