Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Do you remember your first Monday night game with San Diego? What do you remember about that specifically?
“Yeah. I guess it would’ve been probably ’03. (The) game moved to Tempe because of the fires. It was Junior Seau’s first game back against the Chargers. He was one of the linebackers for Miami, he had just gone that year. It was supposed to be his homecoming to San Diego. The fires started late Saturday night and, all of the sudden, Sunday had swept into the city. It was scary. They were evacuating everywhere. A bunch of neighborhoods were burning down. We were trying to figure out, number one, where to play the game, and number two where we were going. We ended up going to Arizona State’s stadium in Tempe, Arizona, which I guess would have been the Arizona Cardinals stadium at the time as well before their new one. It was free. They let everybody into that game for free. It was kind of a wild atmosphere. I don’t remember how many Charger fans or Dolphins fans were there, just a lot of NFL fans. It was kind of wild, they just cheered for everything. (It was) Kind of like being in London I guess; they just wanted to see action. Obviously that game didn’t go the way that we wanted. We ended up losing that game; I didn’t play very well. I think our record was 1-5 or maybe 1-6 at the time. The very next week, we went to Chicago and I got benched in the third quarter of that game. I was benched for five games. That was really a defining moment and the turning point in my career: that whole experience, that year, all of the adversity. I remember all of those (times) very well.”
What is it about Monday Night Football now that seems to bring out the best in you?
“They are always big games. They are always against very good opponents. They are always very meaningful just from the standpoint of it’s in your division or you’re playing a very good team or it’s the battle of the unbeaten or whatever it might be. It seems like there’s always been something surrounding that game besides just playing in prime time. And then throw on that element; you’re the only game on TV. That’s kind of what you live for: that opportunity to showcase your team and your town. We’ve had the fortune of having a lot of those games in the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome, and they’re showing clips of the city and people out and about having a good time. I think it’s just a great showcase of our city, the dome and the atmosphere. It’s like the tourism bureau paid for the spot I think just as a team they all seem to be meaningful games as far as the opponent that you’re playing and that opportunity.”
Coach Payton talked a little bit about the sacks and how maybe teams are playing a little more man-to-man and making you hold on to the ball just a bit longer. Is that kind of the price you have to pay that goes along with it, to maybe take a sack every now and then to get the play that you’re looking for?
“I think for us this season maybe we have seen a bit more of that man-to-man, a bit more of that five-man rush, a bit more of that where they have the ability to get pressure on you. There’s risk and reward that’s associated with that. The risk of having one less guy in coverage, therefore you have some favorable matchups so if you get the ball to one of your playmakers in space or he makes one guy miss, all of the sudden that routine play turns into a big play. I think we have taken advantage of that somewhat and I think we can do a better job of taking advantage of that. It’s something we are always aware of and ready for. That’s maybe why those sack or pressure are a little higher, just because those are the looks that we have received. I think as a quarterback, you want to limit negative plays as much as possible. At times, a sack is a good thing because it means that you didn’t try to force it maybe or you just maintained possession, moved on to the next play and overcame it with a good third and long conversion or completion. There are times where you have to just bite the bullet on it and just get to the next play if it wasn’t a good one or what have you. As long as the ball is in your hands, then that’s OK.”
After a disappointing season last year, do you see this game as an opportunity to reintroduce this franchise to people who don’t get to see you play every week?
“If I’m not mistaken, Miami was 7-9 last year. So here’s two 7-9 teams that have started off 3-0 and are facing each other on Monday night. I think this is the matchup that a lot of people would want to see. They are playing extremely well right now; they are a very good team. They’re a very well-coached team, very talented team, who have high expectations just like us. These are the games you love to play and these are the games you love to watch.”
Have you followed Ryan Tannehill’s career at all since he is a Texas boy like yourself?
