Opening statement: In terms of the Dolphins, their defining characteristic is their ability to protect the football and take the football away. They have a plus-14 give-away/take-away ratio. Usually that is going to translate into a lot of wins. (With) the limited amount of give-aways that they have, they are on the verge of setting an NFL record and that is pretty neat. When you look at their wins and losses, they've been resilient. There is a small point differential between what they've scored and what they've given up. It's 21 points over 15 games. They've won a lot of close games. You see that resilience. Collectively, (the way I envision teams) that Bill (Parcells) has been a part of, they do play good, solid, tough football. You see that week-in and week-out.
Offensively, Chad (Pennington) is doing an excellent job spreading the football around. They have multiple guys with 20-plus catches. They do an excellent job of running the football. Dan Henning (offensive coordinator) is very creative with the way that he gets to different runs. The "wildcat" is probably the most pronounced example of that, but every time we face them, he has an excellent way of creating leverage and angles in the running game. They have two outstanding running backs (Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams).
In the passing game, (you have to contend with) the amount of balls going to different receivers and the utilization of the tight ends. Some of the things that they're taking advantage of from a coverage perspective puts a lot of pressure on the defense to defend the whole field. Protecting the football is a key thing and they've done a great job with that.
Defensively, they have a very physical front seven and you add Yeremiah Bell into that mix. He adds another dimension to that. The outside linebackers do an excellent job of rushing the passer. Joey Porter has been outstanding. (Matt) Roth is a different type of challenge than Porter, but still very much a challenge.
On (special) teams, they have moved a little bit away from Ted Ginn, Jr., but with (Davone) Bess and (Patrick) Cobbs, I've liked what they've been able to do. They are younger guys, but they have been making good decisions and generating field position based on the improvements that they've made and the decisions that those two players have been a part of. Their coverage unit as well has made some strides.
On what his initial reaction was when QB Chad Pennington signed with the Dolphins: Any time you let go of a good player, you have a chance to play against them. I knew that we were going to face them twice this year and probably for a few years to come. He's a good fit for what they're doing. He has really shown that to be true.
On whether he is surprised Pennington is doing so well in Miami: I've always respected Chad as a quarterback. The things that he is doing are things that he has done throughout the course of his career. He's running the offense very effectively. He‘s taking advantage of weaknesses in the defense. He's an incredibly smart guy. He's very detail-oriented and you see that in his play. He (makes) a lot of good decisions and that's consistent with how he was here.
On whether Pennington's intelligence and knowledge of the Jets players will help him: There is definitely an element of that. He studied our defense as well as our offense because he always wanted to understand how he was going to be attacked, why certain things were played a certain way. I really like when the offensive players take that perspective. It's a different level of understanding. When you have that, you can attack things much more aggressively because you truly understand what the defense is trying to get done as opposed to speculating on what they're trying to get done.
On whether he feels as strongly today as he did in August about releasing Pennington: When we made the move, Brett (Favre) was one piece in the puzzle. Brett wasn't going to win games on his own and he wasn't going to lose games on his own. He was one part of the things that we were doing. We thought it was a good opportunity when we had the opportunity to get him. That hasn't changed. It's still one part of what we do each week. It's a very important part, but it's one part.
On whether Pennington displayed signs during training camp that he would have a good season this year: His consistency is remarkable. His work ethic has always been outstanding and it's in all areas. He was always going to put himself in the best position to be successful.
On whether he thinks Pennington is throwing better this season: He's done a nice job. He's thrown to a lot of different people and a lot of different combinations. They are doing a nice job using the tight ends. That's been helpful. They've had some deep balls to the inside players which has opened some things up outside.
On whether he sees Executive Vice President – Football Operations Bill Parcells' fingerprints on the Dolphins: Yes, unquestionably. It's a tough team. It's a disciplined team. They protect the football. Those are all trademarks of his teams.
On whether Favre is fading towards the end of the season: There are some throws (at Seattle) that he definitely could've hit better, but there were some throws that were easily catchable and we didn't come up with the catch. You catch a few of those and things look dramatically different. There were plenty of those balls, too.
On whether Favre is not playing as well at the end of the season as he was at the beginning: Anytime you're not doing well on third down, the amount of opportunities decreases. We haven't been very effective in that situation. The amount of drives lessens. The time of possession lessens. The opportunity to keep throwing the ball lessens. It's been constrictive the last four games as well.
