**Head Coach Brian Daboll and General Manager Joe Schoen
Schoen: First off, Dabs and I would both like to offer our condolences to (Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs) Jason Jenkins' family and the Miami Dolphins organization. We were both fortunate to know Jason and work with him, and he's an amazing human being. And it's truly a tragic situation. But a really good colleague and friend of both of ours. I'd also like to thank our entire football operation. It's been a crazy month between bringing players in, injuries, workouts, these releases we've just recently had to make and some of the claims we've made from our training staff, coaching staff, football operations, just the entire organization. It's hard when players get hurt, and coaches got to them ready on a Friday for a Sunday game. My hat goes off to Dabs and his staff. They did a really good job throughout the preseason on that stuff. And the pro scouting staff – the work they did evaluating the league and identifying some players that we ended up claiming. And we'll continue to turn over the practice squad. And with that, I'll open it up to any questions.
Q: You primarily have your roster in place, at least the top end of it. You know, your key contributors. What are realistic expectations for you for this group this year?
Schoen: Again, we're just trying to get through today. I just had to write down some of the potential practice squad moves that we're working on. So, again, we haven't talked about actives. Who's going to be inactive. We're still trying to put the pieces together, so I don't want to set any expectations.
*Q: When you got here, you've been open about the challenges – the financial challenges. Like, given the challenges you've faced, where do you see yourself at this stage of the process? *Schoen: We like the guys that are here – the 53 players that are on the roster. We're working on the practice squad. Again, the situation that we're in, I'm sure you guys will ask, but we'll have to restructure something here going into next week. So, that'll answer some of your salary cap questions. That's something we'll do. We're still working through a couple different scenarios, so we'll get where we need to get where we can get through the season. But the situation's the situation. It's the hand we were dealt, and we're going to do the best we can with what we have. And again, that's the waiver wire, the practice squad, whatever it may be, with what we can. We're going to continue to try to compete and do the best we can.
*Q: Given that the personnel is never final, I understand that, even going to Week 1, Week 2, but from where you started to where you are now, this roster is pretty much going to stay – maybe a couple little moves along the way. So, where do you feel you did your best work and maybe some areas where, when you look at this 53 now, do you say, 'I'm really happy with this. This maybe not so much,'? And is this as good a job that you think you guys could have done given some of the constraints you had. *Schoen: Yeah. I think a big thing when you come in as a new regime is you're trying to set the culture how you want the culture to look – physically or depth at a position or whatever it may be. I think what I'm most proud of is a lot of the players that we brought in in terms of who they are as people and how we want to do things – work ethic, smart, tough and dependable that he talks about, Dabs talks about, we all talk about throughout the building. So, whether it's our rookie class or a few of the free agents that we signed or some of the VSB deals, there's some guys that just arrived in March that got votes for captain. So, we're proud of that. Again, they're helping us set the foundation for where we want to go and how we want to build the roster.
Q: You've seen (Quarterback Daniel Jones) for a while here now – what are your impressions of him, and what are your expectations for him this year?
Schoen: I'm not going to get into expectations, but I'm happy where he is. I think you guys saw the two preseason games he played in; I think he played well. You guys were here for the Jets practice. I think he performed well in the Jets practice. So, again, I know some people were getting on him early on. And it's (Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale) Wink's defense, and he's sending people from left field, and we're not game planning for that. So, while he's also trying to be on the same page with some of the receivers. So, I think Daniel's in a good place. I'm happy where he is. But again, we all know everybody's got to go perform on Sundays, and that's when the evaluations will really start.
Q: Why do you not want to talk about expectations for him?
Schoen: Again, it's been a whirlwind week. I just cut 30 players. I'm just trying to get through the day. We haven't talked about game plan. We haven't talked about actives, inactives. And again, I think every team, it's going to take three to four weeks to figure out who we are. I've said it to you guys before, how are we going to react when we face adversity? How are we going to handle success? No matter where you are, every year, that's the case. You truly don't have a feel. It's going to be overreaction one way or the other on Monday after our first game, win or lose. You know, (you) win, everybody's going to say we're better than we probably are. If we lose, we're not as bad as we were that day. So, I think it's going to take a few weeks to really figure out who we are.
