HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"Since I won't see y'all tomorrow, happy Thanksgiving. There's so much to be thankful for, of course me in my position and what I get to do every day. Of course, I'm thankful for family and a lot of things outside of football. But coming here every day and working with the guys. Wednesday practices are always – you can't wait to get back out there, especially when you didn't play your best ball. That's the case for us. This late in the year, the injury list, there's not a whole lot of people on it, which is a good thing. We're going to need everybody this week. Miami is an excellent football team, really on both sides of the ball. A lot has been said about what they do on the offensive side, but defensively they have a lot of all-stars, coached well. We know what type of football game that will be. Practice-wise, it was a typical Wednesday for us. We have a different schedule this week with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow."
Will there be a change at quarterback?
"Just so we kind of establish things here, I do not announce who is starting through the week. We have a starting lineup, the last one that we have. When it changes, we'll let you know. But during the week, of course we're not going to announce anything like that. I think that would give the opponent an advantage. Our starting lineup, as far as you are concerned, and I would have said the same thing three weeks ago, it's the same one until told otherwise."
Have you considered a change in play caller?
"Absolutely not. Have I considered a change at play caller? No. All of our coaches are working their butt off. Are we getting the results? No. So, all those kind of questions like that, I think you know the answer. It's no."
How have you seen RB Dameon Pierce grow?
"When he first got here, everyone can remember when Dameon (Pierce) came in the building because he will let you know about his presence when he gets here. You know, I loved him then. He was a breath of fresh air. It seemed like he's a man on a mission then. That's how he's played. That's how he's played throughout. We know what type of effort he's going to give. He's had a lot of success too, I'm going to say, early on, in the first game. This past week, it's good for young players to go through what we went through this past week where we didn't get a lot done and couldn't get the running game going. I know again, Wednesday practice, same guy, ready to go. Life of the party. All of that."
Are you approaching a quarterback change the same way as a play caller change – 'absolutely not'?
"I'm not going to get into hypotheticals. Like I said earlier, we practice during the week, and I'm not going to go into any of our game plan and what we're going to do. But we try to improve every position. Coaching-wise, we try to improve from play-to-play, not necessarily just from game-to-game. It's like that at every position."
What is your process for picking a quarterback?
"Picking a quarterback? We had a quarterback last week. What do you mean, 'picking'? Guys, we want to go down this road. We're not going anywhere with this, alright? We have the guys in place, as I said. You're here to start a press conference, right? That's what it is. There's not going to be any other announcements. We hold everybody to a high standard. Our play this past week was not what it needs to be. I think we're going to get better. If we don't, we'll always look for our best option. Whether you agree with the best option or not, you have a right to that."
Any update on DB Derek Stingley Jr.'s injury?
"It was a mild hamstring, right? He didn't practice today. Hamstrings are tricky a little bit. You don't know exactly how long they'll take. He's out there, he's rehabbing, getting better. On exactly when he'll be ready to go, we don't know that."
Did you implement a quarterback change and if so, how did your players respond?
"That's between us (the players), of course. I talk to the guys every day. So how did they respond? We go over the video, we go over every play every day. The conversations I'm going to have with guys, I don't normally go over those with you either. Don't planning on starting on that either. I think you know that too."
After nine combined turnovers in Miami last year, how does that affect your preparation?
"I try to forget those nine (turnovers). We didn't have nine, but that's one of the things you do do. When you have an opponent that you've played before, whether it's in our division, when you've played them once as opposed to the second time around, you look at what happened that time. I do remember the game, hard-fought game. There were a lot of turnovers or there were a lot of takeaways, however you want to look at it. That's one thing I'm talking about us defensively, I can't wait to see the time where we're talking about taking the ball away that many times. On the offensive side, we just can't turn it over. We don't have a chance against a team like that. We looked at that video, analyzed everything that we did last year. We know they've added a lot more pieces to the puzzle. That's kind of where we are."
How is RB Eno Benjamin looking?
"He is getting better. It's kind of hard when you come in late, it's hard to get a whole lot of reps for our guys. I'm going to say the same thig about Amari (Rodgers) too. You get a chance to see him some, and what we've seen is that some of the things he displayed on why we claimed Eno (Benjamin). He has good quickness, speed, he's played good ball in the league. He is just trying to blend in right now and we're trying to get as much of a look as we can from him. All of our news guys, we try to get that, but it is hard."
The New York Jets announced they would make a change at quarterback. I know it's a different team, but can you describe the competitive advantage lost from that decision?
"This is what I've told you. It doesn't matter how the Jets do it. What I've said, and all I'm going to say about it, is that this is how we do it. I don't publicly go out and talk about any of those things until the team is out there (on Sunday). I think I said that early on, and I haven't changed. I couldn't care less what anybody else does. You should know that also. Like you don't care what other guys are writing, right? So, we're not even going to go down that road."
In your preparation for Miami, do you feel like QB Davis Mills give you the best opportunity to win?
"The guys that we're going to play are the ones we think give us the best chance to beat Miami. That's how I'll answer that question."
What are the biggest challenges about Miami that you're going to have to face on Sunday?