“I don’t know a whole lot about him; I’ve met him one time. He seems like a great young man. Texas kid who went to Texas A&M, I’m jealous. When I was in high school that’s all I wanted to do was go to Texas A&M. Obviously I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I think his journey has been an interesting one. I think he started out as a receiver, and if I’m not mistaken he was a pretty good one. Then all of the sudden he’s playing quarterback and drafted in the first round. He’s a phenomenal athlete and playing very well this year. He’s a guy that isn’t talked about a lot from last year’s draft class with the RGIIIs, Andrew Lucks’ and Russell Wilsons’, but man he’s having I think quite the career thus far, especially early on in his career. I think he’s handled that process pretty well and I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
The last time you played Miami was in 2009, the epic comeback where a lot of people nationally said that this team is serious. How well do you remember that? Do you think about it?
“I think we all remember it well, number one because obviously it was a huge comeback, it was during that 13-0 run that we started off the season with in ’09. It was in Miami knowing that the Super Bowl was going to be in Miami. I remember Sean Payton saying after the game, ‘Hey remember this feeling guys, because this is the feeling we want when we come back here to win the Super Bowl.’ Ironically, that’s exactly what happened. Great memories from that game and just that moment and being in that stadium and obviously having the chance to go there again a few months later.”
You like to joke about your lack of running ability, but obviously you’re a very good athlete. How much of that is because of the way you choose to play and is there a residual effect from your shoulder injury in 2004 that keeps you from scrambling more?
“It has nothing to do with my shoulder or anything else. I feel like I can do everything now that I could do 10 or 15 years ago. I think it’s more just habits. I’m so locked in at times one getting a completion or hanging on that opportunity to make a big play, than just maybe taking off earlier than normal to go get a few yards or take your eyes off of what’s happening downfield. I like to have my eyes downfield. Field guys get open field matchups and hanging on that guy just a spit-second longer as opposed to maybe taking off a little bit earlier. When those opportunities do present themselves, I feel like maybe they kind of come all at once. There were maybe four or five opportunities in this last game, whereas we might go a few games and you won’t see me take off and run.”
This is the first time you have played the Dolphins here since you came to the Saints. Whenever you have played in Miami or anything like that, do you think of what might have been?
“No, I really don’t. I feel like it’s so long ago. I remember coming out of college and them saying they were going to draft me. There was that, and then obviously when I had my shoulder injury and it was between New Orleans and Miami, and (Nick) Saban was there. I don’t think about it for a second.”
In your study of Miami’s defense, what is top of the list for you on Monday?
“I think that they are very opportunistic. They’ve done a great job all year long of getting pressure on the quarterback and taking the ball away. When you think about what’s going to be the most important stat in this game, as it is in most games, is that turnover ratio. It’s your ability to take care of the football and put yourself in favorable positions as an offense and a defense, and play complimentary football. Kind of allow the opportunities to come, and be ready to take advantage of those when you can. They’re a very talented group. They have a lot of talented players up front at the linebacker position. They went out and spent a lot of money in free agency to get a couple of really good linebackers. Their secondary has excellent ball skills. You always want to be aware of where certain guys are, the looks you’re getting, just knowing maybe when it’s time to make sure the ball stays in our hand and we’ll move on to the next play. Also, this is our opportunity to make a big play, this is our matchup let’s go get it.”
They broke ground today at George Washington Carver on that Field of Dreams project. I know you all contributed to that. What drew you to that project?
“The young man who was actually kind of responsible for that, Brian Bordainick, his dream. He’s no longer there, but he’s been very involved in the project. He was the principle basically of G.W. Carver at age 24. I believe he came here on Teach for America and just ended up staying and fell in love with the city post-Katrina. You have to love the passion of people like that (who) fall in love with the city, number one. And number two: it’s their drive that kind of creates change and creates a vision that allows you to do something that nobody ever thought you would be able to accomplish. Nobody thought you would be able to build a field of dreams like that right there in the Ninth Ward. It’s going to be tremendous and we were happy to be a part of it.”