Q: Why do you think you guys have sustained so many injuries early? Have you been evaluating why that's happening? Is that a concern for you?
Schoen: Again, it's football. Injuries are going to happen. We're always evaluating every part of the process. But, again, concussions are going to happen. It's a contact sport. You're going to have muscle strains. It happens every year. And we can evaluate it and look at it, but again those things are going to happen no matter where you are. We've been at 21, 22 years, there's injuries every training camp. But we're going to continue to evaluate it. I mean, we had a guy get a concussion, and they both had the Guardian Caps on. There's not a lot we can do about that. We're trying to be as safe as we can in a situation like that, but it still happened. We'll continue to evaluate. If there's something we can do better, we'll find a way to do it better.
*Q: Is there any changes you can point to since you came in in that department? Dabs has mentioned sport science. What are you guys doing? How have you tried to make changes in that department? *Schoen: We spent a lot of time in the spring formulating the plan, the practice plan, monitoring the yardage – how far guys are running on a daily basis. And he probably has the statistic in terms of where we were, but I think they're actually significantly less. Again, if Dabs wants to talk about it, he can. I think the injuries were significantly less this year than they were last year.
Q: After you took the job, you obviously brought some new people into the organization. In trying to merge the new with those already here, what's been the most challenging part of that process in trying to have a unified vision in the building?
Schoen: It really hasn't been hard at all. We did make some decisions post-draft in our area, the personnel area, but everybody's aligned philosophically. We kind of set the groundwork for what the process will be and what we're looking for, and everybody's on board.
Q: I guess for both of you guys, I remember when you were both introduced here in this building months ago, however long it was. It was, 'We have time. Let's take the process. Let's be patient. And we have time.' Now that the opener is so close, do you wish you had more time? Do you think it's the right amount of time?
Schoen: Having a 90-man roster and trying to play in preseason games and plug holes, that's hard to do. So, no, I'm ready. I like the 53 that we have, that are here, that have all worked hard, practiced hard and learning the playbook. And I'm excited to see how we show up on Sunday versus Tennessee.
*Q: I know you don't want to talk expectations with Daniel, so I'll try to put it a different spin on it. What are you looking for from a quarterback? What does a quarterback have to do to have a successful season in your eyes? Is it stats? Is it wins? What are you going to be evaluating from him? *Daboll: Everything. Your performance. Your preparation. Again, the job of a quarterback on a team is to lead his team down and score points. Stats are great, percentage, completion percentage, all those type of things. But the biggest this is can you make the right decision under pressure. I'm not saying five-man pressure, just as the game goes out the situation that you're in and make the right decisions for the offense and lead them down to score points. It's everybody's job to do that, but the quarterback touches the ball on every play.
Q: Would it be fair to say the most important thing you've done this year is to put yourself in position to next year be more active?
Schoen: Yeah. We were not really able to be active this year at all, but I think come out good in terms of salary cap, health. I've talked about that a lot. I think going into next year, free agency, we'll definitely have a lot more flexibility than we had this year. So, yeah, it's obviously important getting that in order the best we can.
*Q: Did you pursue (Eagles Safety) Chauncey Gardner-Johnson at all?
*Schoen: No. Nope.
Q: Do finances factor into a decision like that?
Schoen: We take everything into account.
Q: You're preparing for this, and we've had the opportunity to talk to Dabs about it, just the idea of this week and having to make the decision you've had to make. As much as you prepare, as much advice you get from whether it's (Bills General Manager) Brandon (Beane) up in Buffalo or things you've seen through the years, is it harder than you can actually anticipate for to sit down in a room and tell a guy, 'Thanks for everything, but we've got to go in this direction,'?
