<span> <span style="">Sean said that last year after the Bucs game in the rain that you decided to be dedicated to running the ball more. What has that meant to you as an offense and what did you learn from that game?</span>
"If there's one game that I specifically remember walking out of – and obviously I was frustrated for a lot of reasons, the fact that we didn't win and the fact that we had a chance to drive down and we threw the ball a ton of times and I ended up throwing a pick at the end of the game. Just from talking to everybody and getting the general feel of the linemen and everybody, we all felt like if we want to be the type of offense that we want to be, there has to be that type of balance. Our ability to not only run the ball effectively, but situationally in short-yardage we have to be able to run the ball to convert. I recall in that game having a third down-and-one and a fourth down-and-one where we could've gotten some points. I definitely remember that game as being somewhat of a turning point in that regard. And then obviously it's something that we've worked extremely hard at through the offseason, coming up with that set of run plays and that mindset to carry forward into this season and make sure that we're effective with that. I feel like we have done a good job with that thus far."
What does that do to a defense when you're balanced on offense?
"Obviously when you're running the ball effectively, defenses feel like in order to stop you they need to put an extra man down around the front. So you're talking about taking a safety out of the field and putting him in the box to help with run defense and now you're leaving your corners one-on-one with one middle of the field safety and you're exposing yourself somewhat to the passing game, and I'm an opportunist for big plays in the passing game. Then the more effective you are at throwing the football, the more they feel like they have to take that safety out of the box and put him deep again so that they can protect against big plays in the passing game and now you have the numbers again to run the ball effectively. If you're able to do both, it's kind of pick your poison – what's the defense going to do and that puts them in a tough spot."
Does that take the edge off of aggressive, attack-style defenses also?
"There are pressures that are considered run pressures and others that are considered just getting after the quarterback, but all in all, if you are able to hit them with big plays and able to run the ball effectively in short-yardage and able to throw enough at them to scare them a little bit, then it adds a whole other element to your philosophy as an offense and your ability to be aggressive."
What is your thought process from the snap of how you find open receivers?
"Obviously there's the play call, and according to that play you have somewhat of a progression of one to two to three, or if it's this coverage I'm going to read this side of the field or if it's this, I'm going to read this side of the field. Obviously there's that thought walking up to the ball of which type of play it is and then you get up there and it's your pre-snap look. What's the front? Does that give you any indicators as to pressure? Then you're looking at the secondary and feeling the linebackers. What's their body language telling you? You can look at them and see that something's not right, it doesn't look like it usually does so maybe here comes some kind of pressure. You're looking at the defensive backs and finding your match-up. I like Colston on this guy or I like Lance on this guy or Shockey on this guy. There are all those thoughts that go through your head according to the play and then once the ball is snapped, you just kind of confirm what you have seen. Maybe all of a sudden they do something else and that might switch up your thought process a little bit, but for the most part I'd say I know where the ball is going before the ball is snapped."
Why was it good to have Lance Moore back playing like Lance last week?
"Because Lance can be a big part of what we do. He's a guy I have a ton of confidence in. He's a true professional. There's not much that Lance can't do. No matter where he is on the field, what receiver position he's playing, what route he's running – I count on him on a lot and there's not a time where I wouldn't go to him. He's a clutch guy and like I said, a guy I have a lot of confidence in him."
Is Devery Henderson having the best season he's had since you've been here?
"I guess I haven't thought about it other than he has been where he's supposed to be and he has made a lot of plays. I'd say he's farther along now than he ever has been, just in regards to the fact that he plays multiple positions according to the personnel group. He's really becoming more of a complete route-runner, ball-catcher, deep threat – all those things – a good blocker in the run game. I'd say he's as good a player now as he has ever been."
What is it that he's doing with his blocking in the running game?
"First of all, it's just knowing who to block and blocking the right guy. And then it's just very much a mindset. I think he takes on a pretty aggressive mentality and takes pride in getting down there and shadowing a guy, getting in front of him, helping our running backs be able to get to that second level and turn a 10-yard gain into a 25-yard gain."
What type of challenge does Miami's defense present?
"They're extremely physical. And any time you play a 3-4 team, the personnel that it takes to play in that system – you look at guys like Jason Taylor and Joey Porter that have been guys that easily could put their hands down and play defensive end but all of a sudden they're these stand-up, pass-rush linebackers and they bring a physical presence. Both safeties are very aggressive, get up in the front a lot, make a lot of tackles. Both corners are very solid. I think all the way around, it's probably the most complete defense that we have played against in regards from man to man. You just don't look at them and see any weaknesses."
How do you channel the success you had last week against the Giants defense into confidence this game against the Dolphins?
"That was a big win for us last week in a big atmosphere, a big-time game. I think that the more games like that you play in, the more confidence you build and the more momentum you gain and that's what you can carry over into the next opponent. Anything else is just wiping the slate clean each week. It's a new team, they run a totally different scheme, really offensively and defensively. For us it's right back to the drawing board in regards to game plan and how we're going to attack these guys. The fact is that we don't look at the Miami team that played the first three weeks of the season; these guys in the last couple of weeks have been as strong as any team out there. For us to be a good team and a great team –which is what we're trying to be – we have to be able to put victories back-to-back against really steady and tough opponents. We knocked the first one in the Giants and now we have to go to Miami and take care of business there."