On what he tells the players they are playing for on Sunday: We have control over this game and part of a situation where our victory puts somebody else in the playoffs. Those things happen. Everybody is playing a game this weekend. The only game we can play is the game against Miami. The important thing is to give ourselves the opportunity to get in (to the playoffs). The only way you have that chance is if you win the game. It's not in our control anymore, but what is in our control is this game. The only way you even get an opportunity is if you win the game.
On whether the players need additional motivation: Typically the games against the Dolphins are physical, tough, close games. (Five of the last six) have been decided by four points or less. A lot of them come down to turnover battles. It seems that every time we play them, it's right down to the wire. That's consistent with most of our division opponents. Nobody felt good about what happened Sunday, but the time for lamenting that has passed. That's over. It's done. The only thing that we can do is move forward. If you sit around and lament anymore you lose sight of the opportunity that we have in front of us. It is an opportunity if we take advantage of it. Wherever the chips fall, they fall. There is no chance if we don't win the game. All the guys understand that.
On whether he feels any additional pressure: The pressure I feel every week is the same pressure. I want to put these guys in a position to be successful. I want to give them the best opportunity to win. That is the greatest pressure I put on myself. That is the greatest pressure I put on the staff is to give them the best chance to win. Anything outside of that can't be greater than the pressure that's already there to give them that chance.
On how he feels about how he has been preparing the team: Obviously, we haven't won enough games. It starts with me, so if we're not winning then I'm not doing a good enough job in that area. The things that I constantly talk to the team about are the same things I try to do each week and the same things I ask the coaches to do – go back, look at what you did, look at where it came up short and try to figure out a way to make sure that doesn't happen again.
On whether releasing Pennington will be considered a bad decision if the Dolphins finish ahead of the Jets: It doesn't come down to that. They (Favre and Pennington) aren't in a cage match on Sunday. There are two teams that play. Last week, they opened up the game with a 60-yard kickoff return and then run a reverse for a touchdown. Those are very important plays in that game. In our game, it's a function of how well special teams plays, how well the defense plays, how well the offensive line plays, how well the receivers play. Those two players are extremely important to their team, but no one play can win or lose games by themselves. It's collective.
On whether he sees why people would think it was a bad decision releasing Pennington if the Dolphins finish ahead of the Jets: If you want to look at it in a very narrow context then that could be the context that you analyze it in. I've never been a part of a team where one player defines the success or failure.
On whether he has spoken to owner Woody Johnson about his job security: That's not what we ever talk about. We talk about the game, the team, the things that we're doing. That's what we focus on. That's what I focus on.
On whether he has spoken to Mr. Johnson about the speculation regarding his job security: No, and I wouldn't. On how difficult it is to win games when the quarterback and nose tackle are not playing well: It can't be put in that small of a framework. You want your players to play as well as they possibly can each game. There are so many plays that happen that they may not be at the point of attack. They may not be as intricately involved. Those plays need to be played as well as possible, too. You look at it and you can't narrow it down to one or two guys.
On appearing to lack emotion and the notion that he finds the losses acceptable: I've never, ever, ever accepted anything, but what's our best possible performance. There was disappointment on Sunday. It was disappointing in addition to losing, but we had prepared well. That just puts you in a position to play the game well. They don't operate independently of each other. You need one to do the other and you need to do them both to win the game. It was disappointing. There is no sense of being content with losing, ever. Nobody here is content. Nobody is happy about it. Nobody is satisfied with where we are, but it's where we are. Now, what we have to do is play the next game. That's what is in front of us. The same level of preparation needs to be there with a much higher level of execution. It's not a lack of accountability. I need to execute better. I need to prepare better. The coaches need to do those things better. This isn't just for players. It's all of us. Disappointment is exactly how I felt. Satisfied, content, OK with it – I will never feel that way about losing. None of the players or coaches feel that way.
On why the preparation is not translating on Sundays: You have to go into the game and have the same level of communication. You need to be able to recognize quickly. You need to be able to adjust quickly. If you're a little bit off and not as sharp as you need to be, then you are not going to execute those plays as well as they should be executed.