Schoen: Yeah. I dreaded that day, and we talked about it before we had to do it. You've been in the organization, but you've never been in the seat as you're shuffling human beings in and out. And there's a human element to it. You get to know these guys throughout the process, and you appreciate all the work they've done for you. And they put their best foot forward. And unfortunately, you can only have 53 on your team, so that was tough.
Q*: A lot of guys you signed to one-year deals are guys who are in the last years of their deals, key players. Is that something you kind of like that you're going to come in here and have a chance to evaluate these guys one year and kind of decide where you go from there? *Schoen: Who are you?
Q: Daniel, (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley), (Wide Receiver) Sterling Shepard, (Linebacker) Blake Martinez.
Schoen: I didn't know if you meant some of the VSPs like (Outside Linebacker) Jihad Ward, some of those guys.
Q: No, like prominent players.
Schoen: Again, all those guys have done everything we've asked. They've been really good teammates. Some of those guys you mentioned are captains, which I think is important. It's an important part of what we're trying to build here. And their leadership has been very important as we're trying to make some changes. I'm excited for all those guys. I want them to do well. That's good for everybody.
*Q: You mentioned you have to restructure some people to get to the cap. Is (Wide Receiver) Darius Slayton part of this team moving forward? His cap number is a little high for maybe a guy who's maybe going to be a fourth, fifth, sixth receiver?
Q: He will be on the team Week 1?
Schoen: He will be on the team Week 1.
Q: So, you're not trading him or cutting him? I mean you got called about him.
Schoen: Well, listen, right now the 53 today, I'm not going to say Week 1 on any of these guys – you never know what's going to happen, but we like our 53 right now. So, we're going to move forward with our 53. If there's opportunities available that we need to pursue, then we will. Whether it's Darius or anybody else, everybody's competing on a daily basis for their position, and we want the best 53.
Q: There's a lot of lot of wide receivers on the roster. What's your thought process behind carrying that many wide receivers?
Schoen: Offensive head coach (Laughs).
Q: When you talk to (President and Chief Executive Officer) John Mara, we see you talking to him out here watching practice, do you get a sense that there remains patience for a long-term process and a rebuild so that if this year is somewhat painful, it's with an end in mind.
Schoen: Yeah. John and I have really good conversations. Dabs – we talk on a daily basis. The advantage is that he's in the building every day. He's present. We have really good communication. In every move that we make, we kind of tell him what we're thinking and the why, and he's a good sounding board. He's got a lot of experience. He has let Dabs and I do our job, and we keep him in the loop, and the communication's great. So, he understands what we're trying to do.
*Q: The two of you brought a strong pre-existing relationship into this building but it's the first time to be in these roles. Joe, what have you learned about Brian as a head coach, and Brian, what have you learned about him as a GM? *Schoen: As a head coach, very good leadership. Again, it's a different role when you become the general manager and head coach than what you've done in the past. Dabs was coaching half of the team, meaning the offensive side, so his ability to lead and motivate, whether it be in the team meetings, post practice, deal with different personalities throughout the team, I think are all positives. I saw him do that with different receiver groups on different teams but his ability to touch players, in terms of getting to the players on both sides of the ball and lead the entire team; to motivate through camp when things are getting hard and not everybody wants to be there. Also, loving guys up maybe after a bad game, but his ability to connect with people and lead I think has been excellent this far.
Daboll: I'd say the same thing for me about Joe. You witness someone do a different job, and now when you see someone that's in charge, his clear communication, his clear expectations, how he handles not just the scouting staff, but I would say all the support staffs in the building and lets them know how important they are to the culture that we want to build here.
