On what appealed to him about the Dolphins: "I left Buffalo and I tried to look from A to Z what was the best opportunity for my career, my family and this provided the most, as far as career, a team that I believe is going to be successful, a head coach that has a clear path that I liked his plan, the staff ... guys got more comfortable in the system last year, improved ... obviously when you win your last six of the year you've done something right. There are a lot of positives about being down here, the organization, the owner is part of that as well. Clearly, there were a lot of positives."
On the benefit of having been a head coach: "I feel like I'm not walking in stone cold into a situation. Without knowing these guys personally, I at least know some of their football skills. Being a head coach you have to be prepared with all three phases of the game, so not coming into this offense not aware of personnel and, really, it's a little bit more of a comfort zone for me to come in and be around these guys as well as knowing the division a little better where I came from and knowing the personnel; they're going to have a new scheme up in Buffalo and just knowing the personnel like I do is going to be an advantage."
On where his philosophy came from: "I've been very fortunate to be around a lot of very good football coaches, some for brief moments. I was with the 49ers for a training camp with Coach (Bill) Walsh when I was drafted there; there's still some things that I took in meetings that he said, I still believe in some of his philosophy. I had the ability to play for Chuck Noll and Bud Grant, worked for Coach (Bill) Cowher, worked for Sam Wyche, all guys, different philosophies. I've taken from all of them and probably the biggest thing that I've preached and our staff is going to preach and I know Coach Saban does as well is being a smart football team. It's tough to win on Sundays as it is, but you've got to do is you cannot, it's a cliché and who cares, you can't beat yourself. To me it's very important that these guys understand what we're doing, not make them do it, let's not force-feed something down their throat. If they're not comfortable doing it, if they're not good enough to do it, then you're asking for failure. The more guys that are like that on a play, that play's success rate isn't very good. So I want to make sure those guys are comfortable with what they're doing. ... Probably as equal a component, I like physical play. We do as a staff. It will be talked about a lot."
On being comfortable in terms of his knowledge of the offense: "Very comfortable. I'm sitting with whether it's free agents or college players that are in here right now on visits and throw a game tape on, feel comfortable talking to them about what we're trying to accomplish, the terminology."
On being a head coach as opposed to an offensive coordinator: "As a head coach, you've got more things piled on your plate. I'm not talking strictly about football. There's just so much more you're responsible for. Every year head coaches offensively, defensively, are the coordinator of that side of the ball. I don't know how good you can be at it, if you can be as efficient as doing it solely as your job as I'm doing it here. It's a tough job trying to call a game and trying to manage a game, and be very good at both."
On his thoughts on the Dolphins offense in 2005: "The thing about them thinking back to when I got up and did a review of the team in front of our team, the one thing that I noticed offensively was how mental errors were cut down, penalties were cut down, there was more of a confidence — I'm a big body-language guy and you could see the body language in the players. As they got more comfortable within the system, you saw this offense really take off. And a lot of times that's the case. It was for sure last year. There was an improvement as the season wore on and I think it's a lot understanding the system more."
On Daunte Culpepper: "He's a special quarterback. He understands the offense, he's been a part of it. He's not coming into something stone cold. I think it's good for him because it's got a little bit of flavor to it. We like to run the football, not afraid to throw the ball vertically, it's got a variety of things. I think he throws well. It's not a complicated scheme. It starts with him."
On tweaking the defense: "We were a combination of a 3-4 and 4-3 defense last year. I think as you go along you gravitate towards what you do best. The thing I was impressed with is we've got some players that give you the versatility. When you have a guy like a Jason Taylor, Jason is one of those classic hybrid guys that you can do pretty much what you want to with Jason. He can play a 3-4 outside linebacker and he can be a 4-3 defensive end, which he's done a lot of and I thought he did a nice job of that last year. I really think that in the NFL now if you have the ability to jump in and out of both defensive schemes it makes you more difficult to prepare for. I think with Nick here, they got that started last year. Hopefully, we can continue on what they got started."
On the new-look secondary: "There's going to be a number of new faces, obviously. We brought in some new people. We like the athletic ability of the people we've brought in. So much of what we'll go through here, the OTAs and all that, is seeing how quickly these guys grasp what we're trying to do and then you always have to adapt what you're doing to what your team can execute efficiently. I like what I've seen in terms of the athletic ability of the guys we've brought in, I think they've got speed and have a lot of the qualities that you look for in a secondary. That's the initial look without pads, but they can run and move their feet, they're athletic."
On what brought him to Miami: "I've always had great respect for the tradition here. I've known Nick for over 30 years, we were together back in the early '70s. I've always thought a lot of Nick. I know he did a tremendous job here last year and just looking at the team from an inside, I felt what happened here through the course of the season you could really see that this team was heading in the right direction. I think anytime you make a decision it starts with the ownership, and I think we've got one of the very best owners in the league. Then you go to the management and you go to the coaching and I thought all those things were pluses. And having an opportunity to be involved in an organization like the Dolphins and live in a place like South Florida were things that were appealing."
On Channing Crowder: "He's a guy that did a lot of things. For a rookie to come in and do the number of things on first, second and third down, that doesn't happen very often. I think he got off to a good start. It's a big transition for a rookie just to come in and execute in one phase, but to be a three-down player and play on first and second down and get into the sub packages and do those things, I'm sure that he's really gonna benefit from that heading into his second year because I think that's when guys make the most progress. They come in, they're kind of feeling their way, they haven't been through it. Well, now he's been through a year and I think he'll really benefit tremendously from the offseason."
On being familiar with his personnel: "I've got a long ways to go. I'm always reluctant to jump out there because you have one opinion when you're working without pads and then that changes tremendously when you put the pads on; the game is played in pads. I've seen some guys' stock way up here and then you put the pads on and it drops. Another guy's stock is down here and you put the pads on and it rises. To me that's one of the biggest challenges, as you go through you get to know guys a little bit better. One of the things I do enjoy about being an assistant coach is you have a little bit different relationship with the players than you do as a head coach. Having gone through that twice, I enjoy the relationship you have with the players."