Wednesday Media Availability
The subject matter might be evergreen, but the repetition of Brian Flores' message helps drive the point home: players who prioritize football, want to win and are selfless can contribute in multiple facets of the game.
The simplicity of the criteria for what it takes to be a Miami Dolphin is both simple and demanding. It's simple to understand the expectation laid forth by Flores and General Manager Chris Grier, but the nature by which players arrive at that point is the product of hard work.
But there's joy in hard work. There's an energy building among this young team that's being carefully constructed under an aligned vision.
Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins embodies that vision. The first draft pick of the Flores-Grier pairing, Wilkins' galvanizing personality hardly stands alone in the locker room. The 2020 Dolphins have been working together in the acclimation period for three days and Wilkins already recognizes special bonds building.
"I feel like the connection we've already built and are going to continue to build is just so natural," Wilkins said. "Those new guys that came in - from the rookies to the free agents, to the guys we picked up, and the guys that have been here - I feel like it's so natural. It feels like we've already been around each other for a while. That stems from good leadership on the defensive side, too."
The message for the Miami Dolphins is improving daily with a focus on creating consistency. In a league full of unpredictability, reliable players that provide the same approach and work routines day-after-day are a valuable commodity.
Wilkins recognizes that his game is a constant work-in-progress. The drive to finely tune his craft and develop elements of his game are all a part of the larger grind from which the former Clemson standout thrives.
"The biggest thing for me is just working on hands, pad leverage and having good technique, really," Wilkins said. "That starts with your hands, eyes and feet, and like I said, playing with good pad leverage. If you play with good technique, you'll make a lot of plays and you'll make those big plays."
Wilkins preaches consistency and being the same person each and every day. That message is not exclusive to the defenders on the Dolphins roster.
Producing more consistently in the running game is something every team will seek to achieve. For the 2020 Miami Dolphins, the offseason made that priority abundantly clear.
Enter Jordan Howard, who signed during the first week of free agency, and Matt Breida, who was acquired from the defending NFC Champion 49ers on draft weekend. Running the football is a collaborative effort that requires each part of the offense - from play caller to offensive line - to execute a job.
The Dolphins signed a pair of veteran offensive linemen, drafted three more and signed three undrafted free agents up front this offseason. They also hired Chan Gailey, whose previous six stops as a play caller in the NFL have produced an average of 118.5 rushing yards per game.
One element Gailey will have familiarity with between one of those previous stops and Miami is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins quarterback commented on Gailey's offenses and the effectiveness they have had running the ball in his media availability from last Saturday. Fitzpatrick also noted Gailey's adaptability to fit his scheme to the talent he has, something running back Jordan Howard confirmed on Wednesday.
"(Chan) just puts us in the best positions to be successful, so I feel like no matter who the running back is, he's going to tailor the scheme to their abilities," Howard said.
Matt Breida owns the top measured game day speed in the NFL each of the last two years, via NFL Next Gen Stats. He talked about the elements of Gailey's offense that can help these Dolphins backs maximize their abilities.
"Yeah, we watch old film at a lot of old places where he was before, and a lot of the backs were definitely getting out of the backfield or lining up at wide receiver," Breida said.
Breida's speed isn't exclusive to running the football, he likes to go fast in all aspects of life. He checked off a bucket item list of his this offseason when he purchased a Lamborghini.
"Yeah, (laughter) I got a Lamborghini not too long ago," Breida said. "I like going fast. I run fast. I just like doing everything fast. I always wanted one and God blessed me to be able to get one, so that's that."
The new backfield tandem were asked to offer scouting reports on one-another. Both took note of the other's career from the jump. Breida talked about Howard and the depth of the Dolphins running back room.
"Yeah, I've been watching Jordan (Howard) since his rookie year," Breida said. "He runs the ball very well. He also gets out of the backfield, too, so I think he's going to do a great job in the offense here; but not only that, we have Myles Gaskin, Patrick (Laird), we've got Kalen (Ballage) and they're all great running backs; so I don't want anyone to overlook those guys, too, because we've got a great group of backs."
Howard noted Breida's electrifying speed and the value of a back capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
"I remember watching Matt (Breida) in college," Howard said. "He was busting a whole lot of long runs and stuff like that. I just know he's very dynamic. He can take it to the house any play, so I know he's a very explosive player and I can't wait to see how he helps the team out."
Both players offer plenty in the physical traits department; a necessity to play at this level. Another core tenant of Flores' Dolphins is character and the ability to lead. Both Howard and Breida noted the likability of their new quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa.
"(Fitzpatrick) been great," Howard said. "I can see why everybody loves him. He's just a people person. Everybody gravitates towards him. He's very selfless, always puts the team first and everything. I just feel like he's a great leader so far."
Howard was asked about the vibe he's taken from Tagovailoa since getting to know the rookie quarterback. The answer was very similar to what he had to say about the 15-year veteran.
"Tua, he's definitely a people person as well," Howard said. "Just a chill guy. I guess being from Hawaii, he just hangs loose. He's definitely - people are going to gravitate toward him like 'Fitz'. He's just - he's hungry. He's being patient right now, but he's definitely hungry."
Wednesday Transactions, Notes
Wide receiver Albert Wilson opted out of the 2020 NFL season. Wilson is the second player to exercise the opt-out option after fellow wide receiver Allen Hurns made the same decision on Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Davon Godchaux has been added to the reserve/COVID-19* list. Godchaux is in his fourth year as a Dolphins and led all interior defensive linemen in Pro Football Focus' run stops metric in 2019 with 33 tackles within two yards of the line of scrimmage.