*Q: As you get ready to send the players away today, are you saying, 'just walk away, get your head straight and come back Monday and we start getting ready'? Or are you sending them away with cutups, gameplans and things like that? *Daboll: So, our focus this week has been on us. Again, week one is always a tough week because you can prepare in April and May and look at some of your opponents that you're playing, particularly the week one opponent, and you might not necessarily get what you think. You're going to have to lean back on your rules and the communication things you have during training camp and adjust as it goes. It's usually that way throughout the beginning part of the year. So, our focus the last three days and today is to finish up strong, compete against one another, and then they're going to get a little time away, but they've got to come back ready to go. We're in football season now, so besides your faith and your family, this is what's important right now, is football. When we look at players, draft, free agents, besides smart, tough, dependable and a skillset, we want people that love the game of football and it's very important to them. It's important to our staff, it's important to Joe and his staff, and these players understand that we've got players that it's important to them too. So, they'll have a couple days, I'm sure they'll do some work in terms of looking at the team we're playing, some physical stuff so they're not sitting on their couch eating potato chips and playing video games all day. I think we have a good group that will be ready to go on Monday.
Q: How has Saquon Barkley looked on the field?
Schoen: Good, he's looked really good since the spring. He's quick, he's fast, good hands, I mean he's been impressive, and leadership wise he's been really good too, so I've been really impressed with Saquon.
*Q: How much have you seen from (Wide Receiver) Kenny Golladay this summer? *Schoen: He's good. He's come to work every day, great kid, works hard, knows his assignments. I don't think he missed a practice. He's been available other than spring when he had a little procedure, but he's been good.
Q: With (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney), how much do you know what to expect from him? Do you have expectations of what you can expect? He had trouble staying on the field last year, didn't practice in the spring and spent a lot of the summer not playing.
Schoen: I'm excited to get to see Kadarius. He didn't play in any preseason games so I'm excited to see him get on the field in a game in a meaningful opportunity and know the playbook and make plays.
*Q: Can you bank on him being on the field? *Schoen: Yeah, we're planning on him being ready on September 11th when we go play Tennessee.
Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney
Q: How do you feel?
A: I feel good, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go for Week 1.
Q: Do you worry at all not having had as many reps as you would like?
A: No, not really but I mean at the end of the day there's nothing really I could do about that. I can just be where I can and do what I can when I can.
Q: Was there any doubt in your mind here as you were dealing with this that you'd be ready for Week 1?
A: Not really. It's just all a mentality. At the end of the day, whatever you want to get done, is going to get done.
Q: What were you dealing with? Leg type of injury separate from the knee thing?
A: Can't really get into detail, you've got to ask (Head Coach Brian) Dabs (Daboll) or somebody. But like I said I'm ready to go for Week 1.
Q: Safe to say your knee is good?
A: Hey, I'm ready to go. I'm ready, I've been ready.
Q: Can you repeat everything?
A: (Laughs) I'm good. I'm ready for Week 1.
Q: Has this summer been frustrating for you? Considering you put in the work in the offseason trying to get back for day one, then you kind of ended up on the sideline again.
A: Yeah, I mean it's just all adversity. It's all about how you get through. It's a mindset, a mentality thing. I feel good to be back though.
Q: There are people who look at you and say, 'He couldn't stay on the field the first year.' What makes you think it's going to be different this year?
A: Football is unpredictable so you can't ever really say what's going to happen or what's not going to happen. You can get hurt running routes on air out there. It's not really hard to get hurt. But it's just all about taking care of your body, all about recovery. So, I'll just have to do a better job of doing that.
Q: What do you think this offense can do with your new coaching staff and system?
A: I feel like the offense is going to be pretty good. We've just got to lock in, all 11 need to play as one.
Q: How eager are you to put last season behind you?
A: It's already behind me. I never really thought about it past the last game. I've just had an always move forward mentality. Just ready for Week 1 right now.
Q: What are your expectations for yourself this year?
A: I don't really set goals, but I expect to do better than I did last year I guess you could say.
Q: In what regards? Does that mean staying healthy, catches, your game?
A: Nothing specific. Just in general. Just try to get a better mindset.