What advantages does Robert Meachem seem to give your offense?
"Meach is another one of those guys who every day out just continues to improve and I think he's playing as well now as he ever has and hopefully that will continue in regards to being a complete receiver. He has always been one of these raw talents, but now it's becoming a little bit more polished and there are a lot of things that he does extremely well. He's another guy that I have a lot of confidence in. I love his mentality; the way he approaches work every day. He has really learned how to be a professional. He learned that from some of those other wide receivers and being around the veteran guys on our team. I just see his role ever-increasing as we go along here."
As a quarterback, are you surprised that an offense like the Wildcat can be successful in the NFL?
"It's the fact that they can be traditional. Chad Henne, with the way that he's playing right now – I watched the Monday night game against the Jets and I thought he played great. So you have that in their traditional offense, and then all of a sudden you throw Pat White in the game, which is a whole other element. And then all of a sudden Ronnie Brown is in the backfield with Ricky Williams coming in motion, there are just so many things to prepare for and there's only so much time throughout a week where you can prepare for that kind of stuff. Obviously they have the ability to do a lot of things. Anybody could run the Wildcat if they really wanted to, but we're talking about the guys that pretty much invented it in this league, so they run it better than anybody. I think we've all seen the effectiveness it has had. Obviously the guy taking the snap – Ronnie Brown – is a crucial part of it in regards to the timing of the snap and the decision to hand it, the decision to keep it, the decision to run, the decision to throw – with all those decisions that he has to make, you need a smart and capable guy doing that and he has been very successful doing that."
Would you want to run it?
"If it helps us win, then I'm all for it."
Have you caught a pass in your career?
"I have. I've caught a couple in college and in the NFL. For touchdowns."
Would taking an early lead help neutralize their Wildcat offense?
"At some point you have to throw the ball a little bit more if you're down, but if that's what you are then that's what you are. If that's what works and that's what you have confidence in, then that's what you do. I'm not sure what their game plan is going to be, but when you watch film and look at the statistics, you'd say that we're going to see it quite a bit."
With as many weapons as you have on this team, how important is it for you to keep everyone involved?
"I think it's important just from the standpoint of everybody having a role on the team. Your role might be blocking for 50 plays out of the game and running 10 clear-out routes and then you're going to get that one call that's your play. Throughout the week and throughout the game you're just busting your butt hoping that you're going to put yourself in that position to make that big play, knowing that it could be critical. And also understanding that your role as a blocker and as a guy that's clearing out for others, that's important to the success of the team and you'd like to be rewarded with a call your way. I think by being able to spread the ball around and being able to have calls for every guy, I think that's good. Throughout the week, I think guys earn that right by the way the way that they do the other things. All in all, when everybody is getting opportunities and everybody is touching the ball, then you go into every game saying, 'Hey, today could be my day. I could be the one catching 10 catches for a buck-fifty and two touchdowns.' And then the next week it could be somebody else and the next week somebody else. You just never know and that's what's exciting about it."
How hard would it be for you guys to play at this level for an entire season?
"God-willing we keep everybody healthy and just continue to take the mindset that we need to get better – which we do. There are things that happen in every game that are certainly not perfect that in some cases if we weren't up by three touchdowns they'd get you beat – this penalty or that mental error. But anything's possible. I feel like this is a special group. We could do something that has never been done before."
You have been in the positive in turnover margin all year. How important is that against a team that focuses on ball control as much as Miami does?
"It's really important. If you just look strictly at statistics, you say that these guys possess the ball for a long period of time – more so than their opponents – so the opportunities are less and you need to take advantage of those opportunities and get points. But then again you can't take on such an aggressive mindset that you're going to force things and be giving the ball to them on a short field and putting your defense in a tough spot and giving them opportunities. That's why this is a very tough opponent, because you have to take all those things into consideration. But the fact is that it's still one play at a time; it's converting third downs, keeping drives alive, getting points and then putting an extra emphasis on taking care of the football."
Beyond talent and coaching, is there something that makes your offensive line as good as they have been this year?
"There are no selfish guys in that group. They're just a gritty, tough, at times nasty O-line, and that's what you want. They look out for each other. I think the continuity there has been very key. Any time you look at a solid offensive line around the NFL, there's continuity there. Those guys have been together for a while. They know and have great feel for one another. They have great trust for one another. Typically that's the position that takes the longest to develop as a unit because it's the largest number of guys on the field as a unit. Plus what I see with our guys is, they don't just come in the facility and are buddy-buddy and then leave and everybody goes their separate ways. These guys are hanging out all the time; they're doing charity events together. We have an O-line charity – how many other offensive lines around the league have their own charity where they go out and do things for the community? They have O-line dinners, they have all kinds of stuff that they do together. When you have that bond and you have that friendship off the field, that carries over to the field and it just makes it better."