"I'm going to talk offensively. They have a balanced attack. They have a quarterback that's playing at an elite level right now. I'll say there are some special players in the league. There's a lot of good players in the league, and then there's some special players in the league. I think they have a special player the league. Everything around the passing game is a little different than maybe some week-to-week, and our guys realize that."
OC PEP HAMILTON
Have you made any changes at quarterback?
What do you mean by 'no'?
"As in, 'no, we haven't made any changes'."
If QB Kyle Allen is the starter, what have you seen from him?
"I will stay away from hypotheticals. I think all the guys on our gameday roster, we feel like they give us a chance to go and play competitive football."
When you are struggling to run the play, do you have plays that can push the ball further down the field?
"Yes. Yes, we do. It's important that we always find way to feature our playmakers. We feel like Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett, we have a number of guys, Nico Collins and now Chris Moore. They are all guys who can attack the field vertically, as well as our tight ends. That's been a big part of what we've tried to do throughout the season. Not just feature our receivers, but also our tight ends in the vertical passing game. We've got to get more out of our vertical attack."
How do you evaluate the offensive line's play and how can they improve?
"We feel like the offensive line as a whole is the leading group of our offensive unit. They work hard every day. We've just got to go out and play consistent football for four quarters."
Do you still feel like QB Davis Mills gives you the best chance to win?
"We feel like Miami's defense is a formidable defense. They are notorious for bringing a lot of pressure, and we're coming up with a scheme to feature our starters and make sure that we counter that pressure with the opportunities, take advantage and hit some big plays."
Where do you think you are as a play caller after these last few games and where do you feel like you've earned the play calling duty security?
"I just feel like from week-to-week, we've got to trust our process."
After the game on Sunday, QB Davis Mills said you guys need to be more creative on offense. Do you think he meant in the passing game or the running game?
"I'm not sure. We hadn't discussed that specially. I wasn't necessarily aware of exactly what he said, but I would agree that we're going to face really good defenses from week-to-week. It starts with me. We've got to find ways to extenuate the strengths of our guys. Like I said, we feel good about our offensive line as a whole. That's where it all starts for us. Coach (Lovie Smith) stands up here week-to-week and talks often about being physical at the line of scrimmage, being able to run the football, and everything comes off of us running the football. We just didn't do that well enough this past Sunday."
When you aren't able to run the football well, how do you overcome that?
"You just have to come up with ways – we're going to be able to run the football, in which way we decide to attack the defense. Whether it's a downhill run, or it's a perimeter run, or we're in a situation where we have to use other methods of getting the ball out on the perimeter. In the game itself, the score of the game dictates how often we can commit to running the football."
What have you seen from RB Eno Benjamin so far?
What do you expect for OL Kenyon Green this week after going against another stellar front?
"We expect that he's going to continue to work to embrace the technique that he's been taught because he's extremely talented. It's just part of the process from week-to-week. It's understanding that guys are going to watch us on film and the opponent is going to watch us on film and come up with ways to counter the things they see us do. I'm certain we'll continue to watch Kenyon's (Green) progress as he continues to play."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
How much does WR Amari Rodgers factor into what you're doing and what have you seen from him?
"Kind of what we said before. You have a new body added to the roster, good athletic skill set. We'll integrate everybody into the scheme and our roles that we see them fitting in. Relative to whoever is available at the game, we're going to use that player to our advantage."
Are you going to make any changes at punt returner?
"We've already rolled a couple out throughout the game and as our depth changed not only last week with a DB being inactive. On who could play at the returner role and now add in whoever it may be, whether it's Amari (Rodgers), Tremon (Smith), whether it's Phillip (Dorsett), Grayland (Arnold) when he was healthy. All those guys are available to use, we've just been using Desmond (King II) at this point at a more consistent basis. We're going to try and continue (to play) whoever gives us the best chance to make plays."
Do you put an extra emphasis on special teams setting the tone with your record being 1-8-1?
"Anytime we get an opportunity to make a play, it's going to set our tone, whether it's a big hit, getting the ball on the ground. An impact play, because as you remember, you get 25-30 special teams snaps a game. Kickoff touchbacks are out. Field goal/field goal blocks are out. So, punt returns and kick returns that are brought from the end zone that we're covering against, those are 40-plus yard explosive plays. Everybody goes nuts when there's a 40-yard completion on offense. Those happen one-to-three times a game, a big, breaking run maybe is 12 yards. Every time we step out on the field, we're talking about large stretches of field position, so it is a big impact opportunity. We need to find a way to create an explosive from our point of view to setup our offense and get the juices following for whoever is going out there next, whether it be the offense or the defense. We have to take advantage of that. We're playing against an explosive Miami unit. Their special teams unit is the fastest we've seen. Across the board, (Justin) Bethel, (Keion) Crossen, (Clayton) Fejedelem, (Elijah) Campbell, (Jevon) Holland, the returners whether is (Jaylen) Waddle, (Raheem) Mostert, (Tyreek) Hill and the starting punt returner (Cedrick) Wilson, these guys have I would say rare team speed and we've got to go out and find our ways to minimize that, hopefully set our defense up with a long field. You want to take the field with that competitive fire as a defense unit. A big hit on that returner to start that drive is just first downs, so let's go. We need to be able to do that as much as possible versus an explosive Miami unit."