Q: Do you feel much different now than you did a year ago? Just with knowing what to expect and things like that?
A: It's always good to know what to expect but I feel pretty good. Just making it to this level I feel pretty good. Just all about getting better everyday and putting it on film.
Q: You not playing in any practice games here, is that a concern? Or are you like, 'a games a game,' and you're ready to go?
A: At the end of the day, I've got to be available when my number is called. I'm just ready.
Q: Guys play in practice games for a reason, you didn't have those reps. Is that going to affect you at all do you think in a week and a half in Nashville?
A: Only time will tell. We feel pretty good about everything right now, so we're just trying to move forward right now.
Q: Do you feel like you've mastered this playbook?
A: Yeah, I feel like I've got a lot down. Especially with moving around and stuff like that. I feel pretty good.
Wide Receiver Kenny Golladay
Q: How do you view this group?
A: I'm excited to get going, to be honest. I feel like everybody is pretty much back, healthy. We've got a lot of guys and some sparks that can help this offense.
Q: What are your expectations for yourself?
A: First off, I just want to remain healthy. I'm very blessed that I was able to go through this whole training camp healthy. I'm able to be a part of each practice just to get that chemistry down. The rest, I'm going to keep those expectations to myself.
Q: I know last year, you kind of went through the same thing except the injury happened in training camp. It seemed like it took you a few weeks of kind of starting to get healthy when you got injured again. How much different does this year feel to you? At least that injury or this procedure was done earlier, and you did get that time in this year.
A: I feel a lot better coming into this. As far as just the training staff, medical, coaches, (inaudible), they did it the right way to try to make sure everybody was on the field at all times, just so we can get all of that chemistry and everything. Of course, some injuries you have no control over. I feel like (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs and the rest of his staff have done a pretty good job.
Q: What did you think of playing in the final preseason game? It was weird because they said players who needed reps. You actually had a lot of reps, you were the only veteran in that spot.
A: I really didn't see it (any) way. To be honest, if you think about it – how many receivers did we have go down? With this offense, with how complex it is, you really can't have nobody going in and asking what you have to do each time. What, we had like, four receivers go down? That was no big deal to me going out there.
Q: If you and (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) can stay healthy, can stay on the field as the two main outside receivers, how good do you think this offense can be?
A: I feel like the offense is going to be good in general. I'm not going to say I'm just a big part of the offense as far as, 'if I'm not on the field, the offense won't be that good.' Of course, with us on the field, it's definitely going to help the offense – I'll say that. It's two more people the defense has to be worried about.
Q: There was a play in the preseason game that caught some attention on Twitter where it was the first play that you guys had on offense on a block. It looked like you peeled off and shied away from a block. Do you know what play I'm referring to and can you explain what happened there?
A: Yeah, I saw that. Initially, I have to tempo off the line a little bit because I can't be an illegal man blocking down the field because there was a screen early on. So, (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) is going to do a screen behind the ball, the ball bounced out to the left, and it was either that or I was going to potentially block in the back or hold. I was already kind of out of position.
Q: So, it was more being a little out of position?
A: It was more so I tempoed off the ball just because you have to wait until the ball got there in case there was an RPO.
Q: Are you excited for the season? Because you don't always show you're excited. Are you?
Q: Are you excited for what you can do and what this offense can do?
Q: It's a perception that you're not into it, is it more you're in your own head or what is all that stuff? Is that a misconception?
A: Who said I'm not into it?
Q: It seems to be a perception. You don't show, you know what I mean?
A: What do you want me to do?
Q: I want you to be yourself, that's what I'm asking.
A: That's what I'm doing.
Q: Is this yourself?
A: Yeah, I'm being myself.
Q: Do you think if you have more success and the team has more success, some of that will come out naturally?
A: I'm pretty sure if I was out there catching touchdowns or just grabs (inaudible). I don't know if you guys would be saying I'm out there showing no emotion.
Q: How much do you hear the noise?
A: I don't pay attention to it.